Nikon D7500 Review

Introduction

Initially released in the summer of 2017, the Nikon D7500 marks the latest iteration in Nikon’s semi-professional D7000 series of digital SLR cameras. Technically, it’s the successor to the previously released D7200. However, in specifications and capabilities, it’s almost akin to the Nikon flagship D500 DX sports-oriented camera, where both cameras share much of the same underlying technologies. However, to have the D500 better stand out, Nikon opted to remove existing features in this camera to differentiate the two lines.

But, did they go too far and dumb down an otherwise excellent camera? Did they remove critical features current D7100 and D7200 users required? Nikon aims this as a competitor for users looking at Canon’s 80D, 77D, 7D Mark II, or Sony’s a6300. Tough competition. Today, we assess the strengths, weaknesses, and address whether this camera should be a consideration in your search for a new camera.

Nikon-D7500-camera-specifications

What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Nikon D7500?

Pros:

Image Quality

It uses the same 20.9MP sensor mated with the EXPEED 5 processor and metering system as the D500. Like the predecessor, it also lacks an Optical Low Pass Filter, which allows for sharper images, albeit at the risk of moiré. It also uses the brand new 180K metering sensor from the D500 and D5, which provides better metering of scenes to prevent over or underexposures. And, overall, while it has a slightly lower resolution than the predecessor, it still delivers sharp images, excellent dynamic range, and accurate color rendition.

Video Quality

It also inherits the same 4K recording capabilities as the D500 and shoots 4K UHD up to 30 fps at a data rate of 120 MBps. For 1080p Full HD, it shoots up to 60 fps at full sensor width and has an optional 1.3x crop to extend the lenses reach while filming. Overall, video quality is quite good for its class.

It offers a flat picture profile, which lends itself to better post-production grading.

It supports 4K output over HDMI to external recorders.

Video recordings are limited to a maximum of 29 minutes and 59 seconds, standard for this class.

Low Light Performance

It offers a native ISO from ISO 100-51,200, and now extends to High 5, the equivalent of 1.6 million. Users can expect relatively noise-free images up to ISO 6,400 with minimal color shifting.

Focusing Performance

It maintains the same 51-point phase-detection AF system as the predecessor, where 15 of these points are cross-type enabled. However, Nikon has updated the system to now work in conjunction with the 180K metering sensor. The new metering sensor and the EXPEED 5 processor assist in AF performance in several key ways. Firstly, we now get Face-Detect when composing via the viewfinder, which works well. Secondly, improved 3D-tracking, which is the system that updates the focusing as objects enter and exit the screen. The increase in sensor resolution enhances the responsiveness of 3D-tracking, allowing for greater accuracy when tracking a subject during bursts. Overall, tracking is far better than the predecessor, and the best of the series bar none. This camera is now sufficiently capable for sports and action applications.

Battery Performance

Battery performance is excellent, though down slightly from the predecessor. Nikon rates the battery for 950 shots per charge.

Display & Viewfinder

Unlike the predecessor, it now features an articulating touchscreen, though not fully articulating. It now tilts vertically, with a nice slim profile, a much-needed improvement over the predecessor’s fixed rear screen. Overall, the display offers excellent viewing angles, ample brightness for composing outdoors, and a responsive touch interface.

The optical viewfinder has a 100% coverage of the image area with a large 0.94x magnification. Nikon has also included an eye sensor, which automatically disables the rear monitor as the eye approaches the viewfinder.

It also features the same top control panel LCD as the predecessor, which is useful to assess critical shooting parameters at a glance.

User Interface

The touchscreen now supports full menu navigation and settings adjustment, a first for a Nikon DSLR. Its touch operations are also customizable to the entire menu or the playback mode only. In playback, you can swipe between images, pinch to zoom, or use a slider scrub bar to navigate through images.

Physical Layout & Ergonomics

It features a lightweight carbon fiber body that provides a 5% reduction in weight over the predecessor, but the same level of comprehensive weather sealing. In this case, its body has now slimmed down a 120g to 650g, body only.

