How does the newly released Nikon D500 flagship DX camera compare to Canon’s APS-C counterpart, the 7D Mark II? Canon was first to release its high-end sports camera over a year ago and it reigned supreme for a while, since Nikon had no equivalent product to compete with. Things have surely changed now, since the D500 is finally that long-awaited direct competitor to the 7D Mark II. This means that we can now compare these cameras directly and see which one is a better candidate for sports and wildlife photography. In this comparison, we will take a look at the specifications of the two cameras and see what their similarities and differences are. We will provide real performance differences, along with high ISO comparisons in our upcoming Nikon D500 review.
Before we dive into the feature differences, it is important to point out that the comparison is a bit unfair, since we are comparing a newly-released camera with one that is around 15 months old.
Let’s go over the bare specifications of the two cameras:
Nikon D500 vs Canon 7D Mark II Specification Comparison
|Camera Feature||Nikon D500||Canon 7D Mark II|
|Sensor Resolution||20.9 Million||20.2 Million|
|Sensor Pixel Size||4.22µ||4.09µ|
|Low Pass Filter||No||Yes|
|Sensor Dust Reduction||Yes||Yes|
|Image Size||5,568 x 3,712||5,472 x 3,648|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 5||Dual DIGIC 6|
|Built-in Flash||No||Yes, with flash commander mode|
|Storage Media||1x XQD, 1x SD||1x CF, 1x SD|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||10 FPS||10 FPS|
|Buffer Size (RAW, Lossless 14-bit)||200||31|
|Continuous Shooting||20 seconds||3.1 seconds|
|Max Shutter Speed||1/8000 to 30 sec||1/8000 to 30 sec|
|Shutter Durability||200,000 cycles||200,000 cycles|
|Exposure Metering Sensor||180,000-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering III||150,000 RGB + IR pixel metering sensor|
|Base ISO||ISO 100||ISO 100|
|Native ISO Sensitivity||ISO 100-51,200||ISO 100-16,000|
|Boosted ISO Sensitivity||ISO 102,400-1,640,000||ISO 25,600|
|Autofocus System||153-point, 99 cross-type AF system||65-point all cross-type AF system|
|AF Detection||Up to f/8||Up to f/8|
|AF Detection Range||-4 to +20 EV||-3 to +19 EV|
|Video Output||MOV, MPEG-4 / H.264||MOV, MPEG-4 / H.264|
|Video Maximum Resolution||3,840×2,160 (4K) up to 30p||1920×1080 (1080p) up to 60p|
|LCD Size||3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD||3.0″ diagonal TFT-LCD|
|LCD Resolution||2,359,000 dots||1,040,000 dots|
|Built-in Wi-Fi / NFC||Built-in, with NFC||No|
|Battery||EN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery||LP-E6N (or LP-E6)|
|Battery Life||1,240 shots (CIPA)||670 shots (CIPA)|
|Weather Sealed Body||Yes||Yes|
|Weight (Body Only)||760g||820g|
|Dimensions||147 x 115 x 81mm||148.6 x 112.4 x 78.2mm|
|MSRP Price||$1,999 (as introduced)||$1,799 (as introduced)|
While the two cameras have very similar resolution, let’s not forget that the sensor size of Canon’s APS-C cameras is smaller, at 1.6x crop factor vs 1.5x on Nikon. Because of this alone, Nikon’s DX will always have the advantage in terms of noise performance and dynamic range when compared to Canon APS-C DSLRs like the Canon 7D Mark II. As you can see from the above chart, the pixel size on the Nikon D500 is bigger at 4.22 micron vs 4.09 micron on the 7D Mark II, so we should expect to see slightly better performance overall, even though the pixel resolution is very similar. At this point we don’t know how well the Nikon D500 will do in real life, but based on Nikon’s past and the base ISO getting pushed to a whopping ISO 51,200 vs ISO 16,000 on the Canon 7D Mark II, I am fairly confident that the Nikon D500 will output cleaner images than the 7D Mark II. The same goes for dynamic range – Canon’s sensors are quite poor in dynamic range performance, so it is pretty much a given that the Nikon D500 will outperform the Canon 7D Mark II there.
As we move down the list, things get even more interesting. Take a look at the buffer size – Nikon D500 can shoot up to 200 14-bit RAW images before the buffer fills up, while the Canon 7D Mark II can only accommodate a total of 31 14-bit RAW images! That’s a mere 3.1 seconds of continuous shooting speed vs 20 seconds on the D500…
The Nikon D500 whips the 7D Mark II in AF features too: 153 AF points, 99 of which are cross-type vs 65 all cross-type AF points. When the two cameras focus in low light conditions, the D500 will surely do better, thanks to its -4 to +20 EV detection range, compared to -3 to +19 EV detection range on the 7D Mark II. Lastly, the Nikon D500 has a superior 180K metering sensor, which when coupled with the 153 AF points should be able to track subjects better in comparison.
When it comes to video recording, the Canon 7D Mark II can only shoot HD video up to 60p, whereas the Nikon D500 can shoot 4K video up to 30p – also no comparison, especially once 4K footage is down-sampled to HD video. Hard to say exactly how good footage will look on the D500 at this time, but the expectations are high.
In terms of connectivity, the Nikon D500 has built-in Bluetooth and WiFi with NFC support, whereas the 7D Mark II does not have such options. Where the 7D Mark II excels is built-in GPS, which the Nikon D500 obviously does not have. The Nikon D500 features a very nice 3.2″ articulating LCD screen with more resolution compared to the 7D Mark II as well (thanks Vitalishe!).
Both cameras are rugged and weather sealed. In terms of battery life, the Nikon D500 yields twice as many shots – around 1,240 vs 670 shots on the 7D Mark II, according to CIPA standards. However, don’t forget that CIPA numbers incorporate usage of built-in flash, so differences between the two cameras without use of flash would be a bit different. I doubt the 7D Mark II would yield twice the number though, so the D500 should still be better in comparison.
Price-wise, the Canon 7D Mark II retailed for $200 lower than what the D500 will be sold for when it comes out, so Canon has the advantage there.
Overall, it is pretty clear that the Nikon D500 is superior to Canon 7D Mark II in almost every way, which is impressive!