December 12, 2017

Nikon D7500 DSLR review

The Nikon D7500 is the newest addition in Nikon's prosumer DX-format DSLR cameras, and fits in between the D7200 and the D500. The D7500 has many of the features found on the D500, but at a more affordable price point.

According to Nikon the D7500 doesn’t replace the D7200 and slots in above it, but below the D500. So why buy the D7200 when the D7500 is such a better camera, and offers so much more than the D7200 in terms of image quality, faster frame rate and high ISO performance?

For me and many other photographers though the D7500 does replace the D7200 as Nikon’s mid-range prosumer DX-format DSLR camera, and is a far better DSLR than the D7200. So is the D7500 worth AU$1,900, or should you buy the D7200 for AU$1,200 or the D500 for AU$2,800?
Well, I’ll give you my answer at the end of this review!

I’ve previously owned the D7000 and D7100 and one of the main reason that I’d upgraded to the Nikon D750 full-frame instead of the DX-format D7200 was that the D750 displayed very little digital noise when used at ISO 5000 and even at ISO 8000 the digital noise was very manageable, compared to the D7200 where the digital noise is noticeable at ISO 5000 and by ISO 8000 is difficult to reduce in post processing.

Before going any further I should state that if I wasn’t so addicted to capturing the night sky (Milky Way), and doing time-lapse photography at night, as well as teaching Astrophotography I may have just upgraded to the D7200.

So! Why did I buy the D7500 when the D750 did everything that I wanted? Well in mid-October my D750 fell into a waterfall due to the gear failure (arca-swiss bracket broke). Which meant looking for a DSLR to replace the D750.

So I started looking at the replacement cost of the D750 with the Nikon 18-35mm f3.5-f4.5 lens, as well as seeing if there was any other Nikon DSLR which would deliver the image quality that I’d come to rely on with the D750 in the price range of the D750. This is where I started doing some research of the D7500, as some Astro and Landscape photographers were showing me images taken with the D7500, and stating that they were impressed at the quality, resolution and how good this camera was at taking photos at ISO5000 and above, even though it was a DX-format DSLR.

So after weighing up the replacement cost of the D750 $3,400 (with Nikon 18-35mm f3.5-f4.5 lens), compared to the D7500 $2,400 (with Nikon 18-140mm f3.5-f5.6 lens + Tokina 11-20mm f2.8 lens), I chose to buy the Nikon D7500.

Specification of the Nikon D7500 compared to the Nikon D7200 and the Nikon D750
Nikon D7500 DSLR
Nikon D7200 DSLR
Nikon D750 DSLR

20.9 Megapixel CMOS Sensor
EXPEED 5 Image Processor
No Optical Low-Pass Filter
8 Fps Continuous Shooting
51-Point AF System
3.2-Inch LCD Monitor with Tilt/Touch Screen
ISO 100 to 51,200 >
Extendable to ISO 50 (Lo_1) to 1,638,400 (Hi +5)
Single SD/SDHC/SDXC Card Slot
Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth using SnapBridge Connectivity
Comprehensive Weather Sealing
Nikon D7500 Full specification

24.2 MP DX CMOS Sensor
EXPEED 4 Image Processor
No Optical Low-Pass Filter
6fps Continuous Shooting
51 Point AF System
3.2-Inch LCD Monitor (non-tilting Screen)
ISO 100 to 25,600
Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC Card Slots
Built-in Wi-Fi using Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility App.
Comprehensive Weather Sealing
Nikon D7200 Full specification

24.3 MP FX-Format CMOS Sensor
EXPEED 4 Image Processor
Optical Low-Pass Filter
6fps Continuous Shooting
51 Point AF System
3.2-Inch LCD Monitor with Tilt Screen
ISO 100 to 12,800 >
Extendable to ISO 50 (Lo_1) to 51,200 (Hi+3)
91K-pixel RGB focusing sensor
Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC Card Slots
Built-in Wi-Fi using Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility App.
Comprehensive Weather Sealing
Nikon D750 Full specification

The Nikon D7500 in the outdoors

Like the D7200 and the D750, the D7500 is weather sealed (Not Waterproof), so taking photos in the rain shouldn’t be a problem, but remember that your lens should also be weather sealed or it may malfunction. The D7500 LCD screen is also both tilt-able, as well as touch-abled which is great, as these features were missing on the previous D7XXX series.

I’ve been using the D7500 for about a month now, and I’m seriously impressed at how good this DX-format DSLR camera both for Landscape and Astrophotography. Day-time images are crisp and clear at ISO100 to ISO640, and images taken night at ISO6400 show very little digital noise, even at ISO 1600 where digital noise starts appearing, it can easily be reduced in post-processing. By ISO8000 where digital noise is more noticeable, it can be minimized in post-processing using Adobe Lightroom CC, or an even better solution would be to use Google Nik Dfine2 (DxO Nik Dfine2), plug-in to reduce the digital noise.

