Nikon D500

10 FPS, 20MP DX, 4K, Flip LCD
Nikon's Best Sports Camera

Sample Images   Intro   Lens Compatibility

Specifications   USA Version   Performance

Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

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Nikon D500

Nikon D500 (10 FPS, 20 MP DX, 4K stereo video, 29.6 oz./839g. with battery and SD card, about $1,997) and 35mm f/1.8 DX. bigger. I got mine as body-only from Adorama, who also has the kit with 16-80mm VR lens for $3,070. I'd also get it from B&H, who also has the kit with 16-80mm, or from Amazon (also as kit with lens) or from Crutchfield (also with lens).

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to my personally-approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Nikon does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used camera. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear, especially the old D300s and every Nikon DSLR.

 

May 2016   Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses    All Reviews

NEW: Pro DSLR Comparison 03 February 2016

Nikon D500

Nikon D500. bigger.

 

Nikon D500

Nikon D500. bigger.

 

Sample Images

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Red Mercedes 190 SL

Red Mercedes 190 SL, 19 May 2016. 2016 Nikon D500, 2006 Nikon 18-55mm DX II at 45mm, f/9 at 1/320, Auto ISO 100, Vivid Picture Control at +3 Saturation. Bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display all the resolution properly).

 

Red Mercedes 190 SL

Red Mercedes 250 SL, 19 May 2016. 2016 Nikon D500, 2006 Nikon 18-55mm DX II at 42mm, f/11 at 1/125, Auto ISO 100, Vivid Picture Control at +3 Saturation. Bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display all the resolution properly).

 

Blue Car

Blue Headlights, 19 May 2016. 2016 Nikon D500, 2006 Nikon 18-55mm DX II,at 18mm, f/4 at 1/60, Auto ISO 100, Vivid Picture Control at +3 Saturation. Bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display all the resolution properly).

 

Panther Chameleon

Panther Chameleon, 18 May 2016. Nikon D500, Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX, f/2.8 at 1/60, Auto ISO 200, Vivid Picture Control at +3 Saturation. Bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display all the resolution properly).

 

Nikon D500 at ISO 20,000

Palm at night, ISO 20,000, 17 May 2016. Nikon D500, Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX, f/1.8 at 1/60, Auto ISO 20,000. Bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display all the resolution properly).

 

Nikon D500 at ISO 20,000

Palms at night, ISO 51,200, 17 May 2016. Nikon D500, Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX, f/1.8 at 1/40, Auto ISO 51,200. Bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display all the resolution properly).

 

Introduction

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New   Good   Bad   Missing

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I buy only from these approved sources. I can't vouch for ads below.

This D500 is Nikon's best sports camera because it's Nikon's fastest DX camera ever: 10 frames per second, and it can shoot through the flicker of typical sports arena, pool and gymnasium lighting. The D5 is better if you're shooting in daylight or under perfect indoor lighting with special high-frequency ballasts or have access to the arena's dedicated pro strobe system, and for everyone else, the D500 is now tops. The D5 lacks the flicker shoot-through feature, without which you'll get random dark or off-color frames when shooting under artificial sports lighting at high shutter speeds.

The D500 is the first consumer Nikon that's worthwhile considering for serious sports shooting. For sports, it's a complete winner.

It has the same autofocus system as the D5, which is pretty hot.

As expected, it has more AF points than ever before, but you can't select them all. You have only 55 selectable points, even if there are a claimed 153 AF points hidden somewhere.

It's very popular and therefore hard to get. See How to Get It: order yours and be patient. If you can't be patient, you'll be like the people who wind up paying more than the new price a used one over eBay!

 

New

● All the buttons on the top left and back left light up in white anytime you flick the power switch around the shutter button. Finally most of the buttons in my 2016 DSLR light up as well as all of the buttons in every cell phone I've owned since 1992 do, which is a life saver when shooting in dim light. They are exactly as bright as they should be, just enough to see but not so bright that they blind you. The buttons on the top right and back right are still dark.

● More buttons along the left of the camera, including a new programmable Fn2 button on the bottom left.

● The second card slot is now an XQD slot; we now have one SD card slot and one XQD card slot.

● 10 FPS with AF and AE tracking — fastest Nikon DX camera ever.

● 79-frame buffer at these speeds, even in 14-bit uncompressed raw (with a fast enough card).

● 153 AF points that are rated down to LV -4 (full moonlight on sand), but you only can see and control about 55 of them.

● Automatic ability to shoot-through flickering lighting (think fluorescent, mercury-vapor sports stadium lighting, LCD screens and dimmed LED lighting).

● Touch Screen.

