Nikon D7500 Digital Camera Review
If you're getting serious about photography, this Nikon DSLR is a perfect place to start
If you're on the hunt for a high-end DSLR that could credibly be considered professional grade, you typically have had to set aside at least $2,000. But in the past few years we've seen a number of high-quality cameras come in at $1,500 and under—and few have a resume as complete as the new Nikon D7500 (available at Amazon for $896.95).
Following in the footsteps of the Nikon D500, the D7500 is everything a modern DSLR should be: it has the rock-solid hardware you expect from a Nikon DSLR combined with smart features like 4K video and excellent wireless connectivity. The result is a camera that can please die-hard traditionalists and those who take 95% of their photos with their smartphone.
Of course, it still has to perform. On that count, the D7500 crushes it. It breezed through our lab tests, capable of focusing in near darkness, capturing photos with expansive dynamic range, and shoots continuously at up to 8 frames per second—more than fast enough for all but the most demanding subjects.
Though the D7500 uses an APS-C sensor and not the larger full-frame sensor that you'll find in the best DSLRs, it's more than capable. You won't get quite the same shallow depth of field as those cameras, but you are still getting one of the most powerful, flexible cameras we've ever tested. And at just $1,200 body-only, the D7500 costs significantly less than the top models on the market, leaving plenty of budget to invest in some of Nikon's excellent lenses.
About the Nikon D7500
The Nikon D7000 series has always been a bit of an odd duck in Nikon's lineup, and the D7500 is no different. A far cry above the entry-level D5500 and D3500, the D7500 is not far off from the esteemed D500. Here are the specs provided by Nikon:
Crucially, it has what appears to be the same 20.9-megapixel APS-C sensor as the D500, one of the main reasons why that camera is so widely loved. That means the D7500 is typically capable of matching the D500 for image quality. It's similarly fast with 8fps continuous shooting (vs 10 on the D500), as well, meaning few subjects are suitable for the D500 that the D7500 can't handle as well.
Most of the other differences come down to quality of life enhancements, like dual card slots, longer battery life, a better rear LCD, a viewfinder with slightly more frame coverage, and a more robust autofocus system. Though the D500 only commands about $300 more for the body—just close enough that you may be tempted to upgrade—the D7500 represents an attractive way to get the D500's best asset in a more economical, lighter body.
What We Like
The D7500 fills a glaring hole in Nikon's DSLR lineup
While mirrorless cameras like the Sony A9 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II are all the rage right now, the classic SLR-style body is still a classic for a reason. The Nikon D7500 is another superb example of this, perched pleasantly between the entry-level bodies like the D3400 and D5600 and more professional-grade fare like the D500, D750, and D850.
Set them all up in a row and it's clear that the D7500 leans closer to the D500 than anything else, however. It has a large, hefty body with weather-sealing, a secondary top-mounted LCD, and a built-in autofocus motor for driving older, non-AF-S lenses. That position isn't much of a surprise, given that it starts at nearly twice the price of the D5600 and is only a few hundred dollars less than the D500—it's also right in line with previous D7xx-series models.
While this series has crept up steadily in price from the sub-$1,000 body-only MSRP of the D7100, we still think it's a good move on Nikon's part. For all the D500's strengths, it's still an expensive proposition. The D7500 isn't much cheaper, but you are only giving up a few features that you may not really need. If you've set aside around $2,000 for a new camera, the D7500 would allow you to get almost the same quality as the D500 and a couple of prime lenses to go with it.
Snapbridge continues to be a real gamechanger
The great irony of the last decade is that there are a billion more photographers in the world and yet the camera industry continues to struggle. Because while people have fallen in love with taking and editing photos, people have also learned just how much fun it is to share your work with the world.
DSLRs have never been great at this, with wireless solutions relying on crummy software, home wi-fi connections, or battery-killing connections to your smartphone. Nikon's Snapbridge solution is far and away the best of the bunch, utilizing Bluetooth to maintain a low-energy connection with your phone and Wi-fi to quickly transfer larger files for instant sharing.
Though the software and UI could still use some work, the functionality is spot on. It's not quite as convenient as puling out your phone for quick snaps, but combined with the plethora of awesome photo-editing apps on your phone or tablet, Snapbridge feels like the future.
Nikon's latest image sensor is still incredible
While cheaper full-frame image sensors have been a hit with buyers looking for that super shallow depth of field look, the advancement of smaller APS-C sensors is arguably even more impressive. Originally designed as an efficient compromise to help keep costs low for low-level DSLRs, the APS-C sensor in the D7500 and D500 can keep up with many of the full-frame options on the market these days.
