After many weeks of valiantly resisting temptation, I’ve succumbed and upgraded to the Nikon D7500!
To share, I’ve been using a D7000 since end-2012. In other words, I’m doing a horizontal move here, instead of a vertical one, if you know what I mean. When debating whether to buy the D7500, I naturally weighed it against its supposed closest relative, the Nikon D500. What finalized my decision? I would say it’s the following five reasons:
- I’m going to say it out loud. I’m a cheapskate. The cheaper price of the D7500, body only or kit, was a huge attraction. As an informal user, I really can’t bring myself to spend an additional thousand (in SGD) for the higher-end D500.
- The lens packaged with the D7500 kit was more attractive. I needed something that stretches such a wide range so I do not have to bring so many lenses with me when I travel.
- A significant advantage of the D500 over the D7500 is the former’s sturdier build. This was a major consideration for me. I ultimately concluded I’ve never been that rough a user; I’ve never banged or dropped my gear, touch wood. To put it in another way, I wouldn’t need to have the D500’s superior build.
- The shocking (!!) number of 153 focus points in the D500 was a bewitching attraction, especially when compared to the D7500’s 51-point system. But … I concludedI’m not going to need that. Truth is, I’ve almost entirely relied on full-auto, or that few centric points with my older cameras. I mostly shoot dead or unmoving things too (LOL). Those additional focus points would really be wasted on me.
- Flash! I’m not a flasher, I hate flashing. But still, it’s nice to be able to flash when you feel like it or need to? For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why the D500 was designed without one.
Right. Those are my reasons for getting the D7500. Now for the body of this post. The REVIEW.
Nikon D7500 – First Impressions and Sample Shots
I don’t intend to write about the many technical features of the D7500. There are many web sites that have covered that. I don’t have the expertise or knowledge to write about such topics too.
Instead, I’d review the camera by being “myself.” I.E. more or less what Nikon calls a “prosumer.”
The term is, of course, sales literature used to describe people who do not mind spending more on a DSLR but would not require the most advanced (i.e. expensive) features. In many ways, I think it fits me. While I’ve mostly used my cameras for personal purposes, I have done some paid shoots for factories and hotels. I’ve also been selling in a stock image library for almost ten years. What I look for in a DSLR are thus ease of usage and a competent handling of basic functions. What I look for in a DSLR are thus ease of usage and a competent handling of basic functions. In other words, I’m mainly going to share the pictures I’ve taken with the D7500 since getting it last week; this is a usage review. Here and there, I’d also include some comments or highlights.
On Nikon’s page, the D7500 is promoted as having a “lightweight monocoque structure made of carbon fibre composite,” offering durability against shocks, a more comfortable grip and so on. This is versus the magnesium alloy used in my old D7000 and the new D500. Let me put it this way. The new material is definitely lightweight, which is something I appreciate. But there’s also no denying that there’s a certain cheaper feel to it.
Which shouldn’t matter in the long-run; I’ve mentioned above I’m a very careful user. Also, if this material is what’s providing a 50++g weight savings over earlier 7000 series models, then I’d say too I’m more than happy to have it. Silly as it sounds, every gram matters to someone like me, especially when out the whole day with a tripod. The convenience this brings would be further magnified when I’m traveling, I believe.
Having just “graduated” from the D7000, I needed a while to get used to the various changes in button layouts. The one that affected me most was undoubtedly the ISO button, which is now its own business next to the shutter button. My guess is that Nikon implemented this so that one can continue peering through the viewfinder and still be able to switch ISO easily. For the moment, I’m still getting used to it. Being where the EV button previously was, I keep switching exposure accidentally, instead of sensitivity!
The Tilting Monitor
You’re going to laugh at me. I didn’t know the monitor is extendable and tilting till after buying the D7500. Neither did I know it was touchscreen too. I defend myself by saying, these aren’t important features to me. I wouldn’t have mouthed a word had the screen remained the same as that on the D7000.
Wait, maybe I would have more than a word to say had it stayed the same. Oh, what am I writing? Now that I discovered it, I absolutely love it! If only because it’s so stylish.
Memory Card Slot
Here’s another thing to laugh at. I didn’t know there’s only one memory card slot now. I had quite a surprise after paying for the camera, opening the box, and discovering there’s only one.
This immediately felt to be a big deal. It took me quite a while to calm down and to accept this is very likely a superior move.
Why? Three reasons.
- I always carry two spare memory cards with me nowadays. I force myself to do so after repeated instances of traveling to somewhere for a shoot, and discovering, damn it, I forgot to replace the memory cards! In other words, I don’t ever use the second slot.
