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Nikon D7000 review

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What was originally expected to be the replacement for the DX-format 12-megapixel D90 turned out to be a new addition to the range. The new D7000 sits between that and the semi-pro D300s. In terms of size, it’s closer to the D90 and functionality closer to the D300s, itself an aging model. Both will remain for the time being, so it’s quite possible we’ll see another replace the D300s as the flagship DX (APS-C) camera.

In the meantime, the D7000 has a tempting specification for semi-pros. Chief among those must be the build quality. It’s not quite as heavy as the D300s but it features a dust and moisture-sealed body made from magnesium alloy, a real step up from the well made but plastic shelled D90. Also it has a similar durable shutter tested to 150,000 cycles, and 100-percent viewfinder coverage with 94-percent magnification. Other key features include dual SD slots that can be used either for backup, overflow or capturing Raw on one and Jpeg on the other, plus continuous shooting up to 6fps without having to adopt the external battery pack. Unlike the D90, the D7000 adopts the AI (auto-indexing) post of the pro models as well as menu registration of lens details (focal length and maximum aperture) allowing backwards compatibility with legacy (non-chipped) manual focus lenses. Even if the price is a sign, it’s details like this that indicate the intended market.

Peering through the viewfinder though the magnification is not quite as impressive as it seems as the figure quoted is adjusted for the smaller APS-C format, corrected to 35mm full-frame it’s 63-percent. If you thought viewfinders were getting smaller then you were right. For an APS-C model, though, the D7000’s viewfinder is impressively bright thanks to a glass pentaprism and it’s also equipped with a new 39-point AF system. This is loosely based on previous offerings like that found on the D300s and D3 but has 9-cross type sensors, which are both horizontal and vertical line sensitive and fast 3D-tracking for fast moving subjects. It works in association with a new 2016-pixel colour (RGB) metering system, and the first major overhaul for Nikon since the 1005-pixel system introduced with the 35mm F5 SLR, a derivative of which can be found in the D3s and D3x.

This RGB meter and AF module is the basis of a scene recognition system that can actually distinguish between the subject and, for instance, grass and the sky and adjust the exposure and AF point to track accordingly. In use the camera is blisteringly fast though I must admit to taking quite a long time to adjust to the near instantaneous shutter release. Together though the new metering and AF system in the D7000 is a real standout feature. And that’s before we’ve discussed the new sensor. It’s a self-cleaning 16.2-megapixel CMOS, a Sony sourced sensor originally but made to Nikon’s specification, allowing sensitivity to run from ISO100 up to an eye-watering ISO25600, and, unbelievably, largely noise free to ISO6400.

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Nikon D7000 with AF-S Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G at f/16 (mounted on the outstanding combination of Gitzo GT2541 EX tripod and Arca Swiss P0) and the result of a HDRi shot for a client.



Because of the limitations with CCD, CMOS is adopted for LiveView principally, but the considering the superbly detailed 921k dot resolution of the 3-inch screen to the rear, checking focus accuracy at high magnification is marked by interpolation, which is a pity. Autofocus is possible, indeed there are two AF options but neither is particularly fast or that useful unless you intend to take the occasional overhead picture.

Mirror Lock up is offered but it’s selected along with the other shooting modes from a rather narrow, and therefore fiddly dial, surrounding the shooting mode. Nikon has moved the LiveView option to a new location, to the right of the rear LCD and operation is via a switch surrounding a new dedicated video capture button. LiveView is, of course, the basis for the camera’s video capabilities but while there are advances here the D7000 is deliberately limited in the EU, at least, to recordings of five minutes. If it wasn’t for that the 1080/24fps movie clips would sound very tempting, the quality is there, although you would want to adopt manual focusing instead of the somewhat noisy AF. This unwanted sound is easily picked up by the built-in mono microphone, although the D7000 has a mic socket for a external stereo mic.

Although nice to have, the movie mode doesn’t impress as much as the stills; quite a feat considering the increase in pixel density over the 12-megapixel offerings. Colour rendering and detail is outstanding with Nikon’s pro-grade lenses; while the optional 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens is a decent enough performer, there are FX and DX lenses that will get more from the sensor. Some sharpening is required of JPEGs straight from the camera though little else, especially with Active D-Lighting to improve dynamic range, peripheral illumination correction and automatic chromatic aberration reduction. Aimed at the enthusiast for the most part, the D7000 also offers a burgeoning range of post-capture processing options. It seems slightly incongruous at this level but, for all that, the D7000 is a significant improvement over the D90 and, to a lesser extent, the D300s, which makes it a simple choice for any Nikon photographer looking to add or replace a DX body to his kit.

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For more information please follow the link for Nikon Europe or Nikon USA.

Related posts

Read our review of the Nikon 1 V1
Read our review of the Nikon D700.

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