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Nikon D500 and Aquatica AD500 first impressions

Nikon D500 Aquatica AD500 Tokina 10-17mm Byron Bay Grey Nurse Sharks DX Ikelite ds161

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#1 Aussiebyron

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 02:38 AM

I have been shooting my D500 in a Aquatica AD500 housing for a week and I have to say I am impressed with both the camera and the housings performance.  Previously I have been shooting with a Nikon D7000 in an Aquatica and have been waiting like a lot of people for a replacement and when I saw the specs of this camera I pre-ordered both the camera and housing straight away.  Camera arrived first and first thing I wanted to play with was the 10fps on land based wildlife and surfers and this is where I found that one requires XQD2 cards to be able to achieve 10fps for 200 shots.  Fast SD cards were only able to shoot 15 or so frames before the buffer became bogged down but once I recieved the Lexar PRO XGD2 card it was awesome to be able to shoot 10fps for total of 200 shots (this is only in RAW) if you shoot RAW with JPG the buffer only holds 75 shots (something to think about if your like me who likes to shoot both RAW and JPG at the same time).  AF on land as everyone has also reported is fast and very accurate. I also had an issue with the D500 raw (NEF) files not compatable with PS CS6 and I had to convert the files to DNG with a free adobe RAW to DNG converter. 

 

Last week my Aquatica AD500 housing arrived and straight away I compared it with my Aquaitca AD7000 housing and sure enough the housing is phyiscally bigger to fit the bigger D500 body.  Actually the larger size of the housing is of benefit as rear view screen is slight larger and the Aquaview viewfinder doesnt get in the way as much like it did for the Nikon D7000.  I noticed a few improvements to the Aquatica AD7000 with a change in design for the port lock, control dial pullies changed from plastic to machine alloy, reduction of C-clips on control buttons and over all easy access to control buttons if one requires a field service.  A big improvement is the design of the switch for video which was an issue on the AD7000 as video lever of the D7000 was on a spring style setup and after alot of use became sticky on the camera body itself.  Right hand side control buttons on the AD500 are accessable with a single hand and a well thought out ISO button which has lever which runs close to the right hand grip for easy ISO change. Adition of Aquatica's Surveyor moisture and vacuum sensor and vacuum valve is one of the best investments which was aded to my AD500. Vacuum systems are a must in my opinion and have saved me on a few occasions from a fatal flood. The housing has its own little window where you can monitor the system during the dive and it assuring to see the light green light blinking away during the dive telling you everything is all well.

 

IMG_5445.JPG IMG_5453.JPG

 

Having a housing machined out of a single block of alloy and having all the control buttons made of metal was the reason why I continued to use Aquatica as I honestly I rack up several hundred dives on my housings.

 

The first dive with my D500 I noticed straight away that the AD500 housing was a fraction lighter underwater than my AD7000 setup (I use the 8 inch dome, Aquaview viewfinder, 2x Ikelites DS161, ULCS bouyancy arms 6/9inch with Aquaitca arm clamps) which I was surprised as the housing is phyiscally bigger.  It also took me a while to get familiar with the location of the control buttons as you would expect with a new camera.  The moving of the OK button to the left hand side controls took a little while to get used to as well as the record button now on a control lever on the right hand side.  One thing I did notice was during review on the rear screen of the D500 after each shot showed my images were darker than I what I was expecting (compared to the D7000) and first few dives had me adjusting the ISO and shutter speed but when it came to post processing on the big screen the shots were significately brighter to start with.  Luckly the D500 has an adjustable brightness for the rear screen.  Another great feature with the D500 is in video mode the camera has dedicated settings for video, which once set you can move back to stills without having to change settings.  The liveview screen when shooting video also corrispondes to actual settings you have at the time, so for example when your ISO is too low in darker conditions your viewview screen will be dark and you can actually see the screen brighten with the adjustment of the ISO. This wasnt a feature on the D7000 where you had to guess which was the best ISO to shoot at. Having a dedicated video setting is great for shooting video on the fly and cant wait to play with it more in the near future.

