Nikon D800 vs Nikon D500

  • Full frame
  • 36 megapixels
  • Nikon F
  • 54
    Overall
  • 34
    Imaging
  • 59
    Features
  • 69
    Size
  • 0
    Price
  • APS-C
  • 21 megapixels
  • Nikon F
  • 41
    Overall
  • 14
    Imaging
  • 97
    Features
  • 69
    Size
  • 0
    Price

Nikon D800 vs Nikon D500: a Complete Review and Comparison

Are you looking for the best camera to suit your needs? Due to a wide range of options, making a wise and weighted decision can be rather challenging. Which specs to keep in mind? What are the key pros and cons of each model? This comparison should give some helpful hints!

The goal of this overview is to provide a detailed comparison of two popular camera models from Semi-Pro DSLR category, introduced by Nikon. We are going to take a closer look at the technical and physical characteristics, features, and performance. The models we are going to assess and compare in this review are D800 and D500. Both products that we are going to review are equipped with the same type of sensor - CMOS. However, they have different resolution. Thus, Nikon D800 comes with a 36.0 MP CMOS sensor, while the Nikon D500 features a 21.0 MP CMOS sensor.

Now, before we can move on to our comparison, let's take a moment to look at the key characteristics of Nikon D800 and Nikon D500.

Nikon D800 Key Features:

  • 36.0 MP Full frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100 - 6400 (Expands to 25600)
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • 3.2″ Fixed Type Screen
  • ViewFinder: Yes
  • 4.0 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Video: 1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps)
  • Built-in Wireless: No
  • Dimensions: 146 x 123 x 82 mm
  • Weight: 900 g
  • Environmental Sealing: Yes
  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Replaced Nikon D700. Compare
  • Replaced by Nikon D810. Compare

Nikon D500 Key Features:

  • 21.0 MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100 - 51200 (Expands to 50 - 1640000)
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • 3.2″ Tilting Screen
  • ViewFinder: Yes
  • 10.0 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Video: 4K (UHD) 30p/25p/24p, 1080/60p/50p/30p/25p/24p, 720/60p/50p
  • Built-in Wireless: Yes
  • Dimensions: 147 x 115 x 81 mm
  • Weight: 860 g
  • Environmental Sealing: Yes
  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Replaced Nikon D300S. Compare

Since Nikon D800 has been around for some time, it was substituted by Nikon D810. Be sure to check out some of our other comparisons that may also interest you:
Nikon D800 vs. D810
Nikon D810 vs. Nikon D500

Being a newer model, Nikon D800 substituted Nikon D700. Be sure to check out some of our other comparisons that may also interest you:
Nikon D800 vs. D700
Nikon D700 vs. Nikon D500

Why is Nikon D800 a better choice than Nikon D500

Sensor Resolution 36.0 MP vs 21.0 MP 41.7% more pixels
Sensor Area 861.6 mm2 vs 368.95 mm2 57.2% larger pixel area
Built-In Flash Yes vs No All the lenses are stabilized
Flash Range 12 vs No 12 better flash range
Dxo Color Depth 25.3 vs 24 Better color depth
Dxo Dynamic Range 14.4 vs 14 Better dynamic range
Dxo Low Light Iso 2853 vs 1324 Better High ISO performance
Viewfinder Magnification 0.7 vs 0.66 0.04 better magnification

What are the key reasons to pick Nikon D500 over Nikon D800

Wireless Connectivity Built-In vs No Better connectivity
NFC Yes vs No Easy wireless connectivity with compatible devices
Bluetooth Yes vs No Connect your camera to other devices via Bluetooth
Continuous Shooting 10 fps vs 4 fps 6 fps faster
Number Of Focus Points 153 vs 51 102 more focus points
Number Of Cross Focus Points 99 vs 15 84 more cross focus points
Screen Resolution 2,359k dots vs 921k dots 61% higher resolution screen
Touch Screen Yes vs No Easy control of camera functions
Battery Life 1240 shots vs 900 shots 340 more frames with a single charge
Weight 860 g vs 900 g 40 g lighter
Max Video Resolution 3840 x 2160 vs 1920 x 1080 Higher Resolution Video

