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Nikon D500 versus Canon 70D

The Nikon D500 and the Canon EOS 70D are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2016 and July 2013. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 20.7 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 20 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Nikon D500 vs Canon 70D

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D500 and the Canon 70D. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the D500 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Nikon D500 vs Canon 70D
Compare D500 versus 70D top
Compare D500 and 70D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 70D is notably smaller (14 percent) than the Nikon D500. Moreover, the 70D is markedly lighter (12 percent) than the D500. 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D500) and the Canon EF Lens Catalog (70D).

Concerning battery life, the D500 gets 1240 shots out of its EN-EL15 battery, while the 70D can take 920 images on a single charge of its LP-E6 power pack.

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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Nikon D500» 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Canon 70D« 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 80D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199 i i
Canon G3 X« » 4.8 in 3.0 in 4.1 in 25.9 oz 300 Y Jun 2015 999 i i
Canon 7D II« » 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon 60D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399- i
Nikon D7500« » 5.4 in 4.1 in 2.9 in 25.4 oz 950 Y Apr 2017 1,299 i i
Nikon D3400« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499 i i
Nikon D5« » 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i
Nikon D5500« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 14.8 oz 820 n Jan 2015 899- i
Nikon D7200« » 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199- i
Nikon D750« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299 i i
Nikon D7100« » 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 950 Y Feb 2013 1,199- i
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon D600« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i
Nikon D300S« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 70D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the D500, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon D500 vs Canon 70D

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the 70D is 8 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.5 (D500) and 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D500 and Canon 70D sensor measures

With 20.7MP, the D500 offers a slightly 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 somewhat more recent model (by 2 years and 6 months) than the 70D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. 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.

D500 versus 70D MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the D500 provides substantially higher image quality than the 70D, with an overall score that is 15 points higher. This 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Nikon D500» APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
Canon 70D« APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
Canon 80D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
Canon G3 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.412.352163
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
Canon 60D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
Nikon D7500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.314.0148386
Nikon D3400« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
Nikon D5« » Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
Nikon D5500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0143884
Nikon D7200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387
Nikon D750« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693
Nikon D7100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.213.7125683
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
Nikon D600« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.2298094
Nikon D300S« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the D500 provides a higher video resolution than the 70D. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D500 vs Canon 70D

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D500 and the 70D 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D500, the Canon 70D, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Nikon D500»optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n
Canon 70D«optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n
Canon 80D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n
Canon G3 X« »- n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 2000 5.9 Y Y
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n
Canon 60D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 8000 5.3 Y n
Nikon D7500« »optical Y 3.2 922 tilting Y 8000 8.0 Y n
Nikon D3400« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D5« »optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 8000 14.0 n n
Nikon D5500« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D7200« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D750« »optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 4000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D7100« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D600« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 Y n
Nikon D300S« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 7.0 Y n

The D500 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the 70D has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 70D was succeeded by the Canon 80D.

Review summary: Nikon D500 vs Canon 70D

So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D500 better than the Canon 70D or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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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 assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2.4 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
  • 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.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1240 versus 920) on a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 6 months of technical progress since the 70D launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 70D:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More compact: Is smaller (139x104mm vs 147x115mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 105g or 12 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in July 2013).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D500 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

D500 11:07 70D

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the D500 and the 70D in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Nikon D500»HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Canon 70D«HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 80D« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199 i i
Canon G3 X« »Rec-4.5/53.5/54/5 Jun 2015 999 i i
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon 60D« »Rec79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399- i
Nikon D7500« »HiRec86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2017 1,299 i i
Nikon D3400« »Rec76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499 i i
Nikon D5« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i
Nikon D5500« »Rec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jan 2015 899- i
Nikon D7200« »HiRec84/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199- i
Nikon D750« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299 i i
Nikon D7100« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2013 1,199- i
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon D600« »HiRec87/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i
Nikon D300S« »HiRec82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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