Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Some Quick Thoughts about the Nikon D7500 Ergonomics

If all goes according to plan, there will be a full review of the Nikon D7500 late June or early July up on this site. But until now, some quick thoughts about the hand-holding and usability of the camera.

Body-wise, you can think of it as a D750 shrunk down to DX-size. The hand grip is deeper for those that like to curl their fingers in a little more around the grip. My guess is that most people will find this comfortable, but there will be those who prefer the more traditional feel of the fatter D7200-style grip. You cannot tell from pictures alone, but the shape of the grip puts the Fn1 button right at the tip of your middle finger. Some people will like this and others will hate it, either way, it is a tactile difference from the D7200. The lip on the front of the grip where you hook your middle finger under is fairly pronounced for a D7xxxx camera, but not as large as on the D500. There isn't much of a "hook" on the thumb-rest, but the deeper grip makes the camera secure in your hand. This makes it a good handling match when paired with something like a AF-S 200-500mm, but the D500 will feel more at home with the larger exotics like the AF-S 600mm FL.

The ISO button at the top of he camera by the LCD is a change that carries over from the D500. The reach to it is fairly comfortable, but there is something "Canon-like" in moving more controls over to the right side of the camera. I.e., the traditional Nikon layout was to press a button with your left hand and twirl a dial with your right, whereas Canon tends to put a large dose of the shooting controls onto the right hand side. The Canon way lets you change parameters easier with the camera held up to your eye, but also tends to place your fingers in more strained positions. The traditional Nikon way is much easier on your finger joints (at least my my opinion, but I did work in healthcare previously) but necessitates pulling the camera away from your face.  The D500 and D750 venture out from that, but not by much. To be honest, I prefer to use the easy ISO setting with the ISO control on the back dial during aperture priority, and find this more friendly on the fingers.

Fresh out of the box, the buttons and dials feel a bit tight. The quality of the click articulation is not as bad as the D5500/D5600 (very click-y, not soft), but it doesn't quite have the same up-scale feeling as on the D750 and up. I honestly can't remember if the D7200 is better in this regards, or if it's a case that the buttons loosen up with use and settle in with a better articulation feeling afterwards.

The tiny little SD card door-flap is disappointing, but it's something that can be lived with.  A lot of people have bemoaned the lack of the 2nd SD slot, but it can be worked around, especially considering the choice and availability of larger SD cards today.  Are two card slots a "pro-feature" that is missing on the D7500? For perspective, a D500 has an XQD and SD slot... if you are serious, you would use the XQD slot to get the full benefit of the camera, meaning that you would effectively have "one" serious card slot and one for backup. Same thing goes for D810 and Canon 5D Mark IV users with their mixed compact flash / SD slot bays.

The flip out screen is familiar if you've used a D750, no surprises there. Screen is okay, again no surprises. The number of dots is less but the resolution is the same as the D72000. We're back to RGB only LCD (D7000 era); the D7100 and D7200 had RGB+white, which made the screens brighter for outdoor use or lower power consuming for indoors. Under most lighting conditions, the D7500 screen is not noticeably different than the D7200, if I'm honest, and this will be especially true if you are parsimonious with the brightness setting. If you are counting dots, the D7500 is comparable to its contemporaries, the Fujifilm X-T2 and the Sony A6500.

You do notice the weight, or the amount cut compared to previous cameras. It doesn't make the camera feel "cheaper" or more "plastic-y"... just less dense. Its very much like how the D750 first felt; lighter than it should be, but once we got used to it there was no looking back. The drop in weight is very much welcome for this class of camera. This would be an ideal camera for DX primes... if there were such things. (Yes the AF-S 35mm DX is one.... one....)

Overall feeling? There is a lot to like about it. From a handling point of view, it feels like a camera that properly slots below the D500 and above the D5600, in other word, an traditional enthusiast-level DSLR.