My first digital SLR was a Nikon D70, which was Nikon’s first mid-range DSLR. I then upgraded to the D200, D300 and finally the D600, before I called it a day and retired all my Nikon gear because I stopped shooting professionally.
The latest D7500 somewhat belongs to the same D70 mid-range lineage, which is a balance between entry-level and advanced-level models. When I took this in for a review, the camera fitted in with me easily. The good thing is that most of the buttons and the on-screen menu remained largely the same. The bad? Nothing major has changed after so many years. It could be a sign that the development of digital SLR has reached a plateau.
Fortunately, Nikon is not giving up on single lens reflex cameras yet. The number of DSLR users worldwide are still substantial, and Nikon remains one of the few companies that continues to develop digital SLRs. I still prefer to shoot through optical viewfinder, there is better visual connection with the subject, and shutter response feels more instinctive.
The latest D7000 series combines the best functions of both the previous-generation D7200 and the flagship DX camera, D500. This is not the first time Nikon does such mash-up, and in many times, existing owners felt displeased that newer DSLRs are better in many ways but at a lower price.
The D7500 retains the body design of the D7200, fits the sensor, metering and processing systems of the D500, and bumps the shooting speed to 8 fps, ISO 51200, supports 4K UHD resolution with electronic Vibration Reduction as well as uncompressed HDMI output. It only has a single SD slot, an odd downgrade from D7200 and D500 who both has 2 SD slots.
After so many years, the live view remains uncomfortably laggy, taking almost a second from shutter to capture, plus all the noisy mirror slapping sequences, sometimes I have no idea how many frames I have shot after all the sound it makes.
There is one particular feature that I find Nikon has done it right for the new-generation of smartphone-wielding consumers: real-time image transfer. In the past, I had to manually jump-start the connection before selecting images to download. During this brief connection, the phone loses data connectivity because it changes to the Wi-Fi network of the camera.
Thanks to low-power Bluetooth, the D7500 stays connected to the smartphone, just like how a smartwatch or a headphones would. When shots are taken, the D7500 communicates to the SnapBridge smartphone app and initiates the image transfer automatically. What this means is that as I shoot on the D7500, the images will be transferred progressively to the phone, ready for me to select and share them over social media. No longer do I need to re-take the same photo using smartphone camera just to share.
Looking at the images I shot on the D7500 reminds me fondly of my old Nikon DSLRs. There is the warm look from the images that is unmistakably Nikon. In any case, there are several picture control settings to suit your preference. Plus, one can edit the photos to death on post-processing software. Shooting in RAW is the surest way to ensure full manipulation of image data including white balance and exposure. You will be amazed how much image details you can recover.
The darling of D7500 has got to be the 8 fps shooting speed, allowing me to fire at will and pick the best shot. Obviously, you have to ensure you pan and shoot properly and shutter speed is fast enough to freeze the moment.
The 18-140mm (equivalent to 27-210mm on 35mm full-frame) is extremely versatile for the size. Thanks to the beefy design, the hands have enough room to hold and support the camera without getting into the way.
The variable aperture is a minor drawback but D7500 can deliver clean high ISO images while retaining colour accuracy. The image noise are relatively controlled and can be easily removed using software.
I envy the photographers of today. They can buy a mid-range DSLR like the D7500 at just S$1999 (body only) and enjoy advanced shooting capabilities, like 8 fps, ISO 51200, speedy image processing speed that can handle bursts of 50 RAW images. These days, there are fewer people who carries a bulky camera for casual events. But once a while I would see one slinging a DSLR around the neck, and I know that he or she is in for some good shots with proper depth of field and massive dynamic range. Smartphone cameras can capture memories, but only DSLRs can give that real photographic experience.
Thanks to Nikon Singapore for loaning the review unit.