 

First dives on the AD500 were with the Tokina 10-17mm behind a 8 inch Aquatica dome with Dual Ikelite DS161.  This setup is main setup as I mainly shoot large anmals and rarely move of 10mm.  I used AF-S and first few dives I used single point AF area mode as this was the most successful setup when I used the Tokina 10-17mm with the D7000.  How ever I did end up missing some real close up shots of a large Loggerhead Turtles as they were too close and shooting with one hand outstretched. The single centre point locked onto the animals neck and its head was slightly out of focus.  I have since tried the Group AF area and this gave a large area to get a good focus on especially on big animals up close.  As always with a new camera you start off with what work with previous model and then play the trail and error game to see what actually works and what doesnt.

 

I will add in following post some unedited jpgs staight from the camera to give everyone an actual idea of what the Nikon D500 can actually produce.  I will try and post some macro in the near future but the wide angle diving here at home is excellent at the moment and its hard to shoot macro when you have sharks and big animals right in front of you.

 

Regards Mark

 


Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm


#2 Aussiebyron

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 02:59 AM

Attached are unedited stright of the Camera jpgs which have been resized to post:

 

Nikon D500 in Aquatica AD500

Tokina 10-17mm @ 10mm

 

 

080WP.jpg

f8 1/200th ISO125

 

 

136WP.jpg

f8 1/160th ISO125


Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm


#3 Aussiebyron

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 03:08 AM

Nikon D500 in Aquatica AD500

Tokina 10-17mm @ 10mm

2x Ikelite DS161

 

Unedited resized only

 

273wp.jpg

f8 1/200th ISO125

 

184WP.jpg

f8 1/250th ISO125

 

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f8 1/200th ISO125...... I like the colour of this flank shot


Edited by Aussiebyron, 27 July 2016 - 03:10 AM.

Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm


#4 Aussiebyron

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 03:28 AM

Nikon D500 in Aquatica AD500

Tokina 10-17mm @ 10mm

Ikelite DS161 x2

 

Unedited resized only

 

321wp.jpg

f8 1/320th ISO125


Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm


#5 Aussiebyron

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 03:42 AM

Nikon D500 in Aquatica AD500

Tokina 10-17mm @ 10mm

Ikelite Ds161 x2

 

Unedited resized only

 

323wp.jpg

f8 1/320th ISo125


Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm


#6 divengolf

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 04:26 PM

Mark,

 

Nice pics and info. Like you, I've been using a D7000 and Aquatica housing for 3+ years. Just bought a D500 for my wife's wildlife photo hobby. She got some great pics of puffins last month. Guess that I need to find the $$ to get the new housing.

 

Thanks again.

 

Harry



#7 Aussiebyron

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 05:46 PM

Mark,

 

Nice pics and info. Like you, I've been using a D7000 and Aquatica housing for 3+ years. Just bought a D500 for my wife's wildlife photo hobby. She got some great pics of puffins last month. Guess that I need to find the $$ to get the new housing.

 

Thanks again.

 

Harry

 

Hi Harry,

 

The D7000 has served me well for the last 6 years and is still a very capable camera. My biggest issue with it was the size of the buffer for shooting action shots and the D500 has made up for this.  One aspect is that Aquatica housings still look good after years of abuse and still get decent money when you want to sell them second hand which makes getting into a new housing a little less of a financial issue and I am sure your wife will let you borrow her camera to put it in ;-)

 

Cheers Mark


Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm


#8 Aussiebyron

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 06:00 PM

More Test shots from yesterdays dive.  JPGs straight off the camera unedited only resized to give you an idea of the cameras performance.

 

091wp.jpg

f8 1/200th ISO125 AF-S group AF-area


Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm


#9 Aussiebyron

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 06:08 PM

162wp.jpg

 

Large female Grey Nurse Shark shot at 10mm

f8 1/200th ISO125

AF-S GRP AF-area


Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm


#10 Aussiebyron

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 06:16 PM

I was impressed with the D500 performance with sunbursts.  Cant wait until summer time when we have Leopard Sharks (Zebra) and Manta's in clear water.

 

300wp.jpg

f9 1/320th ISO125

 

Unedited resized only striahgt from the camera.


Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm


#11 trimix125

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 04:37 AM

Hi,
had the camera rented for a family wedding two weeks ago, and was impressed!
Yesterday i used my D610 in the evening for a band gig, will quickly change it ;-))
Your sunburst shot is very nice!
Regards,
Wolfgang



#12 Aussiebyron

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 06:23 AM

Hi Wolfgang,

 

The reason why I kept the D7000 for so long was because I wanted to stay with Dx format and there wasnt anything coming out really worth updating.  I primary use the Nikko 10.5mm and Tokina 10-17mm and dont see the benefit of going full frame. I am impressed with how the sunburst came straight out of the camera and will be trying for some more turtle sunbursts until the Manta's and Leopard Sharks turn up in a few months time.  I see the D500 come into its own with 4k video and huge buffer which has slowed me down in the past.

