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!
Its too bad canon never had the insight to have a better pixel size but that’s hin sight really if you look at canon they hit the market more than a year ahead of Nikon with the 7d2 so for Nikon to anser back with a better camera is a no brainer trust me there will be a 7d3 and its going to kick the ass off the d500 it will have better pixel size and 4k video with an improved higher iso just watch
I wouldn’t believe myself but I’m going to buy the old Canon 7D mark ii! I was 100% sure that Nikon D500 has nothing to give in, but … First, there is no choice of native pro lenses for DX. If I want a D500 for anything other then wildlife (pricy 70-200 and up) I’m limited to Sigma (50-100) or Tamron with all the caveats. Then came my wife and asked what do we have for video shooting… afaik any Nikon will suffer in Live View without Dual Pixel AF. We compared tests on youtube… What a condensed shame! All that bright video capabilities of D500 worth nothing without smooth continues AF! Are the nikon engineers dumb?! In some cases it’s hard to pay for D500 even if you want. Canon 7D can serve for 2 purposes at once: shooting fast actions and being a general purpose device (a reliable ‘brick’ for my wife, better then d80 in this regard). Need a stabilized lens for video? Fast 17-55 f2.8 is here. So in terms of money it’s a so-so Canon+native lenses or a bright D500+unreliable lenses + another device. I want the D500 badly but the balance of pros and cons is agains me. Oh well, Nikon has it’s market reasons.
I spent some time shooting sports with the Canon. It’s a very capable camera, a clear improvement over every previous DX camera. That said, the D500 is simply a level better for stills shooting. If you add video to the mix, the dual pixel AF is a big advantage. It really depends on emphasis.
I dispute the battery life as I regularly get over a 1,000 shots on a battery charge on Canon 7D Mark II.
It is a pain changing equipment once you are onboard any one of them – but sometimes that has to be shaken. I shifted completely from Canon 7D mark ii to Nikon D500. I have written my thoughts on that one – forbirdwatching.blogspot.in/2016/…canon.html
I am a Nikon shooter (still have D750 and D7100 with those f/2.8lens), and just got a Canon 7D Mark ii.
One of big selling points for me to start Canon stuff (not switching to Canon) is its lens selection. esp. the 100-400 L LS 2 for $2K.
No Nikon lens in the price range can compete with that.
As always, lens before body.
Want to know if it locks you out at 3.5 for high bursts at 10FPS. That mechanical aperature control has got to have its limits. Canon has a better chance of getting around this.
i m using nikon d 5100 with nikkor f 4 300 prime and i m doing wildlife photogaphy…and planning for upgrading to new nikon d 500 or nikon d 750..which one is better?..which one has better high iso perfroamnce?
If true, then saving face seems to be becoming a nasty habit for Nikon of late. In the last 4 years it’s been too repetitive Other brands do not seem to suffer from the same problems and even considering the devasting effects of the Tsunami that now can surely be discounted in this case. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Canon reduce the price of the 7DII just to mop up some Nikon borderline buyers, or even up the incentives!
Today Nikon announced a delay in supply to late April. Yes, disappointed but no show stopper……yet, as 5 weeks is not like 6 months delay. However, I don’t like being dangled and teased by any manufacturer, but at this moment in time I won’t be tempted over to the dark side. If it became a 6 month delay I may well be as wildlife photography is all about good light and that would mean half of the U.K. share of a years worth will have passed. I’m no youngster and should have learned patience, but every month eats into my remaining balance of fun!
Nikon are at great risk of loosing support as it seems to be a constant drip of failures over the last 4 years.
Yes annoyed, but resolved and after all I should have expected this. Perhaps I shouldn’t have bought the XQD card and reader just yet!
Sorry, my post above referred to Nikon’s announcement of delivery delays put back to late May for the D500.
Love your quote about a “remaining balance of fun!”
I really am the perfect customer for this camera as it will work well for both wildlife and pet photography.
Normally i would have pre-ordered two on the first day it’s available. This time I didn’t do that because I really do want to avoid any serious initial bugs. Further, I will order one instead of two just in case I have issues, then purchase a backup a month or two later. In general, i am not bothered by this. It is very difficult to get products this sophisticated to not have significant flaws at introduction. I am a loyal and still happy Nikon user, but given their recent history, caution is warranted. Further, I rhink it is generally wise to wait with all products this complex.
I don’t think you are rattled by the delay and you shouldn’t be. It just means they are trying to insure both supply and catch potential quality control issues.
This is the reality of the world we live in
Or is the ‘delay’ actually just a strategy to give the D5 a chance? I do wonder whether so many more pre-orders came in for the D500 v. the D5 Nikon have concerns about history repeating itself D700/D3. Perhaps the D500 is so good, they know people will buy it over the D5 if they compare in a shop, so are giving the latter a few months breathing space. Oh well ;-<
I will wait on this. Not because I don’t want one but because over the last few releases Nikon QC department has been woeful. Specs look great but can they get it to market without any issues for the first generation adopters ?.
I am confused why canon do not make any improvement when Nikon make their changes in D750, D810 and D5. Now Nikon again rocked on D500. Can we expect an excellent camera from Canon with good pixel rate, GPS, Touch Screen, above 10fps, good ISO and shutter speed and 4K Video recording.