● Tilting Screen.

● MODE and ISO buttons swap locations compared to earlier Nikons. The exposure MODE button moves to the top left with the QUAL, WB and Metering buttons, and ISO moves to near the shutter button.

● ISOs to 51,200 as regular ISOs, expandable to ISO 1,638,400 as "HI +5."

● 4K video.

● Can shoot stills during video.

● "SnapBridge" Bluetooth scheme to get your images moved around automatically, but not available for Apple until the summer.

● Wi-Fi.

● Easy to program the D500 to enter IPTC data into all files as you shoot.

● Three levels of warm correction for Auto White Balance. There's normal (AUTO1), AUTO2 that keeps warm indoor tungsten colors warm and wonderful, and AUTO0 that ensures a neutral color balance even under tungsten.

● Silent electronic front curtain shutter (MENU > CUSTOM > d6), but only works in concert with the Mirror-up mode.

● Auto ISO now lets us select "Subject" or "Subject and Background" Auto ISO (MENU > CUSTOM > e4). Subject is the same as before; Subject and Background jacks up Auto ISO further to get detail in the background for indoor flash shots.

 

 

Good

● Nikon's best and fastest DX DSLR ever, 10 FPS.

● Superb high ISO performance and settings to ludicrous values as high as ISO 1,638,400 ("HI + 5").

● Quiet modes are quiet (but far from silent).

● Easy to save and recall one complete camera state as a file on your memory card, but —

 

Bad

● No fast recall modes for different camera setting; the D500 still uses Nikon's awful settings banks that take too long to select and don't recall all we need, like AF settings, anyway. The D7200, D610 and D750 are much better here.

 

Missing

● No built-in flash.

● No GPS.

● No auto brightness control for the LCD. You can set the LCD brightness separately for Live View versus Playback and Menus, but now there are more menu clicks needed to select between these to change brightnesses as you move outdoors or indoors.

● No lock on power switch; easy to knock on or off by accident and miss shots.

● Only 20.5 MP (5,568 x 3,712 pixels native); even a D3200 has slightly higher resolution.

● Still no sane replacement of Nikon's idiotic Custom Settings Banks, which has been a core incompetancy of Nikon since they introduced these in 2003. There are no U1, U2, U3 (or C1, C2, C3 or M1, M2, M3 etc.) modes so we can save and recall camera settings. There is no way to save camera settings; the Custom Banks are re-written every time you set the camera with no way to lock them!

 

Nikon D500 back

Nikon D500. bigger.

 

Nikon D500

Nikon D500 and 35mm f/1.8 DX. bigger.

 

Lens Compatibility

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Nikon D500 lens mount

Nikon D500 lens mount. bigger.

There is a focus motor in the D500, so it works with every AF lens made since 1986.

Even better, there's an aperture-ring feeler, so it meters with all AI and newer (1977-on) manual-focus lenses. The D500 also gives full-color Matrix metering and EXIF data with manual-focus lenses if you share the lens' data in a menu. More at Nikon Lens Compatibility.

You're always on your own with off-brand lenses like Sigma. Potential incompatibility with future cameras is one of the steep prices one pays for trying to save a few dollars yesterday on a cheap lens. Nikon shares nothing with its competitors about lens compatibility, so if you want to buy a Tamron or Sigma, you're gambling that it will work with tomorrow's camera. Good luck; it's always better to buy used Nikon than new junk-brand lenses if money matters.

 

Specifications

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Frame Rates

CH (Continuous High): 10 FPS with full AF and AE.

CL (Continuous Low): selectable 1 to 9 FPS.

QC (Quiet Continuous): 3 FPS.

 

Sensor

15.7 x 23.5mm DX CMOS.

1.53x crop factor.

Ultrasonic cleaner.

 

Image Sizes

 

DX (16 x 24mm)

5,568 x 3,712 (L), 4,176 x 2,784 (M), 2,784 x 1,856 (S).

 

1.3x crop (12 x 18mm)

4,272 x 2,848 (L), 3,200 x 2,136 (M), 2,128 x 1,424 (S).


Stills shot during video

3,840 x 2,160 when shooting 4K.

You get full-still resolution stills, cropped to 16:9 (5,568 x 3,128 (L), 4,176 x 2,344 (M) or 2,784 x 1,560 (S)) when shooting 1080 or 720 video.

If shooting 1.3x crop you get a slightly lower resolution 16:9 stills: 4,272 x 2,400 (L), 3,200 x 1,800 (M) or 2,128 x 1,192 (S).