- You know, these cards come with astonishing capacities nowadays. I don’t know about pros, but I personally never ran out of space.
- I have no hard evidence for this, and frankly, I can’t be bothered to research about it anymore. Towards the end, I had major issues with memory cards on my D7000. Some shops and experts have hinted it could have been due to me using different branded, different speed cards together.It’s likely true. Because over the past few months, I could only use the D7000 if I do ridiculous things like ensuring card 1 has a lower capacity than card 2. Whatever the truth, I’m not going to risk it again. One slot, thus, is the best arrangement for me.
To be quite honest, I don’t probe into the deeper functions of any of my DSLRs. I also do not use the retouch menu. I strictly rely on Photoshop for everything else outside of basic shooting.
There’s little to probe, anyway. Nikon has always been pretty reliable and consistent when it comes to functions, as long as you don’t expect miracles. Oh, I ought to comment on the speed of transfer. YES, it’s fast. Very fast. But note that I was using EXSPEED 2 but a week ago. EXSPEED 5 is like lightning to me. My current situation is that of a country farmer stepping into a city for the first time.
Right, the sample shots! My test-out “works!” All pictures were taken using “Aperture Priority” and “Shutter Priority” modes.
But before that, allow me to highlight the feature of the D7500 I was most keen on investigating. Noise management at high ISO. According to various write-ups, the reduction of megapixels and the omission of a low-pass filter in the sensor allow for a new i.e. superior level of noise control. Quite honestly, while I was sure there would be improvements, I was sceptical over how wonderful it would be. How exactly did the D7500 fare? Check out the pictures!
All shots were taken with the kit lens. None of my usual Photoshop “enhancements” too, except for resizing and in some cases, cropping. These are the JPGs direct from the camera, at JPG Fine level.
First of all, this was my first time, ever, shooting a night landscape at ISO 16000. The number is shocking just to listen to, for me. How do I feel about the results? Well, noise is definitely visible. But it was also handled far more competently than I expected; it’s mostly the darks that have an issue. I left the High ISO NR at norm too, so I believe the D7500 is likely capable of improving the situation, at the cost of some crispness.
On crispness i.e. sharpness, this was wonderful. I didn’t use a tripod and it’s obvious the VR function was doing its job. Overall, an impressive start for the test.
I have to say I was quite stunned upon reviewing these two pictures, especially the first one. At the frightening level of ISO 51200, the noise output actually felt lesser than that in the cathedral picture above. And once dropped to 6400, it’s only noticeable at beyond 50 per cent zoom in of the original size. At this point, I was more or less convinced the no-low-pass-filter, new CMOS sensor of the D7500 is as good as Nikon says.
BTW, all shots in this post were taken with auto white balance. And with ISO on auto. Focus was also on auto, and as you can clearly see, the camera was handling all aspects beautifully.
Right, this is Photoshop enhanced, primarily for the purpose of further controlling the noise level in the darks, and the balancing highlights and shadows. Sharing this to show that the higher ISO outputs from the D7500 are more than manageable in an editing software. I did the clean-up in less than 5 minutes.
Barely, barely any noise at ISO 2000. The same really couldn’t be said about my old D7000.
The auto focus didn’t fail me too. Look at how sharp all important details are.
Alright, a mixture of difficult conditions here. The lights, the movements, the SWEATY crowd. I wouldn’t talk about noise management again, since it’s obvious the Nikon D7500 is a winner in that aspect. In terms of focusing, the auto-focus managed to get most spots correct. The only time it failed, dramatically, was when someone in front of me suddenly lifted his cellphone up high.
Overall, my only issue here is with highlights, which feels a tad too washed-out. (Some users might prefer it that way, though) I’m not sure whether increasing D-Lighting or turning on HDR would help; I usually leave D-Lighting at norm and HDR off. Anyway, this is not a big issue for me since I can easily minimise the overexposure in Photoshop.
This is my favourite picture from the test session, shot in shutter priority mode. I think everything is just, perfect? Well, maybe not technically perfect in every area but a good balance of strengths overall. I’d add too that I hardly expected the shot to turn out this great because I was fumbling. I didn’t even check my settings and I just snapped away. This output convinced me that I have a really dependable and versatile beast in my hands. For my level of need and skill, and budget (ahem), I believe I made the right decision getting the Nikon D7500.
For Part 2, I’d review a Nikon function I’ve barely used till now. Scenes.