Nikon B500 vs Zeiss ZX1
The Nikon Coolpix B500 and the Zeiss ZX1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2016 and September 2018. Both the B500 and the ZX1 are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on a 1/2.3-inch (B500) and a full frame (ZX1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Zeiss provides 37.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Nikon B500||Zeiss ZX1|
|Fixed lens compact camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|22.5-900mm f/3-6.5||35mm f/2.8|
|15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor||37.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|1080/60i Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 80-6400||ISO 80-51200|
|No viewfinder, LCD framing||Electronic viewfinder (6221k dots)|
|3.0" LCD, 921k dots||4.3" LCD, 2765k dots|
|Tilting screen (no touchscreen)||Fixed touchscreen|
|7.4 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|600 shots per battery charge||250 shots per battery charge|
|114 x 78 x 95 mm, 541 g||142 x 93 x 46 mm, 800 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon Coolpix B500 and the Zeiss ZX1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon B500 and the Zeiss ZX1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The B500 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the ZX1 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Zeiss ZX1 is considerably larger (49 percent) than the Nikon B500. Moreover, the ZX1 is substantially heavier (48 percent) than the B500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the B500 nor the ZX1 are weather-sealed.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Nikon B500»||4.5 in||3.1 in||3.7 in||19.1 oz||600||n||Jan 2016||299||Nikon B500|
|Zeiss ZX1«||5.6 in||3.7 in||1.8 in||28.2 oz||250||n||Sep 2018||4,199||Zeiss ZX1|
|Leica Q2« »||5.1 in||3.1 in||3.6 in||25.3 oz||370||Y||Mar 2019||4,995||Leica Q2|
|Leica M10« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||Leica M10|
|Leica Q Typ 116« »||5.1 in||3.1 in||3.7 in||22.6 oz||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249||Leica Q Typ 116|
|Nikon B600« »||4.8 in||3.2 in||3.9 in||17.6 oz||280||n||Jan 2019||349||Nikon B600|
|Nikon A1000« »||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.6 in||11.6 oz||250||n||Jan 2019||429||Nikon A1000|
|Nikon P1000« »||5.7 in||4.7 in||7.1 in||49.9 oz||250||n||Jul 2018||999||Nikon P1000|
|Nikon W300« »||4.4 in||2.6 in||1.1 in||8.1 oz||280||Y||May 2017||389||Nikon W300|
|Nikon B700« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||4.2 in||19.9 oz||350||n||Feb 2016||499||Nikon B700|
|Nikon P900« »||5.5 in||4.1 in||5.4 in||31.7 oz||360||n||Mar 2015||599||Nikon P900|
|Nikon L840« »||4.4 in||3.1 in||3.8 in||19.0 oz||590||n||Feb 2015||299||Nikon L840|
|Panasonic FZ80« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||4.7 in||21.7 oz||330||n||Jan 2017||399||Panasonic FZ80|
|Panasonic FZ1000« »||5.4 in||3.9 in||5.2 in||29.3 oz||360||n||Jun 2014||899||Panasonic FZ1000|
|Sony HX80« »||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.4 in||8.6 oz||390||n||Mar 2016||349||Sony HX80|
|Sony RX1R II« »||4.4 in||2.6 in||2.8 in||17.9 oz||220||n||Oct 2015||3,299||Sony RX1R II|
|Sony H200« »||4.8 in||3.3 in||3.4 in||18.7 oz||240||n||Jan 2013||249||Sony H200|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The B500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 93 percent) than the ZX1, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon B500 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Zeiss ZX1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the ZX1 is 2986 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.0. The sensor in the B500 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the ZX1 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 37.4MP, the ZX1 offers a higher resolution than the B500 (15.9MP), but the ZX1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.81μm versus 1.33μm for the B500) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the ZX1 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 8 months) than the B500, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the B500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Zeiss ZX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the ZX1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.4 x 25 inch or 95.1 x 63.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inch or 76.1 x 50.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.6 inch or 63.4 x 42.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon B500 are 23 x 17.3 inch or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inch or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inch or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon Coolpix B500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Zeiss ZX1 are ISO 80 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Nikon B500||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||..||..||..||..||Nikon B500|
|Zeiss ZX1||Full Frame||37.4||7488||4992||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Zeiss ZX1|
|Leica Q2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/30p||26.4||13.5||2491||96||Leica Q2|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86||Leica M10|
|Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85||Leica Q Typ 116|
|Nikon B600||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..||Nikon B600|
|Nikon A1000||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Nikon A1000|
|Nikon P1000||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Nikon P1000|
|Nikon W300||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Nikon W300|
|Nikon B700||1/2.3||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Nikon B700|
|Nikon P900||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Nikon P900|
|Nikon L840||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||..||..||..||..||Nikon L840|
|Panasonic FZ80||1/2.3||18.0||4896||3672||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Panasonic FZ80|
|Panasonic FZ1000||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.1||11.7||517||64||Panasonic FZ1000|
|Sony HX80||1/2.3||18.0||4896||3672||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Sony HX80|
|Sony RX1R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||1080/60p||25.8||13.9||3204||97||Sony RX1R II|
|Sony H200||1/2.3||15.2||5184||2930||720/30p||..||..||..||..||Sony H200|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the ZX1 provides a better video resolution than the B500. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the ZX1 has an electronic viewfinder (6221k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the B500 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon B500 and Zeiss ZX1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Nikon B500||none||n||3.0||921||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.4||Y||Y||Nikon B500|
|Zeiss ZX1||6221||n||4.3||2765||fixed||Y||1/1000s||3.0||n||n||Zeiss ZX1|
