Nikon D500

Last updated date: January 7, 2019

DWYM Score
9.0

Why Trust The DWYM Score?

DWYM is your trusted product review source. Along with our in-house experts, our team analyzes thousands of product reviews from the most trusted websites. We then create one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in the category.

We looked at the top 1 Digital Cameras and dug through the reviews from 8 of the most popular review sites including Trusted Reviews, Tech Radar, CNET, DP Review, Photo Review, Imaging Resource, Photography Life, Photography Blog and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Digital Camera you should buy.

Overall Take

The Nikon D500 is a cropped sensor digital camera that produces quality images and performs well in low light. Its tilting LCD screen makes it great for capturing images at strange angles, so you won't have to pass up any opportunities while taking photos. In our analysis of 62 expert reviews, the Nikon Nikon D500 placed 3rd when we looked at the top 8 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note March 15, 2019:
Checkout The Best Digital Camera for a detailed review of all the top digital cameras.

Expert Summarized Score
8.8
8 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.2
188 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
The D500 performs well in a wide range of different shooting conditions to produce excellent images. It’s a fantastic all-rounder that an enthusiast who’s not tied to one particular subject type should enjoy using.
- Trusted Reviews
April 21, 2017 | Full review
Examining images in more detail reveals that low light performance is very good within the native sensitivity range. Images taken at the lower sensitivity settings have lots of detail, achieving excellent scores in our resolution tests. This starts to drop off at ISO6400, but the results at ISO12,800 are still very good, with just a hint of chroma noise in raw files viewed at 100% on screen.
- Tech Radar
November 15, 2017 | Full review
It's fast. Really fast for its price class, with concomitantly fast and accurate autofocus.
- CNET
July 25, 2016 | Full review
Its strengths are its superlative autofocus combined with the ability to keep shooting at 10 frames per second. There are other APS-C cameras that offer similarly excellent image quality but none that offer the speed, ergonomics and dependability of the D500.
- DP Review
May 25, 2016 | Full review
the D500 can record movie clips simultaneously to the memory card and an external recorder, enabling a quick and easy backing-up strategy. Flat picture control, Zebra Stripes, Power Aperture Control, Smooth Exposure and electronic vibration reduction are also available for movie recordings.
- Photo Review
The D500 has also seen an increase in viewfinder magnification from 0.94x on the D300S to a full 1.0x on the D500. If you prefer to use live view, you'll be happy to know that Nikon has given the D500 a new tilting 3.2" RGBW LCD touchscreen with approximately 2,359k dots.
- Imaging Resource
Probably the headline feature of the Nikon D500, other than its very existence, is the brand new Advanced Multi-CAM 20K auto-focus module which is touted by Nikon as “a new era of auto-focus”. This is certainly not just an incremental improvement on the previous generation. With great strides being made elsewhere in on-sensor auto-focus capabilities, it seems Nikon engineers decided to show us there are still gains to be made with traditional off-sensor phase-detection focusing. The new AF system will go some way to maintaining the performance gap between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.
- Photography Life
As the screen tilts, it's also very useful for photographing from awkward angles - and while a fully articulating screen would be even more useful, it's still great to see on a high-end camera such as this.
- Photography Blog
May 18, 2016 | Full review
What experts didn't like
It's worth noting at this point that settings can't be selected, nor the menu navigated, using the screen's touch control.
- Tech Radar
November 15, 2017 | Full review
The camera's only real weakness is its wireless operation. Snapbridge is Nikon's branding for its wireless file transfer system, but I think the company spent more time and money on the branding than it did on the implementation. Though the D500 adds Bluetooth for a persistent, low-power wireless connection, the app isn't even robust enough for consumers much less the advanced users of this camera.
- CNET
July 25, 2016 | Full review
The 4K footage looks pretty good, even if it isn't quite up there with the best of its contemporaries, but a 2.25x crop, relative to full frame, limits the available options if you want to shoot particularly wide-angle.
- DP Review
May 25, 2016 | Full review
Long exposures at night were detailed and colour-accurate, right up to ISO 25600, after which softening and noise became progressively more noticeable. Colour saturation declined at ISO 51200 and granularity was obvious. Shots taken with the Hi1 setting would be usable at small output sizes but by Hi3 the image was very soft and flat looking. The Hi5 setting the image was seriously noise-affected and effectively unusable.
- Photo Review
In pursuit of further durability, the D500 doesn't include a built-in pop-up flash, is made of magnesium alloy for the top and rear of the camera, and is reinforced with lightweight carbon fiber on the front.
- Imaging Resource
Focus is very snappy. Soon I noticed a small problem. It may actually be a little too sensitive and jumpy.
- Photography Life
While it's true that the Nikon D500 isn't the cheapest APS-C DSLR you can buy, it offers an incredibly diverse array of features which should suit many different types of photographers.
- Photography Blog
May 18, 2016 | Full review

