Nearly six years since its release, it’s time for a Nikon D7500 review. Is it keeping up with the competition? Or is it time to move on?
The D7500 sits in a pretty competitive segment of the market. It’s not pro-level, but it’s also a bit pricey for just taking your holiday snaps. The competition comes from Nikon’s own stable but also from all the other major players. It’s also in the mix of the DSLR vs mirrorless camera debate. In fact, most of the body-only cameras around the same price as the Nikon D7500 are mirrorless cameras.
It’s important to see if Nikon has got the right mix of features and specs. Read on to see if this capable camera is still worth buying.
Overview of the Nikon D7500 DSLR
The Nikon D7500 is a midsize DSLR camera. It has a 21 MP APS-C sensor and takes Nikon F-mount lenses. There is a tilting touchscreen at the rear, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 4K video. One of the more eye-catching specifications is the expandable 1,640,000 ISO upper limit. But more on that later.
The D7500 replaced the D7200 and introduced several upgrades along the way. Continuous burst shooting speed improved from 6 to 8 fps. The metering sensor got a boost from 2k to 180k, which is quite the jump. The rear screen became tiltable and touch-sensitive. And the camera now offers 4K video shooting with a 1.5 crop factor.
But there were also some perceived downgrades. Some of those perceptions may be justified, but others may not. First of all, the image sensor. The D7200 had a 24 MP sensor, but its replacement only has 21.
Now, this sensor is actually the same sensor as the one found on the more expensive Nikon D500. This camera is the flagship Nikon APS-C DSLR. The next stop is the full frame D610 for about the same money as the D500. So, it makes sense not to offer a “better” sensor in the cheaper camera.
Another complaint is that the D7500 only has one SD card slot. The D7200 before it and the more expensive D500 have two. Perhaps the choice is to put some clear separation between the D7500 and the D500. Still, it would be a surprise to see a professional camera going to one slot. There’s too much riding on it.
Who Is the Nikon D7500 Good For?
If you have Nikon F-mount lenses, this would be an obvious camera body for you to consider. The D7500 doesn’t meter properly with old manual focus lenses, but they will still fit.
If you’re looking for a better-than-entry-level DSLR that won’t break the bank, consider the D7500. And if you’re new to photography, the D7500 is a great camera to learn on.
The Nikon D7500 isn’t a full frame camera. This tends to matter when you can’t get close enough to the action and have to crop heavily. Or if you are doing gallery-size prints of landscapes. But otherwise, the crop sensor might not matter.
Nikon D7500 Specifications
We’ve said a little bit about the D7500’s specs. Now let’s look at them in more detail.
Mount and Compatibility
At first glance, the Nikon F-mount is a triumph of longevity. It was first introduced in 1959. And the one found on Nikon DSLRs today is theoretically still the same as back then. Of course, this isn’t true in practice. Today, the mount has complex features that allow communication between the camera and the lens.
However, there is a lot of backward compatibility with the D7500. It will work with all Nikkor AF lenses after 1986. Manual lenses can’t communicate their aperture to the D7500, so they won’t be able to make AE readings.
The mount has a 1.73-inch (44 mm) diameter throat and a 1.83-inch (46.5 mm) flange to focal plane length. One key difference between Canon and Nikon lens mounts is their interchangeability. Canon’s APS-C mount, the EF-S, will accept EF lenses. But the EF-S lenses will not fit EF cameras. Nikon DX lenses (their APS-C lenses) will fit their full frame cameras. But there will be some cropping, usually at wider angles.
That 1986-onward compatibility means that there is a huge amount of lenses out there. There’s a lot to be said for Nikon’s own Nikkor lenses, as they often come with forward-looking compatibility. It makes sense. Nikon engineers know what is in the pipeline years before it reaches the market. So a Nikkor lens might be ready for features not yet available on any cameras.
Sensor and Image Quality
I’ve mentioned already that some eyebrows were raised when Nikon announced the specs for the D7500. That reduction in sensor size was a talking point. A new camera with fewer pixels than its predecessor seemed like a bold or foolish move.
But having more pixels isn’t always better. This is partly because an increased pixel count can increase noise. And partly because those pixels have to inhabit the same area. So they are smaller and more tightly packed. And a lot of the time, you don’t actually need the extra definition that a higher pixel count might bring. The average Nikon D7500 user is not going to be making gallery-size prints for display.
