The new Nikon D500 surely looks amazing and very promising – much more exciting than the new Nikon D5 in my opinion, which is surely impressive, especially for those who need such a high-end tool. While we have written about the standard specifications of the D500 and its amazing features, like its 153 point AF system and its practically unlimited buffer, there are a few other hidden features that come in the Nikon D500, which are certainly worth looking into. Let’s take a look at these in more detail.
1) Focus Point Coverage
The new 153 focus point Advanced Multi-CAM 20K system really looks amazing, but did you know how it looks within the viewfinder? Nikon really wanted to make sure that the D500’s viewfinder gets as much coverage as possible, since the focus points are scattered all over, reaching the extreme left and right sides of the viewfinder, as seen below:
For the most part, you can forget about the focus and recompose technique with the D500 – there will be rarely a need for that, since you can reach so deep on all sides of the viewfinder and with 99 focus points being cross-type, there will be a small chance for focus errors! The Nikon D500 gets -4 EV sensitivity in the center focus point and the rest of the 152 focus points are rated at -3 EV, which is amazing. And if you shoot in the 1.3x crop mode, the amount of empty space on the top and the bottom of the frame gets reduced even more!
2) Auto AF Fine Tune
If it really works, this one is huge! In fact, I cannot believe that Nikon omitted this feature from its announcement, because it could potentially be a game-changer. It turns out that both Nikon D500 and D5 have a brand new “Auto AF Fine Tune” feature, which after achieving focus in live view, automatically adjusts AF Fine Tune settings for the attached lens. And you can apparently do this with only a few button operations! This looks extremely promising, because fine tuning lenses has historically been a painful experience, requiring specific tools and lots of wasted time. I can only imagine how cool it would be to instantly calibrate lenses on the fly when I work with a subject, for that particular focusing distance!
3) Superior Face Tracking and Scene Recognition
Both Nikon D500 and D5 comes with a brand new 180K-pixel RGB metering sensor, which in conjunction with the AF system and the EXPEED 5 image processor can deliver much better AF performance, especially when it comes to tracking people’s faces and recognizing different scenes for more accurate metering. Subject and face tracking performance are enhanced not only for phase detection AF system, but also for tracking subjects using Live View (contrast-detect AF). Auto-area AF mode in particular, should behave much better when compared to any previous Nikon DSLR.
4) Articulating LCD Touchscreen
Another great addition is the 3.2″ articulating LCD screen, which can be really useful for shooting both stills and video at different angles. Being the top-of-the-line DSLR, the Nikon D5 does not get an articulating LCD screen, while the D500 does! In addition, the LCD screen on both cameras is touch-enabled and the D500 specifically allows for additional touch control, such as engaging the shutter during live view operation. Just like on the D5500, you can move between captured images by swiping the screen and you can use the pinch-to-zoom feature as well, which is neat!
5) 200 RAW Image Buffer
The Nikon D500, just like its bigger brother, the Nikon D5, is capable of shooting up to 200 losslessly compressed 14-bit RAW images before the buffer fills up when using XQD memory cards. That’s right, Nikon finally gave both cameras a pretty much unlimited buffer! Only if you choose to shoot in 14-bit uncompressed RAW (which is plain silly), the buffer would be reduced to 71 images. That’s a crazy tool for those machine gun “spray and pray” moments we all experience every once in a while :)
6) Electronic VR for Shooting HD Video
While the Nikon D500 does not have in-body image stabilization (IBIS), Nikon developed something called “Electronic Vibration Reduction”, which basically stabilizes video shooting via software. And the cool thing is, you can actually use this feature in combination with lens VR to get even better results! Nikon made this electronic VR work in 3 directions – horizontal, vertical and rotational.
7) Flicker Reduction for Stills and Video
When shooting subjects with fluorescent or mercury-vapor light sources, the Nikon D500 will automatically detect such scenes and automatically adjust its shooting pattern in order to yield bright, evenly lit images every time. Interestingly, although the Nikon D5 is a much more expensive and higher-end camera, it has no support for flicker reduction when shooting stills, so this particular feature is exclusive to the D500 in this case.
8) Active D-Lighting for Shooting HD Video
You can now apply Active D-Lighting when shooting video, which should result in much better resulting video quality, since details are preserved better in both highlights and shadows.
9) Button Illumination
Now this is a really cool feature that was previous reserved only for the top-of-the-line Nikon DSLRs like the D5 – the Nikon D500 is the first DX camera to feature button illumination! Not only are the button and control layouts consistent with the D5, which is neat for those who are planning to own both, but those buttons will illuminate in dark conditions showing what they do. Very cool indeed for shooting in low-light and in the night!
10) MB-D17 Battery Grip
If you want to make the D500 look like the D5 and double its battery life, you can do so with the brand new MB-D17 battery grip. Just like before, you can utilize the same EN-EL18a battery used by the D5 with an adapter and increase the number of shots per charge from 1,240 to a whopping 2,510 shots.
