on October 11, 2011
I am a photography teacher in NYC and online. (See my Amazon profile for my website.) I teach beginner and intermediate photography students every week. I've also been a professional photographer for the last five years with images published in The New York Times, GQ, New York Magazine, Women's Wear Daily, The New York Observer, The Village Voice and Time Out New York.
(This review is for beginner photographers.)
If you're a beginner, you're most likely asking yourself: Nikon or Canon? Really, I feel confident in saying that you can't go wrong with either. I've used both brand's cameras extensively and find that they both offer amazing image quality with well-built, solid cameras that, if taken care of, will last decades. There are two differences between the cameras, though, that can be taken into consideration.
The user-interface: If cameras were computers, Nikons would be PCs and Canons would be MACs. PCs are built for people not afraid of technology whereas Macs are built for people who want things super-easy. Nikons excel at customization options which means you'll see so many more options with the Advanced features of a Nikon than you will with a Canon. Canons, on the other hand, excel at ease-of-use for beginners. Canons offer less advanced options and can be easier to learn on. This can be frustrating down the line, though, once you've learned a lot about photography. At that point you may want all of the options that Nikon offers and be frustrated with your Canon. If you're someone who really likes to delve deep into your hobbies or if you're intent on becoming a professional photographer, I'd say a Nikon would be your best bet. If you're someone who wants to learn the basics of photography and only imagine yourself being a hobbyist, Canon would be a better option for you.
Where Nikon excels: Flash photography. I often find myself in situations where I'm shooting event photography (weddings, movie premiers, benefits and galas) where I need to use a lot of flash. For this kind of photography, I'll always prefer to be shooting with a Nikon. Nikon's flash metering (how the camera magically decides how much light to fire out of the flash) is much more consistent than Canon's. You can take a Canon and shoot the same scene three times in a row with flash and all three images will be at different brightness levels. You can do the same thing with a Nikon and all three images will be wonderfully the same. If you're somebody who plans on shooting a lot with flash (indoor photography, event photography, etc.) you'll want to consider going with Nikon.
Where Canon excels: Richness of colors. I've been in numerous situations where I've been on the red carpet taking the exact same picture as the photographer next to me. I'll have a Canon and the person next to me will have a Nikon. This has provided quite a few opportunities to compare the images side-by-side. What I've found is that the colors on the Canon's images look richer and make the image pop more. If I'm doing fine art photography (anything I'd like to someday hang in a gallery), I'll always want to be shooting with a Canon for this reason.
If you're set on Nikon, there are three cameras you should be considering and it all comes down to what your budget is:
D7000 $1,400 without lens
D5100 $750 without lens
D3100 $600 only available with lens
(current prices as of 2/19/11)
Here's what you get for spending extra money (each camera compared to the one below it):
D3100 vs. D5100:
The D3100 is an EXCELLENT camera so if you only have $550 to spend total on camera and lens then go out and buy this camera. You won't regret it. If you're considering spending more money, here's what you'll get from the D5100 in comparison:
-Better performance in low light situations.
-A higher resolution screen on the back of the camera so you can see your images more clearly and make out if they actually turned out well.
-An external mic jack. (If you're planning on shooting video with an external mic, you'll want the D5100 over the D3100.)
-A flip out screen (handy if you want to put your camera anywhere but at your eye level and be able to see what your camera is about to capture before you shoot it)
-Faster continuous shooting. If you're often shooting sports or any fast moving subject, continuous shooting allows you to capture multiple images in a single second. The D3100 shoots at three frames per second whereas the D5100 shoots at four frames per second.
-Higher ISO options. The D5100 offers one more stop of ISO than the D3100 does. If you don't know what ISO means (or what a stop is) just know that this allows you to more easily shoot images in low-light situations.
-Longer battery life. The D5100's battery will last 20% longer than the D3100
The two advantages of the D3100 over the D5100 are: less expensive and less weight. Whenever a camera is less expensive, it means you'll have more in your budget for the lens. The D3100 weighs 10% lighter and is 10% smaller than the D5100.
D5100 vs. D7000:
The D5100 is Nikon's latest and greatest and is even newer than the D7000. Phenomenal camera! If you're stuck, though, between the D5100 and the D7000, here's what you'll get by spending more money on the D7000:
-More focus points. When using auto-focus, the D7000 will have an easier time focusing on what you want it to focus on.
-60% longer lasting batteries.
-Faster continuous shooting. If you're often shooting sports or any fast moving subject, continuous shooting allows you to capture multiple images in a single second. The D5100 shoots at four frames per second whereas the D7000 shoots at six frames per second.
-Weather sealed. This means you can shoot with the D7000 in the rain.
-Two memory card slots. This is really a cool feature. The D7000 has two memory card slots which means you'll be less likely to find yourself standing in front of a gorgeous scene with no more memory left.
-Faster shutter speed. The fastest shutter speed on the D5100 is 1/4000th of a second; on the D7000: 1/8000th of a second. To be honest, I can't think of any practical reason why this would benefit you unless you're planning on shooting some really bright scenes like directly into the sun.
Advantages of the D5100 over the D7000:
-A flip out screen (handy if you want to put your camera anywhere but at your eye level and be able to see what your camera is about to capture before you shoot it)
-Smaller and lighter: The D5100 is 10% smaller and 30% lighter than the D7000. This is something to consider if you plan on carrying your camera around with you a lot.
-Less expensive so you can spend more on your lens!
If I can clarify any of this, please email me!
-JP Pullos, photography teacher, NYC and online (see my Amazon profile for my website)
on October 20, 2010
This is very simple, if you are a Nikon shooter looking for a new camera then stop reading and buy this camera. It's that good.
