The Nikon D7500 does not boast any dramatic new technologies, but it does fill a significant gap in the range. It fits in towards the top of the Nikon DX (APS-C format) digital SLR range, where it’s designed to offer a balance between high-end performance, versatile features and an affordable price.
Nikon D7500 Price
The D7500 slots in above the D7200, now discontinued, and below the D500. The D500 is a powerful, professional-level camera that can shot continually at 10 frames per second with a big buffer capacity and a maximum expanded ISO of 1,640,000, both made possible by the new 20.9MP sensor and the Expeed 5 processor – it’s a more advanced professional camera that sounds similar to the D7500 but is actually in a different league – and a different price range.
Putting aside the four-megapixel drop in resolution, which is usually unlikely to prove very significant in everyday shooting, the D500 raised the bar to get Nikon’s DX-format cameras. It also raised the price point.
This left a large gap between the D7200 and D500, which the D7500 has now filled; so the question is how much of the D500’s DNA offers filtered down into the D7500, and whether this is the camera that could give enthusiasts the perfect balance between power and value?
This isn’t a cheap DSLR, even now, but the specs are very tempting. They start with the continuous shooting rate of 8fps, which is a little short of the 10fps and more achieved by top APS-C DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, but still plenty of for capturing most high-speed action.
The D7500 is helped by an unusually good buffer capacity of 50 raw (NEF) files – unusual outside the professional market. The typical enthusiast DSLR or mirrorless camera can shoot any number of JPEGs, but most keen photographers would rather shoot raw, also in continuous mode, therefore the D7500 is definitely well ahead of its direct rivals here.
It also has the amazing high ISO setting of the more expensive D500, topping out at ISO 1,640,000. That’s 5EV above its maximum standard ISO value of 51,200, so the quality inevitably takes a nosedive, but it is an indication of the technological advances built into the D7500.
The D7500 is great for video, too, offering 4K UHD capture. This is significantly common in the mirrorless market, but it’s the 1st time 4K video has appeared in a non-professional DSLR.
Nikon hasn’t used its newest 153-point autofocus system, however. This remains the province of its more costly D500. Instead, the D7500 gets an improved version of Nikon’s long-running 51-point Multi-Cam 3500 II autofocus sensor, now with the Group Area AF mode found in Nikon’s professional models and an Auto AF Great Tune feature.
Build and Handling
After a long diet of mirrorless cameras in the testing labs, the D7500’s chunky, weighty body is a welcome change. It’s not as large as a pro DSLR, but it’s a huge step up from entry-level DSLRs like the Nikon D3500 or Canon’s EOS T7i/800D. A deep grip on the front gives you a good, firm hold on the camera; round the back, the extra height in the body leaves enough room around the big, tilting display screen for the buttons.
You pull out the bottom of the screen to modify the angle, and an extending hinge moves it further away from the body so that it’s not partially obscured by the viewfinder eyecup. In addition, it tilts downwards slightly for overhead photos. The Live View key is on the back of the camera at the base, inside a lever to switch between stills and video.
The D7500 doesn’t have a hybrid AF system like Canon’s DSLRs, so in Live View mode it relies solely on contrast autofocus, which is precise, but slower. Even so, the D7500’s Live Watch autofocus feels a little quicker than previous versions – Nikon suggests this could be due to the more powerful Expeed 5 processor.
The D7500’s optical viewfinder is very good. It uses a proper pentaprism design rather than a cheaper ‘pentamirror’, and offers 100% coverage. There can be an assumption that optical viewfinders are intrinsically inferior to electronic viewfinders because they don’t present the digital image as the sensor will capture it. There is a counter-argument, nevertheless. With a DSLR, you can move your eyes from the real world to the viewfinder and discover specifically the same naked-eye, optical watch. You don’t get the discontinuity of an electronic viewfinder, and you will still check the picture immediately after you’ve shot it on the rear screen.
The control layout is much the same as the old D7200. On the left of the top plate is a mode dial on top of a release mode dial. You will need a little dexterity in your digits to press down the locking key for the release setting dial, but at least this stops you from changing the placing accidentally.
The focus mode control is a lever on leading of the camera on the remaining side of the lens flange. You use the lever to change between manual focus and autofocus, and hold down a button in the centre to change the autofocus mode and focus area using the front and rear order dials. If you’re not used to Nikon DSLRs, you might find this arrangement just a little odd, but if you are then it makes sense – you can hold in the button with your still left thumb and modification the focus settings together with your right forefinger and thumb.
The two main selling points for Nikon’s most recent sensor and processing technology are speed and sensitivity, and the D7500 has plenty of both. The 8fps continuous shooting acceleration may not end up being quite up there with the 10fps Nikon D500 or Canon’s EOS 7D II, but it’s fast more than enough for most of us and, more importantly, it gets the buffer capacity to cope with extended raw capturing. That’s useful not merely for burst shooting, but for auto-publicity bracketing for HDR, for example, where you desire to be able to rattle off bursts of three or five raw files.
Nikon’s Matrix metering produces pretty reliable exposures across a range of conditions and it’s easy enough to apply a little exposure settlement for tricky subjects. The D7500’s brand-new Highlight-weighted metering mode is especially interesting, however. This adjusts the direct exposure to ensure that the brightest parts of the scene are recorded without clipping. This can leave the midtones and the shadows quite dark, but if you’re shooting natural files it’s usually possible to recover darker areas very efficiently. This looks like being a really useful feature.
The auto white balance system does an equally good job. It preserves the natural color of outdoor pictures very successfully and copes well under artificial light – though it will still show a bit of a yellow cast under tungsten lighting. Overall, the colours are rich, vibrant and reasonable. We utilized the D7500’s Standard picture control throughout, but various other picture controls are available including Vivid, Portrait and Landscape.
The fine detail rendition is good, nonetheless it did lag extremely somewhat behind the results from the D7200. It’s likely that you’d only notice this indirect side-by-side comparison, nevertheless, and the D7500’s sensor has many other qualities to commend it.
Verdict Nikon D7500
Nikon’s decision to drop the quality of its best APS-C DSLRs to 20 megapixels was a surprise to many and this has a slight impact on the D7500’s outright resolution – but its swiftness, low-light performance and overall image quality are first rate. At first it looked like a little of routine range-filling on Nikon’s part, but as the market has matured, prices have fallen and rivals possess changed… and the D7500 right now provides few direct competitors.
Nikon’s drop from its old 24-megapixel sensors to new 20 megapixel versions will have surprised many and still looks a little odd today. This does have a slight effect on the D7500’s outright quality, though its quickness, low-light performance and general image quality are high quality. When it was first launched it appeared as if a bit of routine range-filling on Nikon’s part between your D7200 and D500, but as rival DSLRs have disappeared and the D7500’s own price has fallen, it today finds itself in a very strong position in the enthusiast DSLR marketplace. You can’t obtain an APS-C DSLR convincingly better than this one without paying a lot more money.