Nikon D500 vs D6
The Nikon D500 and the Nikon D6 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2016 and February 2020. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D500) and a full frame (D6) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 20.7 megapixels.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D500 and the Nikon D6? 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 physical size and weight of the Nikon D500 and the Nikon D6 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D6 is considerably larger (54 percent) than the Nikon D500. Moreover, the D6 is substantially heavier (48 percent) than the D500. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor (as in the D6) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (D500). You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D500 gets 1240 shots out of its EN-EL15 battery, while the D6 can take 3580 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18c power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D6 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the D500, Nikon provides the MB-D17 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|2.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon 80D||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|5.||Nikon D780||144 mm||116 mm||76 mm||840 g||2260||Y||Jan 2020||2,299|
|6.||Nikon D7500||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299|
|7.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|8.||Nikon D7200||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199|
|9.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|10.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|11.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|12.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|13.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|14.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|15.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|16.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|17.||Panasonic GH5||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 69 percent) than the D6, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D500 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D6 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D6 is 133 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, the D6 uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 6) than the D500 (EXPEED 5), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
Even though the D6 has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 20.7 megapixels. This implies that the D6 has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 6.44μm versus 4.22μm for the D500), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. In addition, the D6 is much more recent (by 4 years and 1 month) than the D500, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The Nikon D500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-1640000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D6 are ISO 100 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-3280000.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|5.||Nikon D780||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|9.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|10.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|12.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|13.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|14.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|16.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|17.||Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D500 and the D6 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D6 has a higher magnification than the one of the D500 (0.72x vs 0.67x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D500 and Nikon D6 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
The Nikon D500 and the Nikon D6 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D500 writes its imaging data to SDHC or XQD cards, while the D6 uses CFexpress or XQD cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
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 D500 and Nikon D6 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the D500 and the D6 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The D500 replaced the earlier Nikon D300S, while the D6 followed on from the Nikon D5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.
So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D500 better than the Nikon D6 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D500:
- 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.
- More compact: Is smaller (147x115mm vs 160x163mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 410g or 32 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (69 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2016).
Advantages of the Nikon D6:
- 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 jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 6 vs EXPEED 5).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.72x vs 0.67x).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (3580 versus 1240) out of a single battery charge.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 1 month of technical progress since the D500 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D6 is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 7 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 D500 and the Nikon D6 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D500 or the D6 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|2.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|5.||Nikon D780||5/5||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2020||2,299|
|6.||Nikon D7500||4.5/5||+ +||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299|
|7.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|8.||Nikon D7200||4/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199|
|9.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|10.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|11.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|12.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|13.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|14.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|15.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|16.||Nikon D3X||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|17.||Panasonic GH5||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Nikon D500 vs Nikon D6
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 D500||Nikon D6|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2016||February 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 1,999||USD 6,499|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D500||Nikon D6|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.7 mm||35.9 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||368.95 mm2||858.01 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||43.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.7 Megapixels||20.7 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5568 x 3712 pixels||5568 x 3712 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.22 μm||6.44 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.60 MP/cm2||2.41 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 1,640,000 ISO||50 - 3,280,000 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 5||EXPEED 6|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||83||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.0||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.0||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1324||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D500||Nikon D6|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||2359k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D500||Nikon D6|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||14 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations||400 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC or XQD cards||CFexpress or XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D500||Nikon D6|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D500||Nikon D6|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1240 shots per charge||3580 shots per charge|
147 x 115 x 81 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 3.2 in)
160 x 163 x 92 mm
(6.3 x 6.4 x 3.6 in)
|Camera Weight||860 g (30.3 oz)||1270 g (44.8 oz)|
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