Nikon D7500

The Nikon D7500 marks the biggest departure yet for Nikon’s D7xxx series of enthusiast DSLR, and one that borrows quite a bit of the tech from Nikon’s top-of-the-range DX-format DSLR, the D500.

Nikon is keen to stress however that this new camera isn’t a direct replacement to the D7200 – which will continue to feature in the Nikon lineup – but rather slots in above it.

The D7500 will be available at the end of June, priced at $1,249.95 / £1,299.99 body-only, or $1,749.95 / £1,599.99 with the AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens (we’re still waiting on the Australian pricing), and we’ve been hands-on with an early sample.

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Features

  • APS-C CMOS sensor, 20.9MP
  • 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 922,000 dots
  • 4K video capture

One of the biggest shake-ups the Nikon D7500 brings is the change of sensor. While both the D7100 and D7200 sported 24MP chips (as, for that matter, did the entry-level D3400 and D5600), here Nikon has opted to use the slightly lower-resolution 20.9MP sensor from the D500, which as in that camera is teamed with Nikon’s EXPEED 5 image processor.

As on the D500, omitting the low-pass filter has enabled Nikon to eke out just that bit more detail from the 20.9MP sensor, and while it may seem quite a sacrifice to lose almost 4MP compared to the D7200’s 24.2MP the minor drop in resolution does have advantages, particularly when it comes to sensitivity. 

Compared to the D7200’s ISO range of 100-25,600, the D7500’s 100-51,200 standard offers an extra stop of flexibility, but it’s the expanded range that impresses. There’s a low setting of ISO50, while there’s an upper ceiling of a staggering ISO1,640,000. The reality is that these upper sensitivities are likely to be pretty much unusable, but the benefits will be felt further down the sensitivity range, and if the new camera performs like the D500 it should impress in this regard. 

While both the D7100 and D7200 sported 3.2-inch displays that sat flush with the camera body, the D7500 has a 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen display with a 922,000-dot resolution (the D500 has a 2,359,000-dot resolution). There’s also an eye-level pentaprism optical viewfinder that offers 100% coverage.

We’re pleased to see 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video capture arrive on the D7500, at 30, 25 and 24p for up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds. As usual there are lower-resolution video modes, and Full HD footage can be shot in 60p for slow-motion playback. In addition, 4K UHD time-lapse movies can be created in-camera, and there’s electronic Vibration Reduction to reduce the impact of camera shake when shooting movies hand-held.

The D7500 also offers simultaneous 4K UHD output to card and uncompressed via HDMI, as well as a headphone and microphone jack for pro-level audio recording and monitoring. 

As we’ve seen with the D500, D3400 and D5600, the D7500 sports Nikon’s SnapBridge technology, enabling the camera to stay permanently linked to a smart device over a low-power Bluetooth connection (or via Wi-Fi). This means that after the initial connection has been made images can be transferred automatically to your phone whenever you shoot. 

Build and handling

  • 5% lighter than the D7200
  • Comprehensive weather sealing
  • Weighs 640g / 1lb 6.6oz

The Nikon D7500 is 5% lighter than the D7200 (and 16% lighter than the D500) and tips the scales at 640g / 1lb 6.6oz. Despite this minor weight saving though, it still feels reassuringly solid.

Compared to the D7200 the handgrip is deeper, and this, combined with the soft-texture coatings on the front and rear of the grip, ensures than the D7500 feels secure and comfortable in the hand.

Like the D7200, the D7500 is weather-proofed, so you’ll be able to keep shooting when the elements turn against you. Interestingly though the magnesium alloy panels in the D7200’s construction have disappeared, and are replaced by a single monocoque construction in an effort to save weight. Despite this apparently retrograde step, it still feels like a well made piece of kit for the price. 

There have also been some tweaks to the D7500’s button placement compared to the D7200.

On the top-plate the metering mode button has disappeared, to be replaced by a dedicated ISO button, as we saw on the D500. Its position has shifted slightly to be closer to the exposure compensation control, making it easier to reach when the camera is raised to your eye.

Moving round the back of the Nikon D7500, the general control layout remains virtually identical to the D7200. Metering mode now takes the spot vacated by the ISO control, while the ‘info’ and ‘i’ buttons have swapped sides.

