Canon 70D vs Nikon D500
The Canon EOS 70D and the Nikon D500 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2013 and January 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 20.7 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 70D and the Nikon D500? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 70D and the Nikon D500. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D500 is notably larger (17 percent) than the Canon 70D. Moreover, the D500 is markedly heavier (14 percent) than the 70D. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Yet, since both cameras are based around an APS-C sensor, their respective lenses will tend to have similar dimensions and heft. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (70D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D500).
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999||amazon.com|
|3.||Canon 80D||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon G3 X||123 mm||77 mm||105 mm||733 g||300||Y||Jun 2015||999||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D7500||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299||amazon.com|
|12.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||470 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D7200||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony RX10||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The 70D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the D500, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D500 is 9 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (70D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 20.7MP, the D500 offers a higher resolution than the 70D (20MP), but the D500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.22μm versus 4.11μm for the 70D) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D500 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 6 months) than the 70D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The 70D has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS 70D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D500 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-1640000.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D500 offers substantially better image quality than the 70D (overall score 15 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 2.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|4.||Canon G3 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.4||12.3||521||63|
|5.||Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|7.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D500 provides a better video resolution than the 70D. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 70D and the D500 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the D500 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 70D (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D500 has a higher magnification (0.67x vs 0.59x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 70D and Nikon D500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon 70D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon D500||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon 80D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon G3 X||optional||n||3.2 / 1620||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Canon T5||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Canon 6D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5/s||n||n|
|8.||Canon 60D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.3/s||Y||n|
|9.||Canon 7D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Canon 50D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.3/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D7500||optical||Y||3.2 / 922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D3400||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D5500||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D7200||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D7100||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Sony RX10||1440||Y||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 70D has one, while the D500 does not. While the built-in flash of the 70D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The 70D has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the D500 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Nikon D500 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 70D writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D500 uses SDXC or XQD cards. The D500 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 70D only has one slot. The D500 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the 70D can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 70D and Nikon D500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 70D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon 80D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon G3 X||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon 7D II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon T5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 6D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Canon 60D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 7D||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 50D||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D7500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|12.||Nikon D3400||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y|
|13.||Nikon D5500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D7200||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Nikon D7100||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony RX10||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the D500 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The 70D lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D500 (unlike the 70D) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The D500 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the 70D has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on ebay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 70D was succeeded by the Canon 80D. Further information on the features and operation of the 70D and D500 can be found, respectively, in the Canon 70D Manual (free pdf) or the online Nikon D500 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 70D better than the Nikon D500 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 70D:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (139x104mm vs 147x115mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 105g or 12 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in July 2013).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D500:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.4 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.67x vs 0.59x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 1040k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1240 versus 920) out of a single battery charge.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 6 months of technical progress since the 70D launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D500 is the clear winner of the contest (21 : 9 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 70D and the Nikon D500 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 70D or the D500 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||4.7/5||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999||amazon.com|
|3.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||4.5/5||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon G3 X||3.5/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||999||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 7D II||4.5/5||+||3.5/5||84/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D7500||4.5/5||+ +||4.5/5||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299||amazon.com|
|12.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||4/5||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D7200||4/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony RX10||5/5||+||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,299||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon 70D vs Nikon D500
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 70D||Nikon D500|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2013||January 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 1,199||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D500|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.5 x 15.0 mm||23.5 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||337.5 mm2||368.95 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||28.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||20.7 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||5568 x 3712 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.11 μm||4.22 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.91 MP/cm2||5.60 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||50 - 1,640,000 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5+||EXPEED 5|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||68||83|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.5||24.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.6||14.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||926||1324|
|Screen Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D500|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D500|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||7 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC or XQD cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D500|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D500|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||920 shots per charge||1240 shots per charge|
139 x 104 x 79 mm
(5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1 in)
147 x 115 x 81 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||755 g (26.6 oz)||860 g (30.3 oz)|
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