20.9MP APS-C image sensor. 8fps continuous shooting. 50-shot Raw, 100-shot JPG buffer. 51-point autofocus system. Tilting touch LCD. Weather-sealed body. 4K video capture. SnapBridge Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
4K video is cropped. Autofocus system not as robust as D500. Only one memory card slot.
- Bottom Line
The Nikon D7500 SLR inherits many of the features of the flagship D500 and is available for a lot less money.
By Jim Fisher
Nikon made a lot of photographers very happy with the release of the D500 last year. Its flagship DX (APS-C) SLR was long overdue, but arrived with an incredible autofocus system, 10fps capture, and 4K video support. But at $2,000 as a body only, buyers without deep photography budgets were left out in the cold. Now Nikon is updating its D7200 midrange body with a new model, the D7500 ($1,249.95, body only), which includes several of the innovations offered by the D500 for significantly less money. If you've lusted after the flagship DX model, but found that you just couldn't justify the cost or didn't need all of its top-tier features, the D7500 is worth a look. We have some impressions ahead of its release this summer.
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The D7500 follows Nikon's design paradigm to a tee. The black SLR has a red stripe on the grip, an accent that dates back to the company's film days. The body measures 4.1 by 5.4 by 2.9 inches (HWD) and weighs 1.4 pounds, standard for SLRs in this class. Its viewfinder is a solid glass pentaprism, larger and brighter than the pentamirror designs you get in most models priced under $1,000.
In addition to the body only option, Nikon is offering a bundle with its 18-140mm zoom for $1,749.95.
As you'd expect from an SLR aimed at shutterbugs, there's no shortage of physical controls strewn about the D7500's body. Its handgrip features an integrated front control dial, and there are also two programmable Fn buttons (Fn1 and Fn2) next to the lens mount, both accessible using your right hand.
To the left of the mount is the release button, used to change lenses, an AF/MF toggle with integrated button to change focus settings, a button to control multiple bracketed exposure capture, and a button that raises the built-in flash and adjusts its output settings. The integrated flash sets the D7500 apart from the D500, which omits the feature.
A standard Mode dial sits on the top, to the left of the hot shoe and flash. It has the standard P/A/S/M settings as well as a suppressed flash mode, special effects filters, scene modes, two customizable user modes, and full automatic. Nested below it is a second dial that changes the Drive mode, just as you get with a pro Nikon body.
A monochrome information LCD sits at the top, to the right of the hot shoe. Ahead of it you'll find the Record, ISO, and EV compensation buttons and the shutter release. The power switch surrounds the shutter and has settings for off, on, and a third position beyond on that activates the LCD backlight.
Rear controls aren't that far off from the D500, but there are some differences. Play and Delete are positioned to the left of the eyecup, with Menu, ?/Lock/White Balance, Plus/Quality, Minus/Metering/Green, and Info running in a column below them. To the right of the viewfinder sits the AE-L/AF-L button and rear control dial.
Below them, just to the right of the LCD, is an eight-way direction pad with center OK button and a physical lock switch—enabling it prevents the control pad from changing the active focus point. There's also a toggle to switch between stills and video, placed around the Live View button that you'll need to press to switch from the optical viewfinder and rear LCD. Finally there's the i button; it launches an on-screen menu with additional settings.
The big omissions are a dedicated thumbstick to control the focus point and an AF-ON button. I prefer using the D500's small joystick to select the focus point as it's more comfortable to use than the larger pad. You'll likely be able to set the D7500's AF-L/AE-L button to serve as a rear button focus control—we haven't gotten had a chance to spend time with the camera as of yet, so we can't confirm that for certain—which makes the lack of a dedicated AF-ON control less of an issue.
The rear LCD is 3.2 inches in size, sports a 922k-dot resolution, is sensitive to touch, and tilts up and down. It's similar in design to the D500's display, but lacks its incredible 2,359k-dot resolution. Still, from past experience, a 922k-dot LCD is nothing to sneeze at. The big complaint will likely come from videographers—while having tilt is great for tripod work, especially when capturing stills with the camera close to the ground, it's not quite as flexible as a vari-angle design like you get with the Canon EOS 80D, the closest competing model.
