I am an ardent Nikon fan and have been using Nikon equipment for the past seven years. My love for Nikon started with the D90, which I used to learn the ropes, I was photographing anything and everything then. I moved then to the D700 and in the year 2012 I started photographing wildlife, which I found was to my liking more than the other genres. From then I have purchased and used all their professional bodies and lenses.
When it comes to wildlife it pays to stay far from the animal, for yours and your subject’s safety. Plus when you photograph from far you give the animal its space and therefore you get images in which the subject is shown at its natural best. Most of the times wildlife photography is done from vehicles or structures which are taller than the subject and hence if you photograph from close you are photographing from a higher angle with your subject below you, and believe me no animal looks good from this angle. Therefore photographing from afar using a long lens is the best way. When you photograph from afar, even if you are photographing from a higher plane, the animal appears to be at the camera level due to the distance between you and the subject. That is the reason why people see wildlife photographers carry long lenses around. Believe me, it’s not for bragging.
Crop frame cameras are advantageous in the sense that they multiply the focal length of the lens which is attached. Nikon’s crop frame (DX-format) DSLR cameras come with a 1.5 times factor which means if you attach a 100mm lens then it miraculously becomes 150mm. Now my kit for African safaris has come down to just 3 DSLR cameras and 4 lenses. D5 with a 600mm mounted, D500 with 200-400mm, D4 with 70-200 mm, and the 16-35 mm which jumps in to any of these cameras when I want to do wide angle shooting.
I had tried a few of these crop frame DSLR cameras, the D90, D300 and later the D7000. I was not very happy with them photographing wildlife since they all shoot fewer frames per second in continuous shooting mode, buffer memory was not adequate, they have fewer focus points etc. which was not right for the kind of photography I do, which is mainly ‘Wildlife in action’.
Then came the Nikon D500 which addressed all these woes and now it does not leave my side when I am in the wild. This amazing creation by Nikon engineers can shoot up to 10 frames a second with enough buffer to hold up to 200 images when shooting at 14-bit RAW lossless compressed mode. The count may go lower when shooting at 14-bit RAW uncompressed format or with RAW+JPEG combination. This is more than enough to photograph the full throttle chase of a cheetah behind its hapless prey as it gets to its kill, and even continue till the prey is floored. There is nothing more I can ask for.
Apart from this the camera boasts of a 20.9-MP image sensor, Matrix, Spot, Centre weighted, Highlight weighted metering systems, a top shutter speed of 1/8000 sec etc.; all these features make this a pro-level equipment.
The D500 is almost as good as its big brothers D5 and the D4 during daylight; I don’t miss my D5 from 8 AM in the morning to 4 PM in the afternoon when light is plenty and I don’t need the low light / high ISO capabilities of the big brothers D5 and the D4.
This camera is loaded with many features and options but I will discuss here the options I found most useful in the wild when this camera accompanied me for over six weeks. I would just like to add that this camera is entirely customizable. All of its buttons, except the shutter release, can be programmed to do some other function as needed by the photographer.