Sony A7R II versus Nikon D500
The Sony Alpha A7R II and the Nikon D500 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2015 and January 2016. The A7R II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D500 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a full frame (A7R II) and an APS-C (D500) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 42.2 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 20.7 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: Sony A7R II vs Nikon D500
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony A7R II and the Nikon D500 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. 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 A7R II – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
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 (39 percent) than the Sony A7R II. Moreover, the D500 is substantially heavier (38 percent) than the A7R II. 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7R II) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D500). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony A7R II, 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.
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
|Sony A7R II (⇒ rgt)||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||YES||2015||3,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft)||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||30.3 oz||1240||YES||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||YES||2015||3,699||latest||check|
|Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||YES||2015||3,699||latest||check|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.4 in||4.1 in||2.9 in||25.4 oz||950||YES||2017||1,299||latest||check|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.4 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||1110||YES||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||34.6 oz||1200||YES||2014||3,299||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.4 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||950||YES||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||YES||2013||1,999||latest||check|
|Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||33.1 oz||950||YES||2009||1,799||discont.||check|
|Sony A7 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||YES||2018||1,999||latest||check|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||YES||2017||4,499||latest||check|
|Sony A7R III (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||650||YES||2017||3,199||latest||check|
|Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||YES||2016||3,199||latest||check|
|Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||YES||2015||2,999||latest||check|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||YES||2014||1,999||discont.||check|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.4 oz||340||YES||2013||2,299||discont.||check|
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 D500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the A7R II, 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: Sony A7R II vs Nikon D500
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A7R II 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.
With 42.2MP, the A7R II offers a higher resolution than the D500 (20.7MP), but the A7R II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 4.22μm for the D500) due to its larger sensor. However, the D500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 6 months) than the A7R II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 A7R II provides substantially higher image quality than the D500, with an overall score that is 15 points higher. This advantage is based on 2 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Sony A7R II (⇒ rgt)||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft)||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.0||14.0||1324||83|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/60p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/60p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.3||14.0||1483||86|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.5||14.6||1333||87|
|Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.2||13.7||1256||83|
|Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.5||12.2||787||70|
|Sony A7 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|Sony A7R III (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Feature comparison: Sony A7R II vs Nikon D500
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7R II 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A7R II and Nikon D500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Sony A7R II (⇒ rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1229||tilting||no||8000||5.0||no||YES|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft)||optical||YES||3.2||2359||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1040||fixed||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
|Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1040||fixed||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||922||tilting||YES||8000||8.0||12||no|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1229||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1229||fixed||no||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1229||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||921||fixed||no||4000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||7.0||12||no|
|Sony A7 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||no||3.0||922||tilting||YES||8000||10||no||YES|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3686||no||3.0||1440||tilting||YES||8000||20.0||no||YES|
|Sony A7R III (⇒ lft | rgt)||3686||no||3.0||1440||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||YES||3.0||1229||full-flex||no||8000||12.0||no||YES|
|Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1229||tilting||no||8000||5.0||no||YES|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1230||tilting||no||8000||5.0||no||YES|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1230||tilting||no||8000||4.0||no||no|
The D500 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the A7R II has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7R II was succeeded by the Sony Alpha A7R III.
Review summary: Sony A7R II vs Nikon D500
So what is the bottom line? Is the Sony A7R II better than the Nikon D500 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7R II:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (42.2 vs 20.7MP) with a 43% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.4 stops ISO advantage).
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More compact: Is smaller (127x96mm vs 147x115mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 235g or 27 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2015).
Advantages of the Nikon D500:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Has 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 1229k 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 290) out of a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (6 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7R II comes out slightly ahead of the D500 (10 : 9 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.
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 A7R II or the D500 handle or 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 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.
|Sony A7R II (⇒ rgt)||HiRec||90/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||3,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft)||HiRec||91/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||83/100 Silver||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2015||3,699||latest||check|
|Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||83/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2015||3,699||latest||check|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||86/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2017||1,299||latest||check|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Silver||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||86/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2014||3,299||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||87/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,999||latest||check|
|Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt)||90/100 HiRec||82/100 HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||1,799||discont.||check|
|Sony A7 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||89/100 Gold||5/5||..||5/5||2018||1,999||latest||check|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||89/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2017||4,499||latest||check|
|Sony A7R III (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||90/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2017||3,199||latest||check|
|Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||85/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||3,199||latest||check|
|Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||-||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2015||2,999||latest||check|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2014||1,999||discont.||check|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2013||2,299||discont.||check|
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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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