The D7500 is able to achieve this as it uses the same EXPEED 5 image processor and the 20.9MP APS-C CMOS sensor without the Optical Low-Pass Filter that the D500 has. By reducing the CMOS sensor from 24MP (D7200) to 20.9MP has given the D7500 an advantage, particularly when it comes to low light sensitivity.

What I don't like about the Nikon D7500

The only two negatives that I found in the D7500 are that!
No1: there’s no option for a battery grip, which means for photographers who shoot time lapses they’ll have to buy an external battery setup like the Jupio JPV0521 DSLR EN-EL15 Power Vault which equals roughly 2.5 EN-EL15 batteries.
No2: it only has one SD card slot, which means that I can no longer shoot JPG’s on one SD card and RAW files on the other.
But I’ve overcome this by using a 128GB SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC memory card with a write speed of 90mb/s and a read speed 95mb/s

Quick note on Memory Cards for the Nikon D7500

I’ve found that using a SD card with a fast write/read speed, like the SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC with a write speed of 90mb/s and a read speed 95mb/s will pay off, as the D7500 will clear its buffer quicker than the D7200 or D750 when using the same type of SD cards.
For example, when I did a time-lapse sequence with the D750 (using a 32GB SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC) there would be about a 2 to 2.5 second delay while the camera wrote the file to the SD card. On the other hand, with the D7500 that delay is now reduced to between 1 and 1.2 seconds, which makes a huge difference when shooting time-lapses, or action images where you could miss that crucial moment due to the camera being busy writing the image to the card.

Landscape and Astrophotographers
Combining the Nikon D7500 with the Nikon AF-S DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR lens for a keen Landscape Photographer, would give them the versatility of being able to capture images in low light at f2.8 (at 16mm) which would certainly come in handy before sunrise or after sunset.
For Astrophotographers On the other hand, you would do well buying the Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 PRO DX to use with the D7500, as this Tokina lens is now rated one of the best lens for capturing night-time images like Milky Way images.
My thought!
  • The look and feel of the D7500 with its more pronounced grip is a joy to hold and having a large hand I find that it feels more comfortable than the D7100 or even the D750 that I’ve owned.
  • Having used the tilt screen on the D750, I like being able to tilt the screen when setting up the camera low to the ground.
  • The touch screen is great to have, but I do turn it off sometimes when it’s more practical/convenient for me to use the buttons.(Like using the camera at the beach or at night)
  • Having the ability to reducing the ISO from 100 to 50 (Lo_1) instantly reduces EV by 1 stop. I liked this feature in the D750 and would often use it to quickly lengthen the exposure when needed. In the D750 there was little difference in image quality or clarity when using ISO 50 and having tested ISO 50 on the D7500, the quality/clarity of the image does not suffer.
Should you buy it!

If you own a D7200 and you’re mainly taking photos during the daytime and are content with your camera, then I’d keep it.
If on the other hand you own a D7000, D7100 or even a D7200 and use it for the following:

  • Photographing Action images; motorsport, birds in flight > the faster frame rate and higher ISO tolerance will result in sharper/clearer images.
  • Photographing the night sky (Milky Way or time-lapse) and using ISO setting of 3200 > 6400
  • Photographing People, Models, Weddings etc. in low light where a higher ISO in the previous D7XXX series resulted in grainy image. The D7500 will stand out and give you images with little digital noise at ISO setting from 400 to 2500. You’d really like a tilt or touch LCD screen.

Then buy the D7500 and you’re going to have DLSR that is going to meet your needs as a photographer now and into the future.
Many photographers will say that to get the most out of your camera you need to be using a good quality lens (not kit lens), well I found that even when using the Nikon 18-140mm f3.5-f5.6 kit lens that my D7500 came with I am able to capture images that are crisp and sharp.

ISO comparison in day time photography

This image of a Blue Agapanthus flower shows the full size image, as well as showing the cropped area for the rest of the images displayed below it.

These images were taken to highlight how good the D7500 is at controlling digital noise as well as retaining image clarity/sharpness at ISO 50 to ISO 6400.
The only editing done in Adobe Lightroom was adding Lens Correction to the RAW files and resizing the images for this article.
Noise reduction was not used when these images were processed.

Click on any of the images below for a larger view.

D7500 for night-time photography

The images below are just a few samples of what you can expect when taking images at night in low light with the D7500.
I've also included a few sample image of images taken with the Nikon DX D7100 and the Nikon FX D750 for you to compare.
Only basic editing done was done in Adobe Lightroom Classic CC, but Noise reduction was not used when these images were processed.

Clicking on any of the images below will show the cropped area in a larger view.

In closing

Personally, I have no regrets about buying the D7500 as a replacement camera for my D750. It’s already proved itself as an outstanding camera at sunrise, day-time and shooting at night. I’m confident, that if you were shown images taken with this camera that you’d be hard pressed to tell that it was a DX (crop-sensor) DSLR camera.

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