Nikon's wireless system, SnapBridge, is built in. It uses Bluetooth to keep a connection with your phone active and to transfer files. The advantage is that file transfer is transparent—you can set the camera up to transfer every image you take, and you don't have to do anything but ensure that app is running on your phone. The downside is that transfers are fairly slow, even when sending downsized 2MP images to your phone. Wi-Fi would be faster, but it's only used to facilitate remote control via your Android or iOS device.
Physical connections include 3.5mm jacks for microphones and headphones, digital USB and HDMI ports, and a wired remote control port. There's also a standard hot shoe for an external flash or wireless trigger, and a single SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot. That's a departure from the D7200, which has dual SD slots, and the D500, which supports dual XQD memory cards. The battery is rated for 950 shots by CIPA.
Performance and Image Quality
We've not yet had a chance to test the D7500's autofocus capabilities, but its focus system is largely the same as the D7200, so you can expect similar results. It features 51 selectable focus point that cover a wide portion of the sensor. It's not quite as wide as the D500, which has a 153-point system that reaches almost to the edges. You can set the D7500 to a 1.3x crop mode, which cuts the resolution to 12.1MP, but ensures that the entire width of the frame is covered by focus points.
One upgrade of note, the Group AF function is now included. It's common in pricier Nikon SLRs, but had been absent from this series previously. Group AF puts five focus points together in a group, so you can more quickly select a focus point. It's not ideal for nailing focus where extreme precision is needed, such as when shooting a portrait and desiring focus on the eye, but it's a good option for photographing larger, quickly moving targets.
The other upgrade is the metering sensor. The D7200 uses a 2,016-pixel RGB sensor to recognize subjects, aiding the autofocus system in recognizing the proper target. The D7500 sports a 180k RGB meter, which improves exposure and subject recognition. We've seen this sensor work in conjunction with Nikon's 3D Tracking system in other SLRs, including the D810, which boasts a similar 51-point focus system, and it has done a fantastic job recognizing and tracking moving targets. We expect the D7500 to perform similarly.
Burst shooting is rated at up to 8fps, with a buffer that can hold 50 Raw images or 100 JPG shots. Again, this isn't on the same level as the D500, which captures images at 10fps and can net 200 Raw or Raw+JPG shots without slowing down, but is ample for photographers without such extreme requirements.
If you've ever dealt with a lens that's not focusing properly, be happy to know that the D7500 supports autofocus adjustments. The Auto AF Fine Tune feature uses the camera's contrast detect (Live View) system to acquire precise focus, and then focuses again with the dedicated phase detect module that's used when shooting with the optical finder. If there's a difference between the two focus points, it calibrates the phase sensor to match the properly focused shot.
We expect image and video quality to be on par with the D500, as the cameras share the same 20.9MP image sensor. It delivered excellent images and 4K video in testing, just be aware that when shooting in UHD the footage will be cropped by a 1.5x factor. If you opt for 1080p capture the D7500 will use the entire width of its sensor. We'll perform lab tests on the D7500 when it comes in for review to confirm.
On paper, the D7500 looks to be a very strong entry from Nikon—but that's just on paper. We've seen most of its technology in other cameras previously, like the sensor from the D500 and the autofocus system (with some improvements) from the D7200. I expect them to work well together to deliver a strong choice for photographers who desire a camera with a more robust build and autofocus system than the D5600, but aren't quite ready to spend the money on a D500. We'll follow up with a formal review when the camera ships this summer.
By Jim Fisher Senior Analyst, Digital Cameras
Senior digital camera analyst for the PCMag consumer electronics reviews team, Jim Fisher is a graduate of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he concentrated on documentary video production. Jim's interest in photography really took off when he borrowed his father's Hasselblad 500C and light meter in 2007. He honed his writing skills at retailer B&H Photo, where he wrote thousands upon thousands of product descriptions, blog posts, and reviews. Since then he's shot with hundreds of camera models, ranging from pocket point-and-shoots to medium format… More »
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