Nikon D500 DSLR Review

Preview by Will Chambers
Full review posted on 06/28/2016 by Kyle Schurman

Quick Take
  • Contains many features you'd expect to find on a more expensive DSLR
  • High ISO performance is outstanding versus others in this price range
  • Image quality is very good across a range of photographic conditions
  • Camera's performance is very fast in Viewfinder mode
  • Plenty of dials and buttons for manual control
  • Up to 10 frames per second burst mode in JPEG
  • Performance only slows moderately in RAW image format
  • LCD screen is of an outstanding quality, offering tilt and touch capabilities
  • 4K video recording available at impressive 30 fps
  • Dual memory card slot allows for use of XQD memory cards, along with SD cards
  • APS-C sized image sensor can't quite match full frame sensors in image quality
  • D500 carries a high price tag versus other intermediate DSLRs
  • No built-in flash unit
  • Menu interface needs to be upgraded and be more graphical to take advantage of touch screen
  • Performance slows quite a bit in Live View mode versus Viewfinder mode
  • Battery performance can be below average, depending on usage patterns
Bottom Line
When looking at the Nikon D500, you might expect it to be a much more expensive camera. It has great performance speeds, plenty of manual control dials, a high resolution tiltable LCD that has touch capabilities, and a high quality viewfinder. But the one area where the D500 lags behind Nikon's top of the line DSLRs is in terms of its image sensor size, as the D500 has an APS-C sized image sensor, while high level DSLRs often have full frame image sensors. The smaller image sensor does allow the D500 to be less expensive than cameras with full frame image sensors. So if you're looking for a camera with quite a few professional level features but that doesn't have the price tag of that type of camera, the D500 would be a great choice, as its image quality remains very strong. Read more in our Full Conclusion.
At CES 2016, Nikon unveiled a new flagship model to their DX-format series of professional DSLRs, with the all new Nikon D500. The long-awaited successor to the D300 and D300S from back in 2008 and 2009, the D500 offers a plethora of improvements over its predecessor, thanks partly to the vast improvements we've seen in DSLR technology over the past 7-8 years.

Sharing some of the same tech as its FX-format big brother, the D5, the new D500 has an impressive specifications list. For starters, the camera uses a 20-megapixel (20.9MP to be exact) APS-C, CMOS image sensor, which is mated to their EXPEED 5 image processor. This combination not only allows users to capture high-quality photos - even at higher sensitivity (ISO) settings - it also allows the camera to capture full-resolution stills at a blazing 10fps.

Add in the new Multi-CAM 20K AF system, which is comprised of 153 AF-points, and you've got one heck of a camera for action photography, wildlife photography, etc. To top it all off, the D500 has similar weather sealing to that found on the D810, making it ideal for shooting in tough weather conditions.

Another addition to the D500 is the ability to capture Ultra High Definition (UHD) 4K video, a feature that much of the competition is still lagging behind in (ahem, Canon). The D500 can shoot 30p video at resolutions of up to 3840x2160 (4K), as well as 1080p and 720p video at various frame rates. There's even a 4K time-lapse movie option, along with uncompressed HDMI output, and 3-axis electronic VR; when shooting 1080p video.

Nikon D500 features:
  • Rugged frame built from magnesium alloy and carbon fiber
  • Weather sealing (like that found on the D810)
  • 20.9-megapixel DX-format (APS-C) CMOS image sensor
  • EXPEED 5 Image Processor
  • Multi-CAM 20K 153-point AF system
  • Burst shooting at up to 10fps at full resolution
  • Tilting, 3.2" touchscreen LCD display with 2,359K dots
  • High-quality optical viewfinder
  • UHD 4K video capture at up to 30fps
  • 4K Time-lapse movie mode
  • Full 1080p HD Video at 60/50/30/25/24p
  • Sensitivity range from ISO 100 - 51200 (expandable up to 5 stops)
  • Picture Controls (now with Flat and Clarity)
  • Built-in Nikon SnapBridge technology: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC
  • Dual card slot (uses XQD or SD type cards)
  • Uncompressed HDMI output

The D500 is available now with a body only price of 1999.95 USD, or $3069.95 bundled with their 16-80mm VR lens. See our lowest price box at the top right of this page for current online pricing.

What's in the box?:

  • D500 Body Only
  • EN-EL15 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
  • MH-25A Battery Charger
  • USB Cable Clip
  • HDMI Cable Clip
  • DK-17 Eyepiece
  • UC-E22 USB Cable
  • AN-DC17 Strap
  • BF-1B Body Cap
  • User's Manual

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.