Nikon D500 specifications and features explained (confidential Nikon internal document)

As previously promised, here is the internal Nikon Q&A document that explains in details many of the Nikon D500 camera features and specifications (the D5 version can be found here):

Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-1 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-2 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-3 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-4 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-5 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-6 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-7 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-8 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-9 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-10 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-11 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-12 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-13 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-14 Nikon-D500-specifications-features-explained-internal-Confidential-document-15
Additional Nikon D500 coverage | Nikon D500 pre-order links

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  • “Black text can be given to customers on a one to one basis only”… Or broadcast across the internet on a popular blog.

    • Aldo

      That’s exactly what it means… in Japanese culture we are one with the world…

  • Thanks! More to read 🙂

  • Hilton Holloway

    Q27 reveals the D500 has a 1.3 crop function. So 1000mm on the 200-500mm lens?

    • Mark

      Nope, the lens is 200-500mm no matter what body it’s attached to. Focal length does not change. Field of view with 1.3X DX crop (2X FL) will be 400mm-1000mm equivalent but the lens doesn’t change.

      • Wesley

        You know what he meant.

        • vousplaisentezouquoi

          But he is right, it is time that people begin to call a cat a cat. Each lens has his own characteristics. The fact to use a lens on a camera or another does not change the characteristics of the lens. Period.

          • tamaszlav

            Who cares if he is “technically” right, he knows what people are talking about when multiplying focal length, and so do you.

      • mark_BC

        But F stop changes depending on the sensor size

        • vousplaisentezouquoi

          Wrong. The aperture is a fix characteristic of a lens.
          N= f/D where f is the focal length, and D is the diameter of the entrance pupil. The fact to use a lens on a DX or FX format does not change any characteristics of the lens.

          • mark_BC

            I went through this whole discussion in dpreview a couple years ago, getting down to the physics. I’ll try to dig it up.

          • mark_BC

            The effective f stop changes, which is what I’m interested in since that is what affects the image.

    • RMJ

      Basically, yeah.

    • Serdar

      1,5 DX crop factor x 1,3 crop function = 1,95 ~ 2X also 500mm= 1000mm

    • I think this can be a misleading way of looking at it. Sure, the extra ‘reach’ would be amazing if it still used the full sensor area/MP, but your image area is reduced. Essentially, it’s no different to cropping your images in post (unless it’s video, of course), unless you regularly utilise SOOC JPG files.

      With the D7100/D7200 it made a lot more sense because it reduces the file size, therefore helping to improve the poor frame rate of that camera a little (from 6FPS to 7 I think). Not such a worry with the D500 (though I’d like to see what it does to the FPS figures, if anything).

      Also, if you’re used to shooting without the 1.3x crop mode it’s an extra challenge to switch to 1.3x crop mode and adjusting your shooting style to suit – especially in a critical moment.

  • doge

    This is all well and good, but how do you pronounce D500? I guess the answer is extra special confidential.

    • Aldo


    • AlphaTed

      In some part of the world, which I will not mention, they will have a tendency to pronounce it as “D – 5 – double Oh”.

    • dee five hunna 😀

    • Nikkor300f4VR

      “Dee Five Ooohh Ooohh OMG!!! o.O/

  • Hah: A72: “A shutter unit, optimized for the compact DX-format body, that enables high-speed charging has been adopted.” Charging?

    • RMJ

      “charged” as in “ready to shoot”

      • Ah, I see, I did not know this use of the term. Learned one more thing!

    • manhattanboy

      I am saddened that they officially admit that it is a loud shutter compared to the 810

      • Well, the reason they give is a very good one. So while in a perfect world it would be silent, for people who want 10FPS it’s a reasonable tradeoff, IMHO.

      • mark_BC

        Is there a quiet mode? One of the biggest reasons I would get rid of my D300 is the loud shutter, can’t tell you how many birds that’s scared away.

        • nhz

          hopefully there is a quiet mode yes, for those of us who don’t really need the high framerate and prefer quiet operation when possible; and maybe also to help with shutter/mirror shock.

      • squoop

        That’s the one dissapointment for me also, very much hope it’s at least quieter than D800.