 

Cheers Mark


Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm


#13 Anders Nyberg

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Posted 30 July 2016 - 12:38 AM

Hi, nice review! do you know the weight of the AD500 housing?

/Anders



#14 Aussiebyron

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Posted 30 July 2016 - 04:12 AM

Hi, nice review! do you know the weight of the AD500 housing?

/Anders

 

Anders I will weigh my housing on my bathroom scales tomorrow to give you an idea.

 

Cheers Mark


Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm


#15 trimix125

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Posted 30 July 2016 - 09:48 AM

Hi Mark,
i have used the D300 underwater, then the Oly OMD5.
Have a D7100, but no housing, and now for a family wedding bouht a used D610, which is nice, but i would have to buy another set of lenses ( ecxept the AFS 28 - 70mm which was included ).....
As a second body i rented the D500 for the wedding, just a reason more to try it, and the camera was great!!!
As soon i have sold the D610 and the lens, i will buy one. For sure for above water, will see if i buy a housing as well....
Specially for dive trips from europe to asia, the luggage weight is a problem.....
So alternative i think about a Sony, A7ii would be nice, but the housings are heavy too.
Or a A6300, with a Nauticam housing....

Will see ;-))

Regards,
Wolfgang



#16 Aussiebyron

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Posted 30 July 2016 - 06:21 PM

 

Anders I will weigh my housing on my bathroom scales tomorrow to give you an idea.

 

Cheers Mark

 

Anders I weight my housing with my baggage scales and for the housing alone without viewfinder but with grip handles and vacuum valve weighed 3.39kg (compared with the smaller Ad7000 housing which weighed 2.69kg).  The housing with Aquaview viewfinder, 8 inch dome, #18456 extension ring , D500 with Tokina 10-17mm with zoom gear weighed a total of 6.54kg.

 

Underwater my D500 setup was a fraction more bouyant than the same setup with my D7000. I will need to add wheel trim weights to fine tune.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Regards Mark


Edited by Aussiebyron, 30 July 2016 - 06:54 PM.

Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm


#17 Anders Nyberg

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Posted 30 July 2016 - 11:00 PM

Hi Mark

Thanks for fast reply, quite heavy housing, nearly 3,4 kg...

Regards / Anders



#18 Aussiebyron

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Posted 31 July 2016 - 03:54 AM

Hi Anders & Wolfgang,

 

I think the weight issue is really only for those that need to pack lite for travel.  As I do 95% of my shooting locally so I dont need to compromise my setup for size and weight restrictions.  When I do travel I have started to travel more smarter with ditching the large pelican case and packing the housing/ports in carry on (Bubble wrapped and in a padded cooler bag) and things like strobes, arms, and rechargers in my check in baggage.  Most flights out of Australia these days offer 40kg check in and 7 kg carry on (even on the budget airlines).

 

I find the weight of a DSLR setup underwater not an issue as I use bouyancy arms and use a 8 inch dome to get a perfectly neutral bouyancy. The the case of the D500 and Aquatica housing I will have to add car wheel stick-on trim weights which they use to balance the wheel to get that perfect weight as at the moment the setup is a fraction positive.

 

Cheers Mark


Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm


#19 Aussiebyron

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Posted 05 August 2016 - 08:30 PM

One of the first shots takan with the D500.  Used AFS single point and since the Turtle was really close (shot @ 10mm) I missed getting the head in focus.  The D500 also has a GRP AF area which is a much larger AF area in the centre of the viewfinder.  I am using this AF area more as it works much better especially for real close up Wide Angle shots.

 

 

044ps.jpg

f8 1/200th ISO125

 

 


Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing

Nikon D500 with Aquatica Housing
Nikon 10.5mm FE, Tokina 10-17mm, Tokina 11-16mm, Nikkor 60, Nikkor 80-400mm






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Nikon D500, Aquatica AD500, Tokina 10-17mm, Byron Bay, Grey Nurse Sharks, DX, Ikelite ds161