Some Early Thoughts on the D7500

Here are a few early thoughts I've had about the D7500 versus my old D7000. They are very similar cameras in terms of basic handling, navigation, and configuration. But there are a number of little differences, especially in terms of performance.

First, things I'm really liking:
  • The image quality is noticeably improved. Sharper, nicer colors, and more predictable exposure. And subjectively, I'd say there's about one stop worth of improvement in high ISO noise as well. 
  • The auto-focus system is markedly improved. This shouldn't be surprising since among Nikons, only the D500, D850, and D5 have a more capable auto-focus system. But the bottom line is that it's a lot faster, easier (to achieve desired results), and more accurate than the D7000. 
  • The 180K pixel metering sensor has really improved 3D focus tracking. In addition to its primary job of calculating exposure, the metering sensor is also used by the tracking system to identify and track targets by color. The 180K sensor resolution (versus 2016 pixels on the D7000) enables 3D tracking to be much more reliable now, especially when tracking people (i.e. things with skin tones). It's incredibly accurate and works wonders for getting action shots of the kids. 
  • Shooting bursts of continuous shots is a gas! It's so much faster. And loaded with an SD card that can keep pace, the speed at which the buffer is cleared is phenomenal. (And the D7500 is actually limited to UHS-1 cards!) I'm used to having to wait for the D7000 to finish chewing and swallowing its food. But the D7500 eats like my dog (RIP) did – no thoughtful chewing, just a mad race to get it down the gullet as fast as possible and then ask for more. Now, I know that that's mostly the card and not the camera, but my old camera was even more card-bound so it's still a novel sensation to me. The speed makes me want to shoot sports, which I've never really had the desire to do before.
  • I'm not sure exactly when Nikon introduced this to the D7x00 line, but I really appreciate the small improvements they made to the Auto ISO sensitivity settings. In particular the "AUTO" setting for minimum shutter speed saves me a lot of time when zooming or switching lenses. 
  • When I'm shooting manual, having the ISO button on the top plate is great. This is really where it belongs. It makes it a lot easier to use without removing your eye from the viewfinder.
  • Highlight-weighted metering is a nice little tool in the belt. It has practical applications for certain shooting scenarios, and it can make ETTR easier in those situations where it makes sense.
Things I'm not liking so much:
  • The single card slot. For me, this is the most significant regression of the D7500 versus previous versions. I've never had a card failure, but I do like the security of having the camera write duplicate images onto two cards. Not having a 2nd card feels a bit like driving without a seat belt.
  • This isn't really unique to the D7500, but I've never really liked the placement of the Fn1 button at bottom of the finger well next to the grip. See, I grow out my nails a bit on my middle, ring, and little fingers because I'm a hybrid picker on guitar. The placement at the bottom of the well means you have to push the button with the very tip of your finger and my longer nails make that hard to do, especially holding the button down. I wish the button were somewhere where I could press it with the flat of my finger rather than the tip.
Some helpful tips I've discovered: 
  • In the past, Nikon has been known to shakedown customers on their over-priced batteries by making cameras incompatible with 3rd party batteries. I'd read on Thom Hogan's blog that all of the 3rd party batteries he'd tried with the D7500 had failed. Well, I'm happy to report at least one that works: My Duracell EN-EL15 worked like a champ. I'd bought it not too long ago for my D7000 so I'm glad it can be pressed into service with the new camera. The Duracell isn't the cheapest EN-EL15 replacement available but it's still almost half the price of the Nikon version.
  • The Nikon manual says that highlight-weighted metering only works with Nikkor G, E, and D type lenses. I had feared that that limitation would rule out my 3rd party lenses. However, I've verified that it works with my Sigma 18-35mm. (Before you ask: I did tests that convinced me it wasn't just defaulting to center-weighted, as it is designed to do with incompatible lenses.) I think as long as the lens has a CPU that will transmit the information the camera needs to do its thing, it will work. Exactly what that information is, I can't say.

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