  • RMJ

    According to the document, if we keep demanding for D400, it will come some day ?

    • sickheadache

      The True story about the 400 Japan it means Death.

      • TheInfinityPoint

        Actually that originated from Chinese superstition because the number 4 and “death” have the same pronunciation, but different inflection.

      • Riley Escobar


        etc. That’s not mentioning the Canon cameras that have 4 in them.

        • chrisgull

          Yeah – all those products have reached End of Life. Or the D4s will soon.

          • Riley Escobar

            So have the D1, D2, D3, D50, D60, D700, Coolpix 800, 900, etc. What’s your point, that all numbers have connotations of death?

        • Val Evans

          Your examples are mostly wrong as you don’t understand Pythagorean reduction in the system they are referring to. The problem with 4 is tied to the base number after reduction. In your examples above, the L4840 would reduce to 4+8+4+0=16, then 1+6=7. Therefore the fundamental base number would reduce to 7 which is what is used to calculate its vibrational essence.

  • chris

    This is the first time I’ve seen nikon talk about “skin tones.” This is where they need improvement for portrait photographers.

    • Aldo

      I agree… out of base ISO skin tones start to degrade rapidly in any current nikon camera… maybe the d4 has a edge but not by much.

      • MonkeySpanner

        Yeah, skin tones are great in the studio on strobes at iso 100. But after that things fall apart.

        • chris

          Yes, they need to improve white balance. The skin tones on Nikon’s doesn’t look pleasant – this is very important to wedding photographers who works with brides all the time.

    • Ric of The LBC

      signed Ken Rockwell

    • Daniel G

      I pre ordered the d500 but I’m curious about this as well. I really like the skin tones I’ve gotten out of Canon and Fuji (low iso) but I want a Nikon digital to go with all my Nikon film bodies.

      • MonkeySpanner

        Yes, canon and Fuji have really good skin tones.

  • Aldo

    A21 talks about achieving better noise performance through processing.. thus achieving greater ISO sensitivities… This is the new trend that nikon is picking up (unfortunately). As someone else already mentioned, ISO native values no longer mean the same as they did before…

    • I hope that only means the in-camera JPEG processing. Although, as others have commented, current ISO numbers are pretty close to theoretical limits (I might have misunderstood), so maybe you’re right.

    • catinhat

      This might be the only way left, native ISO capability maxed out.

      • Aldo

        It could be… until they develop some new sensor technology.

    • Trond Arild Ydersbond

      The real interesting thing will be how much the RAW format is cooked. JPEG engines have always done a smaller or larger amount of cooking, and one of the (few) disappointements with my D7100 was that the high ISO .jpgs, especially at reduced resolution, were not better.
      Poisson shot noise is a fundamental characteristic of independent pixel readouts, and the only way to attack it, given a pixel size, is to eliminate independence.

    • KnightPhoto

      They talk about eliminating noise while RETAINING sharpness. If that’s cooked raw I want to get me some of that 😉

      It’s going to be very very interesting seeing the ISO of the D5 and D500.

  • manhattanboy

    Did anybody catch that they are talking about 12-bit images in the D500 and 14-bit images with the D5?

    • Pat Mann

      I did. I remember that 14-bit slowed down my D300s a LOT. Most of the rest of the discussion sounded like the processing and buffer for the two was pretty much the same, but perhaps we’ve got 1/4 the buffer in the DX version. Still sounds fantastic.

      • No, this is not like that (from what I understand). They both have the same buffers in JPEG and 12/14-bit loslessly-compressed RAW, but the D5 has slighty more buffer for the uncompressed RAWs – but who ever uses that?

        And yes, D300s was a slow dog with 14-bit RAW…

  • Pat Mann

    Thank you Admin for this. Fantastic read.

  • sickheadache

    Maybe Peter of NR can answer this. I was quoting only what Nikon Produced on their websites, that was either 3 minutes OR 30 Minutes in 4K… Then how come..this Release of the D5 and D500…Done so sloppily? A lot of miss info…on their websites?

    • This is normal – previous releases also had issues and small mistakes. Other companies do it too. There are so many people involved in a product launch, that it is impossible to keep everything error free.