11) ISO, Function Buttons and Joystick
The Nikon D500, just like the Nikon D5, went through some very important ergonomic changes. The ISO button has finally been relocated to the right side of the camera grip, which allows changing ISO with a single hand. Finally, no need to reprogram that video recording button to do this! In addition to the moved ISO button, the camera gained a new Function 2 button on the left side of the LCD screen, which allows one to program this button to perform one of the many functions of the camera. This is great, because you will be able to quickly change important camera settings without digging through the camera menu. On top of that, there is now a dedicated joystick on the back of the camera, just like the joystick found on the D4 / D4S / D5 cameras! Here is the layout of the rear of the Nikon D500:
To find out more about the Nikon D500 camera and its hidden features, I would highly recommend to check out this PDF document from Nikon.com.
You forgot to mention two other atributes of this overhyped peace of crap.
One is its very poor battery life. About 300 raw shots per charge with airplane mode on and short image review in normal temperature. I imagine that using it during winter time would require a car battery just to get it started. And give me a brake with that overpriced piece of junk grip. It costs almost as much as a brand new Canon 70d.
The other thing is its miserable, useless and overcomplicated wireless implementation.
I’d wager you have a battery issue or some kind of issue causing battery drainage. I shot RAW in -20F and the battery lasted hours. In normal temperatures I can shoot birds all day long in High Continuous. Image review = on. I think it’s such a great camera, I bought a 2nd one when the price came down.
Like your website. Thanks. I have a D500 and just found that it switches from “Auto-Area” autofocus to “Single-point” when you flip the camera
from horizontal to vertical. What? Is this true. I’m a skilled user, but I have been experimenting with “auto-area” mode to shoot while not holding the camera up to my eye. I do have “face detection” turned on. By the way, my D7100 works like it should in “auto-area” both horizontal and vertical.
Dave, I think what is happening is the camera is set to remember the AF mode and AF point when you change orientation. I don’t have a D500 but I heard about this on a video (“The 7 best Nikon tips ever”) by Steve Perry at Backcountry Gallery. It’s in tip #7 starting at 7:53 in the video. You can turn it off if it bothers you, but it is really a feature that can be useful, as he explains.
Purchased a D500 last week.
Oh dear, sad to report that AF fine tune DOES NOT work, I got readings from -18 to +10 with the same lens on the same Spyder cal card with the camera mounted on a tripod!!!
NFC did not connect to my HTC Desire 610, I could get in via the manual option which did pair the phone and camera, however Wifi was useless and either could not connect stating “Not in range” when the camera was sat next to the phone, or it would say “Unable to connect to WiFi please check camera, phone, settings”, blah blah blah.
More frightening was the fact that when I took some shots of a Grey Heron all the higlights were blown out, the camera was overexposing by at least +1
I thought I should therefore read some reviews/blogs & guess what, I’m not alone, hundreds reporting the above issues.
This is the first Brand new Nikon I’ve purchased in 8 years, the last was a used D800 which is still a wonderful bit of kit. I was enticed in by the launch of the D500 but sadly at the moment I’m not impressed and my £1800 investment may find its way onto eBay pretty soon………Shame reall as i wanted it to be a worker!!
AF fine-tune absolutely does work. I have done the dot-tune method as well as using FoCal software with no problems. Or do you mean the AUTO fine-tune, which I just read about in this article and did not know existed until today. :)
Best new feature is the location of the ISO button right next to the shutter release button. Wonderful for Manual shooters.
As a beginning photographer I started with the Nikon D5300 and now the Nikon D500. I love the camera, it has great clarity on still shots but I do a lot of in-flight bald eagle photography and find it difficult to arrive at focus quickly. Never had an issue with the Nikon D5300. My work-horse lens is the Tamron 150-600mm. Any tips?? Thanks. Eunice
In addition to setting up Back-button focus, which lets you switch between AF-S and AF-C instantly, try Small Group focus assigned to the Preview button so it’s instantly accessible. Small group works extremely well for birds in flight, and for frisbee-catching dogs as well. Also, check your settings for the setting that releases focus when you want to switch to something else quickly, I can’t remember the name since my camera isn’t in front of me, but it can help you acquire focus more quickly if you are switching targets, or keep focus if tree or something gets in the way momentarily. I think it’s called focus lock or something.
Just out of curiosity, where in the official Nikon literature / specs does it mention that the D500 does not have an Optical Low Pass Filter? I have seen this stated in many reviews, but the Nikon Press Release does not mention this, nor do any of the specs on the Nikon website, as far as I have seen.
FIX THE TOTALLY USELESS MEMORY BANKS , A MEMORY BANK SHOULD REMEMBER WHAT YOU WANT YOUR SETTINGS TO START AT NOT WHAT YOU CHANGE THEM TO EVERY TIME
DO THAT AND ILL BUY ONE TOMORROW , I CANT BELIEVE THEY HAVE LET THIS GO SO LONG , USER 1 AND 2 OPTIONS ON MY D7100 ARE FAR SUPERIOR
Please speak up, we are having a hard time hearing you!
If you want to keep track of what the settings started at, just back them up to an SD card and you can always re-load them.
Nasim, in your opinion, go back a D610 for the new D500 would be an absurd or clever idea?
