The Nikon D7500 slides into the market near a few key competitors: The Canon 80D, various mirrorless options, and even Nikon’s own D7200, which is still sold new today. In this section, I’ll go into more detail on how the D7500 stacks up against these competitors.
D7500 vs D7200
The specifications of the Nikon D7500 tell an interesting story. This is a camera made with a lot of modern features (4K, touchscreen, built-in Bluetooth), but the first thing many people will notice might be something completely different: the changes between this camera and the D7200.
Could it be – somehow, bewilderingly – that this camera is a downgrade from the older D7200? Case in point: The D7500 has one memory card slot, while the D7200 has two. It doesn’t take a battery grip, while the older camera does. It has 21 megapixels rather than 24. Even the LCD is lower resolution on the newer D7500.
Yet, last I checked, the D7500 was selling for $250 more (though as of 2019 the D7200 is no longer sold new).
The answer is that the guts of the D7500 have been seriously updated. It has a faster processor and the metering system of the D500. Its buffer has grown dramatically, and it now shoots 8 frames per second rather than 5 (the D7200’s limit when shooting 14-bit RAW). On the video side of things, the D7500 captures 4K, while the D7200 only goes to 1080p. Nikon also added a host of other improvements to the D7500, such as a tilt screen (awesome), a touchscreen (not up my alley, but you can turn it off), Group-Area autofocus, greater viewfinder magnification, and so on. To see a full list of specification differences, check out our article on the D7500 vs the D7200.
The only issue that really stands out to me is the single memory card slot, which is the most common criticism of the D7500. Then again, it’s not just the D7500 that lacks a second card slot. On the Canon side of things, this camera’s closest competitor is arguably the Canon 80D – and it also has just a single slot. Apparently, camera companies want this feature to be a differentiating factor between their high-end and mid-level lineups, perhaps because they simply don’t consider it to be a big deal for most users.
Is it a big deal? Certainly, for weddings or other once-in-a-lifetime events, it would be scarier to use the D7500 than something like the D850 or the D7200. But for everyday photography, I’ll go out on a limb and say that a single card slot should be just fine. That’s what your phone probably has. That’s what most cameras on the market have, and it’s the way film photography has been since day one (with film, of course, rather than cards). Even in the event of card failure, you’ll quite possibly be able to recover that data using third-party software; personally, I’d be more worried about losing the card than anything else.
This isn’t to say the single card is a good thing, or excusable on Nikon’s part. Indeed, I’ve heard some people say that the D7500 is a side-grade rather than an upgrade from the D7200 for this main reason. But my own interpretation is different; this is, as I see it, a clear upgrade compared to the D7200. It has a host of new features that matter quite a bit, and the things it leaves out are all quite minor – except for this one, and only you can determine how much it affects your own work.
Aside from that, what about image quality differences? As far as ISO performance between the D7200 and D7500, there’s a bit of deja vu going on: We’ve tested these two sensors against one another before. Check out the comparison section of our D500 review, which goes head to head against the D7200 (with the two cameras essentially tying). Because the D500 and the D7500 have the same sensor specifications and identical EXPEED 5 processors, the image quality comparison from that review is applicable here as well.
D7500 vs Canon 80D
The Canon 80D is a great camera (see our review). However, as a whole, the D7500 beats it in many ways – ergonomics most of all, but also image quality to a degree. Here is a comparison (100% crops) between the ISO performance of these two cameras, beginning at ISO 800 and ending at ISO 6400 (Left: Nikon D7500, Right: Canon 80D):
Even starting at ISO 800, the Canon 80D shows additional hints of color noise compared to the Nikon. This grows with each successive ISO, until, by ISO 6400, the 80D clearly has significantly more noise than the D7500. Indeed, the difference is about a full stop; ISO 3200 on the 80D is akin to ISO 6400 on the D7500.
Personally, I would not want to use the D7500 beyond ISO 3200, nor the 80D beyond ISO 1600.
D7500 vs Entry-Level DSLRs
Nikon’s entry-level DSLRs – the D3X00 and D5X00 lines – both have incredible sensors. They’re comparable to the D7200 in image quality. However, sensor quality isn’t all that matters when deciding upon the right camera for your needs.
In particular, the biggest difference between the D7500 and Nikon’s (or Canon’s) entry-level DSLRs is that the D7500 has far more buttons and options for picking the proper settings. The D7500 is quicker to set than almost every entry-level DSLR today (not just Nikon). It has a second dial, essential for quick Manual Mode adjustments, as well as more custom buttons and options overall.
The D7500 also has a much better autofocus system than any of the entry-level DSLRs you’ll find from Nikon or Canon. The 51-point system, complete with 8 frames per second, isn’t matched by cheaper options. Not to mention build quality or battery life.
Get an entry-level DSLR if you want something light, or you’re on a budget. They’re still all excellent cameras. However, as far as speed goes, the D7500 is a cut above. If it’s within your price range, and you don’t mind the weight, it handily beats the entry-level DSLRs you’ll find on the market – even if it has the same or similar image quality.
D7500 vs Mirrorless Cameras
If you’re looking for the D7500, it’s reasonable to think that you want the optical viewfinder of a DSLR, as well as potentially the battery life benefits that come as a result. Nevertheless, there are some solid mirrorless alternatives to the D7500.
- The Olympus E-M5 II is arguably Olympus’s closest competitor to the D7500. It has 10 frames per second to the Nikon’s 8, a 16-megapixel sensor, a tilt screen, and weather sealing. The autofocus system on the E-M5 II is also on the high end of things, with 81 focusing points, 30 more than the D7500 has (though these are contrast-detect rather than phase-detect or hybrid autofocus points, potentially reducing their speed). The D7500 wins on 4K video, battery life, and image quality (due to the larger sensor) – but the price is right with the Olympus at $799. Both only have a single memory card slot.
- The D7500 sits roughly between two Fuji cameras: the X-T20 and the X-T2. All three of these cameras have the same sensor size, leveling the image quality playing field. The X-T20 is billed as an entry-level mirrorless camera, but it still has a speedy frame rate (8 fps, or 14 fps with the electronic shutter) and a huge number of autofocus points (325 hybrid phase- and contrast-detect). On the downside, it doesn’t have weather sealing, and the battery life is about a third of the D7500’s. As for the X-T2, it adds an ISO dial (sweet!) as well as a larger electronic viewfinder and weather sealing, but it still lags far behind the D7500 on battery life. It’s also more expensive – but it does offer a dual card slot (which the X-T20 doesn’t have). The X-T20 is $899, while the X-T2 is $1599.
- And the Sony A6500 is not a camera you should underestimate. This $1398 mirrorless option sits higher than the D7500, but it goes into feature overload: 11 frames per second, 450 autofocus points, and extra goodies like built-in image stabilization. Its battery life is just as bad as the other mirrorless options – 350 photos versus the D7500’s 950 – but it packs a lot of technology into a small and extremely light camera. There’s also the A6300, which is slimmed-down A6500 at an excellent price. It loses the touchscreen, image stabilization, and large buffer (107 RAWs versus a minuscule 23), but it’s $898, making it more similar to the D7500 in price. Both of these cameras have only one card slot.
These are just the most popular of the D7500’s mirrorless competitors, and there are other possibilities as well. If you have additional thoughts to add, feel free to let us know on the comments page at the end of this review!
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