Reducing the number of pixels increases the camera’s processing speed. And that is likely to be more useful for most people. This also improves the D7500’s continuous shooting speed. It can buffer JPEGs at that speed for more than a hundred shots. That’s a good 12 seconds or more with your finger on the shutter button.
Like I said earlier, another eye-catching statistic was the maximum ISO, which is 1,640,000. But is that as good as it sounds? Probably not. Don’t think you’ll be able to take great pictures with the ISO set to over a million. You will most likely be disappointed.
Does this mean that the Nikon D7500 performs badly in low light? Absolutely not. The image quality all the way up to 25,600 ISO is impressive. It retains detail and you can lift the darks to reveal surprising levels of clarity. This is thanks to the quality of the sensor, even if it is slightly smaller than the D7200.
Part of the reason for this impressive performance is the wide dynamic range of the sensor. At over 13 EV at ISO 100, it is on par with much more expensive cameras like the Canon EOS R6. It also demonstrates a good deal of ISO invariance. When it’s present, you can expose for the highlights in a photo without losing the details in the shadows.
This means you can even recover usable photos from underexposed photos. Try it. Find a photo you had not bothered with because of underexposure. Then open it in your editing software and increase the exposure. With RAW files, you might well find you have rescued the shadows. And with the added bonus of avoiding blown-out highlights.
All this is to say the Nikon D7500 delivers great image quality. And it does it across a wide range of shooting scenarios. Auto white balance works reliably in most lighting. This becomes more varied as the brightness reduces. But in most circumstances, you can forget it and let the camera do its work.
The sensor also provides 3-axis electronic stabilization, which we’ll look at more in the video section.
Focusing and Burst
We’ve already seen that the smaller sensor is faster than the D7200. It inherits both the sensor and the processor from the D500. The added speed is definitely a bonus for fast-action photography. But there’s no point in being able to take eight photos per second if the autofocus can’t keep up. So how does the Nikon D7500 AF fare?
The short answer is “very well.” Perhaps this isn’t surprising as the metering sensor used for AF is the same as that used on Nikon’s then-flagship D5 full frame camera. It also shares the same EXPEED 5 processor.
There’s no increase in the 51-point AF points. But the data from these points benefit from the advanced processing. The AF uses both contrast detection and phase detection. But the phase detection isn’t on-sensor. So in live video, it will rely on contrast detection. You can choose AF points by region or individually. There are 15 cross-type sensors grouped around the center of the screen. The rest are horizontal.
The D7500 is the first Nikon APS-C to offer effective 3D tracking and face detection. This impresses with both its speed and accuracy. Even in low light, the AF and tracking are quick and accurate. Nikon says the AF will work down to -3 EV. That’s roughly a full moon, or a 60-second exposure at ISO 100 with an f/2.8 lens. That’s pretty dark.
In the real world, this means that you can be pretty confident that the camera will keep your chosen subject in focus. And that’s true even if you are firing away at maximum speed, whether that’s at the football match or the bride walking down the aisle.
The D7500 improves upon the D7200, which it replaced. First of all, the tilting touchscreen is two improvements in one. The tilting ability makes it much easier to shoot in various situations. And it provides a handy focus selection.
Other improvements start with the introduction of 4K video recording. I don’t think it would be outrageous in 2023 to say don’t even consider a camera that doesn’t offer 4K video. It’s essential at this price level. So it’s good that the D7500 has 4K.
What’s not so impressive is that it comes at the cost of extra cropping. There is a 1.5x crop factor when shooting in 4K. Old-fashioned HD at 1080p is available with the whole picture area. Now, whether 4K video is important is a decision only you can make. It does mean that a full frame 24mm lens suddenly becomes a 57mm in 4K. So wide-angle shooting is going to be hard.
Another shortcoming is the autofocus. Although it is superb in stills mode, it relies on contrast detection for video. This tends to be both slower and less reliable than phase detection. So the video will struggle to focus, sometimes to the point of frustration.
The lack of sensor-based image stabilization (IS) might also put you off. Any lens IS that is present is usable, of course. But the only in-camera IS is electronic. And this, because of its slight cropping effect, is only available in 1080p and below. If video is your main need for a camera, then the D7500 might not be for you.
