Nikon D500 vs P900
The Nikon D500 and the Nikon Coolpix P900 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2016 and March 2015. The D500 is a DSLR, while the P900 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D500) and a 1/2.3-inch (P900) sensor. The D500 has a resolution of 20.7 megapixels, whereas the P900 provides 15.9 MP.
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 Coolpix P900? 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 P900 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures 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 P900 is notably smaller (15 percent) than the Nikon D500. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D500 is splash and dust resistant, while the P900 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the P900 has a lens built in, whereas the D500 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D500 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D500 gets 1240 shots out of its EN-EL15 battery, while the P900 can take 360 images on a single charge of its EN-EL23 power pack. The power pack in the P900 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 P900||140 mm||103 mm||137 mm||899 g||360||n||Mar 2015||599|
|3.||Nikon P950||140 mm||110 mm||150 mm||1005 g||290||n||Jan 2020||799|
|4.||Nikon P1000||146 mm||119 mm||181 mm||1415 g||250||n||Jul 2018||999|
|5.||Nikon D7500||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299|
|6.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|7.||Nikon B700||125 mm||85 mm||107 mm||565 g||350||n||Feb 2016||499|
|8.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|9.||Nikon B500||114 mm||78 mm||95 mm||541 g||600||n||Jan 2016||299|
|10.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|11.||Nikon D7200||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199|
|12.||Nikon L840||113 mm||78 mm||96 mm||538 g||590||n||Feb 2015||299|
|13.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|14.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|15.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|16.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|17.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The P900 was launched at a lower price than the D500, despite having a lens built in. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
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. 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D500 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon P900 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the P900 is 92 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 5.6. The sensor in the D500 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the P900 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 20.7MP, the D500 offers a higher resolution than the P900 (15.9MP), but the D500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.22μm versus 1.33μm for the P900) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the P900, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.8 x 18.6 inches or 70.7 x 47.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 22.3 x 14.8 inches or 56.6 x 37.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.6 x 12.4 inches or 47.1 x 31.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon P900 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
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 Coolpix P900 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-12800.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|13.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|15.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|16.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D500 provides a higher video resolution than the P900. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the P900 is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the P900 has an electronic viewfinder (921k dots), while the D500 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D500 and Nikon P900 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One feature that is present on the D500, but is missing on the P900 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The P900 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the D500 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Nikon D500 and the Nikon P900 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 P900 uses SDXC cards. The D500 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the P900 only has one slot. The D500 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the P900 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 Coolpix P900 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the D500 has a hotshoe, while the P900 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D500 (unlike the P900) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the P900 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
The D500 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the P900 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the P900 was succeeded by the Nikon P950. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D500 or the Nikon P900 – 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.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D500:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.7 vs 15.9MP) with a 16% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging 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 1080/60p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 921k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1240 versus 360) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II) SDXC cards.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 10 months after the P900).
Advantages of the Nikon Coolpix P900:
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D500 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (140x103mm vs 147x115mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2015).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D500 is the clear winner of the match-up (25 : 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 P900 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Superzoom Camera listings 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 P900 perform in practice. 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 (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 P900||..||..||77/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2015||599|
|3.||Nikon P950||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2020||799|
|4.||Nikon P1000||..||+||73/100||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jul 2018||999|
|5.||Nikon D7500||4.5/5||+ +||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299|
|6.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|7.||Nikon B700||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2016||499|
|8.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|9.||Nikon B500||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2016||299|
|10.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|11.||Nikon D7200||4/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199|
|12.||Nikon L840||..||+ +||..||3.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||299|
|13.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|14.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|15.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|16.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|17.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Nikon D500 vs Nikon P900
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 P900|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||24-2000mm f/2.8-6.5|
|Launch Date||January 2016||March 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 1,999||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D500||Nikon P900|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.7 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||368.95 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.7 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5568 x 3712 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.22 μm||1.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.60 MP/cm2||56.73 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 1,640,000 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 5||EXPEED C2|
|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 P900|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||921k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2359k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D500||Nikon P900|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC or XQD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D500||Nikon P900|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D500||Nikon P900|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1240 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
147 x 115 x 81 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 3.2 in)
140 x 103 x 137 mm
(5.5 x 4.1 x 5.4 in)
|Camera Weight||860 g (30.3 oz)||899 g (31.7 oz)|
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