Nikon has strategically repositioned the ISO button to the top of the camera, making it more accessible without the need to alter your grip. Nice. Otherwise, the overall button positioning and placement remains mostly unchanged from the predecessor but excellent nonetheless. All exposure parameters are accessible while composing in the viewfinder, and it delivers fantastic manual control.

It features a dedicated AF joystick for immediate AF point selection.

Niche Features/Extras

It maintains the screw drive AF motor, allowing for backward compatibility with older Nikon AF-D lenses.

It inherits Autofocus fine-tune from the D500 and D5, allowing users to precisely adjust the focus of the attached lens automatically for maximum performance.

It offers a fast continuous shooting speed of up to 8 fps at full resolution. And it has a robust buffer that supplies 50 uncompressed RAW images or 100 JPEGs, a significant improvement over the predecessor 22 RAW maximum.

It features extensive in-camera editing, retouching, and batch RAW processing capabilities. You can even trim recorded video clips or save individual frames as photos.

It has a built-in pop-up flash, which can act as a commander to radio trigger compatible flashes.

It has both Bluetooth 4.1 and Wi-Fi capabilities to pair smartphones via Nikon’s Snapbridge app for wireless image transfer or remote controller.

It has a headphone input.

It has a microphone input.

It has digital image stabilization.

It has built-in time-lapse recording, removing the need for an external intervalometer or remote.

It has zebras for exposure clipping indication.

Cons:

Image Performance

Unfortunately, the inheritance of the smaller 20.9MP sensor from the D500 comes at a slight disadvantage in raw image resolution. In this case, both older D7000 series cameras have the upper hand, which is immediately apparent when comparing the camera’s side by side. Overall, both predecessors deliver sharper images and perform equally as well up to ISO 6,400 in low light. So, for typical day to day situations, the smaller resolution sensor in this camera proves to be a slight drawback for those wanting the best this series can provide, though not deal-breaking.

Video Capabilities

While the addition of 4K video was a necessity, it comes with several drawbacks. Firstly, it records in a 1.5x cropped region of the sensor on top of the standard DX crop, culminating in a 2.2x total crop. This additional crop significantly reduces the field of view when shooting in this mode. It means shooting 4K requires an entirely different selection of lenses to maintain standard focal lengths. In this case, a 10 mm wide-angle lens is necessary even to shoot 22mm, which is as wide as you can get shooting 4K on this camera. Overall, this additional crop is inconvenient, to say the least, and makes the camera more in line with the sensor size of a Micro Four Thirds camera. Secondly, unlike the competition, which oversamples 6K resolution sensors to shoot 4K at full sensor width, this camera only uses the central 8-megapixels of the sensor. What this means is that the footage, while good in many respects, lacks the same level of sharpness and offers far weaker high ISO performance than the competition. So, in short, while this camera can shoot 4K, it’s just not the best option for this purpose compared to rivals.

Autofocus Performance

Unfortunately, focusing in Live View using the rear screen remains poor and Nikon’s Achilles’ heel. Focus tracking, in particular, is quite slow, sporadically hunts, and, overall, isn’t consistent enough to create confidence using the system. And while the camera also supports touch focus while recording, rack focusing isn’t sufficient for accurate focusing either as it often rocks back and forth. The bottom line, manually focusing is the only real option here if you plan on shooting video with this camera.

Display

The resolution of the rear screen has dropped down from 1.23M dots to only 921K dots, making it inferior to the predecessor in resolution. While the difference between the two monitors during regular use is challenging to see, it’s an unnecessary move from Nikon to differentiate the D7000 and D500 series cameras.

Lacking Features

It only houses a single UHS-1 SD card slot, down from the dual slots found on earlier cameras in this series. Overall, this change can easily be a deal-breaker for users who require redundancy or overflow abilities, both of which the camera now lacks.

It lacks the necessary electronic contacts for attaching an external battery or vertical grip, a feature found on all previous D7000 series models. And, unfortunately, Nikon doesn’t manufacture one for the camera either.

It doesn’t support USB charging.

Is this a good beginner camera?