 

ISO

ISO 100 to 51,200, expandable from ISO 50 ("LO -1") to ISO 1,638,400 ("HI + 5").

 

Auto ISO

Settable high and low ISO limits as far as the camera goes: ISO 100 to 1,638,400 ("HI + 5")!

Slowest shutter speed settable to any fixed value in full stops, as well as to track the lens' focal length.

New "Subject and Background" mode (MENU > CUSTOM > e4) to give the D500 permission to jack up ISO to higher levels to get more detail in the backgrounds of indoor flash shots.

 

White Balance

All with individual fine-tuning:

Auto (3 types: normal, leave warm light warm, and correct warm lighting fully to white).

Incandescent.

Fluorescent (7 types).

Direct sunlight.

Flash.

Cloudy.

Shade.

Preset manual.

   6 stored presets.

   Spot white balance also with live view.

Kelvin (2,500 K to 10,000 K).

 

Color Spaces

sRGB and Adobe RGB.

 

File Formats

NEF (Raw): 12 or 14 bit (lossless compressed, compressed or uncompressed); large, medium, and small pixel sizes (medium and small images are recorded at a bit depth of 12 bits using lossless compression)

JPG: Fine (approx. 1:4), Normal (approx. 1:8) or Basic (approx. 1:16) compression. Usual optimal quality or fixed size options.

RAW+JPG

RGB TIFF

 

Video Frame Rates and Sizes

3,840 x 2,160 (4K): 29.97p, 25p or 23.976p.

1,920 x 1,080: 59.94p, 50p, 29.97p, 25p, 23.976p.

1,280 x 720; 59.94p, 50p.

You can select high or normal quality at all these, except only normal at 4K.

H.264/MPEG-4

.MOV

 

Audio

Stereo microphone built-in.

Linear PCM recording.

 

Autofocus

All the same as the D5:

Face-Priority AF; should automatically find faces and focus on them.

153 AF points.

Work down to LV -4, which is full moonlight on sand.

Only 99 of these are cross-type.

Only 15 sensors work with f/8 lenses.

You can't select all these manually; you only can select 55 of them. Of these selectable 55; 35 are cross-type sensors and only 9 work at f/8.

Multi-CAM 20K AF sensor module.


Finder

100% coverage. (only 98% in 1.3x crop.)

0.7x magnification with 35mm lens. (1.0x magnification with 50mm telephoto lens.)

16mm eyepoint.

-2 to +1 diopters.

 

Shutter

30s to 1/8,000, Bulb.

 

Flash

No built-in flash.

 

Flash Sync

1/250 sync speed.

ISO 519 PC (Prontor-Compur) socket.

 

Flash Control

Nikon's usual i-TTL.

 

Light Meter

TTL RGB.

180k pixels.

3D Color Matrix.

13mm, 10mm, 8mm or 6mm diameter center-weighted. (only the 8mm circle works with old manual-focus AI lenses.)

3.5mm spot at the selected focus point (only the center point with old manual-focus AI lenses).

 

Meter Range

LV -3 ~ +20.

Spot meter: LV 2 ~ 20.

 

Live View

Yip, for stills and movies with the usual options.

 

LCD Monitor

Nikon D500 flipping LCD

Nikon D500 flipping LCD. bigger.

3.2" (8cm) TFT.

Tilts.

Touch sensitive.

2,359,000 dot (XGA).

170° viewing angle.

100% frame coverage.

NO AUTO BRIGHTNESS CONTROL.

 

Storage

One SD slot and one XQD slot.

SD slot takes UHS-II SDHC and SDXC cards.

It has the usual options for the two cards: dual (backup), sequential (overflow), RAW/JPG, etc.

 

Connectors

Nikon D500 conectors

Nikon D500 connectors. bigger.

USB 3.0 Micro-B.

Type C HDMI.

3.5mm stereo audio input with plug-in power.

3.5mm stereo audio output.

10-pin Nikon remote: for things like optional WR-R10 (requires WR-A10 WR Adapter) or WR-1 Wireless Remote Controller, GP-1/GP-1A GPS Unit, or GPS device compliant with NMEA0183 version 2.01 or 3.01 (requires optional MC-35 GPS Adapter Cord and cable with D-sub nine-pin connector)

 

Bluetooth

Nikon "SnapBridge" uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone or elsewhere for automatic uploads.

Bluetooth Specification Version 4.1

 

Wi-Fi

IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g.

Open system, WPA2-PSK.

 

NFC

NFC Forum Type 3 Tag.

 

Power

EN-EL 15 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, same as D810.

Rated 1,240 shots per charge.

Optional EH-5b AC Adapter, which needs an EP-5B Power Connector.

