The Nikon D500 condenses the high performance features of a flagship camera into the compact body typical of a DX-format model—one reason why it is so highly endorsed by professional photographers. What was the product concept that shaped development, and what areas did the developers put particular effort into during the design and development process? We find out from the Nikon developers themselves. (Interviewer: Ryosuke Takahashi)
In the past, there had also been plans to develop a flagship DX-format camera. But we chose to do so now in response to market movements and user demands.
Nikon’s DX-format flagship D500, which uses an APS-C size sensor, has many parts and features that are also found on the full-frame sensor FX-format D5.
The camera body is made from magnesium alloy and caron fiber reinforced thermoplastic. High performance is a given, but what really defines the camera is its compact and lightweight body, which makes it so agile you could bring it with you anywhere.
The D500 weighs approximately 860g, and is not only rugged but also lightweight.
The D500 is a powerful candidate for photographing airplanes, wild birds and similar genres with its DX-format 1.5x-equivalent telephoto crop factor and continuous shooting speed of up to 10 fps.
The D500, as Nikon’s flagship DX-format camera, stands shoulder to shoulder with the D5 in terms of market position, catering to not just to professionals but also advanced amateurs.
The 20.9 effective-megapixel count was chosen because it ensures a balance between optimum image quality and optimum speed, compromising on neither.
The newly developed 20.9MP CMOS sensor used in the D500.
It is clear that the developers took care to ensure that the D500 shared common features with the D5, but at the same time also ensured that the features were optimized to suit the D500’s body size.
The design of the D500’s pentaprism emulates that of the D5.
With the adoption of a monocoque structure for the body, the grip has become deeper and easier to hold.
It costs more to make compared to a rectangular eyepiece, but users are more than happy with it.
The D500 has a rounded viewfinder eyepiece, appropriate for its status as a class-leading Nikon camera.
This is the same design philosophy behind the D5, and is the same reason why all of Nikon’s class-leading D-SLR models do not come with a built-in flash.
On the D500, you can set ISO sensitivity setting as high as ISO 51200 (native) and ISO 1640000 (expanded).
As you would expect from a flagship model the D500 is dust and water-drop resistant. In the initial stages of development, the developers had considered including a built-in flash. However, this idea did not fit the characteristcs of a flagship D-SLR, and the eventual design setter suited the requirements for dust and water-drop resistance.
The comprehensive weather sealing on the D500 body.
The materials used to make each part of the body were carefully considered in order to make the camera compact and lightweight.
In neutral position, the tilting LCD monitor on the rear of the camera protrudes more from the body than usual. The eyepoint has been made higher to balance this out.
The optical viewfinder on the D500 has 100% coverage, as well as improvements that allow for an even wider viewing angle.
The developers have also pre-empted for situations where you may accidentally knock the camera into something while the monitor is tilted. It should also be able to withstand situations where the monitor were to get caught on something while you are taking the camera out of your bag.
The D500 is rugged enough to withstand the conditions often dictated by professional use. This tough, durable structure also applies to the tilting LCD monitor.
The previous control system had its benefits, but making the control layout consistent among all cameras in the D5 generation is an important step to take towards the future. This is also why the developers put particular emphasis on ensuring that the design of the D500 was consistent with that of the D5. The logic will be even more apparent to those who try out the camera.
The sub-selector located on the rear of the D500. Control operations are similar to the FX-format flagship D5.