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Nikon D7000 Gordon Laing, December 2010
 
   
 

Nikon D7000 review

Scroll down for my detailed video demonstrations!

The Nikon D7000 is the company's latest mid-range DSLR. Announced in September 2010, the D7000 technically replaces the enormously popular D90, although that model will remain on sale while stocks last. The new numbering clearly positions the D7000 above the D5000, with the D3100 below both.

Like the D90 before it, Nikon has deployed the latest technologies on the D7000 without losing sight of the desires of traditional photographers. The resolution has been increased from 12.3 to 16.2 Megapixels, while the movie mode now captures Full HD 1080p at 24fps with support for autofocus while filming. Continuous shooting has accelerated from 4.5 to 6fps and the viewfinder coverage increased to 100% over the previous 96%.

The D90's 11 point AF system has been boosted to a new 39-point system, while the metering now employs a 2016 pixel RGB sensor instead of the previous 420 pixel system. Nikon's also toughened-up the D7000 by using magnesium alloy on the upper and rear plates, whereas the D90 was all plastic, and there are now dual SD memory card slots.

 
 



It's an impressive specification which provides a big step-up from upper entry-level models like the D5000 and Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i, but the big change from the D90's era is Canon now has a new rival directly positioned against the D7000 in the form of the EOS 60D. In our full review we'll directly compare the design, features, performance and quality of the new D7000 against both the EOS 60D and its predecessor the D90.

In a temporary departure from our traditional review style, we've replaced our Design and Features pages here with a in-depth demonstration of the D7000 which you can find below. We strongly believe a video-based demo provides a better feel of how a camera performs in practice, and judging by your requests, most of the visitors to Cameralabs feel the same way. So as a test, we've extended our D7000 video coverage way beyond previous tours at Cameralabs to a 51 minute presentation split across four sections - we believe it's one of the most detailed videos made about a camera and we'd love to hear what you think of this approach in the Cameralabs forum. If it proves popular we'll consider implementing it for other major launches.

Before watching the video, please note our testing procedure hasn't changed. We've still performed the same degree of testing as previous reviews, so it's only the presentation that's different for this review. The video also only replaces the Design and Features pages in this review, so you'll still find our usual detailed Real-life Resolution, RAW and High ISO Noise comparisons, along with a page of sample images and our in-depth verdict, which analyses the camera's performance and weighs it up against the competition. We hope you'll find this a useful balance and an enjoyable alternative to traditional reviews.

In part one, below, I'll show you around the design and controls of the camera, demonstrating the Quiet release mode and taking a look through the menus and playback system.

 
Nikon D7000 demonstration part 1: design and features

 

In part two, below, I'll put the 6fps continuous shooting and 39-point AF system to the test, showing how they perform under real-life conditions, photographing jet boats racing past. I'll also take a look at how the EOS 60D compares in this regard, along with when you'd use the alternative AF modes and why AF Fine Tune could end up being one of the most important new features on the D7000.

 
Nikon D7000 demonstration part 2: continuous shooting and autofocus

Note: for the continuous shooting tests in the video above, I used Lexar Professional 16GB SDHC 133x Class 10 memory cards, so speed wasn't an issue. I also tried reducing the continuous shooting speed in CL mode, but this made very little impact on the number of frames captured - it did of course stretch out the amount of time you could shoot for though, so instead of, say, three seconds, you could shoot for longer, albeit with roughly the same number of total frames in the burst.

For the record, here are my RAW results: 14 bit RAW lossless: 10 frames, 12 bit RAW lossless: 11 frames, 14 bit RAW lossy: 12 frames, 12 bit RAW lossy: 14 frames, all at exactly 6fps, whether recording to a single card or two cards simultaneously.

In part three, below, I'll take a look at the sensor and image processing, checking out Active D-Lighting in action. I'll also discuss metering and exposures, and illustrate how the D7000 can be tripped-up by very bright scenes.

 
Nikon D7000 demonstration part 3: sensor, image processing and exposures

 

In the fourth and final part, below, I'll discuss and demonstrate the D7000's new 1080p movie mode, complete with external microphone input, manual control over exposures and continuous AF while filming. This entire video was shot with the D7000, and most of the sample clips can be downloaded for viewing on your own computer on our Nikon D7000 Movie Samples page.

 
Nikon D7000 demonstration part 4: Movie Mode

 

Credits

All four videos were filmed around the Queenstown area in New Zealand's South Island. Most of the location-based footage was filmed by Stefan Haworth using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and EF 50mm f1.2L lens, with audio captured by Rode SVM and AKG C1000S microphones; check out Stefan's Tapped NZ blog, featuring some great photos and videos shot around Queenstown. The Shotover Jet locations were filmed by Peter Elliston using a Canon HV30 HDV camcorder; check out Peter's various photographic galleries and movie projects. Many thanks to both Stefan and Peter for their work in this project. All video was edited using Adobe Premiere CS5 running under Windows 7 64 bit. We'd also like to thank Shotover Jet, Dorothy Brown's cinema and Vudu Cafe for their co-operation while filming.

 

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