Nikon D500 Performance

Timing and Performance

Excellent performance for its class, with with major improvements over its predecessor.

Startup/Play to Record

Power on
to first shot

~0.3 second

Time it takes for camera to turn on.

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.2 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Startup time including taking a shot was fast, about the same as the D300S and difficult to measure. Play to Record and taking a shot was a little faster than the D300S.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Optical Viewfinder

Full Autofocus
Single Point
(Center) AF

0.170 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture using optical viewfinder. All timing performed with a Nikkor AF-S 60mm f/2.8 Micro lens.

Manual focus

0.049 second

For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".


0.049 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Live View


0.103 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button in Live View mode.

In terms of the Nikon D500's ability to determine that it's properly focused when shooting the same target multiple times (with no change of focus setting between iteration, to remove the impact of lens AF speed), its speed was very good, and faster than the D300S. The D500's AF shutter lag measured 0.170 second using single-area (center) AF mode with a Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G Macro lens. The D300S tested at 0.225 second.

Manual focus lag was incredibly fast at only 49 milliseconds, compared to 150ms for the D300S. When prefocused, shutter lag was fast for a DSLR, also only 49ms compared to 53ms for the D300S.

When prefocused in Live View mode shutter lag was 0.103 seconds, more than twice as long as when using the optical viewfinder, but much faster than the D300S' 0.419s in its equivalent Live View mode. We no longer test autofocus speeds during Live View mode for DSLRs, since it's very lens dependent.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG

< 0.3 second

Time per shot, averaged over a few frames (we no longer test for buffer depths in single-shot mode).

Single Shot mode

< 0.3 second

Time per shot, averaged over a few frames (we no longer test for buffer depths in single-shot mode).

Early shutter


Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous High
Large Fine JPEG
(Optimal quality)

0.10 second
(10.2 frames/sec);
200 frames total;
1 second to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 200 shots (maximum programmable limit).

Continuous High
14-bit RAW (Lossless compressed)

0.10 second
(10.2 frames/sec);
200 frames total;
3 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 200 shots (maximum programmable limit), although the camera occasionally paused at about 50 frames for about 0.5 second before resuming at the full rate.

Continuous High
14-bit RAW (Lossless) + L/F JPEG

0.10 second
(10.2 frames/sec);
27 frames total;
4 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 27 shot buffer, then slowed to an average of 0.26s or 3.83 fps with a full buffer.

Flash recycling


Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a Lexar Pro 2933x 64GB XQD 2.0 flash card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times were so fast that they were difficult to accurately measure as they depend on the tester's dexterity and ability to maintain an optimum rhythm, so your results may vary. (Note that we no longer test single-shot mode with just RAW files, as the results are usually somewhere in between JPEG and RAW+JPEG.)

Continuous High burst mode is significantly improved over the D300S, despite the considerable increase in resolution. We measured the D500's fastest burst rate at 10.2 frames per second for best quality JPEGs, 14-bit RAW and RAW+JPEG files, compared to just over 7 fps for the D300S when shooting JPEGs or 12-bit RAW files (the D300S slowed down to only about 2.7 fps when shooting 14-bit RAW files).

Buffer depths have also vastly improved over its predecessor, however we don't have direct comparisons because of different flash cards. With a very fast Lexar Pro 2933x 64GB XQD 2.0 card rated at 400MB/s for writes, the D500 captured 200 best quality JPEGs in a continuous burst, which is the maximum programmable limit. When shooting 14-bit lossless compressed RAW files the buffer depth was also 200 frames, but we noticed when testing multiple trials that the D500 occasionally briefly paused at around 50 frames for about 0.5 second before resuming at the full rate, even with a newly reformatted card. The buffer depth dropped to 27 frames for 14-bit lossless compressed RAW+JPEG files. Note that buffer depths will be lower when shooting uncompressed 14-bit RAW files, or higher when shooting lossy compressed RAW files and/or 12-bit files when not constrained by the 200 frame limit. The D300S only managed 26 JPEGs, and 15-20 12-bit RAW frames depending on the compression mode selected.

Buffer clearing was very fast given the burst speeds and buffer depths. When shooting best quality JPEGs, buffer clearing was only about one second after 200 frames. When shooting RAW or RAW+JPEG files, buffer clearing ranged from 3 to 4 seconds depending on the file type. The D300S took about 9 to 16 seconds to clear its buffers depending on the mode.

Bottom line, as you'd expect from a flagship APS-C model, the Nikon D500 is very fast, with improved AF speed and shutter lag, and much improved burst mode performance over its predecessor.


Battery Life

Excellent battery life.

Test Conditions
Number of Shots
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard, Optical Viewfinder)
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard, Live View LCD)

The Nikon D500 uses a custom EN-EL15 7.0v 1900 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and a dedicated battery charger. The CIPA rated 1,240 shots per charge using the optical viewfinder is excellent for its class, but keep in mind the D500 does not have a built-in flash which is normally fired for 50% of shots when tested using the CIPA standard. Still, battery life is exceptional, and it can be more than doubled to 2,510 shots when using the optional MB-D17 battery grip with an EN-EL18a 10.8v 2500mAh battery installed. Unfortunately, Nikon does not seem to publish battery life for Live View mode, but it's a safe bet that it's considerably shorter.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of on fully-charged battery, based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))


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