Nikon’s Outstanding D500 Fix List

Here we are about six months after the D500’s first shipments, and we’ve had two very small firmware updates. Personally, I don’t think those firmware updates address the things I originally saw or still currently see as issues with the D500 firmware.

Remember, I wrote earlier this year and in my review that I felt that the D500 was rushed to market. It still feels rushed to market, yet it’s been on the market for long enough for Nikon to correct that impression.

Here are the major things that I believe still need addressing:

  • Card solidification. Despite the firmware change to drop down to UHS-I when the camera encounters a card error, I still get a fairly steady trickle of “still seeing the card error” reports from D500 users (and by the way, Nikon, you might really want to consider that I’ve sold a lot of D500 books, enough to be a significant subset of total D500 sales; I’m quite connected to the D500 user base). Those reports are coming from people using the current firmware, and from virtually all types and makes of cards. The only thing I can tell from my continued sleuthing on this issue is that most of these problems tend to occur when the system is being stressed in playback. Copying large numbers of images, reviewing in 72-image mode, playing back after bursts, anything that requires the camera to do more than record or display one image. And again, it doesn’t matter whether it’s an XQD card or UHS I or II card, so the UHS-I dropdown doesn’t completely fix whatever the lingering problem is.
  • Battery clarity. Why is it that we can put the same exact fully charged battery into a D810 and see 100% in Battery Info, but we may see anything from 85-100% when we put that same battery into a D500? I suspect that Nikon has once again fallen into the ultra-cautious mode as they did with the F5. With the F5 they were worried that you could have a battery die during rewind of 250-shot backs, so they raised the “battery empty” level well above what was necessary for that. Eventually they fixed the issue through firmware and we got more realistic battery use out of our F5’s. With the D500 I suspect that the cautiousness might be about 200-frame bursts with connectivity enabled. But why would you not always display 100% for a fully charged battery? Or do we have batteries that the D810 thinks are fully charged but the D500 doesn’t? Something’s not quite right here.
  • AF-P is MIA. While you can mount and use the AF-P lenses on a D500, it does not appear that the D500 is actually truly compatible with them. First there’s the issue of no menu item to turn VR on and off. Next, there seems to be issues in Live View where focus tracking doesn’t happen correctly, or at all in some cases. Hmm. AF-P lenses were announced before the D500, so what gives?
  • 9-point focus needs to be added. I mentioned this in passing in my Botswana Photo Workshop blog, but the D500 needs 9-point Dynamic Area focus mode (D9) more than the D5 did. The D5 got it in an update, but the D500 crowd is still waiting. Because the new focus sensors see physically smaller areas than before and D25 extends further in total area than D9 used to, the combination of those two things makes D25 act differently than most of us were using D9 for. D25 is less reliable for that type of shooting, in my opinion. so give us the D9 ability back.
  • Don’t lock us up. As with card issues, I still continue to get regular “camera locked up” reports from people using the D500 with the current firmware. This is less frequent after the 1.10 update, but still happens with 1.10. I haven’t had this happen to me lately, but we had one instance of it happen with over eight D500’s in use at the Botswana Photo Workshop over the course of two weeks (all on 1.10). How this hasn’t happened to a Nikon employee shooting with the camera, I don’t know. And why there hasn’t been an emergency rush of a locked up camera to Japan HQ (with enough power to make the trip with status intact) I don’t know. Is anyone at Nikon even looking into this issue?
  • SnapBridge is still a mess. Yes, we have an iOS app now and you can make a D500 talk to Apple products. But wow what a mess is still there. The menus centered around SnapBridge connectivity drive me crazy. The performance of SnapBridge is terrible, both in speed and in battery usage. Pretty much every D500 user I know has simply turned all the connectivity off. For a flagship camera, it’s just insane to let that happen. The D500 should be showing us the way to the connected future, but everyone is simply ignoring it. This ball is clearly in Nikon’s court to fix. 
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