Key PROs of Nikon D800 and Nikon D500

Screen Size 3.2″ | 3.2″ Large display
Viewfinder Optical (pentaprism) | Optical (pentaprism) Better framing and control
Raw Support Yes | Yes Better image quality
AutoFocus Face Detection Yes | Yes Very handy for portraits
Microphone Port Yes | Yes High quality audio recording option
Headphone Port Yes | Yes Better video control
Timelapse Recording Yes | Yes Creative shooting
Storage Slots 2 slots | 2 slots Extra Storage Slots
Bracketing Yes | Yes Useful for tough lighting conditions and HDR
Flash Sync Port Yes | Yes Port for Flash Sync
Environmental Sealing Yes | Yes Shoot at tough conditions
Battery Life 900 shots | 1240 shots Big number of frames with a single charge

Key CONs of Nikon D800 and Nikon D500

Image Stabilization No | No No image stabilization

Nikon D800 vs Nikon D500: Comparing Two Models By Physical Characteristics

Before heading straight to the technical characteristics of each model, let’s start with comparing their physical specs. Let’s start with looking at the physical difference of the two products. Below are images that clearly show the sizes of Nikon D800 and Nikon D500 from the front view.

Nikon D800
Nikon D500
HTML
BB

Now, let’s go on and see how the reviewed models are different or similar by the top view.

Nikon D800
Nikon D500
HTML
BB

After looking at these images, you should get a clear idea of each model’s dimensions and how they are different from each other. However, we are not going to stop there. The next characteristic worth looking at is the weight. Of course, not every photographer is concerned about the weight, for example, it wouldn't be a decisive point for those who shoot in a studio. However, it is still an important factor because if you happen to go on a long photo session or just love having the camera with you wherever you go, you want to be sure that the chosen model isn't too heavy.

Speaking of weight, Nikon D500 is a lighter option of these two, as it weights 40g less than the Nikon D800. This difference, in fact, can become a significant disadvantage for the photographers, who prefer to have their cameras with them wherever they go.

Battery values for Semi-Pro DSLR cameras:
Nikon D800 — 900 shots
Nikon D500 — 1240 shots
Min: 390 shots
Average: 871 shots
Max: 1840 shots
Thickness values for Semi-Pro DSLR cameras:
Nikon D800 — 82 mm
Nikon D500 — 81 mm
Min: 64 mm
Average: 75 mm
Max: 86 mm
Weight values for Semi-Pro DSLR cameras:
Nikon D800 — 900 g
Nikon D500 — 860 g
Min: 479 g
Average: 783 g
Max: 1074 g

Comparing Nikon D800 and Nikon D500 by the type of Sensor and Resolution

Sensor is, without a doubt, the most significant element of every digital camera. Its type, size, and resolution are the factors that define the quality of future shots. Thus, it is barely possible to pick a suitable camera without looking at these specs.

Are Nikon D800 and Nikon D500 any different in terms of sensor type?

In fact, that's exactly what makes these two models really different. Thus, it is a good point to consider if your are choosing between these two cameras. Nikon D800 features a 36.0 MP Full frame sized CMOS sensor . Nikon D500, in its turn, comes with a 21.0 MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor , which makes it significantly different from the first model.

Take a look below to find the comparison of Nikon D800 and Nikon D500 by the size of their sensors.

Nikon D800
Nikon D500
HTML
BB

One more distinctive feature of compared models is the sensor size. Nikon D800 has a sensor area 0.4x bigger compared to Nikon D500. What does it mean? This basically means that if you these cameras them with the same aperture and focal length, the first model will give you more control in terms of the blurry background and depth of field.

For Which Fields Of Photography Are Nikon D800 and Nikon D500 Suitable?

If you are interested in photography or has made a career in this field, you should know that different types of shooting actually require different camera characteristics. While one model can produce outstanding portraits, at the same time, it can be terrible for shooting landscapes, and so on. Thus, before you purchase a specific camera, it is vital to decide, which type of shooting you do most often and consider an option that suits it the most.

