D500 Teething Problems

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR' started by Replytoken, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    70
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    After patiently waiting (and researching) for the better part of a year, I finally decided to pick up a D500 during the holidays when they included the free grip and some extra goodies. The D500 was supposed to be a replacement for my beloved D300 and was to accompany a D610 and some m4/3rd's bodies I regularly use (primarily the E-M1). I really enjoy shooting with the E-M1, but I wanted a camera that could effectively focus on moving objects (i.e. BIF, dance performers, lion dance teams, etc.) and the D300 was a bit long in tooth and the E-M1 was just not up to the task. I ordered the camera at the beginning of the holidays, but was not really able to put it through its paces until the end of last month. I wish I could say that I have found it to live up to its reputation, but things just have not been going as planned.

    The first few images that I shot seemed softer than I had imagined, so I took both my 70-200 VRII and 300/4 AFS and ran both manual and auto Fine Tuning on the lenses to see if there might be some improvement. I used two tripods, a Spyder Lenscal, and ran the shots in MUP. I cannot say that I saw much improvement or change, but Iwill say that when I used LV to manually focus the camera, it appeared to be a bit sharper than what the camera was capable of providing me.

    Thinking that I may have spent too much time with my E-M1 files these past few years, and that may have been influencing my judgement when viewing images, I then ran a series of images (some portraits and some static shots) with my 600 AFS macro, another lens that I have found to be quite sharp over the years. The images were a bit better, but still not what I had expected. They just lacked the crispness that I was expecting, and often see from my E-M1. I even shared a couple with some fellow Nikon shooters and they had similar feeling about the images not being that sharp.

    The weather was quite sunny over the New Year's weekend, so I decided to take the D500 and the 70-200 (a lens I have used for a number of years and find to be reasonably sharp) and test it in the field when we went out to see the migrating swans and geese in the Skagit Valley north of Seattle (and where I see some other members photograph, quite successfully I might add). I used AF-C single point and Group with the shutter around 1/1600th (VR off) and while I realize that I did not have the reach I needed (and was not able to get closer in these particular situations), I was still surprised at how mushy and lacking in detail the images looked.

    Having shot for over 30 years (and over 12 with Nikon digital bodies), I realize that errors can arise from any combination of bad technique, bad settings, bad lenses and/or a bad body, not to mention unreasonable expectations. I am trying to sort wheat from chafe here, but have been frustrated since despite all of my studying about the new changes in the body, the camera is just not really performing as expected. I purchased it from B&H and their extended holiday return/exchange period is coming up shortly (and I would most likely exchange, but only if there is an identified problem with the camera). I could run more controlled shots, but I am not sure if that is going to be helpful as I did not find the last ones to be so. And, I do not know anybody local with another D500 who could help me rule out the lenses and my technique. I traded some messages with a fellwo Nikon shooter over at Amin's mu-43.com where I regularly post, but I really could use some collective wisdom and I just did not have it in me to go back to Nikonians where I was a member for a number of years until I started to use m4.3rd's gear and then let my membership lapse. Apologies for the long first post, but I would appreciate any helpful advice.

    Thanks,

    --Ken
     
  2. MNglass

    MNglass

    62
    Dec 7, 2005
    What lenses were you using with the EM-1?
    I know this is going to sound strange, but the EM-1 (I have it also along with the Pen-F) with many of the m43 lenses can produce exceedingly sharp files. I chose the D500 for much the same reason you have - tracking moving objects (mostly BIF) which the D500 does almost magically well. I'm using the D500 with the 300PF and the files when hand held can be plenty sharp but I often have the impression that the EM-1 files are sharper. I also thought that my D600 was sharper than my D750 . . . But honestly I prefer the D500 files. The details seem more subtle, the higher ISO is better, and especially the shadows lift to reveal much cleaner detail.

    So my question is whether the images are mushy soft (which they shouldn't be with the 70-200), or whether you think they are just soft by comparison.
     
  3. spoonbill

    spoonbill

    295
    Jan 25, 2013
    Indiana
    Ken..........Mmmmmmm............you must have read my mind for sure. I had started out with a D7000, then moved up to a D7100, and then to a D7200. I held off when the D7500 came out to see if it would have been a little better or else go onto the D500. Well......long story short.........cabbaged onto a D500 last July. 95+% of the time I shoot with a new 500mm FL and of course always on a tripod. I too have been frustrated with the results from the D500. I go back to my D7200 shots and they have been better than the D500 shots and the D7200 is a lot more forgiving in getting those shots and that is even with the previous 500mm lens. Guess the only thing I have taken away from getting a D500 is 10fps instead of 6. I shoot wildlife in your same settings and along with it seems like I need to keep ISO down in the 640-800 range. Ken........I feel your pain..............
     
