Wrapping Up

With my upcoming review of the D500, you probably won’t see much more being posted here in the dedicated D5/D500 blog about the D500. Most of what I know is already in this blog (including pages that have been updated), in my review, and/or in my book on the D500. 

Some have wondered how I finished the D500 book so fast. Basically enforced desk time. As some of you know I had some big health issues in May, and that finally culminated in surgery in early June (burst appendix). But being bed-ridden and then pretty much desk-ridden for an extended period of time after allowed me to just concentrate on one thing, and that was picking up the D500 and trying to solve all its new intricacies.

As I got to the point where I could do limited activity outdoors, I just wandered down to the Little Lehigh River behind my house and worked at further understanding the D500’s autofocus system shooting the many birds that inhabit that area. In essence, I spent about 45 days where I wasn’t doing much of anything else except dissecting the D500 and writing what I learned. 

It seems clear that the D500 has firmware that wasn’t tested well and needs serious updating. Nikon hasn’t addressed the two biggest issues facing D500 owners (card malfunction on image review and lockups), but I’ve encountered a few others along the way, too. 

Tip: Those of you who want to add a protective overlay to the D500’s LCD need to be aware that this will conflict with the touch screen. What happens is that you get the slider bar at the bottom of the display when you do image review (go ahead, touch the very bottom of rear LCD with an image displayed, you’ll see the bar). But the bar doesn’t go away because it thinks it’s being pressed (by the protective screen). Thus the image review doesn’t time out.

I strongly suspect, though, that a lot of the D500’s issues are due to one of two things: (1) firmware that wasn’t tested well enough; and (2) power dependencies that put the the D500 at the hairy edge of expectations, and when it (rarely) goes over the edge, something not good happens.

The funny thing is that, despite all the bugs and annoyances, the D500 manages to perform just fine in production shooting (at least according to my pro friends). No one that I know of has lost an image on a card, while the lockups don’t happen often enough to worry about and are quickly corrected (battery out, battery in). 

I’ve now got quite a bit of studio and river-side shooting experience with the D500, and I’d say I tend to go thousands of shots before hitting an annoyance. Your mileage may vary. 

My sense is that the D500 team bit off more than the could manage in the timeframe they had to do it, and it shows as rough edges in anything outside the main functions of the camera. I’ll give you another example: try locking the shutter open for sensor cleaning after establishing a SnapBridge connection. Oops. Even Airplane Mode set to On won’t allow you to do that. You have to go straight to the Bluetooth setting and turn it Off first. 

Given the price of the camera, and its position as a flagship product that shows of Nikon’s latest technology in the great and constant Canikon fight, I expect Nikon will get around to addressing all the things that I and others have found problematic with the D500. 

I still get a lot of “is it safe to buy a D500 yet” emails. Nikon, you have yourselves to thank for that with the D600, D750, D800, and D810 service advisories. We now have a large group of “wait for the all clear signal” type purchasers lingering out there. 

Well, I can’t signal an all clear, obviously. Not until the known issues get addressed. But on the other hand, as I noted above, many of us are happily shooting with this camera without obsessing about the immaturity of the firmware and the teething issues. Put another way, there’s no showstopper issue that’s been revealed, just a lot of annoyances that need some tender loving care by Nikon to fix.

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