This camera is brilliant to hold and use. Nikon has done it again and has made the user interface more usable and streamlined. What to change flash modes. Press the flash pop-up button and rotate the control wheel. Sweet. Want to change create and use a User defined mode? There are two. Set your mode up. Go to the menu and save it. To use it rotate the shooting mode dial to U1 or U2. Presto you are there. In the D300 and D700 you to have to setup things in the menu and switch in the menu. Also, there were 2 sets of things you could change and they were not all inclusive. It was all horribly confusing and I never used it. Speaking of shooting modes. There is now one position on the shooting mode dial for scene mode shooting. You change through the different scene modes with the control wheel and the type scene shows up on the back screen. Sweet. I can go on and on but needless to say Nikon have really improved their interface. One caveat, I don't think it is quite up to par with the GH1 to change exposure compensation (IMO the most important control) but still a huge step in the correct direction in handling. I like the handling of the D7000 better than either the D700/300.
Low Light Shooting
The D300 wasn't that great for Hi ISO. It shoots clean at 400 ISO and usable up to 1600. (The D90 and D300s were better) The D700 was fantastic. Clean at 1600 ISO and usable up to 6400. It opened up new worlds. The D7000 is close to the equal of the D700. Enough said. Just to give you an example. The bouquet toss at a reception is often done in poor light. By using 1600 instead of 400 you get the equivalent of 4 times more light. At ISO400 you flash may need to use 1/4 power and you can get 1 maybe 2 shots of the toss and catch before the flash needs to recharge. At ISO1600 your flash would only need to use 1/16th power and now you can get 5-6 shots. This is huge.
Like all modern DSLRs it takes great pictures. I don't pixel peep so I can't really say that I notice a difference between the pictures from the D7000 and any of my 12mp cameras. It makes really nice pictures and that is all I care about.
Useful Photography Features (Not Marketing Features)
--100% view finder! Big bright with 100% coverage. No more guessing of your framing. (It is not as bright as the D700. However, it is 100% vice 95%)
--2 SD slots - When your getting paid to shoot a wedding or any gig, my card broke is not an excuse. Very useful feature. For the home user put two smaller cards rather than one big card and save some money.
--Smaller and lighter than D300, D700, D3s, D3x- When you stand on your feet for 9 hours shooting the wedding and reception, you start to feel every ounce you are carrying. Often you will be carrying two bodies with a fast tele zoom and fast wide zoom. That starts to get heavy. Light weight here we come.
--2016-Segment RGB Meter- for spot on exposure and white balance--No one touches Nikon on this and this one is fantastic.
--1/8000th -- Very useful for shooting into the sun wide open with a bright lens
--1/250 -- Could be better (1/500th for D40) but could be much worse. Auto FP helps.
--Magnesium body and better sealing -- Shoot in dusty environments without messing up the inside your camera.
--Uses the ML-L3 infra red remote -- Small and cheap. IR sensor on the front and back of the camera.
--Autofocus focus motor for non-AF-S lenses
Marketing Features that will sometimes be Useful
--16Mp -- Nikon was obviously getting creamed in the marketing wars on this. This is going to lead to bigger files requiring larger hard drives and faster computers. Occasionally it will be useful if you can't frame as close as you would like and you need to crop or you need to print big. Alien Skin Blow Up 2, Image Resizing Plug-in Software for Photoshop, Macintosh & Windows and Genuine Fractals 6 Professional Edition 1-user Full are two very nice programs that can increase the size of your photos for printing large. 16 MP is nice by not necessary.
--39 Point Auto Focus -- To me in some ways this is better than the 51 point of the D300 and D700 as that gets too unwieldy. However, you really don't even need 39. However, still useful on occasion.
--6 frames per second-- I very rarely ever put my camera in 3 frames per second. When I do so it fills the card quickly. If you are shooting the big game then 6 is nice. Or it is nice for some cool special effects shots. Other than that you won't really find yourself using it that much.
The other thing I am not really going to dwell on is the video capabilities. In my opinion all the various video options are mostly marketing hype really targeted at a niche market. Shallow depth of field video is difficult and time consuming to shoot and edit properly. The average family home user has neither the time nor inclination to do this. With that said, it is nice to only have to carry one device to take still pictures and video. So I do enjoy that feature, however 1080 is not really necessary. In fact with up converting DVD players standard def is still very usable and takes up far less space. Suffice it to say that the video capabilities are very good and should do anything a home user would need it to do. Can be used for pro Videos as demonstrated by Chase Jarvis.
This is a very nice camera and it feels very solid in your hands. It feels far more substantial than the D40/D90 without feeling like a brick the way the D300/D700 do. I am sure the D300 has more marketing features than the D7000 but I would have to research them to figure out what they are.
In the end it all comes down to what is important to you. Smaller weight and size is becoming much more important to me and this camera is a very good trade off of features for size and weight. Anything that is missing I don't even use so I am not sure what it may be. My D700 was recently stolen and while I miss it, the D7000 is a worthy replacement for it. I opted to get the D7000 and Panasonic GH2 and save the $300 difference for a lens.
--100% view finder!
--6 fps (7D is 8. However, I think this number is overhyped in most cases. Even shooting at 3 FPS will fill up you card with photos that look remarkably similar) 8+ is needed for professionals shooting professional sports. Not enthusiast shooting High School etc.
--16mp sensor (a marketing increase but still nice to allow some room for cropping)
--14 bit photos
--39 point auto focus sensors (19 cross point) this is a bit of a marketing thing but it is still nice and it does not matter about the 51 on D300s and above. Still very nice.
--2016 scene meter - compares against data base for WB setting and color settings
--Excellent battery life
--MD-11 Optional Battery Grip
--2 SD card slots for back up redundancy or double the card space! Outstanding
--Magnesium used to make camera stronger
--16mp senor (takes up more storage on your hard drive) (12mp JPG 3mb 12 mp RAW = 12 mb 16mp JPEG = 5 mb 16 mp RAW = 16 mb. This is for 12 bit. 14 bit would require more)
--Camera heavier than it used to be
--No swivel screen - after using the GH1 extensively you really miss this when shooting at weird angles. You especially miss it for macro photography.
--No full time live view - Ditto from above. Live view is what you see is what you get. Forgot to change white balance-- you will see that when people are yellow, blue or green. Have it set in manual and blowing everything out-- you'll see that as a white screen.
For the Nikon shooter this is a no brainer. If you are in the market for a camera, then skip the D300s. The D700 is getting long in the tooth and many people are buying the D7000 while waiting for D800. If you already own a D700 then this camera is a very good complement to it. Use the money you saved over the more expensive camera to buy a nice lens.
