Nikon D7500 Review
Performance - How well does it take pictures?
Ultimately, it is the image quality that makes a camera worth buying. For a digital SLR, image quality greatly depends on the lens used. While color, noise, contrast and exposure are properties of the camera, distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberrations are properties of the lens. Sharpness depends on the weakest link. So, the camera cannot capture more details than the lens lets through. Conversely, a lens can transmit a greater amount of details than the sensor can capture.
The D7500 gained the latest Nikon APS-C sensor introduced in the D500. As such image quality is identical and portions of this review page are taken from the performance page of the Nikon D500 Review
Nikon D500. Image quality differences in the image gallery and sample crops is a product of the lens used.
Image Noise & Sharpness
The 20 megapixels APS-C sensor in the Nikon D7500 boasts an unprecedented sensitivity range for this sensor-size. The real secret is an equally improved EXPEED 5 processor which eliminates noise with minimal impact to details and image quality. Images from the D7500 are very clean with very little noise until ISO 3200. Maximum print sizes are possible until ISO 3200. For a 20 megapixels sensor, this means a large 14" x 21" print is easily possible. ISO 6400 still looks reasonably good at that size, just not impeccable. More standard 12" x 18" prints look fantastic though.
ISO 12800 clearly shows deterioration with the finest details being destroyed by softness due to noise-reduction. Up until ISO 6400, the performance of the D7500 and full-frame D5 were remarkably similar! At ISO 12800, the difference is clearly in favor of the D5. The D7500 tries to compensate with more aggressive noise-reduction but that reduces possible image-size anyway. Those who depend on such stellar ISO, simply must go full-frame.
ISO 25600 is even noisier, with color noise starting to intrude. Details soften further and dynamic-range starts to really suffer. Bright mid-size prints can look reasonable but dark scenes should be limited to smaller print sizes. At the highest standard sensitivity of the D7500, ISO 51200, color noise starts to become dominant, although softness does not increase by much. Small prints remain usable but barely.
The extended ISO range seems to be there mostly for bragging rights. ISO 102400 surprisingly produces a recognizable image, yet appears grainy at any size. ISO 204800 is of limited use until no other option exist. From ISO 409600 to 1638400, images are simply unusable. It is difficult to say what is in such images. These stellar sensitivity are of little practical value.
Image sharpness is excellent on the D7500. The EXPEED 5 processor produces very sharp images even at the default setting of 3. There is some slight sharpening artifacts which are only visible when seen at 1:1 magnification. Tuning down Sharpness to 2.5 instead results in images free of artifacts. Between 2 and 3½, results are very nice. Lower is quite soft and higher settings start adding outlines to edges. There is a Clarity setting which affects micro-contrast and is useful to produce more crisp images. The optimal setting for this is around +2.5 which produces detailed yet looking natural images.
The EXPEED 5 processor can optionally correct for Vignetting and Distortion, just like most recent Nikon DSLRs. Vignetting correction is something that is easy to perform with minimal impact on image quality when characteristics of the lens are known. Oddly, the D7500 does not seem to have that information and instead offers 3 levels of Vignetting Correction. This is poor approach to the problem since vignetting changes with aperture and focal-length even for a single lens. Distortion Correction is something that is not recommended since it can have a damaging impact on framing. Furthermore, the same distortion is not equally noticeable between different scenes, so one rarely needs to have it corrected on every image.
Metering & Color
The Nikon D7500 offers a large set of few metering modes. The default Matrix metering is prone to over-exposure. It appears too much weighed on the center of the frame which causes bright skies to get blown out even if the camera has sufficient dynamic-range to capture it along with the foreground. Highlight Weighed metering is highly conservative and more reliable. It mostly needs some positive exposure compensation for scenes with bright highlights. For pleasant ready-for-print results, the D7500 needs to have EC dialed down for Matrix metering or up from Highlight Weighed metering. Spot and Average metering work exactly as expected.
Take a look the three images below. The top left is taken with Highlight Weighed Metering and produces a very dark exposure despite highlights not being strong at all. The one to its right is clearly overexposed by Matrix Metering. In the row below, +1 EC with Highlight Weighed Metering gives better yet still dark results.
Image parameters are plentiful and adjustable with very fine steps. There are six picture styles offering various degrees of realism. The Standard style is closest to reality with natural and nicely saturated colors. More realistic output is possible by toning down Saturation to -0.5 and shifting Hue to +0.5. The Standard tone-curve is slightly harsh by default, so setting Contrast to -1 and Brightness to +0.5 improves shadow details while producing images with plenty of punch.
Automatic white-balance is good under most conditions. There are two Auto settings that vary in how they deal with the warm color-cast typical of tungsten lighting. Neither is completely neutral under dim artificial lighting, leaving a slight orange cast. This is actually a slightly better performance than we noticed with the D500 but this may simply be variation due to different lights. This issue is not entirely consistent either, so using a Preset or Custom WB is recommended for such conditions. Note that noise from the D7500 is distinctly green which makes images look greener at higher ISO. Obverse this in the images above where darker ones look more greenish since they capture less light and noise therefore dominates more.
