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NIKON D7000

The Nikon D7000 is Nikon's newest DSLR (October, 2010) and has many exciting features. The new D7000 seems to have features both for the novice as well as the experienced shooter. Let's start with some of the most interesting features.

High Resolution 16.2 MP DX-format CMOS sensor for large prints and tight cropping

 

High Speed 6 frames per second continuous shooting up to 100 shots captures the most fleeting action

 

Ground-breaking 2,016-pixel RGB (3D Color Matrix) sensor delivers more accurate control of light metering and optimizes the Scene Recognition System for exposure, white balance, focus tracking and iTTL flash control

 

EXPEED 2 image processing and 14-bit A/D Conversion provides smooth tones, rich colors, and fast camera performance
Large Bright Glass Pentaprism Optical Viewfinder with approx. 100% frame coverage and approx. 0.94x magnification

 

Twin SD Card Slots with SD, SDHC, SDXC memory card compatibility gives you options to keep on shooting or separate your NEF (RAW), JPEG and movie files

 

Built-in Speedlight flash with i-TTL and Wireless Commander support so you can light your subjects any way you like
Optional MB-D11 multi-power pack further expands your shooting time and battery choices while adding a vertical shutter-release and control dials to your camera

 

Two User Definable Settings (U1, U2) right on the Mode Selector Dial let you store most camera settings so you can go back to them at anytime without the need for further adjustments or menu settings

 

Picture Control lets you choose from Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, or Landscape to apply a personal look and feel to your pictures

 

Virtual Horizon Graphic Indicator shows whether the camera is level and in Live View mode, lets you place a grid over the scene you’re about to shoot — an invaluable tool for shooting landscapes and architecture.

 

Breathtaking Full 1080p HD Movies with Full Time Autofocus and external stereo microphone jack to record cinematic-quality movies up to 20 minutes all enhanced by NIKKOR interchangeable lens quality and versatility

 

Dynamic ISO range from 100 to 6400 expandable to 25,600 (Hi2) lets you shoot in near darkness or slow down the action

 

Customizable 39 point AF System includes nine center cross-type sensors that operate with every AF NIKKOR lens so you can focus on making great images

 

Compact but durable with magnesium-alloy top and rear covers, superior weather and dust seals and a 150,000 cycle-rated shutter system providing reliable operation

 

3 Inch, 921,000-dot Super-Density LCD Monitor with 170 degree viewing delivers bright, crisp image playback, and precise Live View and Movie shooting

 

Fast Start-Up time of 0.13 sec and Short 50ms Shutter Lag so your camera’s ready to go when you are

 

Compact EN-EL15 Battery lets you shoot up to 1000 shots

 

Built-in HDMI Connection lets you connect your camera right to your HDTV and playback with most HDTV remote controls

 

Active D-Lighting restores picture-enhancing detail in shadows and highlights

 

Versatile Scene Modes lets you choose from Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close-up or Night Portrait for stunning results in otherwise challenging conditions

 

My 1st impressions:

Well, the camera is SMALL as compared to the D300, or especially the D3 series. It is Nikon's smallest form factor for DSLRs. That, quite frankly, is why I bought it. The camera weighs about 1.5 pounds with battery. Add the excellent kit lens, the 18mm to 105mm, and you are still a little over 2 pounds (39 oz total). That is almost 1/2 of what I had been used to with the D700 and the f2.8 24-70. (67 oz total, or over 4 pounds). If I want super wide, the D7000 with the Nikon 10-24 weighs in at 40 oz verses 69 for the D700 and Nikon 14-24. Of course everything connected with the D7000 is also a lot smaller. The D7000 is NOT designed to replace the D3 or the D700, it simply is a smaller and lighter alternative for those who need these qualities.

The biggest question is image quality. How good is this little fella? In an attempt to find out I spent a few days comparing it against my D700 and my wife's D300. I certainly am no scientific tester with a fancy lab, but I  tried to maintain adequate controls. Keep in mind that a Nikon D300, shooting raw files and with excellent post production skills, is capable of producing excellent 2' x 3' prints. Very few photographers have a need for anything larger.

All testing was done from a solid tripod and the same lens, the Nikon 24-70. This presents a small problem as the lens is better at one end of the zoom than the other. However, at f8, I feel the center section is certainly adequate for these sensor tests.  For complete test results please go to the Nikon D7000/D700 comparison page on this site

 

Testing:

My initial findings (October) got hammered pretty bad by some on dpreview.com - so I backed off. I take little pleasure in arguing. It is interesting to note that the DXO and Thom Hogan reviews verified a lot of my findings. Specifically, that the D7000 has a great dynamic range - especially at base ISO - and low noise. They also noted the 1 stop noise difference I saw between the D7000 and the D700 (better). Since then I have discovered this DR to be especially significant in the shadows. That is, deep shadow details no longer show ugly artifacts caused by noise. In comparing my D300 (which is now my wife's camera) with my D7000 I see at least a 2 stop difference in shadow noise - maybe 3. In any case, it is instantly visible on my monitor or a large print. Even more important for me is the 14 stops of DR as I frequently push my photos pretty hard in post processing. I want the clouds to look like like clouds - with detail in all the highlights. Sometimes this requires a -1/2 to -1 stop adjustment when shooting. It depends on the clouds (side lit, back lit, etc).

I originally made these tests in haste as I needed answers BEFORE I sold my much loved D700. And then I had to repeat them, again in haste, due to a stupid error on my part. The bottom line is, the D7000 is certainly, in my opinion, the best DX body on the market today. And yes, that includes the amazing Pentax K-5 (which I also carefully considered). Why? Because the Nikon is a better SYSTEM camera. More and better lens choices, etc, etc. I have none of the exposure problems experienced by dpreview. Perhaps this is due to sample variation, or perhaps because I better understand the camera. The D7000 is a two edge sword - it cuts both ways. It is a pro level as well as entry level camera!!!! On the entry level there are a ton of presets which I will NEVER use. On the pro side the wonderful focusing and exposure choices leave lots of ways for the novice to screw up. On dpreview I see complaint after complaint due to novices simply not understanding the camera. Hell, most never get past page 5 in the instruction book before they start bitching.

 The D7000, with proper glass, focuses extremely quickly. Without a means (or time) to check this the focusing seems every bit as quick as my old D700. Matrix metering is my default method and the D7000 seems to nail it. As I ALWAYS shoot raw, this can be tweaked anyway - but I haven't had to. I use PS CS5, ACR, and Camera Profiling using ColorChecker Passport (fits in a shirt pocket for 100% color accuracy).

 In short, a GREAT buy.

For a detailed look (100% view) at my test images please see  D7000/D700