Nikon D7500 Musings

Nikon has just launched the brand spankin’ new D7500 (DX body), and my inbox is already overflowing with questions. So, I thought I’d put together a quick post, first examining the camera itself, and then briefly comparing it to the D500 and D7200.

First, the camera. In my opinion, it won’t beat out Kate Upton for the next cover of the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue, but it’s still a good looking body (and if it gets splashed, it’s weather sealed to a “greater extent” than the D7200, whatever that really means).

nikon d7500 front view

The body has been slimmed down and is a bit lighter than the D500 (4.3oz) and ever-so-slightly lighter (1.3oz) than the D7200. It also seems to have a deeper grip, which is always a welcome addition, at least for my hands. A few of the controls have changed positions, the most notable of which is the ISO button right in front of the shutter release – exactly where the camera gods intended. It also seems Nikon has finally given up on the Pv button, replacing it with an Fn1 button instead. Since very few people ever used the Pv button as a depth of field preview anyway, I think the new label makes more sense. (And I’m confident you can still program it for depth of field preview if you like.)

nikon d7500 controls

As for features, they really have changed things up compared to the D7200 – and there are both good and bad points in the mix. Here’s the highlight show to give you all the facts for when you’re chatting around the water cooler at the next camera club meeting.

Nikon D7500 – The Good

First, autofocus. The new camera has the same 51 point AF system as the D7200 but adds Group Area AF to the club – a very welcome addition to the menu. Otherwise, it seems on par with the D7200 – although don’t misinterpret that statement as a disappointment. I’ve always been very pleased with the AF performance of the D7200, and I’m sure with Group AF supplementing the system, this will be even better. 

In addition to the feature bump with Group AF, this is also equipped with Nikon’s Auto AF Fine Tune, so it’s good to see that option creeping into other bodies. I talk about how to get the most out of it in my Nikon AF book, but I’ll probably do an article about it as well down the road, so stay tuned. 

Speaking of which, if you have my Secrets To The Nikon Autofocus System e-book, don’t worry – I’ll be updating the guide to cover the AF system of the D7500 within a month or two of release. 

Moving on, how about that sensor? This time, it borrows the excellent 20.9MP sensor from the D500. For some people, this will feel like a slight downgrade from the 24MPs of the D7200, but in reality, there is very little practical difference. If you’re printing at 240 ppi (a pretty good number for most inkjets), the D7200 can do a 25×16 vs the D7500 at 23.2 x 15.4. In the end, I like both sensors, so for me, this wouldn’t be a deal breaker either way.

Nikon also claims “substantially” better ISO over the D7200, but I don’t think they understand what that word means. If the D7500 uses the exact same version of the sensor found in the D500, it’s a wash for ISOs below 3200 and only enjoys a small advantage above that. Of course, they’ve had time to tweak the sensor, so it may be better than I anticipate (but don’t kid yourself either – if it’s more than a 1/2 stop improvement I’ll be shocked). 

Speaking of ISO, the new camera claims an ISO range of 100-52,000 vs the 100-25,600 range for the D7200 thanks to the new Expeed 5 image processing engine. The upper ranges are ideal if your standards are low and don’t mind your images resembling something painted on sandpaper. Personally, I max out at ISO 3200~4000 with either camera (i.e. D7200 / D500 – and I’m sure the same will apply to the D7500).

Next frame rate. We go from 6 FPS on the D7200 to 8 FPS on the D7500 – a nice upgrade and one that puts it solidly into the action camera category (The D3 was only 9FPS, so this is pretty close). This extra frame rate is paired with an improved buffer that allows you to knock out 50 shots before it slows (compared to the D7200’s 18). That’s over six glorious seconds of continuous shooting and will cover just about every situation.

The D7500 also adds a touch-enabled tilt screen, which is another big plus in my book. Although I don’t use the one attached to my D500 every day, I do like the option, and it has made some low-to-the-ground shots much easier to capture. Also, I like the touch screen for moving my AF point in Live view – so much faster than scrolling with the multi selector. However, it’s not all cupcakes and kittens. The new camera’s back LCD panel is 922,000 dots vs the D7200’s 1,228,800 dots. Probably not overly noticeable in the real world, but still lower. That said, on I suppose I’m willing to sacrifice a few dots for a touchy tilt screen if that’s the requirement.

Nikon D7500 touch screen

The next goodie the D7500 inherits is the D500’s highly accurate 180K pixel RGB sensor. This should improve metering, white balance, and AF tracking performance. In fact, I predict the biggest upshot you’ll likely notice is with 3D tracking – something that has improved significantly in the D500 and will likely carry over to the D7500 thanks to the 180K upgrade.

Speaking of metering, the D7500 now includes an option for highlight metering. This mode can be handy at times and I do occasionally flip to it with my D5, D500, and D810. While it’s not perfect, it can sometimes help keep blown out highlights to a minimum. (Stupid egrets…)

I’m not too deep into video recording, but the new camera now supports 4K (30, 25, 24 FPS), plus allows you to save in either MOV or Mpeg format. I hear it also does zebra stripes for exposure, but sadly STILL no focus peaking. ARRGH! 

Nikon D7500 – Concerns And Deal Breakers

Sadly, there are a couple concerns that we need to mention and these will no doubt save some readers $1250.

First, they have eliminated the AI index ring on the lens mount. That means if you enjoyed hanging legacy glass off your D7xxx series camera (think manual focus Nikon glass), you’re in for a disappointment. While you can technically  mount the lens to the camera and take photos with it, you’ll discover there’s no metering (although the digital rangefinder should still work for focus confirmation). In my mind, the lack of metering makes it a non-starter, but of course some may disagree. I know for most folks, using legacy glass is a non-issue, but I thought it was prudent to mention it.

The next omission will be of greater concern – it appears there is no option for a vertical grip. This is a huge departure from every camera in the D7xxx series and a serious step back in my opinion.  

Next, we have storage media, and this can be a deal breaker for some. In the D7200, we had two SD card slots, so you could use the extra for backup or overflow. Well, it seems the D7500’s SD card area has become a bit anorexic and now supports only a single, lonely little card. If you depend on a second SD card to act as backup / overflow, then this is a painful loss. However, the good news is you can probably get a good deal on a used D7200 right now…

The sting of that single SD card could have been less painful had they at least gone UHS-II, but the cards slot is still chugging along at UHS-I speeds. Although, with a 50 frame buffer, it probably won’t come into play too much anyway.

As a final kick in the pants, your battery will die 160 frame sooner than it did on the D7200. The D7500 is good for 950 shots per charge compared to the D7200’s 1,110 – although I’ll bet real world impact is minimal. 

Advice, Such As It Is…

So, that’s the highlight show, now for some thoughts.

First, this camera is a bit of an odd duck. I’ll admit I was pretty excited about this one at first, but as the omissions and downgrades began to pile up, my opinion began to waiver. 

As an action shooter, I still tend to think the upsides of this camera tend to outweigh the downgrades. I love the fact that it now does 8FPS with a relatively large buffer and even features Group AF. Compared to the D7200, this is a solid upgrade for anyone trying to capture action. It’s not a D500, but from strictly an action standpoint, it’s close enough for most people. Although, keep in mind the D500 brings a LOT more to the table for the extra $750. 

Of course, if you’re not an action shooter, then what?

Well, it gets tricker. The D7200 is still a fine camera and while there are undeniable upgrades to this body, there are also quite a few potentially serious omissions.

If I were doing event work, the lack of the second SD card slot for backup would cause considerable discomfort on my part. However, as a nature photographer who backs up at least once a day, my risk with a single card slot is minimal so it doesn’t really faze me one way or another. I’ve only had a couple card failures over the years and never lost an image over it (thankfully, they failed to format when they floated pins up at the top of the memory tank).

Of course, if I were using these bodies to shoot weddings or other once-in-a-lifetime (or so) events, the single slot would give me pause. That said, I tend to think that for the target audience of this camera (mid-range enthusiast), a single card slot is just fine. Of course, the internet is losing its mind over this, but I think it’s overblown. 

A bigger concern for my fellow nature photographers is that lack of a vertical grip. Really, what are they smokin’ over there? Personally, I don’t usually care for vertical grips, but I know for SURE this is a deal breaker for some folks. In my mind, this is probably the most serious oversight of the bunch.

So, right now my advice leans this way – if you need the most affordable action camera you can buy, then the D7500 fits the bill nicely if you can live without the vertical grip or the extra card slot. I think that for many photographers, the other omissions (or downgrades) are easily offset by the additional action features. 

However, if your action work tends to happen on a more casual basis, the D7200 could be the better choice – and it’s $250 cheaper.

What about the D7500 or the D500? 

Based strictly on specs, I’d say the new best bang-for-the-buck action camera from Nikon is the D7500. Note – that’s not to say it’s a better action camera, just a better value. Although it has a slower frame rate (8 vs 10), less sophisticated AF, and a shallower buffer (50 frames vs 200), it’s now the third fastest camera in Nikon’s current line up (behind the D5/D500). I think the D7500 will fare well against the D500 – although it will always be relegated to standing in the shadow of its big brother.

The bottom line is if you need the ultimate in DX performance, the D500 will win that race every time. There are circumstances and conditions where it’s going to nail the shot and the D7500 just won’t be able to keep pace. The D500 also features a more ergonomic, professional layout, is more durable, is far more feature rich, and enjoys more customization options.

That said, in my mind, the D7500 seems like 70~80% the camera the D500 is when it comes to action (and more like 80- 90% with everything else). The big question is if you actually need the extra features the D500 brings to the game – and if so, do you need them often enough to justify the extra $750 expense?

Well, only you can make that call. 

Finally, I’ll be doing a full review on the D7500 once I have one in my hands for a month or so of shooting. At that point, everything I said above might be out the window, who knows? The camera is due to start shipping in June, so figure sometime in August I’ll probably have a full video review ready to go. That’s when I can really make some recommendations. 

If you’re the antsy type and would like to grab your D7500 right away, you can pre-order at the Amazon links below:

Nikon D7500 DX-format Digital SLR Body

Nikon D7500 DX-format Digital SLR w/ 18-140mm VR lens
 

PS…

If you enjoyed this article, I think you’ll REALLY like my e-books, Secrets To Stunning Wildlife Photography and Secrets To The Nikon Autofocus System. They’re filled with hundreds of pages of information just like this. Check it out – click here (hey, it’s free to look 🙂 )

 

 

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25 Comments

  1. Graham June 2, 2017 at 8:50 pm #

    I am an enthusiast photographer and currently have a D5300, 18-140 DX, 70-300 (current version) FX and a 35 F1.8 DX.
    I rent an 80-400 for any safaris etc. I have been waiting for the upgrade to the D7200. I tend to do more landscape and wildlife than portrait/street and am thinking about upgrading to a new body but I am not sure, after reading some of the comments, if I should look at the D7200, D7500 or splash the cash and go for a D500.
    I am also thinking of getting a Tamron 70-200 f2.8 G2 as I sometimes find the IQ of the 18-140 a bit soft, but that could well be my (lack of) technique.
    I would appreciate any thoughts on which body would be a sensible upgrade.

  2. Douglas Carr May 9, 2017 at 12:54 pm #

    Thx for a great review. I have been considering the 7500 but the list of cons are to long so the 500 seems to be a better long term investment, but what about a a security hand D4 with built in vertical grip input price a d500 and the specs are still pretty good. And I’d probably get the same result when adding my 1.4 converter vs the crop sensor as I’m shooting with a 2.8 but mostly on f4.
    Any comments…

    • Steve Perry May 9, 2017 at 12:58 pm #

      I used a D4 for wildlife photography for years (many of the images on this site were with a D4), so it’s not a bad choice at all. As for the D4 + TC equalling the D500 without a TC, can’t say I agree. The D500 w/o the TC will be better by a bit. However, if most of the time you won’t need the TC with the D4, that’s the way I’d go. I always prefer full frame when I can use it.

  3. Gerry Fraiberg April 28, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

    I enjoyed reading your balanced review of the D7500. Deal breakers are different for different shooters. The D500 has no built in flash, so it can’t be used as Commander for the Creative Lighting System. But the D7500 does, making it more attractive for me. Owning a D7000 puts me in Nikon’s upgrade crosshairs. I also have a P7000 which only has one SD card slot, but I use it for hiking and cycling. Is the single slot of the D7500 an issue for event and commercial work? As you noted, card failure is rare. The 4K video is nice to have even though there is additional cropping of the sensor. I could use the D7500 as a second camera to my Sony PXW-X70, which is a video camera with XLR inputs, ND filters, etc. Missing AI tab? Not a big deal. I have Nikkor and Tamron lenses from the 80s and the FM2. My Sekonic meter still works if needed. As you wrote, the true test is when the camera ships and you actually shoot with it.

    • Steve Perry April 28, 2017 at 8:20 pm #

      Like you say, I think the D7500 can certainly work well for some and I have one pre-ordered myself.

      As for event work…

      The thing is, when I did event work it was back in the film days. So, I’ve never risked a card failure and if I lost a roll (somehow that never happened) I was only out 36 shots as opposed to the entire event of a memory card failed.

