My thoughts on Nikon D500 for sports

Joined
Feb 27, 2015
Messages
198
Andy,

Great questions....and after having the D500 for a little over a week, I would say this. The D500 is a very nice DX camera. It is the best crop sensor camera I have ever owned/shot. Nice high(er) ISO -- and the best AF system I have ever shot (and I am including my Nikon D4 in that conversation.)

However, the D500 is no D3s/D4. It is not just a matter of high ISO where the D3s/D4 are remarkable (and the D5 seems to be crazy good.) To me, those FX bodies are better when it comes to rendering color. And while I can't put my finger on what it is, but there is something "missing" in DX photos that I have become accustomed to with my FX bodies. It's almost a 3D "depth" that I personally am not seeing on my D500 images the way I see them on the D3s/D4.

I have not shot the D500 for night baseball yet, but did shoot a girls lacrosse game that finished with the lights on. However, because the days are getting longer, the stadium lights were aided by the setting sun, and I don't think I ever got above ISO6400. I will post some of them here. I have to say the Anti-Flicker feature was outstanding and seems to work amazingly well. No noticable ugly color shifts in any of the 1,000+ shots taken during the game.

With all that being said, there is one very big issue with using the D500 for shooting baseball -- and this will make most people laugh. The D500 gets you too close to the action. I shoot large field sports with the Nikon 400 f/2.8 AFS-II -- and with the D500, I literally have to move AT LEAST 50 feet beyond the third base or first base in order to get the entire batter in the frame. You can't get the entire pitcher's body in the shot. Plays on the near side of the field are impossible to shoot without chopping body parts/limbs. The only solution that I see is to ditch the 400 f/2.8 (which is an obscene thought) and buy a 200-400 f/4 to shoot field sports with....However, the 200-400 presents another problem -- and that is the max aperture is f/4. I know the D500 has a nice high(er) ISO capability, but I really don't have much confidence that f/4 will work on the high school baseball/football/soccer/lacrosse fields. And as you know, buying a 200-400 becomes a rather expensive "experiment" to find out.

With all those things being said, I plan to say with a pair of Nikon D4 bodies -- and may take a serious look at the D5 because that AF system is UNBELIEVABLE.

Hope that helps.

300mm 2.8 VR or the 120-300mm 2.8 sport would serve you well. I traded the 200-400 for the 300 and rarely miss it.
 
Joined
May 11, 2006
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Randy
That is precisely why I bought the D500...wanted the best of both worlds. However, what I have come to realize is that I have upgraded lenses over the years to work best with the FX bodies I owned. If I had kept a 300 2.8 when I bought the 400 2.8, the D500 might be a perfect solution. Yet -- and this is a huge consideration -- based on where and what I shoot, the D500 is not the right camera FOR ME. That is not to say that it won't work for you or for someone else, but FOR ME, it is not going to be a solution.
even if you had kept the 300vr the D500 is not a low light sports body, IMO of course, I've seen plenty of good light high iso shots from the D500 and they are not even close to what the D4 does, let alone low light D500 shots where you might need to lift some shadows. But the D500 will be a great (decent light) body and add the Sigma 120-300 and you have almost complete field coverage
 
Joined
May 11, 2006
Messages
44,480
Location
CHARLOTTE
Real Name
Randy
Andy,

Great questions....and after having the D500 for a little over a week, I would say this. The D500 is a very nice DX camera. It is the best crop sensor camera I have ever owned/shot. Nice high(er) ISO -- and the best AF system I have ever shot (and I am including my Nikon D4 in that conversation.)

However, the D500 is no D3s/D4. It is not just a matter of high ISO where the D3s/D4 are remarkable (and the D5 seems to be crazy good.) To me, those FX bodies are better when it comes to rendering color. And while I can't put my finger on what it is, but there is something "missing" in DX photos that I have become accustomed to with my FX bodies. It's almost a 3D "depth" that I personally am not seeing on my D500 images the way I see them on the D3s/D4.

I have not shot the D500 for night baseball yet, but did shoot a girls lacrosse game that finished with the lights on. However, because the days are getting longer, the stadium lights were aided by the setting sun, and I don't think I ever got above ISO6400. I will post some of them here. I have to say the Anti-Flicker feature was outstanding and seems to work amazingly well. No noticable ugly color shifts in any of the 1,000+ shots taken during the game.

With all that being said, there is one very big issue with using the D500 for shooting baseball -- and this will make most people laugh. The D500 gets you too close to the action. I shoot large field sports with the Nikon 400 f/2.8 AFS-II -- and with the D500, I literally have to move AT LEAST 50 feet beyond the third base or first base in order to get the entire batter in the frame. You can't get the entire pitcher's body in the shot. Plays on the near side of the field are impossible to shoot without chopping body parts/limbs. The only solution that I see is to ditch the 400 f/2.8 (which is an obscene thought) and buy a 200-400 f/4 to shoot field sports with....However, the 200-400 presents another problem -- and that is the max aperture is f/4. I know the D500 has a nice high(er) ISO capability, but I really don't have much confidence that f/4 will work on the high school baseball/football/soccer/lacrosse fields. And as you know, buying a 200-400 becomes a rather expensive "experiment" to find out.

With all those things being said, I plan to say with a pair of Nikon D4 bodies -- and may take a serious look at the D5 because that AF system is UNBELIEVABLE.

Hope that helps.

I think you are seeing a thinner DOF at f/2.8 which creates a 3d effect, especially for field sports where a player is running at you. I would not sell the 400/2.8 nor would I buy the 200-400. I will use the D500 for day sports and almost always w/ the sigma 120-300. For night sports I switch to a D4/400vr
 
Joined
Nov 4, 2011
Messages
421
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
I think you are seeing a thinner DOF at f/2.8 which creates a 3d effect, especially for field sports where a player is running at you. I would not sell the 400/2.8 nor would I buy the 200-400. I will use the D500 for day sports and almost always w/ the sigma 120-300. For night sports I switch to a D4/400vr

As always, you are right on the money Randy. The shallow DOF on the FX bodies is amazing. Add to that the length and compression of the 400 and it is a killer combination. I bought a copy of the Sigma 120-300 Sport when it first came out, but the copy I had was very hit and miss when it came to focus acquisition. I sent it back, but I think from a focal length standpoint it would be perfect for baseball on the D500.
 
Joined
May 12, 2008
Messages
157
Location
Philadelphia area (Brookhaven)
Andreas, thanks so much for your input on the D500. I'm still planning to get one, but no pressure until the fall games start. I'd still like to see some of your night sports photos under the vapor lights. That's the area I'm most looking for improvement on over my D7100 80-200/f2.8 combo. I seldom get much usable material once the sky lighting if fully gone - some of that is technique (or lack of same), but I'm hoping some improvement will come to me via technology :)
Gary
 
Joined
May 12, 2008
Messages
157
Location
Philadelphia area (Brookhaven)
On the DoF thing, I can see where it is important when you want to single out a player over a broad area like a baseball field or pick out a single player in a group. You want the target to standout.

When I'm shooting lacrosse or football at the local highschool, I'm trying to get multiple players in reasonable focus within a tight area. In that case I actually try to increase the DoF. While the parents love shots of just their kid, those shots don't really show the game.

Works pretty well with the D7100 considering this is a hobby and a little fuzziness doesn't matter to the players or parents looking at the photos. :) So similar results for the D500 with perhaps better focus under the horrible school lighting, will be a plus for shooters like me.

Gary
 
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