As far as crop-sensor DSLRs go, Nikon’s new flagship, high-speed model is up there with the best, as Andy Westlake discovers in this Nikon D500 review
Nikon D500 review – Build and handling
As we’d expect from a £1,730 sports camera, the D500 gives the impression of being built like a tank. The magnesium-alloy body has a bombproof feel to it, and a well-designed grip means that it fits perfectly in your hand. Almost every square inch of the body is covered by buttons and dials, which give direct access to all the key functions – so much so, that there’s rarely any need to access the menus.
Nikon has used broadly the same control layout as that on recent models, such as the D810, but added a few additional tweaks that come straight out of the Canon playbook. So at long last there’s a sensibly placed ISO button immediately behind the shutter release, and a joystick for positioning the focus point that sits naturally under your right thumb. Pressing this inwards engages autoexposure lock, and if you prefer using the D-pad to move the focus point, this works, too. The upshot is that the most important settings can all be changed without taking the camera from your eye while you’re shooting. However, those accessed from the cluster on the left-side top-plate – including drive mode, metering, white balance and exposure mode – still require you to remove your left hand from supporting the lens.
Nikon also offers a decent level of customisation, so you can reassign various buttons to suit your personal shooting. But to be honest, the basic layout is so well worked out that you might not find much need for this.
Unsurprisingly for such a sophisticated camera, the D500’s menus are intimidatingly complex, even for a seasoned user. It’s not necessarily too hard to work out what each option does when browsing through them at leisure, but trying to find and change any specific setting in a hurry is a real trial. Because of this, it makes a lot of sense to place your most needed functions in the customisable My Menu once you get to know the camera.