My earlier post was responded to on Nikon Roumors nikonrumors.com/2016/…2449920310) by someone saying “. . . small cheese, small potatoes . . .”
They are completely missing the point. Prior to moving to media content development
I had been in information development (IT) for 25 years, and still do IT related projects. My employment history also includes a stint as a Program Manager for Xerox tasked with strategy and solutions development in their software business before their collapse in 2001. Xerox taught me a thing or two about how to screw-up an emerging market advantage.
For me, photography and video was a passionate side income. No one can argue the technical/software/integrated circuit convergence of photography with IT since the commercial implementation of digital files. In my case I shot the stills for a documentary filmmaker in Cuba in 2001 using my Nikon F3 HP, and a 3MP Canon digital elf. I shot over 2,000 film images, and 2,000 digital images during the month long project.
Conclusion: I sold my film camera’s within 2 years.
Technology changes the consumers mind and financial focus. While still shooting almost all my stills with Nikon (I prefer the “look”), I was using Canon, Sony and Panasonic for video. Nikon reminds me of my days with Xerox in that they are so focused on their photography business that they, with products starting with the D90, cannot see how to grow into another market segment. Integrated circuits, software, and sensor technology have for a long time allowed the software developer to create user menus and algorithm’s that could allow Nikon to compete in the video space at a completely nominal investment.
It’s not like they are going to steal business from their F55, FS5/7 product line. Sony intentionally cripples the video capabilities of their Alpha line so as to not create a redundant product at fraction of the price. Nikon has no professional video product line. Hell, the new D5 might be a photo powerhouse but it doesn’t (based on specs) come close to competing with the Canon 1D C for video . . . . business/product history has taught us that us that you either innovate, develop, and release to market, or you die.
Go to Rochester, NY: Kodak . . . . Xerox . . . . lessons should not be lost on us.
I am amazed that many discussions regarding the new D5/500 aren’t taking note of the video crop factors that render wide-angle lenses useless for 4K.
I’d like to be optimistic regarding the iteration improvements that appear to have been made, but based on the specs that I’ve read I really do believe Nikon missed the ball. No one will argue that the camera market has segmented into three strata. Allow me to oversimplify the product catalog for a moment. (1) Point and shoot – mobile phone; (2) Enthusiast – those targeted by the want to be semi-pro products like the 3000 & 5000 series; (3) Semi\Pro market: people who have a significant investment in lenses and lighting systems. That 3rd market segment has watched the photography business merge with video content distribution, and while you can get decent video from Nikon Cameras (I own D7100, D610 and D800 along with a Sony a7s), they do not provide a tremendous value-ad to the working man who needs pro quality video.
Let’s not forget that they started this segment with the D90 but have continued with missteps when it comes to listening to this consumer base. Nikon should have come to the market with 10bit/4.2.2 video. It’s not like they would have been stealing from their pro video segment and competing with their own products like Sony, and Canon have to be concerned about.
Furthermore, if the specs are correct and and you have to use these outrageous crop factors to produce 4K video, then they have lost their minds! I have been shooting with Nikon’s for over 40 years, and I have collected a lot of Nikon glass. They work just fine with my Sony. I am doing a lot more video these days and I wish Nikon came out with a product that I could have been enthusiastic about.
They blew it!
That’s why Sony is stealing all the cheese.
Totally agree with Roamingrasta. Also take note that unlike Sony, the Nikon offerings are hopeless at focus tracking during video as they don’t have phase detect AF on the sensor chip. So we are still faced with choosing Nikon for stills and Sony for video! I do not like the A7 choices, due to reliability issues, tiny expensive battery, terrible menus, so it is FS5/FS7 that is viable,.
I am very curious about the new Fujifilm X-PRO2 announcement that is coming on the 15th!
Nikon’s reliance on the pentaprism, legacy technology with admitted benefits, allows them to maintain good shot to battery ratio but is again somewhat crippling as it relates to size and shooting video. I live in Las Vegas so I’m guessing that you are referring to sensor overheating when your’re talking about the a7S line. I personally have not have not had that as a problem, probably because of how I shoot clips, and most of my output goes to an Atomas capture device. The battery workaround is accomplished by using a “dummy battery” fed by an external 2000ma battery.
What makes the Sony a7S untouchable is the flexibility it provides in stopping down f-stops to f/8 on low light shots at 30K ISO to maintain depth of field on night shots (street documentary and live concerts) while still preserving great image quality with acceptable noise. Hopefully Nikon’s new D500 sensor can address noise above 10K ISO, but when you have an effective crop factor (what I’ve read) 2.2X you’re are never going to connect with the low budget film\video producer. Remember back in the days of film you had effective ISO\ASA levels of 400 or lower. . . . you had to light the sh$t out of your shoot. The lighting effect was directly felt by your shoot budget.
ISO\noise control\depth of field is king of your “look.” If you want high contrast and grain it’s so easy to do in post. Not to mention issues like in-camera stabilization, and chroma-key needs that Nikon could have produced a product that gave you 10bit/4.2.2 to address . . . . Nikon missed the ball!
I was waiting to see what they came out with in-light of my Nikon lens investment.