Nikon D7500 Field Test Part II
Nikon D7500 Field Test Part II
Once more unto the breach: Nikon's enthusiast DSLR heads back out for more day and night shooting!
By Mike Tomkins | Posted: 07/02/2017
A week or so back, I posted my first Field Test for the Nikon D7500, an enthusiast-oriented followup to the extremely popular D7200. (Not already had a chance to read that first report? If so, you'll want to start here and then return to this page when you're done.)
At the time, I noted that an unfortunate mistake on my part meant that I'd missed capturing any raw files for my first batch of shots, instead recording only compressed JPEGs. Hence, I wanted to return as quickly as I could with a second field test rectifying this.
With an overnight road trip to Cincinnati, Ohio planned anyway to take my son to see a show by his favorite YouTube celebrity, I took the D7500 along for the journey and shot a bunch of daylight photos. (After very, very carefully double-checking to be sure I enabled raw capture this time.)
And then on returning home to Knoxville, TN, I shot a bunch more images, starting from the golden hour and staying out and about until it was completely dark, so I could also add a new batch of low light photos to my gallery spanning most of the Nikon D7500's exceptionally broad sensitivity range. (I must admit that I struggled to find any subjects which were actually dark enough to make the most of the D7500's extreme high ISO capabilities when ISO expansion is enabled, though.)
The Nikon D7500's lack of dual card slots caught me out
Between shoots, I had to change cards because I'd already rattled off a full card's worth of shots just wandering around downtown Cincinnati. With the earlier D7200, I could have had two cards in the camera body and kept on shooting seamlessly after the first card filled, leaving it in the camera for safekeeping.
In the rush to get myself and my son out the door, I switched cards and left the already-filled one at home, reasoning that it would be less likely to get lost. On my return, though, I couldn't find hide or hair of it, which is why my gallery update (published a few days ago) lacks any shots from Cincinnati.
Eventually I found the card a couple of days later. It had slipped down between my inbox and the edge of the writing pad on my desk, where I missed it on my first few exploratory passes around the house and car. I could have used a much larger card when shooting in the first place of course, as the one from the first shoot was only a 16GB card. Based on bitter experience, though, I typically prefer to avoid the highest-capacity cards, sticking with 16GB or 32GB cards and reasoning that if they fail, I'll lose a lot fewer images per card. Having dual slots in the D7200 gave me the opportunity to do that; to get the same storage space out of the D7500 without switching cards, I'd have to use cards with double the capacity.
With the gallery already getting pretty large, I'm now hesitant to upload any of my shots from Cincinnati, as they're predominantly low ISO images similar to those I've already uploaded. Suffice it to say that I got quite a few keepers which I'm really happy with from the shoot. (Who knows, though, I may still upload a few of my faves alongside my final field test, which will be coming shortly.)
While I was out shooting in full sunlight with the Nikon D7500 once more, I remembered another thing I had intended to call attention to in my first field test. I was quite impressed with its outdoor LCD visibility, which even at default settings was reasonably visible even in direct sunlight.
It's probably not visible enough to accurately focus manually if sunlight is striking the screen directly, but it's certainly enough to frame accurately in live view mode, along as you're not shooting with the screen at an angle where you're getting glare from the sky. (But the tilting monitor helps with that for landscape-orientation shots.)
I should also mention the viewfinder a little more, something I meant to bring up in the first test. By APS-C DSLR standards it's a pleasure to use. It's roomy, bright and crisp, and quiet easy to focus through manually so long as light levels are reasonable. I also really like Nikon's on-demand overlays and status indications, which are very clear. They appear black when active, but are completely transparent when disabled, and when the shutter button is half-pressed they're briefly illuminated in red, ensuring visibility even against dark backgrounds.
I found one on-screen indication in particular grabbed my attention. The "Flicker" warning at the bottom right of the screen surprised me with its frequency, not only popping up when shooting scenes primarily lit by flickering light sources, but even when shooting outdoor scenes under somewhat bright skies which had flashing street signage in them. I'm quite impressed that flicker can be detected and accounted for even if the scene is predominantly illuminated by natural light.
The Nikon D7500 offers great image quality at night, too
And finally for my second field test, let's come back to that night shoot. I shot handheld all evening, predominantly using autofocus, and only focusing manually when shooting with extremely low-contrast or deeply shaded scenes. I think the D7500's autofocus system acquitted itself very well during the shoot, and so too did the exposure metering system, only slipping a little once I used the very highest expanded ISO sensitivities.
We've yet to assemble our formal image quality comparison for the Nikon D7500, but from my own real-world shooting, I'm happy to report that I found high ISO image quality to be very good for an APS-C camera, with the D7500 showing a noticeable step forward from the D7200 in this area.
I found noise and detail levels to be good right the way up to ISO 12,800-equivalent, and although beyond this point noise (and the artifacts of noise reduction) did start to intrude, I found even ISO 25,600 and 51,200-equivalents capable of yielding quite usable shots out-of-camera, too. Once the noise does appear, though, it's not the most film-like I've seen when viewed 1:1 on-screen.
As for its expanded high ISO capabilities, I must admit my personal suggestion would be to avoid them if at all possible. I felt the Hi-1 setting or thereabouts to be usable in a pinch, alhough it was prone to muted color, color casts and quite strong noise when viewed 1:1 on-screen. In the real world, I didn't really find the even-higher expanded sensitivities to be worth the tradeoff in terms of image quality. Nor could I easily find subjects which even needed such high sensitivities, honestly. Even when seeking out the lowest-light subjects I could find and shooting handheld, I still had to force the Auto ISO function to go higher up the range by stopping down the lens a bit.
But it's pretty normal for expanded sensitivities to come along with compromises like this, which is precisely why they're not available by default in the first place. Essentially, Nikon is saying "We don't think image quality is up to our standards beyond this point, but if you feel the need to do so, far be it from us to stop you." I like that approach, as it lets me factor my own personal tastes into the equation.
And that's it for this field test. If you've not already read my first field test, you'll want to hop back there for a look at daytime shooting. And in my third and final field test, you'll find discussion of how the D7500 handles some more active subjects, as well as of daylight and nighttime video capture, and face detection functionality, the latter being a reader request.
And don't forget to check out my gallery page for many, many more images shot with the Nikon D7500 in the real world, most of them including a raw version of the same scene as well. While you're at it, be sure to check out the results of our in-depth performance testing in the lab!