Optional battery grip:

 

Battery Grip

Optional MB-D17 Multi-Power Battery Pack uses one EN-EL 15 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery or eight AA cells.

If you use a BL-5 Battery Chamber Cover you can use the EN-EL18a or EN-EL18 battery.

 

Size

5.8 x 4.6 x 3.2 inches.

147 x 115 x 81 millimeters.

 

Weight

29.595 oz. (839.05 g. or 1 lb., 13.595 oz.) with battery and SD card, actual measured.

Rated 30.4 oz. (860 g. or 1 lb., 14.4 oz.) with battery and XQD card.

Rated 26.9 oz. (760 g. or 1 lb., 10.9 oz.) stripped.

 

Included

Camera

BF-1B Body Cap

EN-EL15 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery

MH-25a Battery Charger

DK-17F Fluorine-Coated Finder Eyepiece

UC-E22 USB Cable

USB Cable Clip

HDMI Cable Clip

AN-DC17 Camera Strap

Also comes as a kit with 16-80mm VR lens:

Nikon D500

Nikon D500 and 16-80mm VR lens. bigger.

 

Quality

Nikon D500 bottom

Bottom, Nikon D500. bigger.

Made in Thailand.

 

Environment, operating

0 to 40°C (32 to 104°F).

85% or less RH, no condensation.

 

Announced

Tuesday, 05 January 2016, 3PM NYC time.

 

Promised for

March 2016.

 

Shipping since

Late April 2016.

 

Price, USA

 

May 2015

$1,997 for the body-only.

$3,067 with 16-80mm VR lens.

 

January 2015

$1,999 for the body-only.

$3,070 with 16-80mm VR lens.

 

Nikon D500 Box

Nikon D500. bigger.

 

Getting a Legal USA Version (for USA only)

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In the USA, be sure your box has "US" above the UPC bar code:

Nikon D500 Box End

Nikon D500 box end. bigger.

If the letters are different, you got ripped off with a gray market version from another country. This is why I never buy anyplace other than from my personally approved sources. You just can't take the chance of buying elsewhere, especially at any retail store, because non-USA versions have no warranty in the USA, and you won't even be able to get firmware or service for it — even if you're willing to pay out-of-pocket for it when you need it!

Always be sure to check your box while you can still return it, or just don't buy from unapproved sources, so you'll be able to have your camera serviced and get free updated firmware as needed.

Even easier, a legal USA version has a warranty card from Nikon USA. The serial number on the card must match the serial number of your camera, or you have no warranty. The serial number on the box should also match the serial number on your camera.

Nikon D500 USA Warranty

Nikon D500 USA Warranty Card. bigger.

US versions include two printed manuals, one in English (shown on right) and
uno en español (a la izquierda).

Get yours from the same places I do and you won't have a problem, but if you go counter to my advice and take the risk of getting yours elsewhere, be sure to check everything while you still can return it.

 

Performance

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Specifications   USA Version   Performance

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Overall

The Nikon D500 is fast and sure, and adds a few new features to the Nikons we all know and love.

Low light and high ISO performance are spectacular, and the AF system is superb as well.

Image quality is outstanding.

At 10 frames per second this is Nikon's best DX camera ever for sports and action. The D5 is 2 FPS faster, but for sports, the DX sensor makes your lens 50% longer, so unless you do this for a living full time, this is Nikon's new best sports camera.

My biggest sticking points are ergonomic: with no U,1 U2 or U3 preset memory settings I prefer the D7200 or D750 because I need these modes to swap all my settings quickly as my shooting conditions change from people to places and things.

 

Image Quality

My D500 images look great. This is what Nikon DSLRs are all about: you can't get better-looking images from any digital camera at any price.

The colors, tones, highlights, shadows and everything are unexcelled. My Canons are as good, while everything else pales in comparison to the JPGs I get directly from my D500. (If you shoot NEF, then the look of your images will be just as much a factor of whatever software you use.)

Ditto for focus: they're always sharp because they're always in focus. Unlike many of the cameras I review where I mention occasional inconstant AF (like in the Sony RX10 Mk III at 600mm),m my D500 images are always in focus so long as I didn't miss something.

Exposure can vary, which is not good. I tend to shoot at 0 compensation indoors and -0.7 stops outdoors, but it will vary. Oddly I can get need -1.0 stops compensation if there are large dark areas in the image, it's weird that Matrix metering isn't setting the highlights properly by default.

As I explain at Flash below, flash exposure is more variable than I'd like.

 

Autofocus

Autofocus is outstanding. It's fast and sure in any light.

