For the last two weeks I have been busy exploring a new camera system.
Ironically it is the same camera and lens that I exchanged for my Fujifilm X-System.
I have been very happy with the Fujifilm X-T3 and the XF100-400/f4.5-5.6 when shooting slow moving animals such as deer.
But I have been runnung into issues with very fast action such as birds in flight.
The inconsistency of the AF when tracking birds has made me re-evaluate my options for this specific purpose.
So I have added the Nikon D500 and the Nikon 200-500/f5.6 to my kit.
I have had the two systems now for 10 days and shot with both side by side on several shoots. The difference is very noticable.
The mirrorless X-T3 has some advantages such as the electronic viewfinder (EVF).
This allows me to see the exposure directly in the viewfinder as well as a live histogram and a digital horizon.
But the EVF also has its problems.
There is a slight lag in the display, just enough that tracking very fast action can be problematic.
The other issue is the framerate of the screen slowing down during high speed shooting. The framerate drops a bit and the EVF can get a bit jerky.
I never noticed this during my normal wildlife shooting as the action was never that fast.
The second difference between the D500 and the X-T3 is the AF.
The D500 has the same AF module as the D5 flagship model and it is simply incredible.
153 focus points covering most of the APS-C sensor. Not as many or as flexible as the X-T3, but the AF performance is in a different league.
I won’t cover the specifics in detail in this post – that will be for another post – but the keeper rate is much higher with the D500.
It just locks on target and almost every frame is sharp as long as I keep the AF point on target.
For now I will just post a sequence of two swans coming towards me as fast as they can fly. I was caught by surprise and had to quickly swing around and grab focus. This is where a fast and accurate AF system really counts.
The D500 shoots at 10fps in high speed mode – not as fast as the X-T3 at 11-30fps – but unlike the X-T3 the D500 delivers a sharp image practically every time.
Here are 8 images from a sequence of about 20 shots. Only the first 2 frames where not tack sharp as I was still getting into position.
When shooting wildlife you only get one chance to capture a moment.
Having the right tool for that job makes all the difference.
Larger images here: