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Nikon D7500 Review

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30 second Nikon D7500 review…

The Nikon D7500 is an APS-C format DSLR that uses the same 20.9 million pixel sensor and Expeed 5 processing engine as the Nikon D500. It sits above the D7200 and below the D500 in the Nikon DSLR line-up.

Nikon has given the D7500 an enticing specification that includes 8fps (frame per second) shooting with autofocusing and metering, a top native sensitivity setting of ISO 51,200 and a 51-point AF system. There are also seals to keep out dust and moisture, a tilting screen that’s touch-sensitive and a full complement of button and dial controls along with SnapBridge technology for easy remote control and image sharing via a paired smartphone.

In many respects the D7500 is the camera that Nikon enthusiast have been hoping for, with fast and effective autofocusing and high image quality but for the most part you should ignore those top ISO expansion settings.

While the Nikon D7XXX line of DSLRs has been very popular it’s never felt quite enough for ‘hardcore’ enthusiast photographers. The Nikon D500 on the other hand has everything they could hope for plus a bit more, but it’s a professional-level model with a price to match. Now the gap between the two has been filled with the Nikon D7500. It’s worth pointing out at this stage that the D7200 is set to continue in the range, with the D7200 being a more affordable option and the D7500 being the ‘sister model to the D500’.

Perhaps most importantly, the Nikon D7500 has the same 20.9Mp sensor as the D500. This is paired with the same Expeed 5 processing engine and together they deliver a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-51,200 with expansion settings going all the way up to ISO 1,640,000 (Hi5).

There’s also a maximum continuous shooting rate of 8fps which can be maintained for up to 50 full-resolution uncompressed raw files or 100 Large Fine jpegs. Images are saved to a SD/SDHC/SDXC card in the single UHS-I compliant port.

Nikon D7500

Nikon D7500 Autofocus system

The high shooting rate is accompanied by full autofocusing and exposure metering. Combine these specifications with a 51-point AF system and the D7500 looks an attractive proposition for anyone interested in shooting sport. In addition to Single-point AF, 9-, 21-, or 51-point dynamic-area AF, 3D-tracking and auto-area AF, Nikon has added Group-area AF mode to help with tracking small subjects against distracting backgrounds.

There’s also a contrast detection system for use in live view and video mode which I’m told has been improved in comparison with previous incarnations.

Nikon D5600 review

Nikon D7500 Exposure metering

Exposure metering is handled by the 180,000-pixel RGB sensor which also informs the white balance, scene recognition and focusing system. A Highlight-weighted metering option is available when it’s crucial to retain the highlights in a scene – that could prove useful for anyone shooting a wedding or spotlit subjects.

As usual, Nikon’s Picture Control Styles are on hand (Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape, Flat), with Flat being designed to generate low-contrast video that’s better for grading. There’s also a new Auto setting which uses information from the 180,000-pixel RGB metering sensor to tailor colours, contrast and brightness to suit the scene.

Nikon D7500

HDMI, headphone and mic sockets are all present

Nikon D7500 Touch-screen

Although Nikon has had touch-screen capability on some of its DSLRs for a while it hasn’t really embraced the technology. With the D7500D it’s a little different and as well as being able to set the AF point in live view and video mode, you can navigate the menu and make settings selections. It’s responsive and easy to use.

The 3.2-inch screen is remarkably slim and is mounted on a tilting bracket to enable it to be angled up or down for easier viewing when shooting above or below head-height. I was encouraged to hold the camera by the screen so I can confirm that the bracket is durable.

Nikon D7500

Nikon D7500 SnapBridge

Like the D500, the D7500 has Nikon’s SnapBridge technology. As the camera has Wi-Fi connectively built-in, it’s possible to use the smartphone SnapBridge app to control the camera remotely as well as transfer images automatically.

I encountered a few hiccups with SnapBridge and had to stop then restart the automatic file transfer a few times to kickstart it.

In remote control mode the D7500’s SnapBridge system is limited to setting AF point, tripping the shutter and setting the self-timer. It’s also a bit slow with the image on the phone screen lagging a little behind the action. It’s useable but a bit frustrating.

I really like the idea behind SnapBridge and it worked smoothly when I tested the D500, but there have been a few issues with subsequent cameras. A small proportion of the images transferred to my phone from the D7500 were corrupted and some didn’t transfer – although I could go back and select them individually. Switching to remote control mode is also clunky as you get sent to your phone’s Settings screen where you have to select the camera’s Wi-Fi network (and type in the password if its the first time you’ve done it). In short SnapBridge is a nice idea and when it works it’s great, but it still has a few issues.

Nikon D7500

Nikon D7500 Video

As well as stills, the D7500 is capable of shooting 4K/UHD (3840×2160) video at up to 30/25p and it can be recorded in clips lasting up to 29mins 59seconds. It’s also possible to shoot Full HD (1920×1080) footage at up to 50/60p for half-time slow motion playback.

Nikon D7500 Build and Handling

Nikon has used a carbon fibre monocoque construction for the D7500. That means its body-shell is made from one piece of material to make it stronger and lighter. It feels a bit tougher than the D7200 but perhaps not quite so rugged as the D500, although there are weatherproof seals to keep moisture out.