The default Auto AF Area Select mode usually finds faces all by itself, or whatever else is our intended subject, and just focuses on it. This is superb; we rarely need to select AF Areas manually.

Regardless of claiming 153 points, there are only as many selectable points as in any other camera.

The sea of AF points covers the full width of the frame, but only about half the frame vertically, This is typical.

By default it will identify your subject just about anywhere in the frame, grab it and focus on it. In AF-C (continuous) mode, it will track that subject all around the frame at its default settings. Bravo!

What isn't as good is that it takes too many clicks to swap between the default Auto AF Area select mode mentioned above which I usually use, and the single AF-point mode I use when the Auto Select mode doesn't find my subject. You have to hold the AF mode button on the front of the camera, stop what you're doing and look at the bottom of the screen or look for AF point displays, and spin a dial among a zillion other mode until you get the display you want. This doesn't sound too bad, but there's no way to lock-out the modes you don't use, so it takes too long to reselect when you're in the heat of shooting. I prefer my Canons where 1.) I can disable the modes I don't use so it's faster to select the ones I do, and 2.) I can select these far faster on my Canons by programming a rear button to let me select between these two modes in one click.

 

Viewfinder

Nikon D500 Viewfinder

Actual view through Nikon D500 viewfinder. bigger.

No news here; the finder is excellent as we expect. It looks a lot better in person than in my photograph through it here; it's sharp and bright and everything is always completely legible in any light.

The AF zones are indicated with black LCD boxes that will move all over as they track, or multiple boxes will indicate if a few are in focus at the same time.

These black boxes light dimly in red at night.

The flash bolt is orange, thankfully.

"FLICKER" appears in black on the lower right of the image if the D500 detects and is tracking flicker through which to shoot.

 

Ergonomics

It's mostly the same as the D810, with very similar operation and controls.

Disheartening is that there's no mode dial with custom-programmable camera presets as we can do on less expensive cameras like the D7200.

This makes it take way too long to reset the camera for different scenarios, like people or places or things or sports as I use U1 and U2 settings on my other Nikons (or C1, C2 and C3 settings on my Canons). Nikon is still using the same foolish "settings banks" that require two sets of banks (Shooting Banks and Custom Settings Banks) that take way too long to select in the heat of shooting, they cannot be locked, and even then these two banks together fail to save and recall everything; AF modes don't save or recall, for instance. The D7200, D610 and D750 are far better here; this matters if you need to reset your camera for shooting different things very quickly. I do.

It takes a moment to wake in menus or playback. This is 2016; there's no excuse for having to wait for the camera to turn back on when I press MENU or PLAY.

You often have to hit OK after setting things, like MENU > Shooting > Image Area, otherwise the D500 ignores you. It's like Simon Says; if you don't hit OK after changing a setting, it is forgotten.

 

High ISO Performance

As shown above, ludicrous ISOs look swell.

Nikon is using clever fractal and vector conversions to let the camera shoot at foolishly high ISOs, and still deliver a recognizable and usable image. Yes, it gets softer and any subject texture is replaced with slight random grain, but even at ISO 51,200 I get perfectly usable images when I need it.

ISOs and resolution ratings haven't been relevant since about 2007, so don't get hung up on any of that. All that matters is how hot and fast is the AF system and how quickly we can set the camera. With no instant save and recall ability, resetting the camera from one type of shot or from gig to gig becomes much more of a pain than it is on a D750 or D7200.

The D500 simply gets fuzzier, but clean, up to ISO 51,200. At ISO 102,400, High +1, it ignores picture control settings, which is why the colors suddenly get dull (I keep my D500 set to Vivid and +3 saturation).

As we get to ISO 1,638,400 (High +5), the image is completely gone.

In other words, so long as you stay away from the ridiculous High + settings, everything looks swell. If you need ISO 51,200, use ISO 51,200.

 

High ISO Image Sample Files

Complete Images

Click any for the camera-original © files as above to explore on your computer; mobile devices rarely show the full resolution files properly:

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

 

Crops

These are 600 x 400 pixel crops. They will vary in size to fit your browser window; if they are about 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, the complete image would print at 37 x 56" (1 x 1.5 meters) at this same magnification.

Click any for the same camera-original © files as above to explore on your computer; mobile devices rarely show the full resolution files properly:

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

Nikon D500 High ISO Performance

 

Shutter Noise

In either of the Quiet modes (Q or QC set on the top left advance mode dial), the D500 is a bit quieter than the usual modes, and it's not that much slower at normal frame rates.

I like the quiet modes and use them unless I need to shoot at 10 FPS.

