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Nikon D7500 gives a little to get a lot

Nikon finally adds a tilting screen to its dSLR for shooting action on a budget but made a couple sacrifices along the way.

It's been a while since Nikon made any substantive changes to this enthusiast-focused series of dSLRs. The D7100 was the last major update, and that was in 2013; the subsequent D7200 pretty much rested on the D7100's laurels. But with the D7500, the every-other-year pendulum swings back to deliver some notable enhancements, many of which are inherited from last year's D500 -- hence the model number jump.

The pricing remains similar. Nikon plans to sell it body-only for $1,250 or with the veteran 18-140mm lens for $1,750. (I don't yet have prices for other regions, but those directly convert to roughly £1,000 and AU$1,670 for the body and £1,400 and AU$2,335 for the kit.) The camera's supposed to ship this summer.

What's new

  • Sensor and image processor. The D7500 incorporates the same sensor and Expeed 5 imaging processor as the D500. That allows for the same increase in the expanded ISO sensitivity range to ISO 1,640,000. However, the native sensitivity range -- the top of which is usually as high as you want to go for decent-quality low-light photography -- only increases by a stop over the D7200 to ISO 51200.
  • Metering system. I think metering systems are the unsung heroes of dSLRs. Modern ones do more than determine exposure; they bolster the speed and accuracy of the autofocus system. The D7500 gets the metering system of the D500, Nikon's 180,000-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering III.
  • Performance. The D7500 increases to 8 frames-per-second continuous shooting speed, with an improved buffer of up to 50 raw frames. So while Nikon didn't update the autofocus system, I'm hoping the new metering system will allow it to focus fast enough to work with the higher frame rate. It did add group-area autofocus to the AF-area options, which is great. And though Nikon's touting the 950-shot battery life, that's actually a drop from the D7200's 1,100-shot rating.
  • Design and features. The body has been redesigned slightly to make it a little smaller and lighter. Plus, I have been asking for a tilting or articulated display on this series for years, and woo hoo! But it looks like the sacrifice was two of my favorite features: it has only one card slot (the D7200 has two) and Nikon moved the metering button to the set on the left side of the LCD from the top of the camera where it was faster and easier to access. It also exchanges Bluetooth for NFC for a persistent low-power connection to mobile devices. Sadly, Nikon's SnapBridge app still rates less than 3 stars on both the Apple and Google app stores.
  • Video. 4K UHD/30p recording comes to a lower Nikon price point, with capabilities similar to that of the D500. I'm not crazy about Nikon's Live View autofocus, though, and with the exception of the added ability to calibrate AF for individual lenses, it's unchanged. But Nikon has incorporated power aperture control, which allows the camera to adjust exposure more smoothly for less jarring transitions, from its higher-end cameras. The D7500 also supports in-camera time-lapse movies.

My take

With the exception of the moved metering button and dropped card slot, these are definitely welcome changes, and there's really no dSLRs to compete with its price/performance balance. Most competing dSLR and mirrorless models, with the huge exception of the Sony A6500, are significantly more expensive.

Comparative specifications

Nikon D500 Nikon D7200 Nikon D7500
Sensor effective resolution 20.9MP CMOS 24.2MP CMOS 20.9MP CMOS
Sensor size 23.5 x 15.7 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x
OLPF Yes No No
Sensitivity range ISO 50 (exp)/ISO 100 - ISO 51200/ISO 1,640,000 (exp) ISO 100 - ISO 25600
(up to ISO 102,400 in black and white)
ISO 50 (exp)/ISO 100 - ISO 51200/ISO 1,640,000 (exp)
Burst shooting 10fps
unlimited JPEG/79 raw
100 JPEG (Normal quality)/27 raw (12-bit)
100 JPEG/50 raw
(mag/ effective mag)
100% coverage
100% coverage
0.94x/0.63 x
100% coverage
0.94x/0.63 x
Hot Shoe Yes Yes Yes
Autofocus 153-point
99 cross-type
(15 cross-type to f8)
Multi-CAM 20K
51-point phase-detection AF
15 cross-type
center to f8
51-point phase-detection AF
15 cross-type
center to f8
AF sensitivity -4 - 20 EV -3 - 19 EV -3 - 19 EV
Shutter speed 1/8,000 to 30 secs bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync (1/8,000 sec x-sync with FP shutter) 1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync, 1/320 sec x-sync at reduced flash output, 1/8000 sec FP x-sync 1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync, 1/320 sec x-sync at reduced flash output, 1/8000 sec FP x-sync
Shutter durability 200,000 cycles 150,000 cycles 150,000 cycles
Metering 180,000-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering III 2,016-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering II 180,000-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering III
Metering sensitivity -3 - 20 EV 0 - 20 EV 0 - 20 EV
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV 4K UHD/30p, 25p, 24p H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/60p, 50p @ 1.3x crop; 1080/30p, 25p, 24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV 4K UHD/30p, 25p, 24p
Audio stereo; mic input; headphone jack Stereo, mic input, headphones Stereo, mic input, headphones
Manual aperture and shutter in video Yes Yes Yes
Maximum best-quality recording time per clip 4GB/29:59 mins @ 144 Mbps 10 mins 29:59 mins
Clean HDMI out Yes Yes Yes
IS Optical Optical Optical, electronic with HD video
Display 3.2 in/8 cm
Tilting touchscreen
2.4 million dots
3.2 in/8 cm
921,600 dots
3.2 in/8 cm
Titling touchscreen
921,600 dots
Memory slots 1 x SD, 1x XQD 2 x SDXC 1 x SDXC
Wireless connection Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC NFC, Wi-fi Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Flash No Yes Yes
Wireless flash Yes Yes Yes
Battery life (CIPA rating) 1,240 shots
(1,900 mAh)
1,100 shots
(1,900 mAh)
950 shots
(1,900 mAh)
Size (WHD) 5.8 x 4.6 x 3.2 in
147 x 115 x 81 mm
5.3 x 4.2 x 3.0 in
135.5 x 106.5 x 76 mm
5.4 x 4.1 x 2.9 in
136 x 104 x 73 mm
Body operating weight 30.3 oz
848 g
26.9 oz
762 g
22.6 oz (est.)
640g (est.)
Mfr. price (body only) $2,000
Primary kit $2,600
(with 16-80mm lens)
(with 18-140mm lens)
(with 18-105mm lens)
(with 18-140mm lens)
Alternate kit n/a n/a n/a
Release date March 2016 April 2015 Summer 2017

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