  4. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    70
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Thank you for the reply. And I think that you are getting at one of my issues. I splurged on my E-M1 over the past few years and picked up a bevy of nice glass (but not as nice as some of the new f/1.2 lenses). I use the 12-40, 40-150 (f/2.8 Pro) and the 60mm macro for much of my work. I shoot raw, and when I review/cull images for things like focus to decide what gets imported into Lightroom, I use FastStone at 100% if I need to check for critical focus (realizing that it is only reading the embedded jpeg file). I find these images quite sharp and contrasty.

    I also shoot with the D610, but use it less than the E-M1, so I am not sure if the issue of a higher density file if throwing me off. I used to be good at post processing the D300 NEF files given all that I shot over the years, but as the D610 is usually used for "grip and grin" type shots with flash, I do nt have many big issues with those files. I have tried to download some sample D500 files from DPR, but I did not find them to be that helpful, as they were not that great from a technical perspective IMHO. So, I am still trying to isolate some of the issues. If I could waive a magic wand, I would love for another D500 owner to shoot with my body and let me shoot with theirs for a few minutes. I think that would allow me to address or rule out user issues.

    --Ken
     
  5. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    70
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Sorry to hear. If you are really up for some pain, take a look at this LONG thread at FM: UPDATE - Nikon D5/D500 Dynamic AF Issue . I am only up to page 20, but am finding it interesting reading. I almost joined there instead of here for some TA on this issue, but I saw a bit of DPR-like sniping, and was just not up for it. I suspect that it is not a bad place, and I am always open to comments and criticism, but having to defend yourself (as opposed to explaining yourself) is just not for me. The folks at mu-43.com are a pretty nice gang, and I just cannot see Amin putting up with too much bad behavior.

    Good luck with your D500 as well (and I'm a bit jealous of the new 500mm),

    --Ken
     
  6. Dunno guys, images with my D500 (and D5 and D850 for that matter) are all tack sharp. I shoot small birds with the 600 FL as well as the 200-500 and have not experienced the softness you're referring to. My 70-200 2.8 FL is also tack sharp with these bodies. Hope you get it sorted out.
     
  7. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    70
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I have seen some amazing images on the forum from the D500, so I do not doubt its potential. And my 70-200 has been one of my "go to" lenses with two different bodies, so I am a bit stymied. But, I am trying to sort it out rather than call it quits, so I hope that I will be eventually rewarded. Just so I have some additional frame of reference, how would you compare the raw files from the D500 to any other Nikon bodies that you have used (before processing)?

    Thanks,

    --Ken
     
  8. Not sure I know what you mean. The only thing I don't like about the D500 is the texture of its noise above iso 1000. I've shot at iso 2000 in a pinch, but not where sharpness in the form of feather detail is important.

    Edit: Have a look at this post and see if you think there are sharpness issues here;

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
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  9. ijm5012

    ijm5012

    186
    Jul 25, 2017
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I don't know what to tell you Ken. I just set up a quick comparison between my D500 & 17-55 @35mm, and my E-M1 II & 25mm PRO, shooting both at f/4, ISO 200 on a tripod. When I view the files on my computer at 100%, they look identical in terms of sharpness.

    Have you done any comparisons indoors under constant lighting to eliminate any atmospheric factors?
     
  10. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    70
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Thank you for the link. The images in that thread were akin to what I was expecting (albeit they have had a bit of post processing to clean them up). The reason I asked the question is that during the D200/300 era, a number of folks complained about soft NEF files. In truth, they need a bit of processing and sharpening to look their best. I was just wondering if the D500 files need a bit more post processing to bring out their best. Also, while I have shot with a number of bodies using Sony sensors (Olympus and Nikon), this is the first time I have worked with a BSI sensor. I know the ISO curve is a bit wonky on it, but that should not be causing a lack of contrast/focus.

    --Ken
     
  11. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    70
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Hi Ian,

    Good to see a familiar face from the "other side". :)  As I mentioned above, I did run the fine tuning "exercise" in my living room. I had expected some issues with the 300/4 as its focus seemed a bit off on the D610, and it was a lens that I bought used and did not get a chance to shoot it much after purchase. And while it did seem a bit off on the D500 during the manual and auto fine tune, the thing that gave me the most acceptable focus was to manually focus it in live view. The AF system just could not get the same level of focus no mater the tune setting.

