Hello IFC! I’ve recently undergone a fairly large equipment upgrade. The old FZ-70 has gone and I’ve swapped in a D7500 and a budget telephoto zoom. Before it gets too cold up here to go spotting, I wanted to give it a test run. Sadly, it was a very dreary, decently humid day in Toronto (pretty much the most unideal conditions for spotting), but it was a good test for the camera. I’ll give thoughts later but for now let’s get to the pictures. If you like them, consider dropping me a follow at: https://www.instagram.com/cyyz.spotting/?hl=en
Quick disclaimer: I will be posting the rest of my FZ-70 pictures first so that I don’t end up with this quality gap between my photos. These will probably be up sometime in February.
Lens: Nikkor AF-P 70-300mm F/4.5-6.3E ED DX VR
Time: 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm Local (EST)
Click for full resolution
Thoughts on Camera and Lens
Warning: this section is lengthy
The D7500 is definitely a strong performer across the board, even after my first time using it (or was it because it was just so huge of an upgrade?). It’s very much an action focused camera, shoots 8 FPS bursts although I wouldn’t recommend shooting aircraft with that because 1) it’s not necessary and 2) it kind of messes with the autofocus. You can configure it into Continuous Low mode and set it to shoot 5 FPS which is what I did. No need to worry about the buffer, you can shoot up to 50 raw images and unlimited jpgs without taking your finger off the shutter (which you would normally never hit, ever). Autofocus performance is solid, even as light levels started dropping. I found 3D tracking to be the most effective (AF-C mode, of course). As many other internet reviews will tell you, high(er) ISO performance is strong, especially for an APS-C camera. Towards the end I pushed ISO1000 and it wasn’t bad at all, just a little noisy, and easily fixable by applying a bit of noise reduction while editing. As an example, these 5 shots were taken with ISO400-ISO640, and no noise reduction was applied to them. Battery performance is also strong, it’s rated for 950 shots, but I shot over 1100 (in quick bursts) and I used about 50% of the battery (and it was cold, which kills battery life). If I had one complaint, it would be that while this camera is sturdy feeling, it’s heavy. I don’t know if it’s just because my old camera was a point and shoot and pretty light but this thing with the (light) lens weighs nearly twice as much as my old one. It’s not tiring or anything, just something I noticed.
The lens I was very satisfied with as well. It’s fairly sharp, light and easy to use, and is CHEAP. That last point is the main thing with this lens. It’s bang for your buck. I bought the lens (new), a UV filter, and a lens hood for $160 USD (free shipping too). For the quality you get it’s an incredible price. I’ve heard from fellow spotters that in Canada it’s much more expensive (nearing $350 CAD), but I’m not from Canada so I wouldn’t know. One complaint with this lens: Its aperture range isn’t ideal, especially up at the higher zooms. 6.3 just isn’t great, but for the price you can’t complain. And I think that’s to be said about a lot of things about this lens. For that price, you can’t complain. Sure, there are sharper lenses out there for APS-C cameras (Nikkor 70-200mm, Tamron and Sigma 150-600) and lenses with better aperture (the F/4 and F/2.8s), but those can cost up to 10x the amount of this one.
All in all, this combo is just great value. The D7500 (along with the D500, EOS 80D and 7D) are considered the kings of the mainstream APS-C DSLR cameras. As always, you’re going to need to poke around for the best price, but I got mine for $849 USD body only, which is what I would recommend doing, as bundles with this thing run easily up to $1700 and the kit lens included (18-140mm, I believe) isn’t as sharp as the 70-300mm and is definitely, 100% NOT worth doubling the price. If you’re a video shooter I wouldn’t get this camera as the 80D is far superior in that matter.
That wraps up my last spotting trip of the year. I’ll definitely be back next year (hopefully when it’s actually sunny!!). Tell me what you thought of these pictures by dropping me a reply!