Overall, it’s an excellent camera and one that inherits several successful features from the pricier D500. Namely, its sensor, processor, and screen all placed into a smaller and more conservative body. Not only is it far less expensive, but it’s also a competent sports-oriented camera. But, it simultaneously makes for a perplexing entry into the current D7000 series lineup with Nikon removing the second SD card, legacy lens support, and possibility for battery grips. And, in some respects, it’s a downgrade in versatility over the predecessor. Previously, the D7200 was the flagship camera. But, the D500 later replaced that spot, and Nikon has felt the need to lower this camera into the consumer market, not the semi-professional market intended. For some, these changes will prove to be deal-breakers. However, for the beginner foreign to much of these niche particularities, it makes for a reliable option considering the notable drawbacks. It’s certainly a hidden gem in Nikon’s lineup, with the speed and power of a flagship camera all in a compact and functionalist design accessible to a wide array of users. And it indeed represents an attractive way to get the D500’s best assets in an economical and lighter body.

What are the best lenses & bundles for the Nikon D7500?

General Photography:

AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II
AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II
AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR
AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II

Specifically for Macro Photography:

AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G
AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F3.5G ED VR

Specifically for Landscape & Astrophotography Photography:

AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Lens

Specifically for Portrait Photography:

AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II
AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F3.5G ED VR

Specifically for Sports & Wildlife Photography:

AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II
AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR

Specifically for Product & Still life Photography:

AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G
AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F3.5G ED VR

Extra Batteries:

EN-EL15a Rechargeable Li-ion Battery

SD Cards:

SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I Card

Is the Nikon D7500 a good camera for you?

Possibly.

It makes an excellent choice for those looking to shoot sports, action, or wildlife wanting performance without the price the D500 demands. Considering its fast frame rate, large buffer, and low light performance, it’s an excellent alternative to the D500 for more budget-conscious shooters.

For current D500 users, it’s an excellent second body.

Considering the lack of dual card slots, it doesn’t make for the ideal choice for professional applications where redundant recording for backup or overflow are necessities while shooting. That is unless you can live without that and are willing to compromise. If not, it’s best to consider the older D7200 instead.

The inability to connect a battery grip also pushes the camera down from a very powerful, yet not as capable, platform for journalistic or documentary photography. A battery grip is essential to all-day shooting and to balance longer lenses, which is vital for these mediums.

For those desiring the best image quality, the older D7200 delivers the advantage when resolving fine details with it’s larger 24MP sensor. Though, it doesn’t perform as well in low light and has banding in shadows. So there’s a trade-off there. However, if you desire the best resolving power from the series, the older D7200 is still the better of the two cameras. This camera delivers the advantage of better low light performance, not necessarily resolution. And for typical applications or the average user, while it’s an excellent camera, the D7200 may be the overall better option. This camera is oriented primarily towards those desiring to shoot action or aspiring DSLR video shooters.

On paper, it looks like an attractive hybrid camera with its attractive video-centric features like 4K recording, flat picture profile, headphone, and microphone inputs. And while it could work, the reality is that the camera still uses a contrast only autofocusing detection system when shooting video using Live View. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t provide smooth enough transitions and consistent focus to make for a reliable system. Thus, manual focusing will be your only option. But, that’ll be challenging, considering the camera lacks focus peaking. So while possible for use in this regard, it’s undoubtedly not ideally suited for it.

In the end, it delivers a diverse and versatile feature set that appeals to a broad demographic of users. And it provides an interesting value proposition with a comprehensive set of features, though with some interesting removals, that deliver a better choice than the more basic cameras in Nikon’s lineup. If you’re a current Nikon user that loves the image quality and interface looking for your next upgrade, this is your camera.

Nikon-D7200--vs-Nikon-D7500-comparison-banner

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Dynamic Range
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
3.8

Summary

The Nikon D7500 is an excellent camera and one that inherits several successful features from the pricier D500. Namely, its sensor, processor, and screen all placed into a smaller and more conservative body. Not only is it far less expensive, but it’s also a competent sports-oriented camera. It’s certainly a hidden gem in Nikon’s lineup, with the speed and power of a flagship camera all in a compact and functionalist design accessible to a wide array of users. And it indeed represents an attractive way to get the D500’s best assets in an economical and lighter body.