This section of our comparison is devoted to the performance of Nikon D800 and Nikon D500 in different fields of photography. Here we are going to look at the five main areas and evaluate how well each of the reviewed models performs in them. This will help you choose an option that suits your needs the most depending on your interest in one or several of these fields.

Photography Type Nikon D800 Nikon D500
Portrait Photography
94%
91%
Street Photography
90%
88%
Sports Photography
92%
99%
Daily Photography
58%
71%
Landscape Photography
99%
97%

Nikon D800 for Portrait Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (36 MP)
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Face Detection Focusing

Disadvantages:

  • You might not like Nikon skintone
  • No Image Stabilization

Nikon D500 for Portrait Photography

Advantages:

  • Large APS-C (23.5 x 15.7 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (21 MP)
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Face Detection Focusing

Disadvantages:

  • You might not like Nikon skintone
  • No Image Stabilization

Nikon D800 for Street Photography

Advantages:

  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Large Full frame(35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • Big battery life (900 shots)

Disadvantages:

  • Big size (146 x 123 x 82 mm)
  • No Image Stabilization

Nikon D500 for Street Photography

Advantages:

  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Large APS-C(23.5 x 15.7 mm) sensor
  • Big battery life (1240 shots)

Disadvantages:

  • Big size (147 x 115 x 81 mm)
  • No Image Stabilization

Nikon D800 for Sports Photography

Advantages:

  • Environmental Sealing
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Big Number of autofocus Points (51)
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2853)
  • Big size (146 x 123 x 82 mm)

Disadvantages:

  • Slow Continuous Shooting (4.0 fps)
  • Small Number of CrossFocus Points (15)
  • Bad Max Native ISO (6400)

Nikon D500 for Sports Photography

Advantages:

  • Environmental Sealing
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Big Number of autofocus Points (153)
  • Big Number of CrossFocus Points (99)
  • Big battery life (1240 shots)
  • Big size (147 x 115 x 81 mm)

Disadvantages:

  • Slow Continuous Shooting (10.0 fps)

Nikon D800 for Daily Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • Built-in Flash
  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Video is available

Disadvantages:

  • Big weight (900 g)
  • Big size (146 x 123 x 82 mm)

Nikon D500 for Daily Photography

Advantages:

  • Large APS-C (23.5 x 15.7 mm) sensor
  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Wireless Connectivity
  • Video is available

Disadvantages:

  • Big weight (860 g)
  • Big size (147 x 115 x 81 mm)
  • No Built-in Flash

Nikon D800 for Landscape Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (36 MP)
  • Good Dynamic Range (14.4)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Live View
  • RAW Support
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2853)

Disadvantages:

  • Bad Max Native ISO (6400)

Nikon D500 for Landscape Photography

Advantages:

  • Large APS-C (23.5 x 15.7 mm) sensor
  • Good Dynamic Range (14.0)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Live View
  • RAW Support

Disadvantages:

  • Low resolution sensor (21 MP)

Comparison of Nikon D800 vs Nikon D500: Final Verdict

Hopefully, our detailed overview of these models has helped you consider all the main specs, pros and cons of each cameras. Maybe, after reading this comparison, some of you have already decided which option to opt for depending on your needs and preferences. However, if you are still wondering which option is a better choice, Nikon D800 or Nikon D500, below you can see what scores each of them received in five different aspects. To wrap up, we have used our unique Decision Algorithm that assesses different camera models upon 63 different factors including their price, and, if possible, DxO Mark scores. This algorithm allows us to make our verdict more consistent and objective.

What is our final verdict? Based on our comparison and the final scores of Nikon D800 and Nikon D500 here is what we can say in conclusion:

According all the factors that we considered in the process of comparing these two cameras, Nikon D800 deserves a higher Total Score than the Nikon D500. Thus, if you are choosing between these options, we would recommend you to choose the first model over the other one.

