Yep, that’s right – Nikon has dropped it’s newest and hottest DX format DSLR on the world as of Tuesday night! Today I’ll share with you my thoughts on this new camera and what I like and don’t like. So let’s get started! (All images are courtesy of Nikon USA.)
The D7000 is the replacement for the D90 which was announced in the summer of 2008 and began shipping in October of 2008. The D90 has been a great camera body and it’s worth more than it’s weight in gold as far as I’m concerned – but it did lack a few things. I’m happy to report that some of those things that I had hoped would be on the D90 and weren’t, are now on the D7000. Thank you Nikon for listening to your customers!
Megapixels don’t really matter, so I could care less that the new sensor has 16.2. What’s really impressive is that it handles ISOs up to 6400 and I’m sure the files will look as good (or better) than the D90’s do at ISO 3200. That’s exciting! Extreme low noise performance out of a DX format body. That just rocks!
The new magnesium alloy body is something that I wasn’t expecting at all! I’m really happy that Nikon saw that there were a lot of pros who were shooting with the D90 and decided to make the D7000 capable of putting up with a little more abuse. You will also note that the camera strap eyelets are the same as the D300s, D700, and D3s/D3x camera bodies. A subtle, but nice touch. The D7000 body will also be weather sealed like it’s pro-level counterparts, further enhancing it’s usefulness in the field.
There are some other nuances about the D7000 that scream to those experienced with Nikon equipment that the company is marketing this camera body towards pros. The shutter release button is the same style that is on Nikon’s pro-level cameras. They upgraded the in-camera light meter, changed the max shutter speed to 1/8000th of a second, and the max flash sync speed to 1/250th of a second. Oh, and did you notice that you can now selected your shutter release mode (Single Shot, Continuous Low, Continuous High, Timer) from a dial right below your mode selector? And how about the 39-point auto focus and the continuous auto focus while shooting video? Did I mention that the viewfinder is now 100% too?
These are all little things that may not sound like much, but to the working photographer mean a lot. It’s important to be able to change settings in your camera without the hassle of going through a menu to find what you’re looking for. We would rather be able to know where the dial or button is and change a setting without removing our eye from the viewfinder.
I mentioned video above. The dual SD card slots allow you to be able to select the function of the second card – say… for videos. Being able to shoot in 1080p is also nice, although the 720p HD of the D90 and D300s is nothing to balk at either. Nikon also changed the format of the videos too. Video is now captured in .MOV format vice the .AVI format of the D-Movie mode cameras. Very nice touch. The dedicated video record button will also be helpful when shooting video. For someone like me who’s starting to really get into shooting video, the D7000 is a huge improvement on the video features available on the D90, D5000, D300s and D3s. I’m really excited about it!
It wouldn’t be fair for me to write about all the things I like so far about the D7000 and leave out the things that I don’t like. I am not a fan of the new battery – the EN-EL15. Yes, it’s a technology improvement but it makes all the current models that used the EN-EL3e battery (D80, D90, D200, D300, D300s, D700) obsolete. If I wanted to use the D7000 as a primary camera body and one of the older bodies as a backup, I would have to carry separate batteries and separate chargers. I’m not a fan of carrying gear that I don’t need to be carrying. On the upside, I think that Nikon’s future bodies (D400 and whatever else they release) will use this new style battery. The D4 will likely use a battery similar to the one that is in the D3/s, but I think it will get an upgrade too.
I would also have liked to see Nikon add 7 or 9 frame exposure bracketing to the D7000. But alas, I guess you can’t have it all. If I really want those extra brackets I can shoot them manually if I have the time for the particular shot that I’m making. That feature will mainly appeal to those who wish to shoot HDR images, but even if you’re not shooting HDR it can still be useful.
I’m also not a fan that there is a new battery grip, but with a new battery it was going to happen regardless. It’s another accessory that would have to be purchased to maintain my current configuration. However, even if I upgraded to a D300s or a D700 I would be in the same boat.
What Does This Mean to You (or me)?
If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I’m not a gear head. I like to review gear that I buy and use and try new things, but I don’t believe that great gear makes great pictures. All great gear does is make our job of making pictures a little easier. So don’t think for one second that going out and buying this new camera is going to have a dramatic impact on the quality of your images. Think of it from the perspective of buying a better tool that will make your job easier. Will I upgrade? I’m not sure yet. I’m perfectly content with my D90 and even if I did sell it, I would probably get $800.00 at best for the camera, the MB-D80 grip, and the batteries and charger. (I even still have the box!) So then I’m spending another $400.00 for the new D7000 and probably $250.00 for the new grip. Are the new tools going to make that much of a difference to justify the expense at this point? Likely not.
With it’s high ISO performance, I think you will see a lot of wedding shooters forgo the D700 for this camera though. It’s got everything they need and nothing that they don’t. Especially if they are beginning to shoot video for their weddings too. Portrait photographers, photojournalists, and maybe even some sports photographers will find this camera useful due to it’s greater durability, 1.5x crop factor, and 6 fps shooting speed. Overall, I’m happy to see my camera manufacturer of choice stepping up their game and putting out such a great piece of gear. And you can bet that if I get my hands on one, I’ll be reviewing it here on the blog.
That’s it for today ladies and gents. I appreciate you coming along and hearing me out on my thoughts of the new D7000 from Nikon. If you’re going to be in the San Diego area on October 2nd, 2010 (or know someone who is), don’t forget that I’m teaching my Portrait Photography Workshop that day. Come out and learn about portrait photography, lighting, workflow, and more. Here’s the link for more information and to register! Have a great day and happy shooting!