For little under a decade, the Nikon D90/D7K series has been the jumping point for those who were looking to move into the major leagues.
Or for those looking to move down and still get a DSLR with pro-akin performance at an affordable price.
Today, the price gap between the prosumer D7K series and the semi-pro Nikon D500 is in the order of 50% (USD 600) or more, while the differences in performance and operability are probably only appreciable to those of us who really put a camera through its paces.
With the launch of the D7500, Nikon has changed all that.
The marketing department, with its long-standing track record of navel staring, decided that the D7200 is too good to be true (which it is), too much akin to the D500, and ought to be stripped down.
Remember that, while the D500 is undoubtedly an outstanding camera, the company disappointed many of its fans taking close to 9 years for the D500 to replace the venerable D300, while advancing decidedly with the D7K series.
Thus placing a serious incentive on acquiring one of these, rather than shelling out for more expensive, sometimes handicapped, baby FX models such as the D600.
Although the D500 outshines the D7200 with a more sophisticated AF system (Multi-CAM 20K), inherited from the D5, a better processing engine (Expeed 5 vs. 4), a better buffer, and maybe a slightly more thorough build, the much cheaper camera has little else to envy its bigger sister.
Least of all its odd double card set-up with one XQD- and one SDHC slot.
Thus, we have to blame the D500, in a way, for the D7500’s strip-down in good, old, Nikon fashion.
One: the camera is now built entirely out of plastic, with the same Monocoque design as the post 2013 D3K and D5K series models.
Although the 120g weight reduction may seem like an incentive, it is due to Nikon doing away with magnesium alloy on the top and rear covers.
Still think that’s a win?
Two: resolution has been lowered from 24 to 20 Mp. True, reviewers talk about the D7500’s larger pixel pitch, but fact of the matter is that a tad less noise at higher ISO’s is not the incentive it used to be to buy or upgrade. 4 Mp. more resolution, on the other hand, might be.
Three: the D7500 no longer supports (metering with) non-CPU lenses. Be aware of this if you want to keep using manual focus AI or AI-S glass.
Four: the second card slot has been eliminated. Even though in 20 years of practice memory cards never have failed on me, the idea that all is backed up on a second card feels surprisingly reassuring. Doing without it, at this point, feels like an oversight.
Five: no connection for a battery pack, no NFC, Wifi implementation through Snapbridge is reportedly sloppy. It’s called Snap for something, right?
Six: monitor resolution has been reduced from 1229K to 922K dots. I must point out that I believe resolution has not been lowered but that, most likely, the white-dot has been eliminated. I.e.: that the screen has been downgraded from RGBW to RGB.
The reason I believe this to be so, is that at the launch of the D7100 the jump in the opposite direction was touted as – and is – a significant improvement.
As a result, the D7500 screen will likely be less readable in bright light.
Seven: in spite of all this, the D7500 still has the same launch price as the D7100 and D7200. C’mon!
Bonus: the D7200 scores better overall on DXO Mark, and is USD 250 cheaper (at the time of writing).
Nikon may feel they have done a good job launching a camera with a slightly higher shooting speed, Expeed 5, one EV higher max. ISO, 4K video (at a stupoid 2,25x crop), a welcome, but limited articulating monitor screen and an improved buffer but, overall, the D7500 is a lesser god, IMHO.
Tiny, little touch-screen, anyone?
Meanwhile, the competition is not sitting still.
Although Sony, for example, must still prove that its 79-point 4D focusing system can outperform Nikon’s eleven-year-old AF51, it looks promising, at least on paper.
Especially in a 600-dollar camera like the Alpha 68, where Nikon is not even close to close.
When people start to move up from P&S or entry level cameras, their most likely target is a camera in the USD 1.000 ballpark bracket, where, in the case of Nikon, the D7K series is a natural option.
However, I find myself increasingly recommending against the D7500 in favor of the D7200 and, in general, proposing to explore alternatives other than Nikon, as well.
Until this decisive moving-up moment, users are unlikely to have a heavy investment in lenses and other peripherals and switching cost is low.
But as soon as one commits to well over USD 1.000, the deal is done. Add one or two better lenses, and tie-in into the eco-system is virtually inevitable and, most likely, for life.
Unlike its predecessors, the D7500 is doing a poor job in this aspect, because Nikon apparently does not understand the importance of maintaining excellence in this crucial category.
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