Body and Handling
I know looks aren’t everything, but the Nikon D7500 is a good-looking camera. The body is bigger than an entry-level DSLR. But it doesn’t have the bulk of a pro-level camera. There’s no manganese chassis but a carbon fiber composite. But the body is weather sealed and has a secure textured grip.
The right-hand grip is nicely sized and houses the shutter button and main power switch. The top of the camera is uncluttered. There is an LCD status screen with basic information. But I don’t find it as clear or informative as you find on comparable Canon cameras. But then other cameras (like the Canon EOS R6) have ditched it altogether. The combined mode dial and release mode dial are to the left of the pentaprism.
The rear of the camera shows the dilemma faced by manufacturers. The tilting screen allows space along its left edge for five buttons. But with a fully articulating screen, you lose that option. So the lack of articulation means that the buttons available to the right thumb are fewer and less likely to get in each other’s way.
The screen itself tilts both up and down. This makes high and low shooting positions better. Gestures that are familiar to us from our smartphones, such as pinch and flick, work as you’d expect. You can touch to focus and meter in live view mode. And you can also activate the shutter.
Two scroll wheels allow easy control of the various functions. Depending on the mode, this might be shutter speed or aperture. The main control dial falls under the right thumb, with the combined AE and AF lock button nearby (but out of the way). The sub-command dial is in the shutter release button shroud for the index finger. The four-way multi-selector is also within reach of your right thumb.
Two customizable function buttons are on the front of the camera and are accessible to the right hand. The manual focus switch is on the other side of the lens mount (for lenses without an integral switch).
Finally, surrounding the pentaprism is the pop-up flash. And to the right of the viewfinder’s eye cup is the diopter adjustment dial. The optical viewfinder is 0.94x magnification. It provides 100% coverage both horizontally and vertically. The viewfinder information is comprehensive—exhaustive even. In fact, the manual lists no fewer than 29 separate items that are shown in the viewfinder.
Overall, the Nikon D7500 shows its pedigree as a camera made by a manufacturer with decades of experience. It strikes a neat balance between complexity and ease of use. This is perfect for the target user—someone who doesn’t want the weight and complexity of a pro-level DSLR. But someone who also wants flexibility and access to creative options.
In use, the Nikon D7500 seems to suit many people. The controls are well-placed. There are good customization options if you want to get technical. Or you can set everything to Auto Mode and just snap away.
One thing that makes you wonder if Nikon really was leaning more toward the casual user is one of the glaring omissions with the D7500. There is no provision for a battery grip. As a keen battery grip user from the days of my first entry-level DSLR, this seems like an odd choice.
The battery life on the Nikon D7500 is very good, but a battery grip isn’t just about prolonging shooting times. After all, it doesn’t take too long to swap a battery. But it really makes a difference when using the camera in a vertical orientation. So it is a decision that was questioned by quite a few people when the D7500 was released.
Alternatives to the Nikon D7500
The Nikon D7500 finds itself in an interesting price bracket regarding the competition. It depends on where you live. But at the same time, you can find:
This can make things complicated if you’re not certain what you want. These three cameras are all excellent in their own way. And if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that making compromises is usually part of choosing a camera.
For instance, the EOS 6D Mark II has a fully articulating screen that might win you over. Or you might be persuaded that the almost faultless video AF on the Sony Alpha if that’s what you need. Or a compact landscape-capable camera might be on your list. In this case, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is worth a look.
My advice would be to draw up a list of what your needs, wants, and preferences are. Then compare what’s available.
Our Verdict—Nikon D7500
The Nikon D7500 is a fine camera. It has many features that make it attractive to the hobby photographer who wants something better than an entry-level DSLR. You might like the clear and informative optical viewfinder. Or the better-than-average burst speed. The articulating rear screen is a benefit for video and some photography situations. But the video is let down by its slow autofocus.
The D7500 replaced a very capable Nikon DSLR, and it fits well below the more expensive D500. Its low-light performance and general build quality make it a solid choice for a range of photographers.
|Construction and Durability||
Construction and Durability
|Handling and Ergonomics||
Handling and Ergonomics
|Value for Money||
Value for Money