Nikon D7500: Worthy Upgrade With a Twist

 

Successor to the much loved D7200, Nikon’s new APS-C ‘mid-level flagship’, the D7500 comes with exciting new features. K Madhavan Pillai reports.

Nikon D7500

Nikon D7500

After the success of the D7200, and the launch of the D500 (the current pro-level flagship), Nikon had to ensure that the D7500 carved out a new top spot for itself in the mid-level segment. It borrows some leading technology from the D500, including its 20.9MP sensor and 180k pixel RGB metering system (used for subject recognition and AF).

Features
This sensor comes with a number of advantages… 4K UHD video capability being the most significant (albeit with a 1.5x crop… Nikon needs to figure that one out yet). It also allows a blazing 8fps (2fps more than the D7200) for 100+ JPEGs or 50 uncompressed RAW (thrice the buffer of the D7200). While it retains the same 51-point AF system as that of the D7200, AF capability is improved because of the new meter, particularly 3D tracking.

No low pass filter over the sensor results in extremely sharp images with lots of detail. Exposure: 1/200sec at f/11 (ISO 400) Photograph/K Madhavan Pillai

No low pass filter over the sensor results in extremely sharp images with lots of detail.
Exposure: 1/200sec at f/11 (ISO 400) Photograph/K Madhavan Pillai

The D7500 has better weathersealing and comes with a tilting touchscreen LCD, (unlike the D7200). The LCD is of a slightly lower resolution at 922k dots, than the 1.2M dots of the D7200, but the pixel density is the same. Live-view shooting is supported by the sensor’s contrast-detect AF.
There are other significant changes, not all for the better. The D7500 has just one SD card slot over two in the D7200. It can be argued that memory card capacities are large enough nowadays. Yet this slot is still UHS-1 compatible, but does not support faster UHS-II cards.
The D7500 also loses the ‘Ai’ tab (present in both the D7200 and D7100), limiting compatibility with Nikon Ai and Ai-S MF lenses. The lenses can still be mounted, but metering won’t work. The D7500 continues to have a screw-drive motor coupling, and it works with all AF-D lenses. Unlike the D7200, the D7500 loses the ability to add a vertical grip (now or in the future), handy especially with larger lenses.

 The sensor whips out plenty of dynamic range, allowing the freedom to postprocess for subtlety or impact. Exposure: 1/15sec at f/22 (ISO 400) Photograph/K Madhavan Pillai

The sensor whips out plenty of dynamic range, allowing the freedom to postprocess for subtlety or impact.
Exposure: 1/15sec at f/22 (ISO 400) Photograph/K Madhavan Pillai

Handling
The D7500 feels robust enough to withstand professional, everyday use. I have always enjoyed the rather logical control layout and button placements of Nikon cameras. The hands fall over the controls quite naturally. For most advanced photographers, intuitive access to preferred controls is critical. The D7500 has plenty of customisations for controls. For those who wish simplicity, every function can be separately or collectively kept on automatic. The mode dial includes two user modes, and in the menu, the ‘My Menu’ tab can be populated with commonly accessed settings. New to the D7500 is a proximity sensor to turn off the LCD, as the eye nears the finder.
The touchscreen is responsive and includes touch focus and release… useful for stills despite with its slower contrast-detect AF (than Canon’s or Sony’s sensor based phase-detection AF). Although, it could be improved for video. I would have liked an LCD-based method for selecting phase detect points. Focus peaking is a feature I missed. The only other negative is that connectivity via Snapbridge is slow and somewhat cumbersome.

Delicate, difficult hues during or after sunset are captured well on the new sensor. Exposure: 1/800sec at f/5.6 (ISO 400) Photograph/K Madhavan Pillai

Delicate, difficult hues during or after sunset are captured well on the new sensor.
Exposure: 1/800sec at f/5.6 (ISO 400) Photograph/K Madhavan Pillai

Performance
The new sensor of the D7500 performs magnificently. The dynamic range is exemplary. There is plenty of subtle, latent detail in the RAW files that can be recovered in editing. AF speeds are easily able to keep up frame rates. In good light, tracking is surprisingly efficient, with an average of 8 of 10 frames in focus, from the moment the subject is acquired. With image review turned off, I was able to get a full day of shooting with over 2000 RAW + JPEG shots. With its larger buffer, better sensor, and new metering module, the D7500 is a faster, more accurate camera than the D7200.

Conclusion
The D7500 is well-built, speedy, and delivers a level of performance for a pro wildlife, sports or action photographer, to seriously consider investing in it as a backup body, or for an enthusiast to consider it as a primary body. While the 4K video capability is certainly an additional selling point, the extra crop factor (on an APS-C sensor) will not be viewed favourably. For video shooters, or for those seeking a hybrid stills/video option, there are more appealing choices (Sony Alpha 6500, Canon EOS 80D). But as a photographer’s tool, for its combination of speed, handling, and image quality, no other camera comes close at its price range.

FINAL RATINGS
Features
Sensor, advanced metering, deeper buffer
11/15
Performance
Image quality, ISO performance, speed
41/45
Build Quality
Magnesium alloy body, weathersealing
19/20
Ergonomics
Responsive touchscreen, intuitive controls
14/15
Warranty & Support
One year warranty. Wide service network
4/5
MRP Rs. 96,950
OVERALL 89%
VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5
Who should buy it? Pro wildlife, sports or action photographers, as a backup body, or for an advanced enthusiast, as a primary body.
Why? The D7500 combines excellent construction, speed, and handling with exemplary image quality
Tags: August 2017, Better Photograhy, Camera review, K Madhavan Pillai, Nikon D7500