Here is a breakdown vs other Nikon DSLRs
D3100-- Two completely different classes with the D7000 being worth the difference in many. However at the end of the day they will both make nice pictures. Also, the lenses are more important than the camera. You can get the D3100 and 18-200mm for the same price. Something to think about.
D5000-- Good sensor and nice camera. D3100 comments also apply here.
D90--Tough choice. The best DX sensor of its generation and still better than most. If you can't quite stretch to the D7000, this is a very tempting proposition.
D300S-- Irrelevant. The D7000 has a much better sensor, is smaller, lighter, cheaper, and better metering.
Nikon D700-- Would be a good complement to the D7000. Use D7000 when you need the 1.5x crop on the long end and a deeper depth of field due to the smaller chip (about 1 stop deeper) and D700 for when you want to isolate a subject with a shallow depth of field or you want to use the full width of a wide angle such as the 14-24mm. If you don't need the shallower depth of field of a FX sensor and you have the lenses to cover the 1.5x crop then the D7000 should suit just fine. D3s and D3x -- Different leagues altogether. However, the D7000 is 90% of the camera for 1/4 to 1/6th the money.
The 7D is an outstanding camera and while I think the D7000 is a better camera (better sensor, 2 SD card slots, 2016 RGB metering, Price) it is not that much better to warrant switching if you are already invested in lenses.
The Sony SLT-A55 is a great camera but not in the league of the D7000. However it is $350 less and does have so unique properties. It is rumored to have the same sensor as the D7000 but Nikon always does their magic and makes it better (D3x vs A900). The translucent mirror allows for fast shooting but loses 1/3 a stop of light. Still a very nice camera.
Non-DSLR Owner or DSLR owner with just the Kit Lens
When you are buying a DSLR, you are really buying into the lens system. So factor that into you decision making matrix. For that reason, if you have not spent a fortune on lenses yet then I recommend the m4/3 as in my opinion that is the future. The sensor of the top m4/3(GH2) is every bit as good if not better than the current crop of DX sensors and almost as good as the D7000. It is getting to the point, the sensor doesn't matter as much. At this point handling, size and weight start to become more important.
With this in mind I would recommend the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 16.05 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-inch Free-Angle Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Hybrid Lens (Black) to anyone not invested in a lens system. It is smaller, lighter, more capable on the video side and in many ways better on the stills side. It needs a faster flash sync speed, faster shutter speed and the construction is not up to Nikon or Canon standards (In all fairness this cuts down on weight and I have not had a failure with my GH1.) It is probably not quite as good at the high ISO. On the positive side it has a multi-aspect sensor as it is actually an 18mp sensor (16:9, 2:3, and 4:3 will all be 16mp not crops of one aspect ratio) It sells for $899 body only, $999 with the 14-42mm and $1499 with the fantastic 14-140mm 10x zoom. The lack of a mirror flipping up is a benefit in all cases. Also, you can use just about any lens ever made on this camera. Nikon, Leica, Canon, Pentax, C Lenses. You lose auto focus on any auto focus lenses and there is no accurate way to adjust your aperture on G series lenses. While the GH1 sensor was by far the best M4/3 sensor and equaled most DX sensors of its generation, it did not quite stand up to the D90 sensor. I expect the D7000 to have a higher Dynamic Range and be an overall better sensor. However, that difference will not be noticeable to the lay users. What you get is a noticeably smaller and lighter camera that out handles any DSLR on the market and has the best video capabilities. In my opinion the GH2 will be the best all-around camera of its generation. The GH1 is the camera I reach for 90% of the time when I shoot for pleasure. When Panasonic puts out a full Pro line of lenses, I will use it more in the Pro situations. I am sure the GH2 will be my new go to camera.
on October 26, 2010
Just take it for granted that this takes amazing pictures under all conditions, including low light, and that it contains all the manual controls that you'd ever want.
Instead, here's some things that the camera does that you might not have heard about:
* Built-in EyeFi support
If you've used EyeFi SD cards before, you probably assumed that it would work with the D7000, since the D7000 now uses SD cards instead of CF. But not only do you not have to mess around with SD-to-CF adapters, the camera is actually EyeFi aware-- you can choose to have it upload or not upload on a slot-by-slot basis (so you might have it automatically upload the RAW files you saved to an EyeFi Pro card in slot 1, but not bother to upload the JPEGs you saved to the EyeFi Explorer card in slot 2), and there is also an icon that appears on the Info display to indicate that there are files waiting to upload, that the upload is in progress or disabled, etc.
The Nikon Wifi adapter is going for $400. A 4GB, class 6 EyeFi card goes for $40. If you really want to move RAW files, snag the Pro version for $80. Yes, the Nikon adapter does things that EyeFi can't, but if you just want to get your files onto a PC without pulling the card, why spend 10X the money?
You're stuck with the usual limitations of the EyeFi card, but I fully expect to use this feature a LOT with studio portraits-- yeah, it only takes 10 seconds to pull the card and have Windows recognize that you added it, then another 5 seconds to eject the card and stick it back in the camera. But if you just want a quick check that your exposure or focus is where you want it, wouldn't you rather just hit a single key and see your last shot, then get right back into the flow? You may want to drop your JPEG file sizes to speed up the transfer.
* In-camera RAW file processing
The camera contains a ton of built-in settings-- in addition to the basics like Standard, Normal, Landscape, etc, you also get all the various Scene modes, which are basically variations on those main settings.
RAW processing allows you to see how the shot would have looked had you used one of those other modes. In other words, you shoot in Normal, which basically applies no processing to the image, then select the RAW file, and choose how you'd like to adjust it. You can change the white balance settings, exposure, basic picture setting (landscape, portrait, etc), noise reduction, color space, and dynamic lighting. With the exception of the advanced details on the basic picture settings, you see a preview of how your change will affect the picture.
If you like it, just hit EXEcute and it writes out a JPEG to your card. Don't like it, just back out and nothing's saved.
