Nikon D500 Wildlife Photography Camera

If you’re using Nikon gear, you have 2 CHOICES: D500 or D850 for WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY. D810? OK, if you’re not shooting video, you could also go with a D810, but why would you when you can get the Nikon D500 for less money?

You may find it odd that my highest recommendation for a wildlife photography camera is not a full-frame (FX) Nikon camera.

The Nikon D500 is the camera for me, the ULTIMATE WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY camera, in no small part due to the price and amazing feature set. The features of this camera are professional level, even though it’s DX and not FX (full-frame). With many of the features found in the Nikon D5, D810, and Nikon D850 professional cameras, the D500 is a great low-priced alternative. Sure, it’s still around $2,000 USD, but it isn’t $3,300 like the D850 or $6,000+ like the D5!

Nikon D500 Wildlife Photography Camera – (CLICK to see the price now) it’s constantly falling


10 Reasons I Use the Nikon D500 for Wildlife Photography

  1. GAIN 150% of YOUR LENS LENGTH – INSTANTLY! The crop sensor (APS-C) is ideal for wildlife photography because one problem with wildlife photography is getting close enough to the animals. Birds? You need to cover sometimes 50 meters or more to get a photo. You cannot do that with an FX full-frame camera like the D850 unless you’re using a massive 600mm lens. Tough to carry around, and super expensive. DX allows you to get a 1.5x multiple of your lenses without any loss of quality. Well, not much loss of quality with nature photography. The images the D500 is cranking out now are absolutely stunning. Before the Nikon D500 I was a full-frame photographer – always. I’ve sold my D610 and now am shooting wildlife only with the D500. I think you probably should too.
  2. LENS COMPATIBILITY. The D500 DX camera can use all your full-frame lenses anyway! You don’t have to scale up. When you buy an FX camera, like the D850, you’ll need to spend a lot of money to buy FX lenses. So, on top of the cost of the full-frame camera body like the D850 for $3,100 USD, you’ll spend another $3,000 for good lenses to shoot wildlife.
  3. PRICE of CAMERA BODY. The price of the D500 body is exactly half the price of the FX D850 body (here in Bangkok). That means a lot when shooting wildlife photographs because it isn’t like I’m selling my images. I make nothing with my camera. Wildlife photography is a labor of love, a hobby.
  4. PRICE of LENSES. There is a huge gap in price between DX and FX lenses. Sure, there is some qualitative difference, but guess what? Most of you reading this are not going to be producing magazine or poster prints from your wildlife photography. You’ll be throwing it up on a website at 1000 pixels wide (maximum usually) and 144dpi. You don’t need FX for that use-case.
  5. Nikon D500 Wildlife Camera with FX 35mm F2 D lens.

    My D500 readily accepts my old Nikon 35mm F/2 D FX lens. I love that!

    COMPATIBILITY with OLD LENSES. The D500 can use most of the old lenses – even if they don’t have a built in motor. The D500 has a built in lens motor to focus those lenses too. My D500 works with every lens I have. That’s really a nice feeling (in the wallet), and frees me up to buy other essentials.

  6. SMALLER FILE SIZES. If I’m honest, I don’t need 46 megapixels for wildlife photography. I’m not shooting landscapes. I’ll admit, in certain situations, it would be nice to have 46MP rather than the 21MP in the D500, but my MacBook Pro 13″ is just not that fast, and editing at a much higher resolution is a serious time-suck I could do without. So I do! I shoot in RAW only, so the difference in quality between the two cameras is not that much. One image from my D500 on RAW is around 45 MB. That’s big enough for every situation I am shooting for.
  7. D500 is FASTER. The D500 maxes out at 10 frames per second without the external battery. The D850 needs the external battery pack to reach 9 frames per second. Less weight. Less money. Faster. Win-win-win.
  8. D500 is LIGHTER. The Nikon D850 weighs 5.1 ounces (145 grams) more than the D500. When walking around all day, I think I’m going to feel that. Maybe not much, but with a bag full of heavier FX glass? Yes, I’m definitely going to feel the weight difference of a couple of pounds for the entire system.
  9. The D500 SHOOTS 4K! That’s awesome, but I’m going to down-rez it anyway. I just couldn’t use the full-frame 4K of the D850 in full-rez, so it would be overkill.
  10. REPLACEMENT COST or MAINTENANCE COST SAVINGS. If I drop this D500 on a wildlife field trip and it hits a hard limestone rock and splatters, I’m going to pay maximum of around $1900 to get a new one. That’s the worst case scenario – I mean, as far as just camera body. If I drop the D850, they may charge $1900 just to fix it. That’s still only half of what it costs! I can’t just buy a new D500 at that point because I’ve lost $3100 if I don’t fix the D850. If I do fix it – I’m going to spend HEAPS more. It’s a good idea not to carry the most expensive camera, unless money means nothing to you and you can just buy a new one as a replacement without it hurting too much.

Nikon D500 Wildlife Photography Camera – CLICK to see the current price, it changes often.