Dynamic-range of the Nikon D7500 is exceptional. It manages to capture a whopping 14-stops at ISO 50, going barely down to 13-stops at ISO 100 and 200. Even ISO 400 and 800 manage to record 12-stops of dynamic-range which is a best-in-class performance. At ISO 3200, there is a clear dip in dynamic-range, which is still better than usual. As one would expect, things go quickly south from there.
Speed & Autofocus
The D7500 is fast and decidedly responsive. All buttons and dials get an instant response which is completely expected for a DSLR of this class. Although it does not match the speed of the D500, it still gets fairly close and is noticeable faster than the D7200 that precedes it. The performance of this camera is characterized by the following numbers:
- Power On: 1s with or without sensor-cleaning. Below expectations.
- Power Off: Barely noticeable. Excellent.
- Autofocus: Below ¼s down to 1s with a slow lens such as the kit one. Highly variable.
- Focus Confirm: Under ¼s for both autofocus and manual focus. Very good.
- Shutter-lag: Nearly instant followed by extremely short black-out. Class-leading.
- Shot-to-Shot Speed: A little under ½s. Average.
- Instant Review: About ¾s. Below average.
- Playback Mode: Immediate. Excellent.
While autofocus and shutter-lag are indeed quite fast, a few performance metric are below expectations. There is now a one second delay showing an hour-glass on the rear LCD while the camera powers on. Shot-to-shot speeds are a little slower than expected yet one can overcome this by shooting in Continuous Drive mode, while the Instant Review is inexplicably slower than Playback mode.
The 51-point autofocus system on the D7500 can be extremely fast yet some lenses slow it down considerably. When focusing manually, the camera instantly confirms focus. The Phase-Detect AF sensor shared by the D7500 and D7200 is sensitive down to -3 EV which only a few cameras can manage, making this DSLR particularly well-suited for low-light photography.
Battery-life is excellent, achieving 950 shots-per-charge according to the CIPA standard. The new sensor requires more power than the one in the D7200, so it does not match that camera's 1100 shots-per-charge yet is still sufficient for a full day of photography. Keep in mind that video is much more demanding and the battery can only handle 80 minutes of HD recording per-charge. 4K Video needs even more power but Nikon does not quite battery-life for Ultra-HD capture.
Nikon is clearly sorting their DSLR into different market segments according to features. The new D7500 is built around their highest quality APS-C sensor paired with their mid-range 51-Point Phase-Detect AF sensor and the second fastest processor among DX cameras.
The Nikon D7500 neatly delivers a measured performance. Image quality from the 20 megapixels CMOS sensor is spectacular with a huge dynamic-range and wide range of usable ISO sensitivities. Rendering of details and color are hard to fault, and White-Balance seems slightly improved from previous models. Its highly flexible metering system is a little disappointing though as it requires Exposure-Compensation more than usual, despite featuring a class-leading 10 metering patterns.
Speed of the D7500 is generally good yet clearly behind the D500, as Nikon made sure of it not to lose sales of their more expensive offerings. As such, some things are faster than on the older D7200, while others are slower. Autofocus speed is still excellent, extremely accurate and very sensitive, although the lens used can have a huge impact here. There is virtually no shutter-lag or blackout, which makes capturing a key moment easy. Although shot-to-shot speeds are just behind average, the D7500 can shoot continuously at 8 FPS which is sufficient to capture most action.
The ergonomics of the Nikon D7500 are simply excellent. There has been some refinements between models but nothing to take away from Nikon's excellent control layout. The grip, shutter-release and dual control-dials fall right in hand and the majority of controls remain very usable while wearing gloves. The added Eye-Start Sensor makes for an even smoother experience with with a large and bright optical viewfinder. There is usually the worry of a tilting hinge causing a weak-point in the build of high-end cameras but no with this one. The tilting screen at the back of the D7500 feels extremely sturdy.
Still being an offering for photography enthusiasts, the Nikon D7500 does not skimp on capabilities. It offers sophisticated bracketing plus numerous automation feature such as built-in HDR, an Interval-Timer, Time-Lapse Video and Multiple Exposure. This DSLR can also record 4K Ultra-HD video at 30 FPS with fine control over audio, including stereo lines in and out. This camera includes plenty of connectivity features including wired-remote, wireless shooting over WiFi and sharing over Bluetooth.
The bottom line is that Nikon D7500 provides a good price-point to get Nikon's best APS-C sensor with an unprecedented sensitivity range which makes this one of the most capable cropped-sensor cameras under low-light. With it, one still gets the reputable Nikon ergonomics in a highly durable and reliable camera, complete with weatherproof construction.
Nikon D7500 Highlights
Sensor-Size: 24 x 16mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|20 Megapixels DSLR||ISO 50-1640000|
|Nikon F Mount|
|Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Automatic Eye-Start sensor||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|2 Axis Digital Level||Spot-Metering|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Stereo audio input|
|8 FPS Drive, 100 Images||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|3840x2160 @ 30 FPS Video Recording||Secure Digital Extended Capacity|
|3.2" LCD 920K Pixels|
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