This means that you don't have to worry that shooting in Vivid is going to result in an oversaturated image, or you can punch something up even more after the fact. The only real drawback here to me is that it is going to kick out a JPEG, so if you're planning on doing further editing in Photoshop, this may not be the best route. But if you're just looking to go right from the camera to the web, or want to get an idea of how playing with custom settings will affect your shots, this is a massive shortcut to taking and then deleting a ton of shots. (And keep in mind that Photoshop will allow you to mess with most of these settings when importing RAW files anyway, and the plugin D7000-compatible RAW plugin had a release candidate posted yesterday, so you can finally open your RAW shots.)
And a related feature that's in most other Nikons, but that you might not know about-- you can define your own basic picture settings. Want something that's super-saturated and super-contrasty? Just hit a few buttons, choose a name, and you're done. On the older Nikons, you had to edit the basic profile itself, now, you can use one as a starting point and adjust from there. Much cleaner.
* User-defined settings on the control knob
Not as hidden as the first two, but I can't emphasize how cool this feature is. Here's the situation I was in last night-- I was shooting a singing contest in a dimly-lit venue. I was allowed to use a flash, but I didn't want to constantly be blasting the singers while they were performing.
I defined one setting as shutter priority, 1/60th, ISO Hi 2, center-weighted metering & focus, no flash. The second setting was automatic, ISO auto, full metering and autofocus, flash enabled. I'd take a couple shots in U2 with the flash, close the flash down and switch to U1 and shoot a half a dozen shots, then switch back to U2 and use the flash for a couple more shots. There was no fumbling for controls, no worrying that I changed the shutter speed without realizing it when changing between Auto and S-- every time I went from U2 to U1, all my settings were reset to where I put them before the event started.
I don't think I ever felt as confident about my camera settings in a rapidly changing situation as I did last night-- with just a simple twist of a knob, I was able to change to a completely different shooting configuration with absolute confidence that it was what I wanted.
To me, the utility of this is almost endless-- I'll probably set up one setting for studio portraits, and the other for landscape stuff. If I was still shooting news, I'd probably be swapping between flash and no-flash configurations. For sports, I'd change between action modes and post-game portraits.
The only thing that would make this even better would be if I could import and export settings for later use-- even if you use the "Save/Load" settings option to back up your current configuration to a memory card, it doesn't appear that this information is stored. However, it may be a bug in the Load settings feature, as a number of my settings were incorrectly reset when I tried to load in settings. Either way, it would work better if I could treat these like custom basic picture settings, saving them by name and loading them at will.
* Built-in interval timer shooting
Want to take time-lapse pictures? Just set up your camera on the tripod, specify when you want it to start, how many pictures to take overall, and how many pictures to take each interval and walk away. When it's time to start taking pictures, the camera will automatically focus and shoot, then go back to waiting for the next shot. No messing around with tethering, 3rd party software, whatever-- it's all in the camera, and it's all super-easy to set up. You'll find yourself taking pictures of your living room just to see what your cat actually does all day while you're at work.
* Zoom in live view
This might just be "new to me," but I found it to be very cool for manually adjusting focus when on a tripod-- frame your basic shot, then change to live view. From there, zoom in with the magnifying glass key, and move around the image with the navigation pad until you find the point you want to focus on, then manually focus. Since you can zoom into a tiny portion of the overall image, you can see that you're getting exactly the focus point you want before you take the shot. One gotcha that I always forget, though-- don't forget to pick your aperture BEFORE going into live view, as you can't change it once live view has started.
* Adjustable shooting rate
Again, might be "new to me," but in addition to blasting away at 6fps, you can manually adjust that from 1 to 5 FPS in order to get a different effect. You obviously need to be using a fast enough shutter speed to support your choice-- if you're at 1/2 a second, you're not going to shoot faster than 2FPS.
As I mentioned in one of my other reviews, I used to be a semi-pro photographer-- I was the photo editor for both a weekly and a daily paper, I've shot tons of sports and news photos, and landscape photography is my hobby. I've recently gotten back into portrait photography as well. While I never owned as many cameras as a true pro would have (that semi- means that I never made enough money at it to be able to really spring for equipment), I have shot with a lot of other people's equipment, and I can honestly say that this is the best camera I've ever used.
on February 15, 2011
Hundreds of general reviews of the D7000 have already been written, so instead of trying to reinvent that wheel I will address specific issues that people who are thinking of upgrading may find helpful. If you currently own a D80 the upgrade is a no-brainer. Just do it, you won't regret it. If you're using a D90, as I was before, you may be considering the upgrade to a D7000 a bit more skeptically.
I am a serious amateur/hobbyist with more than 50 years of experience in photography, and have progressed from a D50 to a D80 to a D90 (each owned for two years), to the D7000 purchased two months ago.
Initially I wondered if the upgrade from a D90 would really be worth it. Well, it definitely is. The D7000 isn't an upgrade to the D90 in the traditional sense that we tend to think of upgrades, it's a whole NEW CAMERA. The improvements I'm most impressed with that matter most to me personally for my kind of photography?
1. New sensor with greater dynamic range and superior high-ISO performance. The first DX body to come close to approximating FX cameras in these areas.
2. New 39-point AF module that puts the D80 and D90's 11-point AF to shame in AF-C and makes easy work of any kind of action photography. Not only faster and more precise autofocusing, but also a significantly improved method for quickly choosing different AF modes.
3. Improved layout of buttons and controls on the body, but with a nearly identical menu structure to the D90 that makes it easy to learn and implement everything, including the D7000's new features. The learning curve should be minimal coming from a D80 or D90. And there are enough similarities to the D300 to make it an easy transition.
4. Metering, especially matrix metering, is more accurate in a wider variety of lighting conditions -- definitely improved over the D90 and a major improvement over the D80. A camera's meter readings are always suggestions, not commandments, and EV compensation is often necessary. But the D7000's matrix metering gets the exposure very close to right the vast majority of the time.
5. The D7000's light touch (hair trigger) shutter release takes a little getting used to, but it definitely minimizes the chance of camera motion blur when taking a picture. I understand that D300 and D700 users won't notice much difference in the touch, but it's a major improvement if you're coming from any of Nikon's consumer DSLRs.
