Gear

Nikon D500 vs Nikon D7200 – Which To Buy?

When the Nikon D500 was announced at CES 2016 Nikon fans around the world might have felt a subconscious rush of blood to the head (or groin, depending where your mind is at).

After all, here at last is Nikon’s competitor to the Canon 7D Mk II—an APS-C camera that takes the essence of the FX flagship D5 and boils it down into a saucy stock, brimming with spice.

But for Nikon fans, the question is whether or not existing users need the upgrade, and whether neutrals on the fence should take the golden leap to DX.

Design

The new D500 is quite rugged (left), while the D7200 is rounder (right).

If the D7200 is an advanced camera packed into a consumer body, the D500 is a professional workhorse trapped in the body of a young colt.

Both cameras are weather-sealed and made of magnesium alloy with some carbon fiber; Nikon claims the D500 has the same level of weather-sealing as the D810, but the D7200 doesn’t lack in that department either.

Nikon DSLRs generally don’t vary that much, although it’s notable that the D500 will have more controls on the exterior of the body for less menu delving. Both LCD viewing screens are 3.2″, although the tiltable nature of the D500’s 2,359k-dot screen will naturally give a better performance.

At 760g and 147 x 115 x 81mm, the D500 is a little bigger than the D7200, which sits at 675g and 136 x 107 x 76mm.

Image Quality

Obviously both of these cameras will give you excellent quality images, and the D7200 even has a higher resolution. But does that mean it’s the better camera for you?

As you may have imagined, the answer is no. While the D7200 does have around 3 more megapixels, the difference is negligible even when making large prints. Most importantly, the D500 has a new image sensor in the EXPEED 5, while the ISO range is larger and most likely cleaner at the higher ranges.

In terms of video, the D500 has 4K capability at 30fps, while the D7200 maxes out at 1920 x 1080p. Realistically, both cameras will not be fantastic for dedicated video, but at least they’ll have the potential to shoot high resolution clips.

D500D7200
Simultaneous recording to memory card and external readerX
Flat picture control
Power aperture controlX
Electronic VRX
Save image as still frame4K: 3840 x 2160 JPEG FineHD: 1920 x 1080 JPEG Fine

Autofocus and Burst

Here’s where the differences really start to show, and where the D500 starts to justify costing around $1,000 more than the D7200.

To put it simply, the two cameras are in a different league when it comes to use in action photography. The Nikon D500 has the same autofocus system as the D5, with the 153 AF points (99 cross type) vs a measly 51 AF points on the D7200 (15 cross type).

The D500 also proves to be a real gatling gun; it has a huge raw image buffer depth and is able to shoot 79 NEFs at 10fps without stuttering, while the D7200 can shoot 18 NEFs at 6fps.

Conclusion

Considering the D500 is the newer camera, it’s obviously “better”, but the truth is that if you are shopping for your first body, the D7200 + 2 great lenses is better than a D500 without any glass.

The D7200 will take great photos, and won’t be awful in sports situations. After all, remember that even in 1908 photographers were stopping motion with skill, not just their equipment.

An athlete dismounting off a pommel horse in the 1908 London Summer Olympics.

That being said, if you have the money or your interests lie in capturing quick moving subjects, grab the D500. It’s got the fastest tracking and speed at that price range, and will even work as an excellent second camera for many FX shooters due to the 1.5x crop range.

In fact, its specs are so good that unless users plan to upgrade to FX full frame, the D500 might be the only camera you’ll need for the next decade.

But let’s be honest. For gearwhoruses like us, the chances of that happening are next to none.

Nikon D500Nikon D7200
Price$ 1,389.00$ 709.00
Resolution20.9 MP24.2 MP
Image SensorEXPEED 5EXPEED 4
Image Sensor FormatDXDX
ISO Range100-51,200 (Expandable to 50-1,640,000)100-25,600 (Expandable to 102,400)
AF Points15351
Continuous BurstMax 10fps (DX)Max 6fps (DX)
Viewfinder Frame CoverageApprox. 100%, Magnification: 1.0xApprox. 100%, Magnification: .94x
Buffer Capacity:(NEF) Lossless compressed: 200 shots, (NEF) Lossless uncompressed: 79 shots(NEF) Lossless compressed: 18 shots, (NEF) Lossless uncompressed: N/A
Video4K @ 30fps1920x1080p @30fps
LCD SpecsTilting 3.2″ Touch Screen3.2″
LCD Resolution2,359k-dot1,229k-dot
Weight760g675g