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.
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.