Both the Nikon D500 and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II are the flagship APS-C DSLRs from the two giants of digital camera manufacturing. So how do they compare?
The EOS 7D Mark II, released in 2014, is a compelling upgrade from the 7D, with 65 autofocus points and a 10 frames per second continuous shooting speed.
Available in March 2016, the Nikon D500 is a more affordable cropped-sensor version of the full-frame professional Nikon D5. It shares much of the technology of the FX-format camera, including a 153-point AF system and 4K/UHD video recording.
How does the new Nikon D500 shape up versus the established EOS 7D Mark II? We’ve put together a list of 12 key features and performance areas where the premium Canon and Nikon DSLRs can be compared.
Nikon D500 vs Canon EOS 7D Mark II: 1 Sensor and image processing
The Nikon D500’s DX-format CMOS sensor offers a resolution of 20.9MP. As a result it produces images that are almost the same size as the Canon 7D Mark II’s 20.2MP CMOS sensor.
As with other APS-C DSLRs in the Nikon and Canon ranges, the Nikon D500’s sensor offers a focal length multiplier effect of x1.5 whereas the EOS 7D Mark II’s slightly smaller sensor has a focal length multiplier of x1.6.
At the heart of the EOS 7D Mark II is a Dual Digic 6 image processor, while the D500 is the first DX-format DSLR to get Nikon’s new Expeed 5 engine. Both processors enable fast frame rates and enhanced high ISO performance.
Nikon D500 vs Canon EOS 7D Mark II: 2 Autofocus
The Nikon D500 is like a baby D5, with the same Multi-CAM 20K autofocus sensor module and 153 AF point array. There are 99 cross-type sensors and 15 sensors in the centre area that work down to f/8. As with Nikon’s flagship FX-format camera, only 55 of the AF points (including 35 cross-type and 9 f/8 sensors) can be manually selected.
While the Canon EOS 7D Mark III offers fewer AF points, all 65 of them are available for selection. They’re all cross-type, with the centre point being an extra-sensitive dual cross-type point at f/2.8, and cross-type at f/8.
In terms of headline numbers, the D500 edges it here.
The D500’s autofocus detection range is listed as -4 to +20EV (at 20°C, ISO 100) whereas Canon state that the EOS 7D Mark II’s working range is -3 to +18EV (at 23°C, ISO 100).
Again, on paper at least, the D500 beats the EOS 7D Mark II, although its AF capability only extends down to -4EV with the centre AF point – with all other AF points it’s -3EV, the same as Canon’s camera.
Nikon D500 vs Canon EOS 7D Mark II: 3 Metering
Befitting its ‘baby D5’ credentials, the Nikon D500 features the same new 180k-pixel RGB sensor as Nikon’s flagship full-frame DSLR. The next DX-format down the range, the D7200, has a 2,016-pixel RGB sensor.
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II uses a 150k-pixel metering sensor, and a 252-zone evaluative metering array.
The D500’s metering range for matrix or centre-weighted is -3 to 20EV. Canon lists the EOS 7D Mark II’s metering range as a slightly less impressive 0 to 20EV.
Four metering modes are offered by the EOS 7D Mark II, including a spot metering option that measures just 1.8% of the centre of the viewfinder.
The D500’s four metering patterns are a little more flexible overall. Yes, its spot-metering circle is a less refined 2.5% of the frame, but this is based on the selected AF point rather than being locked to the centre of the viewfinder, as in the EOS 7D Mark II.
It also enables the weighting of its centre-weighted metering option to be adjusted in size.
Nikon D500 vs Canon EOS 7D Mark II: 4 ISO
The Nikon D500’s native ISO is 100-51,200, which can be expanded to give the equivalent to ISO 50-1,640,000.
Up against the D500, the Canon EOS 7D Mark II looks underpowered in the sensitivity department – on paper, at least. Its standard ISO range is 100-16,000, which can be expanded up to ISO 51,200 equivalent.
Quite how good or ungood the quality of a D500 photo taken at ISO 1.6 million is remains to be seen. But it still has the low-light advantage, with its highest standard ISO setting being the same as the EOS 7D Mark II’s maximum expanded setting.
Nikon D500 vs Canon EOS 7D Mark II: 5 Shooting speed
The Nikon D500 offers a shutter speed range of 30sec -1/8000sec, adjustable in 1/3 or 1/2 increments, which the Canon EOS 7D Mark II matches.
The two cameras are equally matched in terms of continuous shooting speed, too. Capable of shooting continuous bursts at up to 10 frames per second, both the D500 and EOS 7D Mark II are no slouches.
Nikon lists the D500’s buffer capacity as 200 14-bit RAW files with lossless compression or 79 uncompressed RAW files.
The EOS 7D Mark II can record up to 31 14-bit RAW files at 10 frames per second, although it can record an infinite number of JPEGs at this speed according to Canon’s tests.
SEE MORE: Nikon D5 hands-on review
Nikon D500 vs Canon EOS 7D Mark II: 6 Video recording
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II features Full HD 1080p movie recording and high-speed 60fps shooting for slow-motion playback. As is expected for a camera at this level, mic and headphone sockets offer monitoring and control over the audio recording level as you shoot.
Like the full-frame Nikon D5, the Nikon D500 packs 4K/UHD movies. However, 4K video recording on the D500 is achieved through a substantial crop of the already cropped sensor – good for wildlife filming, perhaps, but not so great when you need to squeeze more of a landscape into the frame or when you’re filming indoors.
But this is still an additional element of futureproofing that the Canon lacks.
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