First Impressions

As I did with the D5 and D500 when they first came out, I'm going to do a brief set of articles blog-style during my initial testing of the D7500. 

Today I'm going to just work my way around the body with some first impressions. 

At first glance, the D7200 and D7500 bodies look alike. On closer examination, you see all the small changes that Nikon has made, some of which are significant. For the most part, button/control positions are unchanged. The obvious ones are the addition of the ISO button behind the shutter release (the metering button that was there goes to be the overloaded zoom in button), and the Info/I button swap (info now in the left stack of buttons on the back, i by the Live View, which is exactly opposite of the D7200). 

One thing that did strike me is that the Direction pad is slightly lower on the back of the D7500 than the D7200. It's not a big change, but it's one that absolutely feels different.  I'll have to see how that works out in shooting, but moving the focus cursor down the body is not going to work if you're trying to one-hand the camera. 

Up top, there's less information on the LCD than before, with Nikon opting to move a lot of the setting indicators down to the rear LCD (Shooting Information screen). I'm not excited about that, either, but it's a trend Nikon started a while ago, and I'd guess that cost cutting will eventually send the top LCD packing completely. 

No hot shoe cover, another trend Nikon's cost cutting has provoked, though you still get the ubiquitous "please advertise Nikon carrying strap." 

The initial impression is that the rear LCD is bigger, but it's not. You're reacting to the tilt mechanism, which forms a border around the actual display. There's no selfie mode for the tilt mechanism—I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing—and it's much better at tilting up than down. What immediately pleases me is that we've touch-control menus back, including very fast page-based swipe scrolling in the menus. Why this isn't on the D500 I don't know. It makes it very easy to rapidly find and change one of the many menu items.

The three door system over the external connections on the left side of the camera has become a two door system. Worse, it's not a well thought out one, the same problem the D7200 had. If you're using the D7500 for video, you'll probably have both doors open because the mic and headphone connectors are under different doors. Nikon's gotten this wrong on a number of cameras now, so I guess it's to be expected. But really the remote control and USB connector should be under one door, the video stuff under a different door. 

Another thing that's now wrong is the offset shoulder strap locations. The right-hand strap holder is behind the center of gravity of the body, the left-hand one just about on it (and forward of the right-hand one). Moreover, we've lost the triangular rotating strap hangers. Now we've just got a simple open metal bar to thread through. More cost cutting.

The missing vertical grip support is interesting. The body bottom clearly looks as though it were originally molded to include something else. Instead of the full faux grip pattern, there are two points within the pattern where the mold appears to have been modified. The battery door is the usual removable one. But there are no positions either on the body bottom or inside the battery chamber for addition control connections. 

The curious thing about the missing grip is that Nikon, Fujifilm, and others have all discovered that doing a camera+grip bundle at discount is a way to move product without giving up too much gross product margin. They won't be able to do that with the D7500 this Christmas, so I wonder how Nikon will create and price a bundle to move product after the initial demand has been placated. 

Moving onto the other grip—the one you usually wrap your right hand around—the D7500 follows the recent Nikon DSLR pattern of a deeper finger well. I don't sense much difference to the basic shape of the grip itself, but if you've got longer fingers you won't be crunching up against the body with your fingertips. On the other hand, the Fn1 button is a long reach now for someone with shorter fingers.  

Overall, the D7200 and D7500 are remarkably similar in most ways. With both sitting on my desk at the moment, it often takes me a moment to recognize which is which. The rear LCD is one giveaway, the ISO button the other. But other than those two obvious clues, the family resemblance is very, very close. 

Yes, plenty of folk are still put off by the "missing elements" (vertical grip option, second card slot, missing 4mp, etc.) that have provoked a lot of angst among the Nikon faithful. I'm much more curious about how it "shoots" though. That's what's up next on my list of things to do.

Aside: some of you have asked me how the new Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5 performs on a DX body. Since that's what's currently mounted on my D7500 I can tell you. At the mark between 10 and 12mm, you get the equivalent to the 10.5mm DX fisheye: 180° diagonally. You can get pretty close to 10mm before the corners start to clip, so I'm finding I can get slightly more coverage than the 10.5mm gives me. Quite obviously you can go the other way and "zoom in" to 15mm. At the point you still have extreme barrel distortion, but with about 110° from corner to corner diagonally. That's slightly less wide than the 14mm (114°), but not enough difference to pay any attention to. If you zoom out to 8mm on a DX body, you'll see a horizontal capture with semicircle extensions at top and bottom center. This almost gives you an unclipped 16:9 crop. I'd judge the widest you can get a 16:9 frame completely filled is about 9.5mm. 

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