Here’s our in-depth review of the enthusiast-level Nikon D7500…
Nikon is currently celebrating its 100th year in the photographic industry, and its extremely impressive resume includes both the first professional SLR to feature autofocus (1988’s Nikon F4) and the first SLR camera to record video (the D90, released in 2008). With such a prestigious heritage, this new release has some seriously big shoes to fill.
The Nikon D7500 is the successor to the extremely capable and very popular D7200, which was the camera of choice for Nikon sports and wildlife enthusiasts until the D500 was released in January. This newest addition definitely stands out, featuring noticeable upgrades which are a real boon for the price point.
The Nikon D7500 features the powerful Expeed 5 processor and massive ISO range
The D7500 brings Nikon’s APS-C flagship D500 quality to the enthusiast range, by sharing the same 20.9MP sensor (a step down in resolution from the D7200’s 24.2MP), as well as including the powerful Expeed 5 sensor. It also shares the D500’s excellent low light noise handling capabilities, with a native ISO range of 100-51,200 that expands up to a massive 1,640,000.
Autofocus is a 51-point system with phase detection, which features 15 cross-type points, and works down to -3EV – meaning it should have excellent low light focusing capability. It also manages to pack in Nikon’s Group-Area technology, which is a first for the D7000 series, as well as face detection and a (slightly underwhelming) 922k-dot 3.2in LCD tilting Live View touchscreen and 4K (at 30fps) video, as well as 4K time-lapse features, something which puts it in a league of its own for mid-range DSLRs.
Nikon has upped the ante in burst mode, with a maximum 8fps shooting speed (up from the D7200’s 6fps), with the buffer capturing either 50 RAWs or 100 JPEGs before filling up. The camera boasts a full array of connectivity, including Wi-Fi and low power Bluetooth, for image transfer and remote camera control via the Snapbridge app.
Handling & build
The D7500 has clearly had some of the fat trimmed in the design process, weighing 720g body-only compared to the D7200’s 765g, though it still retains the same high level of functionality. Some of this size reduction may be due to the loss of the second SD card slot, which feels like a backward step.
It’s robust in-hand, yet lightweight thanks to its carbon fibre construction, meaning it’s tough but not unwieldy. The grip is firm and exceptionally comfortable (and I should know, since I forgot to attach the strap before setting off for a few days in Norway and had to handhold for three days straight).
The button placement is top-notch, with the top-plate featuring a dedicated ISO control that replaces the metering mode button from the previous model.
The rest of the button layout will be familiar to current Nikon users, so those looking to upgrade will have an easy transition. The camera retains the excellent build quality of its predecessors, and benefits from weather-sealing, which we can confirm does an impressive job of fending off drizzle, making it the perfect partner for the occasional British summer downpour.
As always, the real proof is in the shooting. I was lucky enough to take the D7500 to Norway to really get to grips with it, and instantly felt at home with the ergonomics, having used my fair share of Nikons. The new ISO button on the top-plate was right under my finger every time I needed it and the rear thumb wheel meant I could change it easily on the fly.
The new maximum native ISO of 51,200 is double that of the D7200’s, thanks to the borrowed D500 sensor, and worked extremely well. Even shots at ISO 6400 were surprisingly clean. Beyond that, noise was a lot more prevalent – though files were still useable, at a push, until 12,600 where the quality began to drop off considerably.
The Nikon D7500 is still amazing for a DSLR at this price, and at lower ISO ranges the clarity is nothing short of superb, with images being clean and sharp and colour reproduction appearing true-to-life. Nikon’s Picture Styles are all here too, and offer an instant boost to your JPEGs if you use them.
The dynamic range, something Nikon does very well, is first-rate, with the RAW files capturing a huge amount of shadow and highlight data. While post-processing, I was able to pull back a huge amount of information in the highlights and, even more so, shadows.
Pop the hood and you’ll find an impressive autofocus system, with 51 points of phase detection, including 15 cross-points. When using the viewfinder, it’s quick and precise, making tracking and panning shots a breeze, as well as shooting street or documentary-style images where you need to be speedy. The face detection works well, as does the Group-Area mode, which I found to be impressively accurate for an automated focus system. Even in low light the AF is more than adequate, picking up a high percentage of shots in a more than acceptable time, though if you want to turn off AF illumination this will become a bit slower.
The touchscreen performs well, although the 922k-dot resolution is quite low, especially considering the D7200 included a 1229k-dot screen, which is quite a surprising step down. Although it does the job, it’s always nice to see a higher resolution, especially if you’re zooming in beyond 100%. It does feature a great range of angles for taking those hard-to-get ground-level or high-angle shots.
Reviewing images, browsing the menu and using the controls also functions above averagely, with the D7500 having one of the better touchscreen experiences on the market. However, while touch focusing is user-friendly, the delay in capturing an image when using the touch-to-capture setting is delayed. The lag between selecting the shot on screen, focusing and eventually taking the image means that I missed a couple of key shots. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it was frustrating.
Similarly, using the D-pad to control the single-point AF during Live View is far from nippy, though this is often the case with DSLRs. If you’re using it for long exposures, or landscapes, instead of trying to capture action, it’s superb – focus is responsive and accurate and unlikely to cause you any issue. Luckily, the viewfinder features a pentaprism setup, which offers 100% coverage, and allowed me to frame the shots flawlessly.
The battery life is also worth noting, thanks to the newly designed EN-EL15a rated for 950 shots. This is down from the 1100 shots offered on the D7200, but in real-world testing it held up with aplomb and lasted a full day of moderate-to-heavy use with power to spare.
The D7500 includes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, with the latter being BLE (Bluetooth low-energy), which claims to only have a negligible drain on battery life. Transferring images requires you to use the Snapbridge app on your smart device and, to be diplomatic, it needs work. Attempting to connect your camera and phone/tablet can be a long process and has to be completed via Wi-Fi. Even then a majority of my images failed to auto-upload to my device. Likewise, selecting images from your D7500 to transfer is a convoluted process. However, if you aren’t in a rush to shoot and share your images to social media in an instant, it will work... eventually.
This capable DSLR offers great image quality, superb handling and more useable higher ISOs than most of its competitors. The 51-point AF has also been improved since previous incarnations, returning a snappy and accurate performance in every situation I tested it in. The 4K video, at this price, may draw comparisons with the Panasonic GH5 or Fujifilm X-T2, though it’s in a league of its own as far as quality 4K APS-C DSLRs go.
Downsides include the slow touchscreen capture mode, removal of the second SD slot and Snapbridge, which still has quite a way to go. Minor gripes aside, the D7500 is the camera that proves Nikon can still produce excellence – even after 100 years in the game.
- Image quality
- 4K video and time-lapse
- Tough construction
- High ISO noise handling
- 8fps burst mode
- Battery life
- Single card slot
- Slow touchscreen capture
- Snapbridge is temperamental
- Kit lens: 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED
- Effective resolution: 20.9MP
- Sensor: 23.5x15.7mm CMOS
- Processor: Expeed 6
- LCD: 3.2in 922k-dot tilting touchscreen
- Shutter: 30-1/8000sec
- Autofocus: 51-point phase-detect
- ISO: 100-51,200 (expands to 50-1,640,000)
- Shooting speed: 8fps for 50 RAWs or 100 JPEGs
- Video: 4K at 30fps, Full HD at 60fps
- Audio out: Yes, 3.5mm
- Pop-up flash: Yes, GN 12
- Other features: 4K Time-lapse Movie, Picture Scene modes, interval timer
- Battery life: 950 shots
- Card type: SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Size (WxHxD): 136x104x73mm
- Weight: 1210g
- Find out more at the Nikon website