First Impressions of D7000 from a D200 User

Started Oct 14, 2011 | Discussions thread
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First Impressions of D7000 from a D200 User
Oct 14, 2011

I haven't posted on this site in some time. I've always found this site and forum very helpful in evaluating gear for purchase so I thought I'd share my recent experience.

I few months back I had my D200 and most of my gear stolen and had to replace it. I took a hard look at going full-frame, but couldn't stomach the cost of the D700 and thought the idea of video was intriguing. I haven't followed all the recent Nikon model releases and had assumed the most logical direct replacement for my D200 would be the D300s — similar body and built with 4+ year newer technology.

Then I began reading about the D7000. I still wasn't convinced it was the way to go. I had a chance to play with a colleagues D7000 and was immediately impressed with the high-iso and clean jpg output. It seemed light years above my beloved D200. After my hands-on demo and the thought of putting the extra savings from the cheaper D7000 model toward better glass — I finally pulled the trigger. So far, I couldn't be happier.

My impressions are going to be overly scientific but I will share what I've noticed and like over the D200 and the camera in general for those of you still on the fence.

Image quality and flexibility:

The D7000, to me, spits out very clean sharp usable jpgs. The D200, in my experience, required a good amount of post-processing to yield great results – particularly when it came to the sharpness of out-of-the-camera jpg. I prefer to shoot RAW, but feel the D7000 gives great results in jpg for when you just don't want to deal with a more time consuming RAW workflow.

Next, with the D7000 files, you can pull up a remarkable amount of shadow detail in post-processing while gaining minimal noise. Again, not scientific, and I'm not going to go into side by side comparisons, but from what I'm used to in the D200, the difference seems significant.

Cleaner at higher ISO. Quality at high ISO was not a strong suit of the D200. I longed for the results of the D3 and D700 but didn't want to spring for the cost. I've been amazed at the clean results at high iso in the D7000. It has exceeded my expectations even up to ISO 3200. I used to really push my luck with handholding longer shutter speeds than I should to avoid bumping my D200 to anything upto or over ISO 800. The ability to shoot very clean images at higher ISO and still retain good color and details makes shooting much more enjoyable thus far with the D7000 and can mean the difference between lugging a tripod on hikes, or other situations where you may want to travel light in lower light situations. I'd also note that when there is noise, it seems to appear much more "film like" than the "technicolor" noise I experienced at high iso in my D200.

Handling:

I did prefer the body of my D200 over the D7000. The slightly larger size, I liked and it felt a little more stable in my hand. I feel I move the body a bit more with the D7000 while accessing the thumb dial to move focus points etc. The lighter weight of the D7000 has been nice, though I do like cameras with some weight to balance the weight of larger, pro grade lenses. All that said, I adjusted to the new controls very easily and after a week or so of use everything feels second nature.

Autofocus:

Here's one area I feel that I'm still learning. I'm not one for analyzing the manual, so bear in mind, I could be under utilizing the new cameras features here thus far. It may be the addition of more focus points over the D200, but I feel moving the focus points around the frame takes more time that with my D200. It takes more thumb clicks to jump from side to side. I almost always shoot, and feel I have more control using the single point, single focus mode. I'm still getting used to the new range of focus tools in this camera. I have found that in limited use, Continuous focus and tracking seem strong. I did like Dynamic Area focus and Closest Subject Priority Modes on my D200 that seem to be missing on this model. The wider focus areas on the D7000 still appear as single dots within the viewfinder and it seems to leave me a little confused, and lacking trust in where the camera actually will focus when it comes time to shoot. Again, just something I need to explore more and get used to.

All in all — this is a great camera. I struggled with waiting for the D300 replacement, but I have no regrets with the D7000. I think it's a remarkable value and it's amazing to see how far technology has come in the past few years since the D200 was released. For the money, it's a tough camera to beat.

Here are a few shots from my first week with the camera. All shot handheld.

ISO 3200

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