PW

Sony A7 vs Nikon D500

The Sony Alpha A7 and the Nikon D500 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2013 and January 2016. The A7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D500 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a full frame (A7) and an APS-C (D500) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 20.7 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.


Headline Specifications
Sony A7   Nikon D500
Sony A7 Nikon D500
Mirrorless system camera Digital single lens reflex
Sony E mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
24 MP, Full Frame Sensor 20.7 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/60p Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 100-25600 (50-51200) ISO 100-51200 (50-1640000)
Electronic viewfinder (2400k dots) Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD, 1230k dots 3.2" LCD, 2359k dots
Tilting screen (no touchscreen) Tilting touchscreen
5 shutter flaps per second 10 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
340 shots per battery charge1240 shots per battery charge
127 x 94 x 48 mm, 474 g 147 x 115 x 81 mm, 860 g

Body comparison: Sony A7 vs Nikon D500

The physical size and weight of the Sony A7 and the Nikon D500 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the A7 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony A7 and Nikon D500
Compare A7 versus D500 top
Compare A7 or D500 rear

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 (42 percent) than the Sony A7. Moreover, the D500 is substantially heavier (81 percent) than the A7. 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D500). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony A7, have moreover the advantage that they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance and can thus use many lenses from other systems via adapters.

Concerning battery life, the A7 gets 340 shots out of its NP-FW50 battery, while the D500 can take 1240 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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)
Camera
Model
Sony A7» 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7
Nikon D500« 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Nikon D7500« » 5.4 in 4.1 in 2.9 in 25.4 oz 950 Y Apr 2017 1,299 i i Nikon D7500
Nikon D3400« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499- i Nikon D3400
Nikon D5500« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 14.8 oz 820 n Jan 2015 899- i Nikon D5500
Nikon D7200« » 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Nikon D300S« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799- i Nikon D300S
Panasonic GH4« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.3 in 19.8 oz 500 Y Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Samsung NX1« » 5.5 in 4.0 in 2.6 in 19.4 oz 500 Y Sep 2014 1,499- i Samsung NX1
Sony A7 III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i Sony A7 III
Sony A6300« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 17.2 oz 380 Y Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony RX1

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The A7 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 15 percent) than the D500, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony A7 vs Nikon D500

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A7 features a full frame sensor and the Nikon D500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D500 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Sony A7 and Nikon D500 sensor measures

With 24MP, the A7 offers a higher resolution than the D500 (20.7MP), but the A7 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 4.22μm for the D500) due to its larger sensor. However, the D500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 2 years and 2 months) than the A7, 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.

The A7 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during video recording.

The Sony Alpha A7 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-51200. 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..

A7 versus D500 MP

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 review, the A7 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the D500 (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Sony A7» Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890Sony A7
Nikon D500« APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483Nikon D500
Nikon D7500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.314.0148386Nikon D7500
Nikon D3400« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286Nikon D3400
Nikon D5500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0143884Nikon D5500
Nikon D7200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387Nikon D7200
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594Nikon D610
Nikon D300S« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770Nikon D300S
Panasonic GH4« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p23.212.879174Panasonic GH4
Samsung NX1« » APS-C 28.0 6480 43204K/30p24.213.2136383Samsung NX1
Sony A7 III« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096Sony A7 III
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785Sony A6300
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28321080/60p23.913.2370287Sony A7S
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493Sony RX1

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the D500 provides a better video resolution than the A7. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony A7 vs Nikon D500

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7 has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), while the D500 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A7 and Nikon D500 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
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)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Sony A7»2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7
Nikon D500«optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n Nikon D500
Nikon D7500« »optical Y 3.2 922 tilting Y 8000 8.0 Y n Nikon D7500
Nikon D3400« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3400
Nikon D5500« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5500
Nikon D7200« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D7200
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n Nikon D610
Nikon D300S« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 7.0 Y n Nikon D300S
Panasonic GH4« »2359 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 8000 12.0 Y n Panasonic GH4
Samsung NX1« »2360 Y 3.0 1036 tilting Y 8000 15.0 Y n Samsung NX1
Sony A7 III« »2359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Sony A7 III
Sony A6300« »2359 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n Sony A6300
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »2400 n 3.0 921 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7S
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Sony RX1

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The D500 has a touchscreen, while the A7 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The A7 writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the D500 uses SDHC or XQD cards. The D500 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the A7 only has one slot.

Connectivity comparison: Sony A7 vs Nikon D500

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 Sony Alpha A7 and Nikon D500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Sony A7»YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7
Nikon D500«YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D500
Nikon D7500« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y-YNikon D7500
Nikon D3400« »Ymonomono--mini2.0Y-YNikon D3400
Nikon D5500« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Nikon D5500
Nikon D7200« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Nikon D7200
Nikon D610« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D610
Nikon D300S« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D300S
Panasonic GH4« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Panasonic GH4
Samsung NX1« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.0YYYSamsung NX1
Sony A7 III« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYYSony A7 III
Sony A6300« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony A6300
Sony A7 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7S
Sony A7R« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony RX1

The D500 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the A7 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7 was succeeded by the Sony A7 II.


Review summary: Sony A7 vs Nikon D500

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A7 and the Nikon D500? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

ilogo

Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20.7MP) with a 8% higher linear resolution.
  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident movie autofocus.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 147x115mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 386g or 45 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (15 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in October 2013).

ilogo

Reasons to prefer the Nikon D500:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • 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 1230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1240 versus 340) out of a single battery charge.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 2 months of technical progress since the A7 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D500 emerges as the winner of the match-up (13 : 11 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.

A7 11:13 D500

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A7 or the D500 handle or perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews: Sony A7 vs Nikon D500

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony A7»HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7
Nikon D500«HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Nikon D7500« »HiRec86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2017 1,299 i i Nikon D7500
Nikon D3400« »Rec76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499- i Nikon D3400
Nikon D5500« »Rec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jan 2015 899- i Nikon D5500
Nikon D7200« »HiRec84/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Nikon D300S« »HiRec82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799- i Nikon D300S
Panasonic GH4« »HiRec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Samsung NX1« »-87/1005/54.5/55/5 Sep 2014 1,499- i Samsung NX1
Sony A7 III« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i Sony A7 III
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »-86/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« »--4/5rev4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« »-79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony RX1

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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

~

    Specifications: Sony A7 vs Nikon D500

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Sony A7 Nikon D500
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Sony E mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date October 2013 January 2016
    Launch Price USD 1699 USD 1999
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 35.8 x 23.9 mm 23.5 x 23.9 mm
    Sensor Area 855.62 mm2 368.95 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43 mm 28.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0 1.5
    Sensor Resolution 24 Megapixels 20.7 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6000 x 4000 pixels 5568 x 3712 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.97 μm 4.22 μm
    Pixel Density 2.80 MP/cm2 5.60 MP/cm2
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100-25600 ISO 100-51200 ISO
    ISO Boost 50-51200 ISO 50-1640000 ISO
    Image Processor BIONZ X EXPEED 5
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Resolution 2400k dots n/a
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.2 inch
    LCD Resolution 1230k dots 2359k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 10 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium MS or SDXC cards SDXC or XQD cards
    Connectivity Specs
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 3.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in NFC built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NP-FW50 power pack EN-EL15 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)340 shots per charge1240 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 127 x 94 x 48 mm
    (5.0 x 3.7 x 1.9 in)
    147 x 115 x 81 mm
    (5.8 x 4.5 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 474 g (16.7 oz) 860 g (30.3 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

    You are here  »   »