The Nikon D500 is Nikon's top of the range APS-C (DX) sensor Digital SLR, with a 20 megapixel sensor, the camera offers 10fps continuous shooting, 4K video recording and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. As Nikon's fastest DX APS-C camera it shoots at 10fps, compared to the Nikon D300s which could reach 8fps with the optional battery grip, and the Nikon D7200, which can shoot at 6fps at full resolution.
Nikon D500 Features
Anyone who has been waiting for this camera since the Nikon D300s, has been waiting a long time, with the 12 megapixel D300s released in 2009. The D300s offered 7-8fps, ISO100 to ISO6400, and 720p video, which at the time was quite impressive. This goes to show how far we've come in the last 7 years, with the new D500 offering a 20 megapixel sensor, 10fps continuous shooting, ISO50 to ISO1,640,000, 4K video recording, a tilting 3.2inch touch-screen, and built-in Wi-Fi.
The Nikon D500 is the long awaited update to the Nikon D300s, and is a professional APS-C Digital SLR with high speed continuous shooting, and the latest Wi-Fi connectivity.
As you can see by the comparison table, the camera has a number of features that make it the highest specification Digital SLR in its class. It is also the most expensive, available for £1729 body only.
UHD 4K Video (3840x2160), upto 29 minutes, 59 seconds
ISO100 to ISO51200, expands to ISO50 to ISO1,640,000
Nikon SnapBridge Bluetooth Always On (Low Power)
Wi-Fi / NFC built-in
Supports XQD and SD memory cards
Built-in interval timer and 4K/UHD quality time-lapse function
The auto focus (AF) system of the D500 is impressive, and is the same as that found in the much more expensive Nikon D5, with 153 focus points, 99 cross-focus points, and these cover a wide area of the frame all the way from the left to the right. The focus system will work down to -4EV.
The camera can shoot at 10fps in continuous shooting mode, shooting up to 200 RAW shots, and the camera uses the new EXPEED 5 image processor for improved noise performance and image quality, particularly skin tones. The ISO range goes from ISO100 to ISO51200, but can be extended down to ISO50 and all the way up to ISO1,640,000, the highest available from a camera with an APS-C CMOS sensor.
The optical viewfinder offers 100% coverage, and 1.0x magnification, with the widest viewing angle amongst APS-C DSLR cameras, at 30.8 degrees.
4K video recording is available, at 30, 25, or 24fps, up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds, and the camera provides a wide range of options with dedicated movie shooting menus. There are also mic and headphone sockets on the side with an HDMI port.
The Nikon D500 features low-power Bluetooth connectivity, to enable easy image transfer to a smartphone using Nikon's new SnapBridge software. On Android (and later iOS) devices, Nikon's SnapBridge software can be used to setup a connection to the smartphone, and then you can transfer images, shoot remotely, and add GPS information. With a compatible Android device you can also use NFC to connect the camera to the smartphone.
Nikon D500 Handling
The Nikon D500 is weather sealed and feels extremely well built, with a good sized handgrip and ample rubber covering to provide a gripped surface to make sure you have a firm hold of the camera. There is a metal chassis, with the top of the camera made from magnesium alloy, and the rest of the camera is made from strong plastic, with some carbon fibre parts. Regardless of what each part is made from, the camera feels very solid with no flex or movement visible. All of the joints, buttons and dials are fully weather sealed, including the battery and memory compartments. Despite the solid construction, the D500 isn't the heaviest APS-C DSLR weighing 760g body only, with the title of heaviest APS-C DSLR going to the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, at 910g.
The camera has a collection of buttons around the shutter release button, including the video, ISO and exposure compensation buttons, which gives quick access to change these settings as well as start and stop video recording. The mode is changed between P,A,S and M, using the mode button which is found on top of the drive dial, which can only be turned when you press the unlock button above it. There is an i button on the back of the camera which will bring up a quick menu with a number of options. You can use the Fn2 button on the back to rate photos, and this button, along with a number of other buttons can be customised.