      Personally, if I were shooting paid events now, I would want duel slots with the second set for backup. So, in that instance the D7500 wouldn’t work. I jus wouldn’t take a chance. However, the subjects that I shoot won’t sue me if I lost their images, so I can use just a single card slot (in fact, my second slot is set to overflow on my D5/D500. D810, etc).

      • Gerry Fraiberg May 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

        One thing just occurred to me. The Sony a7 series cameras have only one card slot. The a9 has dual SD slots. Is Nikon targeting the a7 series with the D7500, or at least rationalizing dropping one SD card slot? True, the a7s are full frame mirrorless, while the D7500 is APSC. Just a thought.

  4. Patrick April 17, 2017 at 10:48 am #

    I do not see the problem with the old glass. There are so many bodies around to support that. So they created one that doesn’t? Who cares. Except for longer lenses, an FX camera with legacy glass makes more sense anyway. So buy a D700, D800, Df or so for that. Or a D7200 or D500 I’d you need the DX crop.

    The vertical grip, I also do not understand. For a fast camera UHS-I is a weird choice. Does that really save a lot of money for them? The second cardslot missing is not optimal, but ok.

    For a D500-light, it is not so bad all in all. And if the lineup becomes D7200-D7500-D500 for top line DX cameras? Must be a body in there for anybody that like the sensor size.

  5. Richard DeZinno April 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm #

    MARKETING, MARKETING, MARKETING. For Nikon, it’s all about the marketing. They have more tech up their sleeves than you can ever imagine. They just dole it out for the sake of the buck. The D7500 is a brilliant marketing move for Nikon. It’s a harmless addition that doesn’t cannibalize anything, and probably will help sell that warehouse full of D7200 kits and cameras they obviously still have. It’s a glorified low-ender like the D5600. Nikon is in a stupid place right now . . . stupid like a fox maybe.
    As a pro, semi-pro, or serious enthusiast I would pass and only go for the D500 or as Nikon wants you to do – “grab a D7200 at bargain prices”.
    I am a Pro Nikon user since ’72. So, I will wait patiently for the next REAL advance from Nikon before spending another dime on equipment.
    You want to spend some money???? Then buy Steve’s book “The Secrets to the Nikon Autofocus System”. THAT is a purchase that will REALLY improve your photography.

  6. Hugh Trudeau April 14, 2017 at 1:46 am #

    Hi Steve
    Thank you for a great book on Focusing with Nikon. I have been a Nikon user for many years but this latest version has me wondering if I should give up on them. My biggest concern with the D500 was the XQD/SD card with no choice. It seems ridiculous to force everyone to now require two types of cards and two readers. The D7500 made it worse by only providing 1 SD card, The ridiculous thing is they put 4K video into the mix so you now use up storage faster but you have less to work with. I agree that the D500 would be the best option for me to update my D7100. I also have a D750 which I use in DX format a lot of the time shooting birds and wildlife. I will wait to see if they smarten up with and upgrade to the D810 and/or the D750. If not I will seriously consider Fuji or some other brand and take the loss on all my lenses.
    Thanks again for your books and your advice

  7. Greg April 14, 2017 at 12:56 am #

    Thanks Steve for your comments
    Coming from the IT & Tech field, he problem I have with company’s like Nikon in this case is that for a newer model to come out, you would expect that it performs better, keeps most of the great legacy features of previous versions, as well as improve on those legacy features from the previous models. Unfortunately, by the sounds of things it doesn’t. And the problem I see, as I posted somewhere else, is that this camera reminds me of the new Apple iPhone that has NO headphone jack ! the analogy is there and is real. Also, I think Nikon omitting the Ai Indexing ring is enormous error, considering they still market (only a few) Ai lenses, and considering that a lot of us who would be in the serious / enthusiast market still have older Ai 300, 400 & 600mm manual focus lenses. We just like em’ & old perfect Japanese glass ! I sincerely hope that professional’s like yourself give Nikon a boot up the behind and give them this sort of feedback. thanks Steve love your work !

