Honest camera review: Nikon D7500

Quick disclaimer: I buy my cameras with my own money. No corporations has a saying in what I write here. It’s 100% independent.

Nikon D7500 with 600mm f/4 VRII in Singapore

Ten years of “amelioration”. That’s what Nikon wants YOU to believe. Forget the D7500. Get a D800 or a D300 or a D5600 and call it a day.

D7500 on the left and D300 on the right. The good old back design on the D300 is the absolute best, although the D7500 feels definitely snappier.

D7500 on the left and D300 on the right. The good old back design on the D300 is the absolute best, although the D7500 feels definitely snappier.

Honest review of the D7500

I wrote about it on various forums and on reddit a while ago: The Nikon D7500 does not have a great sensor (and so does the D500). I’m on the road at the moment, I don’t have access to a whole bunch of files, so some of what I am going to write is to be taken as an opinion without proof. I need access to my external hard disk drive to be able to give you some RAW files…sorry about that. Anyway.

I have shot various Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fuji and Olympus bodies over the years, from entry level D3300 to D4s and 5Ds. Here’s the kicker with the 20 megapixel sensor resting in the D7500/D500 body: It gives some waxy-texture to RAW files at very low ISO.

Yes, the D7500 has crazy good high ISO. I mean, one can get some decent shot at 25 600 or even 51 200. But there’s something off about that sensor that I was never able to put exactly my finger on. I was able to take amazing shots with it, so it isn’t a deal breaker like the Pen-F and its sensor, that’s for sure. But it isn’t true that a D500/D7500 is a better choice than a D850 on crop mode. The D850’s output is SO MUCH BETTER. This is a fact. I am writing this post for all of those who google “Nikon D850 in crop mode vs Nikon D500 for wildlife”. My answer to you is: Get the D850 and never look back.

Nikon D7500 + 300mm f/2.8 VR wide open, Tombstone National Park, Yukon Territory

51 200 ISO. Hand-held photo of the northern lights. Amazing.

Some of you might think that I am asking too much…or that I am complaining for no reasons…here’s the thing: those files…those pictures are too clinical…too sharp in the weird way, too not-what-I-want-out-of-a-camera.

It’s like the Fuji famous wax problem with the RAW files, but Nikon style. It is taboo on the internet: It used to be a popular search on google “Wax + Nikon + D500 + files” and now there is no result. That’s right. It got…purged!? There is no more Dpreview threads or reddit threads on the topics appearing on Google search. How weird is that? Try it for yourself.

It is very hard for my readers to notice how bad the waxing effect is. But it’s everywhere, from ISO 400 all the way up. I truly wanted to love this body, just like I truly wanted to like that Pen-F of mine. It is an incredible package and people have taken impressive pictures. So please, I am not saying DO NOT BUT this camera, as it as a lot of awesome features, such 8 frame per second with what feels like unlimited buffer, speedy menu, awesome autofocus, and lightweight body. I would probably have kept it if I had room for a fifth DSLR in my bag, but I don’t, and so it went away.

  • The D800E just produce better file, all the time, without exception. 4 FPS or 6 FPS in crop mode is plenty.

  • The Df is awesome. Nothing bad to say. My all time favourite body.

  • The X-Pro2 is incredible. True workhorse. Love the colours.

  • The XE1 is a fun camera at party. I keep it handy, with a 23mm f/2 attached.

  • The Canon QL19 is my poor man’s Leica camera. Love that thing so much.

  • The Nikon D300 is my birding camera. Love the results.

  • The Nikon F5 is a great conversation starter.

So even though the D7500 has better feature on paper, it just wasn’t for me, for the simple reason that it did not offer better image quality than the D300 under ISO 800 in real life scenario, nor a better autofocus system than the D300 or D800E or Df. That’s real life scenario, such as doing a safari photo in South Africa, chasing wild monkeys in remote park on Borneo island or deep into the wild of the Bolivian jungle or Alaskan wilderness. Of course, some lab tech will disagree with me, that the D7500 should be better than all of my other cameras, but that is not the case. I buy my cameras with my own money. I travel with my own money. Nobody got a saying in I can write: I preach the truth, I preach an opinion that is with a precise agenda: To help normal, blue collar photographer (I work in the mining industry), with a no nonsense website where I review gear because I have so much time off and little things to do.

300mm f/2.8 VR at closest focusing distance, Nikon D7500.

300mm f/2.8 VR at closest focusing distance, Nikon D7500.

View of the arctic ocean by Tuktoyaktuk. Some photos and reporting from the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway roadtrip on the Dempster  can be found here .

View of the arctic ocean by Tuktoyaktuk. Some photos and reporting from the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway roadtrip on the Dempster can be found here.

Cooking buckwheat pancakes by the arctic ocean. Life’s good. 20mm f/1.4 Sigma Art on D7500. Notice how sharp it is.

HDR mode is great to have.

HDR mode is great to have.

Nikon D7500 + 2.0 tc II + 600mm f/4 VRII on tripod + 1.3x in-camera crop

I tried to love that thing so much. I mean, I spent $1300CAD on it. It did produce okay results sometimes…But what the hell!

I preferred the output of the Nikon D5600!

That is exactly the problem with the D7500/D500 cameras: There is such a massive amount of new photographer that started with the D7500 or D500 and think that’s these bodies are best that Nikon ever made, but that is simply wrong. Older photographers will remember about the D3 and D300. We know the output of these workhorses. We bought into Fuji X-Pro1 back in 2012 and were amazed at the colour renditions. Now in 2019, Nikon wants us to believe that the D7500 is peak camera but that’s simply wrong and that’s exactly why I sold it after only taken 10 000 shots with it: It never did any better than my other cameras, under normal ISO settings (under ISO 12 800)

I believe it is a mixture of dynamic range combined with a waxy-rendition of the files that lead me into dismissing the D7500 as simply a good-enough camera.

Unfortunately for me, or for Nikon, good-enough camera just doesn’t cut it in 2019. They are just way better cameras out there. And when you live your life from your suitcases, you can only bring so many cameras with you.

I made some stunning shot using the D7500 and I do not regret my purchase, but I was also glad to let go of it. I do think that a used D7200 will be better than a D7500 and cheaper. I think about getting a D850 for the summer…if I can justify it haha.

Thanks for reading,
JP

The ferry in Dawson City. 300mm f/2.8 VR

Mountains in Northern British Columbia. 20mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

ISO 25 600 at night. Pitch dark outside. 20mm f/1.4 wide open on Nikon D7500

Lil sister. 300mm f/2.8 wide open

Straight out of camera JPG.

Straight out of camera JPG.

Lil bird going out. 600mm f/4 VRII on D7500

Lil bird going out. 600mm f/4 VRII on D7500

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On the way out of Carcross, Yukon Territory. This grizzly shows up near the road.

On the way out of Carcross, Yukon Territory. This grizzly shows up near the road.

Almost 100% crop on D7500 with 300mm f/2.8 VR at ISO 2000. Amazing.

300mm f/2.8 VR with D7500