A number of useful settings of the Nikon D500 are controlled with the Main and Sub Command dials. These settings can be a bit difficult to manipulate, particularly underwater, as they may require two hands and continuous pressure on a given button.
Here are two easy ways that require only one hand to set the Nikon D500 buttons.
The first approach uses the Control Panel as the display:
Press the button of the chosen setting; its settings appear in the Control Panel, such as setting the WB. Use the Main and Sub Control Dials to make the desired settings. To exit, press the same control button or the shutter release half way. That’s it.
The second approach uses the Main View Screen as the display:
Press the Info key to access the main screen, then the key of the chosen setting. A menu for that setting automatically pops up in the main view screen, which can be set with the Control Dials. Again, the settings we want to adjust remain on the screen until we exit by pressing that same Setting button.
While both approaches produce the same results, the advantages of the Info + Setting on the Main View Screen approach are that, as the main screen is four times larger than the control panel, it is much easier to see it underwater, it requires only one hand, and a simple menu for each function pops up automatically.
We need to prepare the D500 menu in two ways:
First, to allow the Setting to remain on the screen while we adjust it (ref 1),
open Menu > Custom Settings Menu (CSM) >
f6 Release button to use dial > ON
Second, to give us plenty of time to play with the settings,
open Menu > CSM > c4 Menus and Information display > set Monitor off delay to 10 minutes or similar. That’s it to prepare the camera, now for specific settings.
Here are some examples of the info + main screen way to adjust a setting:
ISO sensitivity setting: Press the info button, then the ISO button. An ISO menu appears, the sub command dial turns the ISO function on or off; the Main command dial sets the ISO value.
To exit, press info again, or press the shutter release half way.
Focus Point setting: Set the Focus mode lever (front of camera, lower left) to AF. Now, press info, then the AF-mode button to show a Menu to set the AF-area mode/Focus mode.
Turn the main command dial for continuous AF-C or for single AF-S.
The sub-command dial (top right front) sets the focus area to Single, Auto area AF, Group area AF with 25, 72, 153, and 3D tracking. Exit by pressing the info button.
The number of focus points, 55 vs 15, is set with the Menu > CSM > a6 Autofocus.
Flash settings: Press info then the flash button: A menu with Flash compensation and Flash Mode will appear.
Flash compensation is set with the front, sub command dial. Flash mode is set with the main command dial; be careful with Flash mode as it has a Flash Off option (the previous owner of my D500 had set the flash mode to off, this caused me lots of grief).
Here are a few more settings:
Press info, then one of the Top 4 left buttons:
Qual button: Image quality/size.
WB button: White balance preset (d1 -d6) /color temp PRE, K and color grid.
Mode button: Exposure mode P,M,A,S.
Metering button: Matrix, center weighted, spot and highlight weighted.
Press info, then one of the Top 3 right buttons:
Red dot button: does nothing.
ISO button: please see description above.
+/- button (Exposure compensation): Sets the main control dial from +5.0 to -5.0.
These approaches also work for my Nikon D7100 and D800, and probably for similar Nikon models, which I have not tried.
In closing, please share more ways to set the D500, as it has sooo many settings...
1. Nauticam NA-D850 ISO control - Comment by Harbor Seal (Adam Hanlon), Wetpixel 22 Dec 2018.