  8. Tom Wilson April 13, 2017 at 11:55 pm #

    I agree that it’s an odd duck. As for me, I have a D800E for landscapes and some macro, D 500 for Birds, Dragonflies and other wildlife and my legacy D7200 which fills several niches (macro, landscape when I’m only packing DX gear and macro when I’m trying to squeeze every bit of dof I can into the shot without diffraction spoiling the show). Ultimately for me the D7200really only justifies itself because I already own it so I don’t believe there will be a D7500 in my future. There are a few things that I actually like better about the D 7200 over what I read about the new D 7500 too. The little bit of extra dynamic range at base ISO, the little bit more resolution, the vertical grip (I like em, always have, always will. I hear others say they don’t like em and then I notice the shoot very few verticals (that’s a whole other discussion)) and the 2 card slot thing ( I shoot a lot of events as a volunteer for church and other groups that I belong to and just because I’m not getting paid (I do get paid for some events, however) doesn’t mean I don’t want the security of a back-up. Sorry about all the parenthetical inserts (stream of consciousness comment)

  9. Wendell April 13, 2017 at 10:58 pm #

    Edited typo

    Steve, this information is great; many thanks. One thing I saw elsewhere on the differences said that the viewfinder in the D500 was significantly better than the one in the D7500. In the old days when there were real camera stores about, you could go in there and hold and compare models. (And, if you had integrity, you then bought from the guy at the store who took his time with you and didn’t mail order.) How significantly different are the viewfinders? Thanks!

    • Steve Perry April 13, 2017 at 11:00 pm #

      Hard to say, so far I’ve only seen the online specs – the viewfinder info will come once I have the camera in hand 🙂

  10. Steve April 13, 2017 at 10:39 pm #

    I pulled the trigger about a month ago and bought the D500, saw these headlines and thought WTF!! It happens to me every time thinking it would be better than the D500 and I went from the D7200 and the D500. Who would buy this D7500? 1200 pluss…I don’t think so!!

    • Mitch April 15, 2017 at 1:06 am #

      Every time I buy a new camera I say “this is my last one. I’m not going to need a camera different than this one” I’m on about my 6th or 7th Nikon body, the D500, and I REALLY don’t think I’ll be replacing it with anything in the future. LOVE the 500!

  11. Ross April 13, 2017 at 9:49 pm #

    A good balanced overview Steve, thanks. There doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason at this stage to upgrade from my D7100 in terms of significantly better picture quality for general photography. In fact, I will get more benefit from improving my technique thanks to your two excellent books. That is the limiting factor!!
    Ross from Australia

  12. Bill Wagner April 13, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

    I shoot the D7200 and really enjoy it. If I were to upgrade, I would not get the D7500, based on this article and others I have read. I shoot tons of shots of our grandkids. Frequently, I go from single shots to videos of them at sports, holidays and birthdays. My 7200 automatically records video on the card in the 2nd slot. So when I do post work and import into Lightroom, I can do it one disk at a time. It seems like I wouldn’t be able to do that with the 7500. I have had a disk go bad and thankfully the back up disk worked fine.

  13. Pam Kiely April 13, 2017 at 7:30 pm #

    I own the Nikon D7100 and want to buy the D500, after reading the article here I will not even look at the D7500, only one memory card slot is the killer for me. The D500 is looking better all the time.

  14. Gary April 13, 2017 at 5:43 pm #

    I’m staggered that Nikon have not supported a vertical grip on this model. If you can be bothered to install 8 fps then surely a vertical grip to compliment this is a no brainer.
    I may have had one just as a back up to my D500 but the other real let down is that the D7500 only supports 1 SD card!!
    Not for me I’m afraid, I would rather invest in a 2nd used D500 body which i could probably get at the same price as a new D7500?
    Regards from England.
    Gary.

  15. David Sneddon April 13, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

    Still looks pretty decent in the development stakes. I agree in your summation Steve but I have to say it certainly looks like the D500 for me from my D7100. By the way the new AF book is a revelation in lots of ways and certain printed sections are now close to me at all times. David from Aberdeen, Scotland.

  16. Ray Sanders April 13, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

    Totally disappointed in the D7500, I was looking forward to selling D7100 and buying the D7500. I will not do that now.

  17. Bernard Degruchy April 13, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

    Seems to me that with the way Nikon has configured the D7500, they are trying to force many who would upgrade form the D7200 to the D7500 to have to go to the D500 to really get an upgrade; many would consider it a down grade. They have removed features that many would consider important; not a smart move on their part in my book at all.

  18. Austin April 13, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

    Thanks Steve for your objective professional opinion of the D7500, which seems more like a D5700 release. Waiting for the D810 upgrade in July/August. Love your Nikon Autofocus book!

    • Finn Larsen April 14, 2017 at 5:08 pm #

      Also thanks from me Steve for the great Nikon AF book, its very helpful.
      I see that Austin write that D810 coming with some upgrade later on? ……then i wait buying it,

      • Steve Perry April 14, 2017 at 5:09 pm #

        Yup, rumor has it sometime this summer we’ll see an announcement.

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