    I did not expect this with the 70-200, but the results were quite similar. This was leading me to believe that perhaps the AF module was off. I tried some other shots with other lenses, and they looked a bit better, but still not what I was expecting, and not what I was getting from the E-M1. I will not rule out operator error, and I am the first to admit that I am not the person that you want to take a handheld shot with a long lens at 1/4 second with no stabilization, but I was not pushing the envelope in my test shots. Thst is why I have been trying to find good samples of raw files that have not been edited. This will let me know if I am being a bit unrealistic in my expectations in my reviewing/culling.

    --Ken
     
  12. The D500 does not employ BSI. That's the D850. By default raw files are unsharpened. You need to apply sharpening in post to your taste. As far as sooc jpegs, properly set up, the jpegs from the D500 are among the best I've seen IMHO. YMMV.
     
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  13. spoonbill

    spoonbill

    295
    Jan 25, 2013
    Indiana
    Ken..........further for me is that I do get pretty good results with the D500 on a 70-200 with and without a 1.4 shooting at my grandsons football games. But I still have noise at higher than 640 to 1000 ISO a problem. At the same time I updated with the new 500mm FL I also partook of the new 300 PF and I have mixed results with it even on the D500. I still need good luck.
     
  14. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    70
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    My apologies for the mis-statement. I equated BSI with Exmor technology, which to my understanding was influential in the design of the D500 sensor. Yes, raw files are unsharpened. The degree to which they need, and can take, sharpening, I find, is somewhat sensor dependent. Files from a recent D610 shoot required very little sharpening, making my life a bit easier and the post processing a bit faster. It is good to know that the jpeg engine can produce nice looking SOOC jpeg files. I normally only shoot raw and process, except when I am on a tight deadline or IQ is not a significant factor.

    --Ken
     
  15. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    70
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    If it is still under warranty, I would send it back to Nikon and see what they might be able to do. I know that is an option for me, but I find warranty repairs to be a hassle (not that an exchange isn't). The main thing I like to do before sending away gear is to make sure to rule out any operator error. That is what I am trying to do right now. I hope you get things worked out. You have a lot of nice glass, and it would be a shame not to be able to take full advantage of it.

    Good luck,

    --Ken
     
  16. BLev65

    BLev65

    31
    Oct 5, 2017
    Sharpness of files has never been a concern w/ respect to any of the 3 D500's I have owned (sold one, now have 2). I shoot as high as ISO 3200, but generally limit things to 1600.
    I have a suggestion when doing your comparison, as this may help you to determine if something is wrong with your D500. Compare your D500 to your EM1 with the same subject, same light, same focal length... etc.., use a tripod and use LiveView on the D500. This will show your the maximum detail, as live view should always give you optimum focus. If the image is sharp, then it's about your AF calibration.

    Final point... remember that an f/2.8 lens on the EM1 results in depth of field more like an f/5.6 lens on an FX body, and an f/2.8 lens on the D500 produces the depth of field equivalent to an f/4 lens on an FX body... your perception of "sharpness" may be more linked to the reduced area of confusion that will be inherent in a u4/3 body.
    cheers,
    bruce
     
  17. After 50K images with my first D500 (early adopter serial #101) I bought a 2nd
    to permanently mount my 200-500G. I do like the IQ of that D7200 sensor a tad
    more than the D500 but the AF speed and accuracy pushes the D7200 to back-up
    back-up duties. I shoot SOOC, rodeo my bread and butter...but sales of wildlife keep
    me in gas and beer money. Work on your settings and keep your AF sensor slits clean
    would be my advice. Took me about 3,000 images to dial mine in. Worth the effort. GL (y)

    D500 500 f4 VR SOOC hand held (this dude flew between me and some distant eagles I was shooting)

    DSC_0881-001.



    ~80% crop SOOC

    DSC_0600 (1)-001.


    FWIW, of my 14 AF lenses only 2 needed any "fine tuning"... a +1 and a +2
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
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  18. rick_reno

    rick_reno

    Dec 3, 2012
    N Idaho
    Ken, wish I was over there, I'd let you play around with mine. Are you anywhere near Ballard Camera? A friend recently told me she took her Camera there and they were very helpful in diagnosing a (non) problem she was experiencing.
     
  19. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    70
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Thank you for the reminders about DOF aat different sensor sizes. Always best to compare apples to apples whenever possible. What I would really like is to find another D500, but all of the Nikon shooters have either got older APS-C bodies or went full frame.

    --Ken
     
  20. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    70
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Nice images and nice gallery. Getting to Bosque during migration season is on my bucket list, especially after our visit to NM in the fall of 2016.

    Your images are what I am striving for from this body, but I am not sure what is the issue at hand. Still working on it.

    Thanks,

    --Ken
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
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