Nikon D800 vs Nikon D500 Table Of Technical Specs

For better understanding of each model’s technical characteristics, find the detailed comparison below:

Nikon D800 Nikon D500
General
Brand Nikon Nikon
Model D800 D500
Announced Jun 11, 2012 Jan 05, 2016
Body Type Mid-size SLR Mid-size SLR
Sensor
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Sensor Size Full frame APS-C
Sensor Dimensions 35.9 x 24 mm 23.5 x 15.7 mm
Sensor Area 861.60 mm2 368.95 mm2
Sensor Resolution 36.0 MP 21.0 MP
Max Image Resolution 7360 x 4912 5568 x 3712
Max Native ISO 6,400 51,200
Max Boosted ISO 25,600 1,640,000
Min Native ISO 100 100
RAW Support Yes Yes
Lens
Manual Focus Yes Yes
Lens Mount Nikon F Nikon F
Number of Lenses 287 287
Focal Length Multiplier 1x 1.5x
Macro Focus Range
AutoFocus
AF Touch No Yes
AF Continuous Yes Yes
AF Single Yes Yes
AF Tracking Yes Yes
AF Selective Yes Yes
AF Center No Yes
AF Multi Area Yes Yes
AF Live View Yes Yes
AF Face Detection Yes Yes
AF Contrast Detection No Yes
AF Phase Detection Yes Yes
Number of Focus Points 51 153
Number of Cross Focus Points 15 99
Screen
Screen Type Fixed Type Tilting
Screen Size 3.2″ 3.2″
Screen Resolution 921k dots 2,359k dots
Live View Yes Yes
Touch Screen No Yes
ViewFinder
ViewFinder Optical (pentaprism) Optical (pentaprism)
ViewFinder Resolution 0k dots 0k dots
ViewFinder Coverage 100% 100%
ViewFinder Magnification 0.7 0.66
Photography Features
Min Shutter Speed 30 s 30 s
Max Shutter Speed 1/8000 s 1/8000 s
Continuous Shooting 4.0 fps 10.0 fps
Shutter Priority Yes Yes
Aperture Priority Yes Yes
Manual Exposure Mode Yes Yes
Exposure Compensation Yes Yes
Custom White Balance Yes Yes
Image Stabilization No No
Built-in Flash Yes No
Flash Range 12 0
Flash Modes Auto, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear curtain, High-speed sync Auto, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear curtain
External Flash Yes Yes
AE Bracketing Yes Yes
WB Bracketing Yes Yes
Exposure Modes
Multi-Segment Yes Yes
Average Yes Yes
Spot Yes Yes
Partial No Yes
AF-Area No Yes
Center Weighted Yes Yes
DxO Sensor Scores
DxO Sensor Score 95 83
DxO Color Depth 25.3 24.0
DxO Dynamic Range 14.4 14.0
DxO Low Light ISO 2853 1324
Video Features
Video Resolutions 1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps) 4K (UHD) 30p/25p/24p, 1080/60p/50p/30p/25p/24p, 720/60p/50p
Max Video Resolution 1920 x 1080 3840 x 2160
Video Formats MPEG-4, H.264 MPEG-4, H.264
Microphone Port Yes Yes
Headphone Port Yes Yes
Connectivity
Wireless Connectivity No Yes
HDMI Yes Yes
USB USB 3.0 USB 3.0
Physical
Environmental Sealing Yes Yes
Water Proof No No
Dust Proof No Yes
Shock Proof No No
Crush Proof No No
Freeze Proof No No
Weight 900 g 860 g
Physical Dimensions 146 x 123 x 82 mm 147 x 115 x 81 mm
Battery Life 900 shots 1240 shots
Battery Type Battery Pack Battery Pack
Battery Model EN-EL15 EN-EL15
Other Features
Self Timer Yes Yes
Timelapse Recording Yes Yes
GPS Optional Optional
Storage Type Compact Flash (Type I), SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I compliant XQD/SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II compliant)
Storage Slots 2 2

Most popular cameras

Fujifilm X-T3 26.0 MP BSI-CMOS
APS-C
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 20.0 MP CMOS
Four Thirds
Nikon D610 24.0 MP CMOS
Full frame
Sony Alpha A7S 12.0 MP CMOS
Full frame
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV 30.0 MP CMOS
Full frame