We’ve already covered the Nikon D500 in last year’s Prosumer camera shootout, but to-date it remains the strongest prosumer contender from Nikon and so we’d be remiss to leave it out. As we noted in our earlier review, the D500 gets many of the latest technologies from Nikon, with some technologies directly ported over from their top-of-the-line Nikon D5 camera.
Most notable of which would have to be the new Multi-CAM 20K AF system, which has 153 AF points; 99 of which are of the cross-type variety. These literally cover the entire frame of the D500 from left to right, leaving just a small gap above and below, so you have more flexibility over where you place your AF point.
The D500 also has a very generous buffer of 200 shots (RAW), and 10fps continuous shooting capabilities (with XQD card). The ability to handle so many images continuously speaks to the improved processing capabilities of the new EXPEED 5 image-processing engine, which is paired with a 20.9MP DX-format CMOS sensor.
In theory, the somewhat 'low' resolution count (by today’s standards) should allow for larger photosites and hence better high ISO performance. That’s because a larger photosite allows for heat to dissipate faster, hence removing the primary cause of image noise. The other cause of noise is the amount of heat the processor generates when working on images. This seems to also have been improved tremendously from previous APS-C sensor cameras as the D500 boasts a native ISO range of 50-51,200, expandable to a stunning ISO 1,640,000!
Like the D750, the D500 is again built with a monocoque design, bringing the weight down to 860g. The camera is also said to offer the same amount of weather sealing as the full-frame D810, but with the inclusion of in-built Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. This seems to have meant the elimination of a pop-up flash, though you do get a 3.2-inch LCD that does tilt and touch.
Touch control seems to be limited to the playback menu and during shooting (touch AF or touch to shoot), but you do get an AF selector joystick like what's on the Fujifilm X-T2. However, this seems to be limited to the sole function of AF point selection. The joystick doesn't work with any of the other menus at any point, and actually seems a little too stiff comparatively, so we see many users sticking to the regular D-pad instead.
As we mentioned before the D500 now allows you to illuminate the entire row of buttons that flank the LCD panel when working in low light. That's a first for an APS-C camera by Nikon, and certainly something that can come in handy if you're working in extreme situations. Finally, it is worth noting that the D500 has gone with both XQD and SD as the memory card options, much like on the new D5.
This is both a boon and a bane. XQD allows for much faster operation, as evidenced from the fact that the camera can shoot JPEGs continuously at 10fps without the buffer ever filling up. However, this also means that you have to keep two forms of memory cards and buy into the XQD system.
Battery life on the D500 is rated at a stunning 1,240 shots, but that is largely dependent on how much of the Wi-Fi functions you enable. To combat that, Nikon has added a handy aircraft mode function in the menus, so you can cut off any extraneous battery consumption.