 

Flash Exposure

There's no built-in flash. My favorite external flash is my SB-400, which is small, light, fast and powerful. I'd get one used again today over anything else new.

The worst technical thing about the D500 is that the flash exposure isn't as consistent as I'd like. It's bad because it's not as repeatable as it should be, making it impossible to ensure perfect flash exposure for every shot as I get with my Fuji X100T. Nikon invented the world's first 3D Matrix through-the-lens flash system which set the world standard in this in 1992, but the D500 isn't as good.

It's not unusual for two shots made after each other for the same subject will have different flash exposure, and just as often the second shot has more flash exposure than the first; it's not my flash being depleted.

I often have to dial-in negative compensation for both the overall exposure as well as the flash, and it's not consistent so there's more luck involved than I would like. I have yet to learn how to get consistently good flash exposures with my D500.

The new "Subject and Background" Auto ISO option (MENU > CUSTOM > e4) lets us get brighter backgrounds with flash indoors by selecting higher Auto ISOs if it needs to.

 

HDR

The HDR (high dynamic range) mode works great, even hand-held. It defaults to an automatic mode that just works. Here are two pairs of samples, the first shot normally, and the second as it came from the D500. Click any of them to enlarge:

D500 HDR

Regular shot. Click to enlarge. Roll your mouse over this image to compare, or see the HDR image below if you have no mouse:

D500 HDR

Shot as HDR. Even hand-held, HDR does a great job of naturally filling-in detail in the dark areas lost in the regular shot above, and keeps detail in the sky which was washed-out to white in the regular photo. bigger.

 

Nikon D500 HDR

Regular shot. Click to enlarge. Roll your mouse over this image to compare, or see the HDR image below if you have no mouse:

D500 HDR

Shot as HDR. Even hand-held, HDR added much more detail out the window, and pleasantly warmed-up the interior. No, I have no idea why it changed the white balance in HDR; these were shot in Auto White Balance. For interior shots, the D500's HDR sees to do this in Auto White Balance; I suspect it will have the same white balance if you set white balance manually. bigger.

 

Playback

Playback is swell.

If you set the center button to Zoom, (MENU > f2 Multi selector center button > playback mode > zoom), the D500 zooms-in to the active AF area you used, bravo!

The touch screen works swell for zooming and scrolling, but you can't grab the navigation image and use it like Photoshop's navigator to scroll around the image as I would like.

 

Rear LCD

The rear LCD is better than the LCDs on cameras like the D600, D800 and D810 that were too green. The D500's LCD seems super accurate.

Sadly it has no auto brightness control as Canon does, so one always has to reset its brightness as one moves inside or outside. Now that Nikon added separate brightness settings for Live View or Playback and Menus, there are more clicks required to change the brightness than ever before.

When set to maximum brightness, the LCD clips the highlights, making things look overexposed that probably aren't.

The rear LCD has a 4:3 aspect ratio, which means that the top and bottom of the screen have black bars across them when showing images, which have an aspect ratio of 3:2. The screen does fill with the image when zoomed.

 

Top LCD

The top LCD is the usual. It has a green LED backlight if you activate it.

With the power ON, it shows everything even if the D500 goes to sleep.

With the D500 turned OFF, the rear LCD still shows how many shots you've made, and which slots have a card.

 

Power & Battery

Battery life is excellent, especially if you've been slumming it with a mirrorless camera lately.

I get about 1,400 shots per charge on my new battery, which should work even better as I start using it. Lithium batteries gain capacity during the first few charge and discharge cycles.

 

Data

Nikon's much-heralded SnapBridge program is not out until at least Summer 2016, for Apple.

The cards are properly formatted as "NIKON D500."

Folders start off as "100ND500."

You can set the first three characters of the file name. I use "500" so I know they were shot on my D500.

 

Compared

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Lens Compatibility

Specifications   USA Version   Performance

Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Do you get randomly underexposed or off-color frames when you shoot sports at high shutter speeds indoors, or outdoors at night? That's because your exposure caught the artificial lighting at an instant where it wasn't at full brightness — something the D500 and 7D Mk II can now shoot around automatically. Oddly the new D5 can not.

See also Nikon vs. Canon.