The D7500 has a relatively slim body but a prominent grip, so there’s a deep holding point, that feels nice and secure. I found it comfortable to hold while a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens was mounted but one of my fingers occasionally pressed the Fn1 button (which I set to activate the electronic level).

Nikon D7500

Anyone who has used a Nikon D500 or D7200 or a regular basis will find some similarities and differences with the control layout of the D7500. For instance, like the D7200, there’s a mode dial on the left of the top-plate while on the right the button layout resembles the D500 with the video record, ISO and exposure compensation controls sitting behind the shutter release.

The mode dial has a central locking button that needs to be pressed before you can rotate the dial to your chosen setting. It would be nice if this was the type of lock that can be left unlocked, but it doesn’t seem too fiddly after just a few minutes use.

Beneath the mode dial is the drive mode dial, allowing you to switch quickly between single advance and continuous (low or high) or quiet mode (single and continuous).

Nikon D7500

On the back of the camera, the right side is relatively uncluttered giving you room for your thumb. There’s the familiar control dial just above the natural resting place for your thumb and an AE-L/AF-L (auto exposure lock and autofocus lock) button just to the left. Near the middle is a lockable navigation pad with central OK button, while at the bottom is the live view control with a switch to swap between stills and video mode. Nearby there’s the familiar ‘i’ button to reveal key settings for adjustment.

Over to the left of the main screen five buttons give access to the menu, white balance, image quality and metering options, with the button labeled ‘Info’ and providing a route to viewing a selection of settings. The frustrating thing about the ‘Info’ screen is that, as with other Nikon DSLRs, it’s not interactive. It would be nice to be able to tap some/all of the options and adjust them. This can be done with the options shown after pressing the ‘i’ button, but the selection of features available when you’re using the viewfinder is odd and it’s not customisable. While it can be handy to have a quick route to set Picture Control, the ‘Custom control assignment’ option is only likely to be used in the early days of using the camera.

There are no radical departures and aside from my comments about the Info/i buttons, everything seems in a logical place. The biggest difference in comparison with past Nikon DSLRs is the touch-screen capability which allows you to make selections in the menu with a tap and set AF point, or trip the shutter in live view. It’s very responsive and it makes using the camera that little bit more intuitive.

Nikon D7500

Nikon D7500 Performance

As the D7500 shares the same sensor and processing engine as the D500 it was no surprise to find that at low sensitivity settings it’s capable of capturing lots of detail. It can also maintain that detail well up to about ISO 6400. Noise continues to be controlled well up to the top standard sensitivity setting, ISO 51,200, even though coloured speckling becomes visible at 100% on-screen at around ISO 12,800.

As with the D500, above ISO 51,200 there are five expansion settings. At the first, which is equivalent to ISO 102,400, the D7500 does pretty well. However, I wouldn’t recommend going above this value as there’s lots of chroma noise (coloured speckling) and a magenta cast starts to creep in along with some banding in images shot at Hi4 and Hi5 (ISO 1,640,000). The uppermost sensitivity values are only suited for those occasions when you just need an image and don’t need to worry about its aesthetic quality – perhaps for evidence gathering.

The D7500’s white balance and metering systems are informed by a 180,000 pixel RGB sensor. The standard Auto white balance setting is a good starting point although it can produce rather cool images under overcast skies or in shade when the Cloudy setting is a better option. The results produced in sunny conditions with the Fine Weather setting selected are especially pleasing.

Nikon D500 review

On the whole the Matrix metering system performs well although, as is often the case, you need to keep an eye out for underexposure when there are large bright areas in the scene. However, the D7500’s dynamic range is good and dark shadows can be successfully brightened post capture. Even jpegs can be brightened by over 3EV and retain good colour and detail if the need arises.

Nikon’s 51-point autofocus system has a good reputation and it doesn’t disappoint in the D7500. It gets subjects sharp quickly and the 9-, 21-, or 51-point dynamic-area AF are very helpful when you’re photographing a moving subject although I found it best to limit the number of AF points as much as possible. The 3D-tracking option can also be very useful but it relies on a good colour difference between the subject and its background so it’s worth experimenting to see if it can cope with what you’re shooting.

Group-area AF mode is useful but it’s similar to using one of the multi-point options.

Nikon D7500

The focusing controls are convenient for operation with your left thumb while the camera is held to your eye

In video and live view mode the D7500 uses contrast detection focusing and while I’m told it has been improved (made faster) in comparison with previous systems, it’s not a match for the speed of cameras like the Canon 77D or mirrorless models like the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and Fuji X-T2.

Aside from the focusing, the D7500 produces high quality video with good colour and plenty of detail. With a fast lens you can produce very attractive footage with tight depth of field really isolating your subject.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II review

Nikon D7500 Sample Images

Nikon D7500 sample image: Norway

Nikon D7500 sample image: Long exposure

Nikon D7500 sample image: B&W Mode

Shot using the Monochrome Picture Control with contrast boosted

Nikon D7500 sample image: Norway

View more Nikon D7500 images

Nikon D7500 Verdict

The D500 is great, but as a pro-level camera its price puts it out of reach for many. The fact that the D7500 has many of the same components, specifically those that determine image quality, makes it very attractive. Add in the fact that it has an excellent autofocus system and can shoot at 8fps for up to 50 uncompressed raw files with full focusing and it’s sure to win many fans.

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Nikon D7500
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