Left Undone

There’s a thread on dpreview right now about what people would have liked on the D500 but didn’t get. That’s a useful thing to contemplate, as it tells us something about Nikon’s priorities and whether or not they actually understand their customer.

Here’s my list:

  • Better banks. I’ve been asking for this for years, as have many pros. It isn’t that banks themselves are a problem, it’s that there’s no real way to reconfigure the full camera with a single option (ala the U1/U2 settings on the consumer cameras). Instead, we can only change one menus worth of things at a time. There’s been a dirt simple way available to Nikon to fix banks for some time: allowed named Saved Settings, and put the Load Settings into a selection that can be attached to a programmable button.
  • Matched Cards. I don’t get the mismatch choices that Nikon keeps making. Moreover, the mismatched card slots have performance implications when the camera is set certain ways, which seems weird for a performance-oriented camera.
  • Touchscreen for Menus. Nikon says they didn’t do this because you might accidentally set something. Okay, but that’s easy enough for us to deal with: give us a Touchscreen Menus Enabled/Disabled Custom Setting. Meanwhile, I’ve found the touchscreen entry of characters not exactly all that it’s cracked up to be: I can get character entry without actually touching the screen, and the letters are spaced awfully tight. So much so that people with big fingers probably aren’t going to be able to accurately enter information. Overall, good idea, not implemented well enough yet.
  • Control Quality. Some of the controls just don’t feel pro. The Direction pad is small and feels cheap, as does the thumbstick. Programming the thumbstick’s center press for something is problematic, as it’s really easy to accidentally move the focus cursor instead. 
  • Flash seems a bit kludged on. The second Shooting Information screen necessary seeing some of the flash information, coupled with the overloaded button to control flash options just feel more like flash was an afterthought rather than an integral design issue.
  • Fn2 seems like a kludge, too. Moreover, it’s a carryover kludge from a D5 problem: what to do if you get rid of the audio annotation button. MyMenu and star ratings are the only thing Nikon could come up with as useful for this button?
  • A couple of misses. Where’s the shaded 1.3x crop area? Where’s the in viewfinder virtual horizon indicator? Update: turns out you can turn the latter on via assigning it to the Fn1 button, but it’s not useful as you can’t really see it most of the time.

The good news is that Nikon got a lot right on the D500. Enough that the annoyances above can be easily lived with by most of us.

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