6. The 6 fps continuous mode is plenty fast enough to capture very fast action like birds in flight. And the new dial configuration makes it easier than ever to change shooting modes quickly.
7. Programmable U1 and U2 modes eliminate time-consuming menu diving and button pushing when you want to switch instantaneously between settings for different situations (landscape or scenic shots vs. action photography, for example).
8. The introduction of several "pro body features" in a consumer camera like AF fine tuning, which is not something you need all the time or want to use indiscriminately, but it's wonderful to have when you need it.
9. Better construction gives the D7000 a "pro feel" not present in other consumer grade Nikon bodies. A subjective opinion, I know, but just picking up a D7000 tells you that you're handling a very solid, serious piece of equipment.
10. Yes, we all bemoaned the introduction of a new D7000 battery. But this new EN-EL15 is a powerhouse that will give the Energizer Bunny a run for his money. A very positive new enhancement.
11. Last but not least (lest we forget the real purpose of a camera), I am taking better pictures (technically, at least) with my D7000 than I did with my D90 -- and doing so much more easily and efficiently. Compared to the 2-3 months it took me to adapt to the D80 and D90 when I upgraded to those bodies before I began getting really satisfactory results, there hasn't been any such prolonged learning curve with my D7000.
I have not commented on the D7000's video capabilities because I don't shoot video with it. I have noted that autofocusing with any lens in Live View is rather slow, even in good light, and many lenses may have difficulty achieving an accurate focus lock in low light. And a few lenses may fail to autofocus in Live View at all. This is not really important to me because I very rarely use this feature, but it is something to be aware of.
A word about lenses: Achieving the best results with the higher resolution of the 16MP D7000 does require good lenses. The 18-105 VR kit lens is adequate and will yield perfectly satisfactory results. However, obtaining the superior image quality that the camera is capable of calls for better quality glass. For an excellent general purpose "walkaround" lens that is also a Best Buy at $449, I personally recommend the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM Lens for Nikon Mount Digital SLR Cameras. I prefer this Sigma to the somewhat overpriced Nikon 16-85 VR. To cover the telephoto range, I would suggest adding the excellent Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras to your arsenal.
I hope Amazon shoppers for the D7000 body only who thinking of upgrading from a previous DSLR find my observations helpful.
UPDATE ON 03/16/11 --
Here is a link to my Flickr photostream if you would like view some of the photos I have taken with the D7000. They include the EXIF info and were taken with the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM and Nikon 70-300 VR.
One feature I didn't mention in my original review is in-camera editing. This is not something new, but it's much more robust in the D7000 and I use it quite a bit. For example, JPEG shooters will appreciate the in-camera WB adjustment that lets you correct color balance that's way off right in the camera and then make subtle adjustments in post processing. Likewise, in-camera B&W and sepia conversions produce images with a full tonal gradient for later creative manipulation on the computer. Both of these are handy time-savers, and your original image always remains intact. The in-camera cropping options have also been expanded to include virtually all of the popular formats and provide excellent flexibility for basic cropping.
The more I use my D7000, the more I appreciate what a significant upgrade it is to the D90.
on October 21, 2010
My first DSLR was a D80 I purchased four years ago. The shutter went out a few weeks back but I had been planning to upgrade to the D7000 anyway so this just hurried things up. I bought the D7000 kit with the 18-105 lens but quickly sold that on Ebay. I was shooting with a Tamron 17-50 2.8 lens on the D80. For low light, it worked pretty well but greater than half the time I needed to use my SB-600 flash to capture my young kids doing what they do (move). The only downside to the Tamron, or combination of the Tamron with the D80, was that the images tended to be soft, especially when opened up. So I also upgraded my lens to the Nikkor 16-85. While this is a variable lens that maxes out at 3.5, it is amazingly sharp combined with the D7000. And the extra reach is great for getting better shots and also providing relatively shallow depth of field that otherwise would be lost with the slower aperture.
The reason I mention the lens change is that I wouldn't have gone to a variable lens had it not been for the amazing ISO performance on the D7000. I am now shooting flashless at very fast shutter speeds. I usually shoot raw and process with Lightroom and I'm seeing amazing results at 800 ISO even when fully blown up (1:1). At ISO 1600, I can see minor noise but Lightroom 3's noise reduction easily eliminates it. 3200 certainly isn't noiseless but again, Lightroom can clean it up very well in most situations. My old D80 had more noise at 400 than the D7000 has at 1600; I'd say 800 on it was equivalent to 3200 on the D7000. I could see printing 1600 shots at smaller sizes with no need for software cleanup. So while my results are preliminary (3 weeks in), I am astonished at the ISO capabilities of this camera. I no longer have d700 envy and am glad I can get great dx lenses for under $700 as opposed to $1500 for fx. Perfect for enthusiasts like me!
You've seen the stat that the D7000 can shoot 6 shots per second. The 6FPS shutter is in some ways overkill. But if you shoot HDR/Bracket shots in quick succession having such a rapid shutter can allow you to do so handheld in a pinch. This is really only possible because of the high ISO capabilities enabling very fast shutter times. And for sporting events and the like, it's nice to have the ability to rapidly fire off shots.
I have also noticed considerably improved metering and white balance on the D7000 compared to my old D80. Of the 350 or so shots I've taken, I am spending much less time adjusting lighting and white balance in Lightroom.
As others have mentioned, the ergonomics/design of the camera are quite good and I really enjoy the many direct access shortcuts for adjusting everything from focus to flash to white balance and much more. The two custom settings are very easy to set and perfect for your two most common profiles (e.g. indoor portrait and outdoor landscape). The screen is beautiful and moving in and around even RAW files is very smooth and fast. I went with two 16GB SD class 10 Transcend cards and while I'm currently using the RAW 1 / JPEG 2 option, I plan to use the second as a backup card once I go to RAW only.
I've only toyed with the video function but that was a part of my consideration since I dislike carrying two cameras, plus chargers and media, on family vacations. The tests I've done in 1080P have been very impressive, albeit large as you would expect. Auto-focusing while video recording is okay, as long as the background isn't too noisy or subjects too many. The biggest downside I have experienced is the built-in microphone picks up lots of auto focusing noise. I have not yet invested in an external mic but probably will need to.