|Leica Q2||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||20.0||n||Y||Leica Q2|
|Leica M10||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10|
|Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y||Leica Q Typ 116|
|Nikon B600||none||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||7.4||Y||Y||Nikon B600|
|Nikon A1000||1166||n||3.0||1036||tilting||Y||1/4000s||7.0||Y||Y||Nikon A1000|
|Nikon P1000||2359||n||3.2||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||7.0||Y||Y||Nikon P1000|
|Nikon W300||none||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||7.0||Y||Y||Nikon W300|
|Nikon B700||921||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||Y||Nikon B700|
|Nikon P900||921||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||7.0||Y||Y||Nikon P900|
|Nikon L840||none||n||3.0||921||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.4||Y||Y||Nikon L840|
|Panasonic FZ80||1166||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y||Panasonic FZ80|
|Panasonic FZ1000||2359||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y||Panasonic FZ1000|
|Sony HX80||638||n||3.0||922||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y||Sony HX80|
|Sony RX1R II||2360||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Sony RX1R II|
|Sony H200||none||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/1500s||0.8||Y||Y||Sony H200|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The B500 has one, while the ZX1 does not. While the built-in flash of the B500 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the ZX1 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The B500 is equipped with a zoom lens, while the ZX1 comes with a built-in prime. The B500 has a 22.5-900mm f/3-6.5 optic and the ZX1 offers a 35mm f/2.8 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the Nikon provides a wider angle of view at the short end, as well as more tele-photo reach at the long end than the Zeiss. The ZX1 offers the faster maximum aperture.
The B500 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the ZX1 uses an internal SSD.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon Coolpix B500 and Zeiss ZX1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Nikon B500||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon B500|
|Zeiss ZX1||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Zeiss ZX1|
|Leica Q2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||none||Y||-||Y||Leica Q2|
|Leica M10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||none||Y||-||-||Leica M10|
|Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Leica Q Typ 116|
|Nikon B600||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y||Nikon B600|
|Nikon A1000||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y||Nikon A1000|
|Nikon P1000||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y||Nikon P1000|
|Nikon W300||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y||Nikon W300|
|Nikon B700||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon B700|
|Nikon P900||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Nikon P900|
|Nikon L840||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Nikon L840|
|Panasonic FZ80||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Panasonic FZ80|
|Panasonic FZ1000||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic FZ1000|
|Sony HX80||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony HX80|
|Sony RX1R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony RX1R II|
|Sony H200||-||mono||mono||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Sony H200|
It is notable that the ZX1 has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The B500 does not feature such an accessory-socket.
The ZX1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Zeiss. In contrast, the B500 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the B500 was succeeded by the Nikon B600. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Zeiss websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon B500 or the Zeiss ZX1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Nikon Coolpix B500:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/1000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7.4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
- More compact: Is smaller (114x78mm vs 142x93mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 259g or 32 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (600 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (93 percent cheaper at launch).
Reasons to prefer the Zeiss ZX1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (37.4 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 56%.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (4.3" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2765k vs 921k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/2.8 vs f/3).
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- More prestigious: Has the Zeiss luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the ZX1 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 11 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon B500 and the Zeiss ZX1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the B500 and the ZX1 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Nikon B500 vs Zeiss ZX1
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon B500||Zeiss ZX1|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||22.5-900mm f/3-6.5||35mm f/2.8|
|Launch Date||January 2016||September 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 299||USD 4199|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon B500||Zeiss ZX1|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||37.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||7488 x 4992 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||4.81 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||4.33 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80-6400 ISO||80-51200 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Nikon B500||Zeiss ZX1|
|Viewfinder Type||No viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||6221k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||4.3 inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||2765k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon B500||Zeiss ZX1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||7.4 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/8000s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||Internal SSD|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single SSD|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon B500||Zeiss ZX1|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon B500||Zeiss ZX1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||600 shots per charge||250 shots per charge|
114 x 78 x 95 mm
(4.5 x 3.1 x 3.7 in)
142 x 93 x 46 mm
(5.6 x 3.7 x 1.8 in)
|Camera Weight||541 g (19.1 oz)||800 g (28.2 oz)|
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