      • Eric Calabros

        and broxibar was right about D750 monitor 🙂

  • jenxrj

    Whoa, so all that complaining and whining worked after all!
    So next I guess we should begin asking for a true D700 successor!

    • Eric Calabros

      they are even consider adding Clarity to video, if we ask them of course

    • Interesting point….
      People have been asking for D300s successor since 6 YEARS.
      Developement started in 2014.

    • Morris

      no no, you first buy 2 or 3 D500 so that Nikon ‘sees’ this model was worth to make it, then complain whine whine and complain some years about a D700, then you’ll get, maybe, what you want 🙂

      • jenxrj

        Even if I don’t end up buying multiple D500 bodies, it will still sell spectacularly. Even if the ISO performance is ~1.5 stops lower than the D5, it will still do wonders. The D4 could do 10 fps with AF. There are currently only 2 bodies from Nikon which can outdo the D500, in that regard and both cost ~$6k. Not to mention the AF tracking and metering is second to none.

    • Trond Arild Ydersbond

      Much more fruitful to ask for a useful Df successor, I think. A better implementation of the “D sensor in a smaller body” concept. That would be the 2017-version of the still missing D700 successor – call it D710, Df-II or anything.

  • Jim Huang

    And there is a chance that we can have flat profile or older cameras…lol

    • MonkeySpanner

      I wish Nikon would provide some film simulation profiles. Ricoh and Fuji have proven they are pretty popular.

      • Mike

        Nikon never made film though.

  • This made my day 🙂

    Q24.Is Phase-detection AF Faster? How does it compare to that of D5?
    A24.It’s faster than D4s
    It’s equivalent to that of D5

    • MonkeySpanner

      I don’t understand the fastness part. Phase detect pretty much operates at one speed right. You can have more or less detection sites, but the speed is the same right? Or do I misunderstand something?

      • Well because you asked this, i’m not going to pretend what it exactly mean.. But i can tell you my impression about this :).

        One thing I’ve been noticing is the cameras ability to drive lenses AF. 500mm was moving from minimum focusing distance to infinity much faster with D4 than D800. I read same thing between D3 and D300. But I know D810 is as fast as D4. This is the result of camera and lens combo. I think the dedicated AF engine in D500/D5 should be the reason for the speed of D500 which it seems same as D5.

        • What about AF motor?

          • No mention of AF motors. Probably because it’s a dying area of Nikon world. Anyhow in the past I thought the battery capacity had an impact on it thus pro bodies worked faster. I haven’t used D lenses for years. So I don’t know how it works even on D4

      • Trond Arild Ydersbond

        If you compared the D300/D3 AF, you might feel less confused. Same (in principle) detection unit, same AF-S motors, vastly different processing, AFAIK no dedicated controller in D300. Clearly slower end result in D300. It is very much a camera/lens communication thing.

  • Eric Calabros

    They are officially telling D500 AF works better than D5 for bird shooters 🙂

    • Aldo

      I saw that too… if you don’t need the FF sensor everyone is better off with a d500

    • Trond Arild Ydersbond

      Not officially… that’s one of the reasons for making this confidential, I guess. Same vein as the “enthusiast” , not “pro” label – even if it is in most respects way more “pro” than the D300 was in its time.. 😉

  • Nikos Delhanidis

    The left card would be the one in the SD slot ? 😛

  • Eric Calabros

    It records for 30 minutes. for total of 8x4GB files. so 32GB for 1800 seconds. or almost 17MB per second!
    oh yea I know I’m dreaming, Nikon never give us 100mb/s bit rate.

    • nzswedespeed

      Ahh so only 17mbps..?!

      • Sebastian Rasch

        17 MB/s (megabyte) = 136 Mb/s (megabit)

        • nzswedespeed

          Interesting. Should look pretty decent then!

    • Hmm, given the numbers, aren’t these 17M*byte*/s = 17*8 M*bit*/s = 136Mbps?

  • John Mackay

    Why does the d5 not have touch to focus in video as an option? That is like the best thing about a touch screen so you don’t have to shake the camera. I want a full frame d500. Sadly that isn’t the d5.