All in all I am very pleased with the D7000 and see no major shortcomings. It's not cheap, but you get a lot for your money if you are in the market for a prosumer class DSLR. For users who won't explore and use the MANY options and capabilities of this camera, I would recommend considering the 3100/5100. For D80/90 users who are ready to step up big time in terms of performance, this is the upgrade you have been waiting for. Some will hold out for a D700 successor (D800 or whatever it ends up being called). I have no doubt it will be an amazing camera but cost wise, you're going to be looking at $2500+ for the body alone and pay roughly double for coverage equivalent lenses. So figure $4K just to get started. Too rich for my non-professional needs but certainly should be considered if your work or wants dictate that level of camera. And there maybe be a D300s replacement in the works too. Still, I'd urge anyone to consider the D7000, which in my opinion is the best cropped sensor DSLR to date.
on June 10, 2011
I went a little crazy last year and bought a D700. I learned that camera pretty well and absolutely loved shooting with it. But I am an amateur and always felt a little guilty having spent that much money on a hobby. What's more, the D700 is big and heavy compared to amateur cameras (it's an awesome size for pros), and I actually found myself leaving it at home on occasion because of that size and weight. So when the D7000 was out for a bit and received such good reviews, I jumped.
I fell in love with the D7000 immediately and sold the D700. Of course, I would have kept both if I could justify the cash, but the D7000 is so good that I usually don't feel like I'm missing much. There are quite a few interesting points to be made comparing the two cameras, but I recognize that the average shopper would not be considering the two in the same class, so I'll just say I'd be happy to answer questions in the comments. The short version is that while the D700 produces slightly better images and generally handles better, the D7000 is at least 90% the camera for the half the price and is better suited to the amateur shooter in several respects.
So why do I like it so much?
-Beautiful images, of course.
-Low light performance is extremely admirable for a DX sensor.
-Flash commander mode for using flash off-camera
-The right amount of heft and size for my taste. Build feels excellent, and it's got weatherproofing!
-Dual SD cards are a nice touch.
-Handling is great. U1 and U2 modes are a wonderful addition. Nikon's command dials have a nice feel and are extremely useful.
-I didn't buy this camera for video, but the video looks great IF you handle it right. Think movie camera rather than family video cam.
What I don't like as much?
-Buffer is a bit small when shooting NEF (RAW). It doesn't affect me because I don't shoot much action, but heavy sport shooting could be difficult in NEF.
-SD cards still aren't as fast as CF cards.
-Viewfinder is a nice size for DX, but it's still nowhere near the size of an FX viewfinder.
-I think I prefer the AF selector on the D700 by a hair. One finger vs two. Not that big a deal.
-See above, but video is obviously not as easy as a dedicated video camera. Who cares?
I mentioned the D5100 in my title because I think many people are wondering if the D7000 is worth the extra cost over the D5100. The short answer is that it depends on how serious of a shooter you are. Do you understand the relationship between shutter speed, aperture, and ISO? If the answer is "No, and I don't care," stop reading and buy the D5100, or even the D3100. Do you want to film your kids playing soccer? The D5100 is better suited for that, although I'd really suggest you buy a dedicated video camera. These are primarily still cameras after all. If you're a more advanced shooter, or you'd like to become one, consider the following:
Some people say the D5100 has the same sensor and the option to shoot video at 30 fps, so why would you possibly want a D7000 instead? There are several very important upgrades that the D5100 does NOT have, some of which I could not live without:
-Flash commander mode: Enables you to shoot your external flash or flashes off camera. Huge capability.
-Continuous shooting speed is 6 fps vs 4 fps.
-Battery life is far superior
-Dual SD cards. Not critical, but a very nice feature for backup especially.
-Lossless compressed 14-bit NEFs. Probably not a deal breaker, but I want every bit of quality available from that sensor!
-100% viewfinder vs 95%. I didn't know I wanted it until I got it.
-Non AF-S lens compatible (for autofocusing), Will meter with AI lenses. Another huge feature. I can use my 30-year-old 85mm f/2 lens.
-Better AF system. Another big deal for dynamic shooting situations.
The D5100 is cheaper, lighter, has a swiveling screen, and shoots video at 30 fps.
At $300 more, I think the D7000 is an excellent value compared to the D5100 when you consider the extra features it has.
What else can I say that hasn't already been said elsewhere? The D7000 is the camera to beat in this class, if you know how to shoot, and often, even if you don't.
on July 11, 2011
I had a D5100 and exchanged it for the D7000, which was back focusing, making many images (especially those at close range) soft. If the D7000 focused precisely out of the box, as it's supposed to, I would have kept it, since I liked all of the other features it has. All of my photos from the D5100 were sharp using the same lenses, so the lenses weren't the problem. I tried AF fine tuning and it helped a little, but not enough, even after reaching the maximum adjustment factor. A camera at this price level should have better quality control. Sure there are manufacturing tolerances, but they should be able to get the most critical assemblies close enough so the camera at least focuses properly, rather than hoping that customers won't notice or requiring them to spend hours fine tuning the AF, sometimes to no avail. It seems like getting a good D7000 depends quite a bit on luck. I've yet to decide if I'll try another D7000 or if I'll just go back to a D5100.
The D7000 also overexposes in bright/high contrast situations when using matrix metering, causing highlights to be clipped and detail to be lost. Some say that this is just the advanced metering system working as intended. Perhaps, but it requires the user to use negative exposure compensation whenever a shot like this is taken (or to program it into one of the "U" settings). You don't always have time to do this when a a good photo op comes around. IMHO, this is a significant flaw that should be corrected via a firmware update.
BTW, some have stated that the D7000 has better IQ than the D5100. All reviews I've read state that they are exactly the same in IQ, or that the diff is so small that it's negligible. This is consistent with my experience. In certain situations, like sports and low-light fast motion shots, the D7000's better AF and metering might help produce better photos, but for everything else, they're pretty much the same.
UPDATE: I decided to give the D7000 another chance and ordered a second one. Same backfocusing problem. This time, adjusting the AF fine tuning by a factor of -4 for all of my lenses results in sharp focus, but using AF fine tuning isn't an ideal solution, since it causes the camera to not focus properly at infinity or at minimum focusing distance. Depending on the degree of AF tuning required, this could then require the user to manually adjust the focus ring after the AF has "reached its limit" (the limit which has changed due to the use of AF fine tuning). Another unnecessary hassle you need to remember to take care of. The AF fine tuning feature is nice to have, but its purpose is to dial-in lenses that are a bit off due to manufacturing tolerance. I don't think it was intended to adjust a faulty body to work with lenses that are in spec, but that's the way it's often being used.
For anyone who buys a D7000, I'd recommend doing a focus test as soon as you get it, to ensure that you're getting the IQ you paid for. The best way to do this is with a focus test chart, but a quick and dirty method is to tape a page of text on the wall (make sure it's totally flat against the wall). Then, mount your camera on a tripod perpindicular to the wall, with lens (set at the largest aperture) at the same height as the page. Take a shot or two using autofocus through the viewfinder. Use the remote or self timer, with mirror lockup. Then take some shots using live view. If the AF photos are not as sharp as the LV shots (or at least very close to them in sharpness), your AF is off (most likely back focusing).
on October 25, 2010
In April of 2004, I bought my first DSLR, the Nikon D70. I paid $1299.99 for the D70 and 18-70 kit lens. I loved the D70 - it was good enough that I could resist the D80, D200, etc. I spent my money on lenses instead. Then along came the D7000. I was nervous about jumping before DP Review has given their full report, but trusted Nikon and couldn't resist the specs. Well, after several hundred shots I'm resting easy: this is an absolutely fantastic camera.
If you're like me coming from the D70, the D7000 is a step forward by every objective and subjective measure. I'm especially pleased with the D7000's new sensor. Two and half times the resolution changed the way I frame shots. I can pull back a bit during sports shooting to leave room for alignment corrections that eat up pixels at the edges. Unlike the D70, ISO 1600 is quite usable and ISO 3200 viable. I'm actually using Auto-ISO now, a feature I switched off in the D70 since I couldn't stand the noise.
The back panel display is also a sight to behold. With 7 times the resolution of the D70, the display is beautiful, bright and good enough to weed out poor shots on site.
The D7000 ergonomics felt immediately comfortable to my Nikon fingers. The only thing that made me pause was to locate the trash can button, which is now upper left rather than bottom right.
Of course, many other pleasant surprises await, a customizable button, live view, Active D-Lighting, not to mention 1080P video.
So, to those still snapping away with their D70's, this is the one! Enjoy!!!
-- EDIT --
If you are interested in the various GPS adapters for location tagging, be aware the D7000 uses a USB style connector for GPS units. This is different and incompatible with most other Nikon DSLRs. Make sure your GPS specifically states D7000 in it's compatibility list.
on December 14, 2010
I bought my D7000 as an upgrade from my D80, which was itself an upgrade from the D50. I'm not one to buy a new dSLR every couple of years; I have been wanting to migrate from the D80 for awhile now because I don't like its meter, which consistently overexposed and blew out the highlights in pictures. I considered the D90, of course, but it wasn't quite enough to make me take the plunge. The D7000 is. I don't understand Nikon's naming convention on this camera, though: Prior to this, the pro-level cameras had one numeric digit (D1, D2, D3), the enthusiast-level cameras had two digits (D40-D60 for lower end, D70-D90 for higher end), and the newer consumer-level cameras had four digits (D3100, D5000). The D7000 in no way belongs in the same class as any consumer-grade camera. Nikon may have created an entirely different class of dSLR here. It beats every two-digit camera they've made, and might even render the amazing D300s largely irrelevant, but that's just an opinion. So, Nikon's inconsistent nomenclature notwithstanding, this camera is fantastic in nearly every way.
Suffice it to say that anyone interested in this camera knows the specs. Nothing in the marketing blurbs, however, can convey the way the D7000 feels and operates in the hands of a photographer. This camera just hums. It feels solid and professional, the buttons and dials are thoughtfully placed (no surprise there... ergonomics and build quality are why I shoot with Nikon), and the performance is just breathtaking. The D7000 borrows numerous features from its pro-grade lineup, such as blazing speed (largely unnecessary but still impressive at 6 fps), magnesium alloy body, virtual horizon, user-defined controls for entire banks of settings, etc. And it gets some features of its own, like 14-bit processing, a new processing engine, a newly-designed 16.2 MP sensor, vastly improved metering (much better than my D80), an intervalometer (for unsupervised timed interval shooting), and 100% viewfinder coverage. A full range of "live" adaptive dynamic range lighting control (called "D-lighting") is available, including an "AUTO" setting my D80 lacked. This really helps with high-contrast scenes, preserving the detail in the light areas while bringing out some of the details in the shadows. Focusing is fast, fast, fast, even with my non-Nikkor lens, which had regular problems on the D80. The D7000 manages it perfectly. Obviously, performance with my Nikkor lenses is silent, fast, and flawless. All of this translates into a remarkable experience for the experienced photographer. Playback is great too -- fast response when zooming (including diagonal zooming), and a new feature called "Face Playback" or something like that which is actually as useful as it is gimmicky, unlike most things like this which are more gimmicky than useful in real-world applications. When zooming in on a photo with people in it, the screen puts a small white box around all the faces. Set the zoom level, then use the front dial button to move instantly from face to face. Use the main (rear) dial to move to the next picture at the same zoom level. It's really useful and fun for checking to see if everyone is smiling and has their eyes open in a group photo. It's definitely gimmicky, since it's not strictly necessary, but in this case, it's actually quite useful, too. I enjoy this feature.