 

Versus Top Nikon and Canon Cameras

 
Anni
2011-
2014-
2014-
2016-
2016-
2014-2015
2012-2014
FPS
12
10
5
10
12
11
10
Resolution
18 MP
20 MP
36 MP
20 MP
20 MP
16 MP
16 MP
Format
Full
DX
Full
DX
Full
Full
Full
ISO Max**
51,200
16,000
12,800
51,200
102,400
25,600
12,800
Selectable AF Points
61
65
51
55**
55***
51
51
LCD

3.2"

1,040k

3"

1,040k

3.2"

1,229k

3.2"

2,359k

3.2"

2,359k

3.2"

921k

3.2"

921k

Auto brightness
no
YES
no
no
no
YES
YES
Built-in Flash
no
YES
YES
no
no
no
no
Shoot-through Flicker?
no
YES
no
YES
no
no
no
Rear voice memo mic & rec. button
YES
no
no
no
YES
YES
YES
Battery
Weight****

53.8oz.

1,526g

31.8oz.

901g

34.0oz.

965g

30.4oz.

860g

49.9oz.

1,415g.

47.2oz.

1,337g

47.2oz.

1,337g

Price, 1/2016

$3,000 used

Price, 5/2016
n/a

$2,500 used

** In standard modes. This is a meaningless specification; cameras that let you set them higher simply look worse than cameras that can't go as high! This is merely a poster spec to try to bilk innocent people out of more money for more expensive cameras.

*** I said selectable AF points. Most cameras use many more invisible AF points to help out the ones you can see.

**** With battery and card(s).

 

Versus Current Nikon Cameras

 
Anni
2016-
2014-
2014-
2016-
2015-
FPS
12
5
6.5
10
6
Resolution
20 MP
36 MP
24MP
20 MP
24MP
Format
Full
Full
Full
DX
DX
ISO Max**
102,400
12,800
12,800
51,200
25,600
Selectable AF Points
55***
51
51
55**
51
LCD

3.2"

2,359k

3.2"

1,229k

3.2"

1,229k

3.2"

2,359k

3.2"

1,229k

Auto brightness
no
no
no
no
no
Built-in Flash
no
YES
YES
no
YES
Shoot-through Flicker?
no
no
no
YES
no
Rear voice memo mic & rec. button
YES
no
no
no
no
Battery
Weight****

49.9oz.

1,415g.

34.0oz.

965g

29.5oz.

836g

30.4oz.

860g

27.0oz.

765g

Price, 1/2016
Price, 5/2016

** In standard modes. This is a meaningless specification; cameras that let you set them higher simply look worse than cameras that can't go as high! This is merely a poster spec to try to bilk innocent people out of more money for more expensive cameras.

*** I said selectable AF points. Most cameras use many more invisible AF points to help out the ones you can see.

**** With battery and card(s).

 

Versus Nikon Pro Cameras

 
Anni
2016-
2016-
2014-2015
2012-2014
2009-2012
2007-2010
2005-2007
FPS
10
12
11
10
9
9
8
Resolution
20 MP
20 MP
16 MP
16 MP
12 MP
12 MP
4 MP
Format
DX
Full
Full
Full
Full
Full
DX
ISO Max**
51,200
102,400
25,600
12,800
12,800
6,400
1,600
Selectable AF Points
55**
55***
51
51
51
51
11
LCD

3.2"

2,359k

3.2"

2,359k

3.2"

921k

3.2"

921k

3"

921k

3"

921k

2.5"

232k

Auto brightness
no
no
YES
YES
no
no
no
Built-in Flash
no
no
no
no
no
no
no
Shoot-through Flicker?
YES
no
no
no
no
no
no
Rear voice memo mic & rec. button
no
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
Battery
Weight****

30.4oz.

860g

49.9oz.

1,415g.

47.2oz.

1,337g

47.2oz.

1,337g

52.6oz

1,492g

50.0oz.

1,417g

44.3oz.

1,256g

Price, 1/2016

$3,000 used

$200 used
Price, 5/2016
n/a

$2,500used

$175 used

** In standard modes. This is a meaningless specification; cameras that let you set them higher simply look worse than cameras that can't go as high! This is merely a poster spec to try to bilk innocent people out of more money for more expensive cameras.

*** I said selectable AF points. Most cameras use many more invisible AF points to help out the ones you can see.

**** With battery and card(s).

 

Usage

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Lens Compatibility

Specifications   USA Version   Performance

Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

uc

 

Rockwell's D500 Settings

Here's a link to my BIN file with all my personal settings.

Feel free to download this into your computer to load into your D500, but know that it will make your D500 the same as mine, and mine is programmed to add my personal copyright information into the EXIF of every image.

If you want to use this, be sure to reset your camera's copyright information to your own.

If you get lost, here is the clean setup file for a new D500.

These file links do nothing on your computer. To use them, download the linked files to your computer, then copy it to the top (root) directly of a card. The files are tiny, only about 60 kB each. Put that card in your D500, go to MENU > SETUP > Save/Load settings > Load settings to load any of these settings files into your D500.