  • SherlockH

    If this 6-year cycle is real, we will get a true replacement for nikon D700. Can’t wait anymore!!

  • TheInfinityPoint

    Very interesting, it looks like they started development before Canon announced the 7D2 (Sept. 2014).

    • Captain Megaton

      A few months before the announcement, apparently… but not years earlier. It’s like the project started around the time they got wind of the 7D mk II through unofficial channels.

      I’d love to know if D500 was part of a long term plan by Nikon or a reaction to market.

      • Eric Calabros

        so the “reaction” to A7 should appear in Photokina

      • FroBro

        You are assuming Nikon don’t have contacts/employees working at Canon.

      • TheInconvenientRuth

        I still believe there was a D400 in the works, but the project got so disrupted by the earthquake and Tsunami that it was economically unrealistic to continuee/restart, so they started work on a D500 instead. But I doubt anyone at Nikon will ever acknowledge this.

        • Trond Arild Ydersbond

          This release makes that D400 scenario much more likely, IMHO. But I don’t think they were too bothered about ditching it: They simply lacked new distinguishing features for a DX flagship back then, and it was much more attractive to push more FX models.

        • Thiom

          I also think that they had a least an R&D team working on a potential D400.

          However those disasters weren’t as disruptive for the Japanese economy as they’re often perceived from abroad.

          It could also could have pretty well been that they simply lacked the appropriate sensor-processor combination for quite some time to achieve a significant improvement over the D300(s).

          Just imagine Nikon had released a D400 with 16MP, 7-9fps and an ISO range of 100-6400 alongside the D7100 because their tech back then just couldn’t do more. People would have been wailing furiously about how Nikon “dared” to release such an “inferior” DX flagship model.

          And agreed, that camera would have been more a “D300x” rather than a new model. Maybe Nikon felt that the release of such a minuscule incremental upgrade and the subsequent disappointment would have harmed them more than the past disappointment about the “missing” D300 successor.

      • MonkeySpanner

        Probably a combination of the two. The might have had a D500 project folder created but the market entry point was always a question mark.

    • Trond Arild Ydersbond

      Which looks to me as indication of the only major roadmap (internal only!) Nikon has: 4-year cycles of DX/FX pro models with 2-year updates (Formally, that makes the D200 an “update” to the D2X.)
      The missed entry was the D400 in 2012 – but at the time, it was not too hard a decision for Nikon to beef up the upcoming D7100 a bit instead. The D500 and D5 has much more in common than D300/D3, clearly developed in parallel, and with little consideration of Canon’s offering: The D500 is a DX version of the D5, with the form factor of D300/D800 – even more than D300 was the crop D3.

  • BernhardAS

    I always considered the utterly and completely crazy marketing approach a complete failure.
    On one hand marketing “specialists” come up with a press release that is full of bullshit lingo, highly unreadable (i do not even attempt to read the nonsense anymore) and uses words that leaves the consumer puzzled in important points.
    On the other hand the QA that really nicely explain all the real questions a consumer might have (and NIKON seems to know them pretty well) is CONFIDENTIAL.

    That in my eyes is craziness in its purest form.

    A tip from Bernhard to Nikon to save some money: Publish the QA next time and skip the press release entirely. Nobody really needs or wants it.

    To quote the great Marcel Reich-Ranicki :

    One may condemn me, but the truth must be told.

    • I agree, I find those docs very helpful.

    • Trond Arild Ydersbond

      Agree. This is the story fully explained by Nikon – as far as they have contemplated it themselves, I guess. Extremely informative – but it will be interesting to see if independent tests confirm the claims (e.g. that the D500 is uniformly better than the D7200 on IQ) that they refrain from backing up.

      • MonkeySpanner

        Yes, I think the IQ has to be better than the D7200 or this project is a no go.

  • Power aperture baby, hellyeah!

  • aarif

    all this is fine but unless we see real world sample images and field tests it’s all just talk

    • merops

      Naaah. You ought to use a little Bayesian reasoning – in the past there has been some relationship between actual performance and specs, and it’s reasonable to expect the same level of trustworthiness (or lack of) again. So not ‘all’ just talk.
      This doesn’t mean that what Nikon says is 100% to be trusted, but does mean that you have some information on which to start thinking about future decisions.

    • Trond Arild Ydersbond

      If this were just the usual sales pitch, maybe yes. But this is info for internal use, and Nikon does not want to flatly disinform their own people. Furthermore, this is mostly about incremental changes/improvements to well-known things. From using the D300, D700, D800, D7000 and D7100, I make rather precise expectations from the specs and this info. So it’s absolutely not just talk for me.

    • MonkeySpanner

      Let the people speculate. They have been waiting 6 years for this camera and we just found out about its existence less than a week ago. People are hungry to know and talk about any aspect of it until they can actually get their hands on it. I probably won’t buy it, but honestly I am pretty excited about it too.

      • aarif

        I mean what is this ISO 3 million and 1.6m on a crop sensor, no one uses ISO 100,000 so unless there has
        been a massive technological break-throw that we are not aware of it’s all marketing. I expect some improvement maybe half a stop better then the older generation sensors but that does not mean
        you’ll get good images from such high ISOs.

        Having said all of that I would love to
        have the D500 but with the 5D sensor 🙁 and I’ll pay 3500$ for that.

        • MonkeySpanner

          Of course you would. All of the d5 features plus flip screen for half the price. Yeah. I’ll take one too.

  • Trond Arild Ydersbond

    I think the high ISO promises indicate that they are willing to fo FAR in processing: I think the highest ISO setting would correspond approximately to a 280×420 image of completely independent pixels with a fair amount of photons. So we are not really talking “noise reduction”, but “image reconstruction” here.
    Which may turn out fairly succesful in many cases, just look at low-light photos from current top cell phone cameras. The interesting thing for me is not that they usually come out fairly bad, but that there is something remotely useable there at all.

  • MonkeySpanner

    AFAIK, this is the first implementation of this, presumably Sony 20MP sensor. I love that Nikon didn’t go for the market fluff and put a high MP sensor in it. I think 20 is probably the sweet spot right now balancing IQ, file size and processor power needed to push lots of files really fast. I am very curious to see how good this new sensor is.

  • mark_texas

    I love their answer to Q125. I had asked the question in the comments of two of the earlier articles. Being able to use the SnapBridge to pull the location information from your phone is great. I’ve been hoping for this, since it would avoid both having to buy a gps unit and it won’t use up the battery in the camera.

    • I’m more worried about battery on the phone; I don’t know of any recent phones that can go on a 8-hour GPS on+bluetooth (even LE) on without dying. As I understand, third-party solutions (not the GP-1) are frugal enought that this is easily doable.

  • Nimloth

    Is there within the document information representing a threat to the national security, allies, the relationship with foreign powers, should the contents therein be made available to a non-intended recipient? If not, it’s not CONFIDENTIAL. Name it something else. /rant

    • squoop

      That would be CLASSIFIED.

  • CR

    The only question I have: does the D500 have a dedicated AF system, just like the D5?

  • Mark Papke

    It says the D500 noise reduction is similar, although not quite as good, as the D5. I wonder if that means it will be as good as or better than the D610 or D750 noise.

  • Petr Cech

    i’m not sure, if I buy D500 or iphone 7

    • Well, do you want to take pictures or browse Facebook?

      • Petr Cech

        shoot 4K video on vacation in Cuba.

        • I’m not sure if you’re serious or not, too many people trolling on this discussion. But if you’re serious, I personally wouldn’t recommend D500 right now for 4K video, since it has—from the specifications as published—limitations such as too much crop, etc.

          As a rule: if you care more about video than stills, I’d say look at something else than Nikon.

  • Heh, I’m not a good person to give advice in this area. But simple rule: are you happy with the quality you get out of the iPhone? Then go it with. If not, keep increasing sensor size until you’re happy.

  • And upvote for that video ☺

  • Eric Cheng

    “How does body strength and durability compare to that of the D300s?
    As the entire top cover is metal, the D500 is stronger and more durable”

    Uhh, the D300s is full magnesium lol

  • Scott M.

    Thank you for publishing this. Great.

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