The menus are logically laid out, and pressing the "?" button offers more in-depth information on any of the myriad features and functions in the menus. Everything is HIGHLY customizable... you can easily spend several hours playing with menu settings, but owing to Nikon's liberal sprinkling of dedicated buttons and controls on the D7000 body, you won't need to dive into the menus very often after the initial tweaks are made. The superb degree of customization possible is what pushes the D7000 solidly into the very high end of enthusiast cameras. If you tend to leave your dSLR set on AUTO nearly all the time, don't waste the money on the D7000; buy the excellent D3100 instead. It's got many of the same features for half the price.
Battery life on the D7000 is completely insane. For even an enthusiast shooter, one full charge can easily last a week of shooting 100+ photos per day. Going on a weekend vacation? A week? Leave the charger at home. I took it on a six-day trip to Thailand and lost only one segment on the battery meter during that time (although to be fair, I didn't shoot hundreds and hundreds of photos). The D7000 is rated at 1,050 shots per charge, and I believe it based on my own usage so far. This is nothing particularly jaw-dropping for me, though: the D80 battery lasts forever, too. I also love the twin SD card slots with their multiple options for use: overflow, backup, dedicated video/RAW assignment... brilliant.
As reported, low-light performance is excellent, particularly with a fast lens. Even with a standard f/3.5 zoom, the lack of noise in ISOs up to 1600 means you won't be popping that flash up very often. I use my SB-600 speedlight now almost exclusively for wireless creative lighting techniques, not to actually supply light needed for a photo. At ISO 800, shooting handheld indoors is a breeze. When you do use the flash (for fill-flash situations, for example), it's pretty much perfect, typical for Nikon.
This is a serious rival for Canon's 60D, which I'd suggest is the D7000's only real competition in this class of dSLR. I'd say the D7000 beats the 60D in most real-world respects (though some of that is based on my own preference for Nikon's ergonomics), although I understand the 60D is superb for video. I'm not a videographer, so I can't really comment on that. (I can add that, in playing around with it, I do find the autofocusing during video shooting to be pretty bad.) The vast majority of the time, I'll be using my D7000 for still photography. I'd take the D7000 over the D300s, and the doubling of price doesn't warrant the purchase of the fantastic D700 (for me, at least).
I was lucky to get this camera at all given Nikon's continuing supply/demand issues. Even though it was released three months ago, it's near-impossible to find it in stock anywhere. I live outside the US currently and was, happily, able to get a D7000 body at a Nikon retailer for about the same price (when converted) as it should sell for in the States, about $1,200.
Money well-spent, I must say.
For me, upgrading from the D80, the chief improvements were:
- The meter. Metering on the D80 was pretty bad, in all honesty. The D7000 is far, far better at reading the light, which is the most crucial point of photography. This excellent full-color RGB meter, in concert with active D-lighting (for high-contrast scenes), and seriously intelligent metering algorithms, makes getting the "right shot" much more effortless.
- White balance. One of the most critical settings in digital photography, and the D7000 handles it brilliantly with so many nuanced settings and adjustments possible. Love it.
- Fantastic high-ISO performance. I rarely ever use the built-in flash and when I use my SB-600, it's typically off-camera use for fun or creative lighting effects. The D7000 handles low-light shooting amazingly well, especially when used with a fast lens like my Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 prime. Even with a f/3.5-4.5 or 5.6 zoom, performance is impressive.
- The 3-inch 921,000-dot LCD. The D80's LCD is quite good... until you've spent a couple of days with the D7000. If you're upgrading from the D70/s to the D7000, it's like an entirely new world. Though it's not an articulating LCD like the one on the Canon 60D, the LCD on the D7000 is still completely fantastic. Super-sharp, bright, and responsive.
- U1 and U2 user-defined settings. Wow, I love this! I wish there were 3 or 4 settings, but having even two memories for entire banks of complex camera settings is great. The preloaded "scene" settings are also on an entirely different level from the D80 (you set "Scene" on the left dial, press "info," then use the command dial to choose from tons of scene options on the main LCD), if you care to use Nikon's predefined scene algorithms. I used a couple (sunset, food) to test them out and the results were quite good.
- 1080p movies and Live View. I don't envision using the D7000 to shoot a lot of movies, but even having that capability is an obvious benefit over the D80.
- User-defined menu creation. You can put your most-used menu commands into a separate menu for your personal use and easy, single menu-level access. I really like this feature.
- Seems to handle off-brand lenses better. Three of my lenses are Nikkors, but two are Tamrons. On my 18-250mm Tamron, the D80 would routinely struggle with it, either taking some time to autofocus or "losing" the lens altogether. The display would simply read "F --" as if there were no lens attached. I'd either have to remove and reattach the lens or switch the camera off and back on. This has never happened with the D7000.
- The "info" button that puts all of the information that's on the top LCD screen, and a lot more, on the big, color rear LCD screen. I realize numerous newer Nikons do this, but the D80 didn't, so this is a quantum leap for me.
- The integrated sensor cleaner. I presume it's ultrasonic and just vibrates any errant dust particles off the sensor. You can set this to occur every time the camera is switched on, or activate it on demand. My D80 had no such feature.
- More megapixels. You'll notice this is last on the list because it doesn't really make that big a difference. The resolution of the D80 was amply sufficient and I still get awesome shots on my 7.2-MP point and shoot Casio EX-Z750, which I continue to love. But 16.2 MP allows for easy cropping with no real loss of useful resolution, so it's definitely a big step up from the 10.1 MP of the D80.
on January 28, 2014
I don't care what any review says. I owned this and then traded up for the D7100. Worst mistake. The D7100 is grainy (yes yes, b/c they removed the anti-alias to make things sharper. Grainy is NOT sharper, it's just grainy.). The D7000 is smooth and beautiful. I miss the D7000 every single day. Easier to use too. Better setup, better dials, better everything. Sure the D7100 has better specs et al, but in real life the D7000 is fantastic. I am a professional photographer. I don't believe in spending $6000 dollars on a camera body because 5 years ago the D7000, for instance, would've cost $6000. It's all a game to keep us buying new cameras every year. The top camera 5 years ago used to shoot fashion is still just as good as it was 5 years ago. And looking at fashion magazines now I don't say, my goodness the cameras they use are so much better! Can't you just see how much better the photo is? That's my rant. My review is: Buy the D7000 and skip the D7100.