From The Manufacturer

The Nikon D500 Digital SLR Camera Body is ready to go wherever your passion leads you, capturing everything with stunning clarity, speed and resolution. From busy, low-light cityscapes to thrilling wildlife scenes and fast action shots, the D500 is the ideal companion to your wanderlust. Marvel at the clarity of its cinematic 4K UHD video. Be amazed at its ruggedness and versatility. And, once you've captured your gorgeous photos, admire them on the D500's high resolution tilt touchscreen display and share them via the built-in SnapBridge (Wi-Fi + Bluetooth) capabilities. No matter what you shoot, you can be sure that the D500 will be up to the task, time and time again.FEATURES: Your favorite travel companion - The sleek and beautiful D500 goes anywhere you go, bringing along stunning resolution and performance. Packing a lot of power into a smaller camera body thanks to its DX sensor means you can take advantage of the smaller and lighter DX lenses in the NIKKOR line, and when you're travelling, every ounce counts. The best part is, there's no need to sacrifice image quality to gain portability. The D500 strikes the perfect balance with its 20.9 megapixel CMOS sensor, and is ready to capture the exquisite details, colors, and textures this world has to offer. With the D500 at your side, whether you're hiking through the lush landscapes of New Zealand or on safari in Africa, it will be ready to go, effortless and unobtrusive.Unleash the full potential of the D500 - Like every Nikon DSLR, the D500 is best paired with legendary NIKKOR lenses which provide unequalled clarity and versatility. The NIKKOR legacy is unmatched--there's a reason over 95 million have been sold to date. Each lens offers a different view from which to capture your memories. Shooting landscapes or portraiture? The fast AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR could prove to be your best friend. Or, extend your range with the lightweight AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II, ideal for

Overall Product Rankings

1. Nikon D850
Overall Score: 9.4
Expert Reviews: 7
2. Sony A7
Overall Score: 9.2
Expert Reviews: 7
3. Nikon D500
Overall Score: 9.0
Expert Reviews: 8
4. Fujifilm X-PRO 2
Overall Score: 8.9
Expert Reviews: 7
5. PANASONIC LUMIX FZ300
Overall Score: 8.6
Expert Reviews: 8
6. Sony DSC-RX10M
Overall Score: 8.2
Expert Reviews: 6
7. Canon EOS Rebel
Overall Score: 8.2
Expert Reviews: 7
8. Olympus TG-5
Overall Score: 8.2
Expert Reviews: 4

An Overview On Digital Cameras

Everybody loves to look at pictures of that stunning family vacation from the previous year. Or to pull out your old wedding album and look at the images from the day you and your significant other committed to each other for a lifetime of happiness and memories. Pictures of loved ones rest in frames around our homes as moments that we cherish and long to remember. More than likely, these images were captured using a digital camera, and over the last 10 years, digital cameras have improved by leaps and bounds, meaning the pictures you take have more vibrant colors and sharper images.

Digital cameras do not use film to produce an image. Instead, a digital camera stores the image on a digital memory card. Most current digital cameras can record video as well as still images, making them more powerful than cameras of the past. Gone are the days when you need to take a roll of film to the pharmacy to have your pictures developed. Digital cameras use a memory card, like an SD card, to store the photos you take with the camera. You can then simply connect the SD card from the digital camera to your computer and view and print the images you took. And then, once you have saved the images to your computer or to the cloud, you can format or delete the images off of the memory card and use it all over again. No need to keep buying new memory cards when they are full like you would have to do with film.

Digital cameras come in many different designs and models. You can purchase a digital camera with a fixed lens, which means the lens that is attached to the camera can’t be swapped out for another lens, like the Panasonic LUMIX FZ300. The Panasonic LUMIX FZ300 comes with a 25-600 mm zoom lens with a F2.8 aperture Leica Lens.

The aperture of a camera lens controls the amount of light that reaches the camera sensor. Think of it as how your eyes adjust to moving from a dark room to a room full of light. Aperture is recorded as an f-stop by the camera. So a camera with an f-stop of 2.8 has a larger aperture and allows more light to hit the camera sensor. This can be confusing for some because the smaller the f-stop, the larger the aperture. If the camera’s f-stop is set to F11, then the aperture is smaller and less light is allowed to pass through the lens to the sensor.

Another type of digital camera is a DSLR, also known as a digital single-lens reflex camera.  DSLR cameras come in a wide range of price points and are used from beginners all the way up to professional photographers. One of the great advantages of digital cameras across the board is that they allow you to see the image almost immediately, thanks to an LED screen on the back of the camera. The Nikon D500 has a 3.2-inch 2,539k-Dot tilting LCD touchscreen and the Nikon D850 has a 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen.

Inside the body of a DSLR camera is a mirror that reflects the light that comes through the lens onto an optical viewfinder to display the image that you are seeing directly through the lens. Optical viewfinders use very little power, so DSLR cameras typically have very good battery life, with some models allowing you to take up to 1,000 photos on a single battery charge. You are also able to take many photos very quickly.