 

Making Settings

Be sure to press OK after making many settings, otherwise the D500 may choose to ignore the changes.

The rear LCD doesn't mirror settings that show on the top LCD as you change them, TO do this, press INFO to light rear LCD.

 

File Types


Image quality (MENU > Camera > Image quality) settings of JPEG Normal ★ or JPEG Basic ★ are higher quality versions of JPEG Normal or JPEG Basic. Nikon used to hide these in another menu as "Quality priority," with "Size Priority" as the default.

The ★ versions use more file data as needed to maintain the same quality as the image becomes sharper or more complex. I use JPEG Basic ★ for everything.

 

Shooting without a card

Don't let yourself do this; be sure to set MENU > SETUP > Slot empty release lock to LOCK. At defaults, the D500 will shoot all day with no card, making you look like an idiot if it was a wedding.

 

Flash

Flash Mode and Compensation Control Button

Nikon moved this into the row of buttons running along the left side of the D500.

 

Exposure

I get inconsistent exposure with flash. No matter how I set exposure compensation, often one shot after the other will be quite different, making it difficult to get good results.

 

Auto ISO Minimum and Flash Shutter Speeds

In standard flash sync mode (only a flash bolt seen on the top LCD as you spin the rear dial while holding the Bolt button on the left rear), the D500 shoots at the highest of your selected Minimum Auto ISO Speed (MENU > Cameras > ISO Settings > Minimum shutter speed) or Flash shutter speed (MENU > Custom Settings > e2).

Setting 1/4 for the slowest flash shutter speed (MENU > Custom Settings > e2). wont' matter if you set 1/125 as the minimum Auto ISO shutter speed (MENU > Cameras > ISO Settings > Minimum shutter speed). Set both of these, and it shoots at 1/125, not 1/4.

However, if you select SLOW Sync mode (see SLOW and a flash bolt on the top LCD as you spin the rear dial while holding the Bolt button on the left rear), it will forget about the slowest speed set for Auto ISO and allow itself to shoot at the slowest speed set for flash.

 

Recommendations

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Lens Compatibility

Specifications   USA Version   Performance

Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

If you're shooting sports, news and action and are already invested in Nikon lenses, this is the best body ever.

This D500 is also Nikon's best for birds. The cropped-sensor is a long-lens advantage over the D5, unless you have birds posing for you five feet away.

If you're shooting landscapes and portraits, you don't need the frames-per-second, so any of Nikon's other cameras work just as well — or have even more resolution, usually for less money.

I would get this D500 only for sports and only if I was already inseparably bought into the Nikon system. The D7200 is better for everything else due to it's better ergonomics that allow it to be set and adjusted to different shooting conditions faster with its programmable mode dial, as well as taking two normal SD cards.

The D500 is the lowest-resolution DX camera made today by Nikon, but not by much. You're not going to see any difference between 24MP and 20 MP.

If you're getting the D500, order it today, since as Nikon's fastest DX camera of all time, they will be hard to get for quite a while. Order yours today, not tomorrow, to get yours in time for summer. If you wait, you'll be way behind and may not get yours in time for summer vacation. See also How To Get It.

Nikon is selling you the 16-80mm VR lens at its full $1,070 price when you buy the kit, so I'd forget the kit on principle and get the body-only and my favorite DX lens, the 35mm f/1.8, instead — or any DX lens of your choice like the 18-200 VR or 18-300 VR. For sports, the 70-300mm VR is a full frame lens that focuses much faster than any of the DX lenses.

The D500 is mostly a sports and action camera due to its price, and seeing how it's the only Nikon that can shoot-through flickering stadium lighting, its even better than the D5 if you're not bringing your own dedicated strobe system.

It's $1,997 for the body from Adorama where I got mine, and also comes as a kit with 16-80mm VR lens for $3,067. It also comes from B&H, as well as from B&H as a kit with the lens, and of course comes from Amazon body-only or as a kit with lens from Amazon or from Crutchfield (body-only) or from Crutchfield with lens.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Nikon does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used camera. I use the stores I do because they ship from secure remote warehouses where no one gets to touch your new camera before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection.

Thanks for helping me help you!

Ken, Mrs. Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

More Information

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Lens Compatibility

Specifications   USA Version   Performance

Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Nikon's D500 User's Manual PDF.

Nikon's D500 brochure PDF.

Crazy Japanese Brochure PDF.

Nikon's D500 press release.

 

© Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

 

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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

 

 

05 January 2016