A small, distinctly upward step, from the Nikon D90
Nov 25, 2010 (Updated Nov 25, 2010)
Review by wmjaeger
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Recommend this product?
There are longer reviews, and great visual comparisons between cameras, sprouting up all over the web, so here I will be as brief as I can by talking about the features that matter, the differences from other cameras you will care about.
Why the D7000?
Nikon owners looking for an upgrade will find the highest level of Nikon DSLR quality here, short of getting a full frame model (the pricey D3 or D700).
--It has 16MP. --True high ISO. It not only has settings for high ISO but at those settings the noise is remarkably low. --Convenience features. Like the new release mode dial, under the main dial with M, A, S, and P and so on, with quick access to self timer etc. --You can now preset entire ranges of settings for how you prefer to shoot and flip to those settings in a second on the main mode dial, a huge addition. --Full 1080p/24 video, which is the standard used on Blu-Ray video. --Stereo mic input jack, so you can get really really good sound with a simple external mic. (All internal microphones, stereo or mono as in the D7000, are pretty minimal.) --Quiet. Surprisingly quiet in normal mode, and it even has a "quiet" mode, which is even quieter (by unsynching some mechanical sounds so they don't occur at once, and so are spread out--very smart). --Dual SD cards. And choices about what to record on which, and when (normal or overflow, stills or video).
Non-Nikon owners looking at Nikon for a switch will find competition mainly in the Canon 7D (though it is two hundred dollars more, it has similar specs, nitpick on this or that but reviews show highly competitive results, one or the other). The solution here is to decide which one feels better in the hand, which one has a natural layout for you. You have to go to a store and hold them to know. There is the Pentax K-5 and some Sony comparables, but they will always face the problem of a smaller system, fewer third party lenses that fit, and so on. If you just want a camera and are not worried about expanding, do go to dpreview.com and give the others a good look. (Lumix and Olympus I leave out for the simple reason they focus "by wire" which means not quite directly, and you don't see through the lens, but see a high quality LCD screen through the viewfinder. Perhaps that's the future, but it isn't up to snuff yet.)
Compared to the D90:
Whether you are a D90 owner (as I was) or you are looking at buying one, you'll want to know how this highly praised camera compares to the D7000. In short--very well. If you don't need the absolute latest, greatest results, the D90 at 2/3 the price is still very amazing. Here are some differences I have found that are worth noting.
--D7000 is heavier. Not a big deal, maybe, until six hours of carrying. --D7000 has less noise at high ISO. True, and noticeable. I use Lightroom to do my RAW conversions (and if you want the most from your camera, shoot RAW, why not?). You'll need the latest 3.3 version, which you can download (it's still in its trial mode as for November 25, 2010). --D7000 has noticeably better video. Quite visible! Not only is the resolution higher, but the noise in those all too common low light shots is cleaner and more restrained. The autofocus while shooting video is a completely new feature, and it works, with the usual hit or miss now and then. So far I have no gripes about that. Use a good lens. --D7000 costs more. This matters to most of us. A lot. I think you can be perfectly professional with a D90, a good lens or two, an external flash if you use flash, and a tripod. But if you can swing the extra money, you'll see that 5 or 10% edge in every little way--image quality, handling, quietness, convenience. It's just 5 or 10%. But sometimes that's everything.
Compared to the D300 (or D300s):
This is Nikon's next level up the professional line, but it has very similar specs to the D7000, and is slightly older technology (the D7000 has the most advanced sensor of any DX, not full frame, Nikon). The D300 is heavier, has crummier video, costs a lot more, and is just not a good idea unless you are a very rough, daily shooter and you need the physical strength of a tank. The D7000 is a metal based body that will take normal banging around no problem.
Overall image quality:
I teach photography at the college level (and have for 25 years). I really do believe that two opposing philosophies are both true:
1) it's not the equipment that matters, it's the photographer 2) you should always use the best best equipment you can afford.
I know many people who have expensive cameras and take boring pictures, and I know many people who take terrific pictures with ordinary equipment. But the people I know who take the very best pictures, the most interesting and most beautiful and most demanding pictures, use top notch equipment. This has been true historically, and it's true now.
The image quality of the D7000 is unsurpassed for the money, and almost unsurpassed for any money. For any normal shooting, it will be the best you can get. Is that simple enough?
So, if you can afford a D7000, you should buy one. There is no better Nikon. If you want to sweep up the best Sony, Pentax, and Canon cameras that aren't full frame into the comparison, there is nothing clearly better than the D7000. Is there anything similar? Yes, certainly! There always is. But if you DO decide on the D7000, you will equal or supass the best money can buy for 2010 or easily into early 2011 (if not beyond, of course). Don't worry one bit. It's very solid, made to be durable for semi-pro or pro, daily use, and has cutting edge specifications.
In addition, you should also buy really sharp lenses. Read the reviews--Nikon lenses are usually the best, but I can't afford them, so I have the higher quality, moderately expensive off brand ones (a Tokina, a Tamron, and a Sigma, one each, around $500 each). Spend the money on better lenses if you can. Nikon brand lenses in particular will not lose their value over the years, so keep the boxes and think of them as investments.
A last emotional response that's hard to quantify --the D7000 is a joy to use. It has worked out so many kinks from the early days (I remember loving my D70 years ago, and my D40, which is still a classic camera in my view, but only 6MP). And this just feels good, has a terrific viewfinder, is quiet and very very fast, and makes good logical sense.
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Amount Paid (US$): 1199.00
This Camera is a Good Choice if You Want Something... Flexible Enough for Enthusiasts
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