The sensor inside the camera body also plays a very important role in the quality of the image produced by the digital camera. DSLR cameras usually come with one of two sensors. The Nikon D850 has a full-frame sensor, while the Nikon D500 has an APS-C sensor, or what it is more commonly referred to as a cropped sensor. These sensors are a big reason why the images you take with a DSLR camera and a mirrorless camera produce higher-quality images than you take with your phone or a point and shoot camera. The sensor inside a full-frame DSLR like the Nikon D850 is 35 mm, the size of standard film. A camera with a cropped sensor, like the Nikon D500, has a sensor about half the size of a full-frame sensor. So, when you put a 50 mm lens on a cropped sensor, the actual field of view of that lens will be closer to a 75 mm lens. A APS-C sensor adds a 1.5x crop factor to lenses. The larger the sensor, the better the digital camera performs in low light situations. While you get a little more zoom from a cropped sensor, you are also not able to capture as wide of an image as a digital camera with a full frame sensor. Digital cameras with a full-frame sensor also will create photos with a shallower depth of field, giving you a nice blurry background look, while your in-focus image looks sharp. A digital camera with a cropped sensor can be more cost effective and is a good choice for those looking to shoot more telephoto photography because of the extra zoom it provides. You can see the difference in price between the Nikon D850, which has a full-frame sensor, and the Nikon D500, which has the cropped sensor. The Nikon D850 costs more than $3,000, while the Nikon D500 typically costs under $2,000.

Another type of digital camera, and one that has become more popular in recent years, is the mirrorless digital camera. The Sony A7 is an example of a mirrorless digital camera. While a DSLR camera has a reflex mirror, a mirrorless camera does not. Thus, a mirrorless camera does not have an optical viewfinder. Instead, light is exposed to the image sensor at all times giving you a digital image preview on either your LCD screen or your electronic viewfinder, also known as an EVF.

While a point-and-shoot camera, like the Panasonic LUMIX FZ300, is also technically a mirrorless camera, it is not like the Sony A7S because it has a fixed lens. The Sony A7S is a digital interchangeable lens camera. So like the Nikon D850 and Nikon D500, the Sony A7S allows you to switch the lens you have on the camera. If you want a wide-angle image, a 18-mm or 24-mm lens is what you would put on your digital camera. If you’re trying to take an image of something far away or you want a close-up of a person’s face, a 200-mm lens or 400-mm lens could be put onto the camera. This is one reason why mirrorless and DSLR cameras are typically more expensive than digital cameras with a fixed lens.

Mirrorless cameras can typically be smaller and lighter than DSLR cameras, which has helped them grow in popularity. While DSLRs are not a thing of the past, mirrorless digital cameras have made steady headway in the digital camera field in recent years. It may be time to consider purchasing a mirrorless camera now or in the near future as the image quality continues to improve and surpass what a DSLR can achieve.

DYWM Fun Fact

While the first digital cameras didn’t reach consumer stores until 1990, the original idea behind digital images began floating around the brain of Eugene F. Lally in 1961. Lally, who worked in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he was trying to create artificial gravity, began having thoughts about how to capture digital images of planets and stars during space exploration. In 1975, Steve Sasson at Eastman Kodak built the first working digital camera, but the image quality was very low. The megapixels of the image were just 0.01 and the camera weighed 8 pounds. Today, a digital camera like the Nikon D850 can capture an image with 45.7 megapixels.  It wasn’t until 1981 that the first true digital camera was successful. The University of Calgary Canada ASI Science Team was able to create a successful digital camera to capture images of auroras in the sky. The first digital camera to reach consumers was the 1990 Dycam Model 1.

The Digital Camera Buying Guide

  • Do not get your digital camera wet. Also, make sure to keep the sensor of the camera clean. Don’t touch the sensor with your fingers. If dust gets on your camera sensor, which can happen simply by switching lenses on the camera, your images will have blurry spots.
  • Before cleaning your sensor yourself, try using the camera’s auto-clean mode if it has one. If not, get some lint-free cleaning swabs that are specifically designed for your camera’s sensor, some camera sensor cleaning solution and a hand/bulb air blower. To clean, start by removing the lens and locking your camera in its manual cleaning mode. Use the air blower on the cleaning swab to make sure there is no lint on it. Put two or three small drops of the cleaning solution on the swab, but make sure not to use too much. You don’t want your cleaning swab to be soaking wet. Then gently take the swab and rub it across the camera sensor, making sure not to press too hard. You want to swab the sensor in one fluid motion and once you reach the other side of the sensor, turn the swab over and bring it back across the area you just cleaned. Once you have done the entire sensor, attach your lens back to the camera and take a photo to see if you still have any blurry spots.
  • Make sure you get the most bang for your buck with your digital camera purchase. Lots of current DSLR cameras and mirrorless cameras have the ability to capture video as well as still images. Digital cameras today are able to film up to 4K resolution and some can even film in slow motion. The Nikon D850 can record up to 4K resolution, has the option of shooting at 120 frames per second in slow motion and has an 8K resolution time-lapse photography feature.
  • Some digital cameras work better than others in low-light situations. If you think you will be taking a lot of photographs where the lighting isn’t ideal, investing in a digital camera that has both a full-frame sensor and a large ISO range would be beneficial to you. The Sony AS7 is a camera known for its low-light capabilities, thanks to its full-frame sensor and its ISO range of 100-25600.