The rear display is a touch slimmer than the D500’s when you pull it out and away from the body. It can be tilted downwards and upwards, while it’s nice to see some touchscreen functionality arrive on a D7xxx DSLR. 

There’s obviously tap-to-focus control (you can also tap the area of the screen where you want to focus and trigger the shutter at the same time), while the touchscreen makes reviewing images that much quicker too – you can swipe through photos and pinch-zoom images. The menus can also be navigated via the touchscreen – a first for a Nikon DSLR.

The drop in screen resolution over the D7200’s 1,299,000 dots seems a bit of a backward step however – it’s even lower than the D5600’s 1,037,000-dot resolution, but in our time with the camera this didn’t seem to impact on the experience. Sharpness appeared good, but we’ll explore this in more detail in our full review.

Autofocus

  • 51-point AF, 15 cross-type AF points
  • Group-Area AF added
  • Auto AF Fine Tune

While the Nikon D7500 borrows a lot from the D500, it doesn’t get the same sophisticated 153-point AF system the D500 enjoys. Instead, it gets an uprated version of the 51-point AF system that was in the D7200.

This system may be getting a little long on the tooth, but it’s a tried and tested one that’s still well specified. Fifteen of the 51 AF points are the more sensitive cross-type variety, which offer greater precision and accuracy, while the coverage can be configured down to 21 and nine points if you wish.

This AF system might be getting a little long on the tooth, but it’s a tried and tested one

The D7500’s AF system now gets a Group-Area AF mode that we first saw on the D810. This promises to enhance subject detection and tracking, with the D7500 constantly monitoring five different AF fields, and should improve focus acquisition and background isolation.

Like both the D500 and the D5, the D7500 gets the Auto AF Fine Tune feature, which when in Live View enables users to automatically calibrate autofocus with specific lenses if required.

Autofocus in Live View can be a bit of a clunky experience with many Nikon DSLRs, but it seems a bit quicker on the D7500, based on our hands-on time with the camera. We’re guessing the EXPEED 5 image processor is playing a part here, but we’ll get a clearer idea once we’ve tested the camera fully.

Performance

  • 8fps burst shooting
  • 180K-pixel metering sensor
  • 950-shot battery life

With a raft of mirrorless cameras, such as the Fujifilm X-T2, overshadowing the 6fps burst shooting performance of the D7200, it’s no surprise to see the Nikon D7500 offering 8fps.

Helped by the new EXPEED 5 image processor, the D7500 can shoot a burst of 50 raw files before the buffer needs to clear – quite an improvement over the D7200’s 18 raw files at 6fps.

The D7500 inherits the D5 and D500’s 180,000-pixel RGB sensor, which handles metering and white balance, as well as informing the automatic scene recognition system to help improve autofocusing with better subject detection.

There’s a new battery as well – the EN-EL15a is capable of shooting 950 shots before it needs charging. That’s streets ahead of most mirrorless cameras, for which you’d need two or more batteries to even think of getting that kind of endurance, but it’s actually down 150 shots from the D7200’s 1100-shot battery life – undoubtably one of the trade-offs for having the more powerful EXPEED 5 image processor.

Early verdict

This latest addition to Nikon’s DSLR lineup represents the biggest revamp we’ve seen in the D7xxx series since the D7000 arrived and replaced the D90.

Getting a negative out of the way first, we can’t help feeling that the absence of any magnesium alloy in the Nikon D7500’s construction is a cost-cutting exercise, but having said that, the monocoque construction certainly feels durable enough. 

That aside, there are certainly a lot of tempting features on offer here. The new camera may not get the 153-point AF system from the D500, but the enhanced 51-point system in the D7500 still puts a lot of rival systems in the shade, while the 4K video capture, tilt-angle touchscreen display and 8fps burst shooting are some of the highlights of this very well-specified camera.  

The most exciting thing about the Nikon D7500, though, is the appearance of Nikon’s 20.9MP sensor and EXPEED 5 image processing engine in a more compact and affordable body. This is something that’s bound to attract the attention of both new and existing users who are looking to upgrade, but can’t quite justify the big leap up to the D500.

Think of the D7500 as the D500’s smaller brother then – and that can only be a good thing. 

Updated: April 12, 2017 — 4:00 am

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