In our lab tests the D7500 was capable of recording a whopping 14 stops of dynamic range at its base ISO speed, which is bonkers good. For comparison's sake, we would've been thrilled for that kind of performance from a full-frame camera just three or four years ago.
What does that mean for regular people? It means higher quality images across the board. In bright light you'll capture more detail in highlights and shadows, in low light you can push the ISO speed higher than ever while still achieving good-looking results, and you'll see a rich tonality in other scenes that your smartphone and small-sensor cameras just can't match.
With 8 frames per second burst shooting, the D7500 is a credible sports camera
To shoot fast-moving sports, you typically need two things: a fast, accurate autofocus system and a camera that can shoot at something over six frames per second. With a top speed of 8 frames per second, the D7500 definitely qualifies, even if the D7xxx-series isn't typically an action-oriented part of Nikon's lineup.
The Nikon D7500's 53-point autofocus system also makes the grade, with excellent tracking even in limited light. It's not the fastest I've seen, but in my real world tests it was able to keep up with cylists, runners, and my roaming toddler without much trouble.
That said, I wouldn't necessarily choose the D7500 if my primary concern was sports/action/wildlife. It's a great ability that fills out the D7500's resume, but there are loads of mirrorless cameras now that shoot faster for the same or less money. And even if you're only interested in a full-on DSLR, the Canon 7D Mark II is still faster (10 fps) and has a better autofocus system. It's nearly end-of-life with a replacement likely due sometime soon, but used and refurbished models aren't hard to come by and typically go for $1,500 and under.
What We Don't Like
The focus is good, but sometimes a tad slow
The main knock against the D7500 if you're looking for a camera for shooting sports and wildlife is the autofocus system. Though it's light years ahead of Nikon's entry-level DSLRs from just a few years ago, it's not quite on par with the best options in the company's lineup.
The main issue I had with it was speed. Though phase detection autofocus should allow the camera to confidently snap to a moving subject even in limited light, in my experience the D7500 wasn't quite that good. In low light, particularly, the camera would focus but it had trouble keeping locked onto moving subjects.
The camera itself can shoot fast, and in better light it keeps up just fine, but I wouldn't want to use it in limited light scenarios where I might miss a crucial shot.
The camera itself is still quite heavy
Though for many people this would actually be a positive, there are now plenty of mirrorless camera out there that are also great and are simply much smaller and lighter. For some people, the idea of carrying around a bulky DSLR is just a non-starter.
I don't fall quite into that camp, but there were plenty of times where I just defaulted to using my smartphone to snap photos of my daughter rather than deal with lugging the camera around. If you are planning on shooting a lot of events where you can plan in advance then it's not bad at all, but I'm unlikely to carry the D7500 around just in case something pops up.
The kit lens isn't a great investment
This is a common complaint, but I am not a big fan of the 18-140mm f/4.5-5.6G ED kit lens. It covers a very wide range of focal lengths and is passable in many situations, but I was much happier with my results anytime I put on another lens. The sensor here is particularly well-suited to using some of Nikon's excellent, sharp prime lenses.
And the kit lens isn't cheap; it costs about $300 more for the 18-140mm kit lens, which is only a little less than what you'll pay for a killer prime lens like the Nikon 85mm f/1.8. You'll want something wide to go with that, of course, but the D7500's ability to autofocus with almost any lens means you can easily pick up older Nikon autofocus lenses that'll scratch that itch without breaking the bank.
Should You Buy It?
Yes—for most people it's a cheaper D500 that is no less capable
Shopping for a camera is often like buying a house. For many people it's something they only do a few times in their life, and it can be a big investment. And like houses, there's always a camera that seems just a little bit nicer, that's juuust outside of your budget.
"I can make it if I skimp," we rationalize. Or we conveniently ignore all the extras that go along with any big purchase, and we wind up spending more money than we needed to. The D500 is, without question, a better camera than the D7500, and it's worth the $300 premium you'll pay for it. It has additional features and better components that ensure it'll perform to a higher standard.
But for most people, those additional features are not going to make a big difference. Outside of specialized situations, there is very little meaningful difference between shooting at 10fps vs 8fps, or having a 51-point autofocus system vs a 153-point one. More often than not, you're going to get the same shot with both cameras if you know what you're doing—especially since they are built around the same image sensor.
For Nikon shooters who need to have it all, the D7500 doesn't represent the best of the best. That aside, its $1,200 body-only price compares very well to anything else in Canon and Nikon's lineup, and Nikon's incredible lens family provides real value if you're also considering any of the high-end mirrorless options. As with a house, maximizing your budget means finding something with great bones. The D7500 is undoubtedly that, and it's one of the best values on the market right now.
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