To setup your own custom shooting modes you have to use Nikon's "Photo shooting menu bank" and "Custom settings bank" and there are four here, named A, B, C, and D. It's a shame that you can't setup a custom shooting mode, like you can on the Nikon D7200 with two user modes (and other cameras with a normal mode dial, such as the 7D Mark II with 3 user modes), and you can only switch between shooting modes of P, A, S and M.
There are numerous options in the menus, and thankfully the camera has built-in help, which can be shown when you press the ? button (although not every option has built-in help). The menus are split into seven different sections, including playback, photo shooting, movie shooting, custom settings, setup, retouch and MyMenu. Unfortunately you can't use the touch-screen to scroll through the menus. You can also setup the MyMenu with as many options as you want, or you can switch the MyMenu for a Recent Settings menu instead. Study of the manual is recommended to fully understand all of the options and settings available.
From the Retouch menu you can process raw files, trim images, resize, adjust D-lighting, correct red-eye, straighten images, correct distortion, perspective, as well as apply filter effects (skylight and warm filter), monochrome and image overlay. There's also an option to edit movies. When processing raw files you have the option to adjust image quality, size, white balance, exposure compensation, picture control, noise reduction, colour space, vignette and D-lighting.
You can quickly change the focus point with the small joypad on the back of the camera. You can also setup face detection and tracking. If you're coming from a full-frame DSLR, then you will be impressed by the wide coverage of the focus system, which goes from the very left to the very right of the frame (as shown below). If this isn't enough, then in live-view mode you can use the touchscreen to select any point on the screen, right in to the very corners of the frame. You can set the camera to take the photo when you press the touch-screen, or be used just to set the AF point, or you can switch the touch screen off.
Nikon D500 Optical Viewfinder
There are options to adjust how the AF performs, with focus tracking lock-on options letting you set "Blocked shot AF response" (quick to delayed), as well as "Subject motion" (erratic to steady). 3D tracking face detection is also an option, along with the option to set the 3D tracking watch area. You can leave AF set to auto if you don't want to change settings.
A round rubber eyecup surrounding the optical viewfinder (OVF) gives the camera a professional look and feel. There is dioptre adjustment on the side for those with less than perfect eye-sight.
Automated AF fine tune system - This is a semi-automated process, in that you have to enter live view, set the focus point to the centre, and then press and hold the AF button (on the left of the camera body), and the movie record button at the same time. We tested this with a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 lens, which was back-focusing and the camera set the adjustment value to +20.
If you get an error message saying: "Auto AF fine-tune is not available at current focus settings", then you need to make sure that the central focus point is selected, auto focus is set to single, and wide or normal area, rather than face detection focus. A tripod and static subject or focus point is recommended.
On the back is a tilting 3.2inch touch-screen with an impressive resolution of 2,359K dots, and the touch-screen can be used in playback, as well as being used to set the focus point in live view mode. The screen is very clear with excellent viewing angles, and the tilting screen has a good range of movement. You can turn the touch controls off if you want.
The camera has a top LCD screen that can be illuminated, and backlit buttons on the left hand side of the camera so that you can see them easily in the dark. Unfortunately, the buttons on the right of the camera don't light up.
Wi-Fi features - The Nikon D500 has built in Wi-Fi, NFC and low-power Bluetooth. This means you can connect to a compatible smartphone to transfer images, synchronize the clock, add GPS location information as well as shoot remotely.
Snapbridge Main Screen
Snapbridge Paired Camera
Snapbridge Remote Shooting
You can't change any of the camera settings from the app, and when you are remotely shooting, you can't change the settings on the camera either, which is a little frustrating. The app could definitely do with some improvement, especially when compared to other manufacturers remote shooting apps. There's an option on the camera that will automatically send photos to your smartphone once you've set up the connection, and there is an option to leave this transferring images when you've switched the camera off. This feature can be switched on and off, and if you're concerned about your battery life dropping, then you can switch on the Airplane mode, which will switch off all communications.
Battery life - The camera has a very good battery life of 1240 shots according to CIPA test standards, and an optional battery grip is available which will extend the battery life to 2510 shots (with the EN-EL18a).