Gear Hands-On

Nikon D500 Hands-On and Opinion

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Features of note:

  • The first thing I noticed was how robust it feels compared to my D750. It’s certainly another level above. The layout is in the style of Nikon’s most advanced line of cameras.
  • Memory cards are XQD and SD, I understand the XQD support, but I’m glad they have a simple SD card port. Retail price of XQD is really up there, but you do get a lot of performance out of it.
  • The back has a pretty traditional Nikon layout with a few additions like the auto-focus selection nub, and the fn2 button, which are not on my D750. Fn2 can be linked with Nikon’s “top of my menu” setting.
  • The flip-up screen feels a lot stronger than the D750’s, but it still has the same design with the data cable exposed between the screen and camera.
  • The top left control area is in the style of Nikon’s advanced line of cameras. I haven’t used this control style that much, but I get the appeal. You hold each button down and use the main dials to adjust each setting. Easy enough…
  • The viewfinder is in the style of Nikon’s advanced line with a round port and built-in light blocker for long exposure photography. 100% view with 1.0x magnification. I much prefer this style of viewfinder over Nikon’s lower-end setup. The diopter is pulled out to be changed like a watch dial, which is great. I accidentally change the diopter on my cameras, so I wish I had that. This is good as you can get in aps-c cameras.
  • D500 port offerings are solid. USB 3.0, mic, headphones, and HDMI.
  • No pop-up flash, but I personally prefer that.
  • The most important aspects of this camera are the robustness and speed. The smaller sensor size gives you Nikon’s best effort in auto-focus, build quality, and ergonomics instead. It feels like a good trade-off in this case.
  • This is one of the nicest cameras I’ve held. It has a stout bulldog sort of style to it. It does follow along with Nikon’s trend of nice deep grips, which is great in my opinion.

Features I’d like to see improved on:

  • I understand the reasoning behind use of the XQD storage format, but it’s extremely expensive and not available from many manufacturers. Maybe in a few years that format will become more widespread…
  • No pop-up flash if you care about that feature.
  • Live view modes and live view autofocus are still nothing to write home about. It’s too bad Nikon didn’t improve on this for the D500. The D500 has 4k recording capability, but it adds an additional crop, which makes it unappealing. 1080p video only goes up to 60fps. That said, the D500 wouldn’t be my cameras as I shift my needs more and more toward video work. Not really any true benefit in video over my D750.

Final thoughts?
This is a lower cost way of getting into Nikon’s rugged robust line of cameras. You get their best type of viewfinder and overall construction along with an extremely fast camera from a photo taking standpoint. If APS-C fine with you and you want the most robust camera possible, I’d say this is a great option for still photography. For video work, I’d look elsewhere.

All of the cameras I’ve done hands-on videos about are also available in this list.

Thanks to Camera Craft in Rockford, Illinois, USA for allowing me to film there: