Body and handling

In the hand

The D500 is pretty big, as APS-C cameras go (it's very similar in size to the full frame D750). This gives is plenty of space for custom buttons. A well-designed grip and good use of body materials mean the camera is about as light and comfortable to use for extended periods as could reasonably be expected.

The D500 borrows very heavily from the D300S when it comes to ergonomics. The grip is a similar depth and shape, meaning it's likely to be a bit more comfortable in the hand for long periods than the D7200 was.

The button positioning is broadly similar to that of the D300S (including the quartet of buttons on the top left shoulder of the camera, which we never found particularly convenient for to-the-eye operation). There's an extra function button on the D500's left flank, the D300S' metering and AF point mode controls are a thing of the past but probably the biggest change is the addition of an AF point joystick that, by default, also doubles as the AEL/AFL button.

Viewfinder

The D500's viewfinder isn't huge compared to full frame cameras but it's really impressive for the APS-C format.

The D500 has a 100% viewfinder but in this case offering a 1.0x magnification. Because the magnification figure is based on the use of a 50mm lens, this the magnification figure includes the 1.5x multiplier from the camera using an APS-C sensor. With this taken into account, it's still the largest viewfinder we've ever seen on an APS-C DSLR. 0.67x magnification isn't huge by full frame standards but it's about as nice as optical finders get in this format.

Button illumination

All the buttons down the left-hand side of the camera can be set to light-up by continuing to rotate the on/off switch beyond the 'on' position. This makes it much easier to quickly operate the camera in low-light situations such as later night/early morning landscape shooting or concert photography.

Battery life

The D500 uses an EN-EL15 battery with a capacity of 14 Wh. This gives a CIPA rating of 1240 shots per charge. However, despite this being around four times higher than most mirrorless cameras, we've not found ourselves getting the 'shoot with it all weekend' longevity that we're used to seeing from DSLRs with this sort of rating. We'll be looking into this in more depth as we continue testing.