Nikon D7500 DSLR ditches megapixel race for faster performance and 4K video

Nikon’s D7000-series is getting a speed upgrade. On April 12, Nikon launched the D7500, an advanced 4K-capable APS-C (DX) DSLR, targeting the advanced enthusiast photographer. Although the new camera has a lower megapixel count than its predecessor, it steps up the speed and low-light capabilities.

The D7500 bridges the gap between the D7200 released in 2015, and the company’s D500 DX flagship. It has an burst speed of eight frames per second (fps) with a 50 RAW  (14-bit) shot buffer (the max number of uncompressed photos the camera can shoot before it slows or stops to record them onto the memory card), a spec that slides right between the D7200’s 6 fps and the D500’s 10 fps. To reach that speed, the D7500 uses the same 20.9-megapixel sensor inside the D500, not the 24.2 from its predecessor. That megapixel difference means files from the D7500 are 5,568 by 3,712 pixels versus the D7200’s, which are 6,000 pixels wide. The D7500 uses the Expeed 5 image processor found inside the D500.

The sensor excludes the anti-aliasing filter for enhanced detail, a feature now typical with all new Nikon DX DSLRs. Nikon is touting the D500’s low-light capabilities among the camera’s top features. The D7500 has an exposure value of -3, and reaches an ISO of 51,200 (versus the D7200’s 25,600) and can be expanded up to 1,264,000. Having fewer megapixels means each pixel can be enlarged, which tends to translate into less noise at higher ISOs; low-light performance isn’t something that can be gleaned from a list of technical specifications.

Despite the drop in megapixel count, the D7500 is getting a stronger sensor. It allows the camera to shoot 4K video – a step up from Full HD. The camera can shoot compressed 4K UHD at up to 30 fps to the card, or can record uncompressed 4K when outputted to an external recorder via the HDMI port. Like the D500, however, the video files are short – the D7500 can shoot up to almost 30 minutes of video, but those files are recorded in up to eight separate files that need stitching. If shooting in Full HD, the D7500 can enable electronic Vibration Reduction and Active-D Lighting.

The D7500 introduces the new Auto Picture Control, a Nikon in-camera color profile that automatically reads the scene and generates a tone curve – essentially customizing the color profile on each image. Nikon says the D7500 has improved face detection, particularly with smaller faces and moving subject. The 51-point (cross type) autofocus system acquires focus on subjects quickly, Nikon says, especially when they enter the frame really fast. The camera also uses a 180K RGB metering system for more balanced exposures – a feature previously only available in the D500 and D5 – and can handle in-camera batch RAW-to-JPEG conversions.

For connectivity, the D7500 gains Bluetooth, which Nikon calls Snapbridge. The camera can automatically back up files (at a smaller two-megapixel resolution) to the Nikon Image Space cloud storage. The feature requires less power than Wi-Fi, although Wi-Fi connection is still required to download full resolution files and remote shooting.

Battery life is rated at 950 shots per charge, which beats the Canon EOS 77D’s 600-shot life and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II’s 800.

While the D7500’s body retains much of the D7200’s advanced design, including weather-sealing and a status LCD at the top, Nikon is bringing the touchscreen of the lower-priced D5000-line to the D7000-series for the first time. The hinge-style, 3.2-inch tilt screen is also touch sensitive, and, like the D500, can be used in Live View mode to calibrate the autofocus on the attached lens. Despite the addition of the enhanced screen, the D7500 is five-percent lighter than the D7200, weighing 1 pound and 6.6 ounces. The optical viewfinder has a bright OLED for easy-to-read info along the bottom.

The Nikon D7500 will sell for $50 more than the list price the D7200 had when first launched – a slight premium for what is a “baby D500.” Expect a release date of this summer, and a price of $1,250 (body only) or $1,750 with the Nikkor 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR kit lens.

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