This review not to go over the specs, movies, AI metering, FPS of the Nikon D7000; instead we will talk about the camera handling, auto focus, image quality, etc. I am not here to bash or stop you from getting the Nikon D7000. In fact you can order the kit here and the body only here.
My reason for getting a D7000 was for me to have a backup to my D700; in case of an emergency or just for casual use. I originally had a Nikon D90, however I found the auto focus lacking especially after using the D700. I know it’s not a fair comparison between those two, but once you get spoiled by the 51 point auto focus system it’s hard to go back. Furthermore the D90 had a huge front focusing issue with some of my lenses that drove me crazy.
After taking the D7000 out of it’s box; the camera did not feel heavy to me, instead it felt solid like my D700. I attached various Nikon f2.8 zoom lenses on the D7000 and the camera mount felt secure without feeling stressed. With a few heavy lenses on the D7000 my hands did not feel cramped like on my D90 but it still wasn’t the most comfortable for extended amounts of time.
The button placement is mostly identical to the D90 with the exception of a few new additions. The way to enter Live View is just the flip of the switch on the back by the red record button, I found this a lot easier to work with. The button on top of the AF/MF switch by the lens mount now acts as the way to change AF modes. Press the button on the switch and rotate the dials to change the modes and behaviors. This had me tricked for a few minutes since I was used to the button on top of the D90.
I am however extremely happy Nikon has removed the sliver covering from the shutter release button but I am disappointed that the shutter release button is a bit mushy. The D700 has a stiffer feel to it which helps me to get sharper shots at slower shutter speeds. The knob to change the camera modes are like the D90 with the addition of the User Modes. Now I am happy that they have a dial under the knob for changing the shooting and trigger modes.
The shutter is a lot quieter than the D700, especially when you use the Q mode to slowing release the mirror after the shot. As I stated before I genuinely wish the shutter release button was a bit stiffer for me to get sharper images at slower shutter speeds. To be more specific, with a mushy shutter release button you need to push down further in order to take an image. I roll my finger onto the shutter release but with the additional pressure I apply causes the D7000 to move more than I would want it.
The auto focus is definitely a step above the D90 however, please do not expect CAM 3500DX/FX performance from it. You will be disappointed! The auto focus is fast in good light but it does not have the speed of the more expensive Nikon bodies in terms of tracking. Specifically meaning that it does not readjust focus as fast to you and/or your subject’s movements. The D7000 finally has the option for changing the “focus tracking with lock-on,” how long it takes to readjust focus after something comes in the way of what you were tracking. Another plus would be the option to select AF-C priority selection to focus now instead of only release like on the D90.
I tested the D700 and D7000 on the same dimly lit scene to see the differences between the two. The D700 was able to pick up the my selection easily with both the outermost AF points and the central points. On the other hand the D7000 was able to follow the D700’s feat using the central points but not using the outer most points. The lens hunting a lot using the outermost points, please do not mistake this for never being able to lock focus because it was able to when you know how to work around it’s shortcomings. In this regard, it’s better than the D90.
This is a tough one. The D7000 comes with more pixels than a D700 and it even has more pixels than the D90. In fact it has the most pixels of any Nikon DX camera available on the market now. So with that said, let’s start with the good:
I strongly believe that the dynamic range of the D7000 is a step above other Nikon DX cameras. I am getting much fewer blown highlights and the shadows have details in them; this could also be attributed to the new metering system but even in manual mode I was getting fewer blown highlights yet the image still had a lot of contrast. I always thought the contrast on the D90 was low, especially compared to the D700. The D7000 also captures a lot of details within the scene. That is the good part.
Now the bad. At this point I am generally not satisfied with the sharpness of the images from the D7000, the files tend to be mushy when looking at the details up close. In order to get files that are acceptably sharp, you need really good technique with fast shutter speeds. I think a lot of people will be complaining about this very soon. The slightest shift will become obvious when reviewing your files, you do not need to zoom into 100% to see these imperfections. A mystery to me is; I put the D7000 on a tripod using the self timer, exposure delay mode, manual mode, all noise reduction off and I shot from ISO 100 up to 6400. Even at ISO 100 I didn’t feel I was getting the proper sharpness. Keep in mind I was using the Standard Picture Control with sharpening increase to 5 out of 9. I just found the details to not be acceptably sharp as I am used to with the D700 or D90.
I was not expecting much from the ISO 6400 image, I was expecting a lot from the ISO 100 file. The sharpness is just not there. I am sure there will always be people complaining about how I did my test, but this is the way I do my long exposures and I have extremely sharp files from the D700 to back it up. I am happy that the ISO 100 files kept the blacks black and not grainy.
Here is a sample image from the Nikon D700, this is not a comparison between the two cameras:
Click image for full resolution file.
Nikon 70-200mm VRII at f13
You can view full resolution samples of the shots above from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. Please do not expect D700/D3 like high ISO performance from the D7000, but do expect it to be better than the D90 throughout the ISO range.
- The D7000 does deliver in a being a better auto focus performer than the D90.
- The D7000 has a much needed contrast boost in the images.
- The high ISO performance is better than the D90 but less than the D700, a good compromise.
- Increased dynamic range versus other Nikon DX cameras.
- Definitely better auto exposure metering compared to the D90.
- The sharpness of images are definitely an issue.
- Mushy shutter release button.
- Peripheral auto focus points that are not the most sensitive in low light situations.
If you do buy through Amazon, drop me a line! I’d love to hear about what you picked up.
Nikon just released a firmware update to the D7000 June 30, 2011.