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Nikon D7000 Review

November 2010 | By Lars Rehm, Barney Britton


Review based on a production Nikon D7000 with firmware V1.00, 1.00, 1.002

When it was announced in September the D7000 took a lot of people by surprise. Although a D90 successor had been on the horizon for some time, what wasn't expected was how close in specification terms the new camera would turn out to be to the D300S. In some respects, in fact, the D7000 actually outguns its (supposedly) semi-pro cousin, and offers a compelling upgrade option to both D90 and D300S owners, whilst nominally sitting between the two in Nikon's current lineup.

Although ergonomically, the D7000 is a very close match for the D90, its overall 'feel' is considerably more serious, thanks to a magnesium alloy body shell and slightly thicker rubber coating on the hand grip and rear of the camera. At 16.2Mp the D7000 offers the second highest resolution of any Nikon DSLR, behind only the 24Mp D3X. All of these pixels are packed onto a newly developed CMOS sensor, which is almost certainly the same or very similar to that in the Sony Alpha SLT-A55. As well as extra resolution, the new sensor also offers a higher 'standard' ISO span of 100-6400, expandable up to the equivalent of ISO 25,600.

The D7000's AF and metering systems are also new, and represent a significant upgrade to those used in the D90. The new camera boasts a 39-point AF array with 9 cross-type AF points and works in collaboration with a new 2016-pixel RGB metering sensor to allow 3D AF tracking (essentially tracking by subject color, explained here). Other changes include the same combined live view/movie switch control as the 3100, and a significantly upgraded movie specification, up to 'full HD' - 1920x1080 resolution at 24fps. Unlike the D90, the D7000 can also maintain AF during live view and movie shooting, thanks to its AF-F ('full time') AF mode.

D90 owners have been waiting for a replacement camera for a while, and although the D90 isn't set for retirement quite yet, the D7000 certainly represents a compelling upgrade. It took longer than we'd hoped for a production D7000 to be supplied to us, but now that we've had one for a a few weeks we've been able to produce an in-depth review. Read on to find out what we think of Nikon's newest DSLR...

Nikon D7000 Key Features

  • 16.2MP CMOS sensor
  • 1080p HD video recording with mic jack for external microphone
  • ISO 100-6400 (plus H1 and H2 equivalent to ISO 12,800/25,600)
  • 39-point AF system with 3D tracking
  • New 2016 pixel metering sensor
  • Scene Recognition System (see 2016 pixel sensor, above) aids WB/metering + focus accuracy
  • Twin SD card slots
  • 3.0 inch 921k dot LCD screen
  • New Live View/movie shooting switch
  • Full-time AF in Live View/movie modes
  • Up to 6fps continuous shooting
  • Lockable drive mode dial
  • Built-in intervalometer
  • Electronic virtual horizon
  • Shutter tested to 150K actuations
Positioned alongside the D90 and D300S, the D7000 is clearly a lot closer to the former than the latter in terms of its size and control layout. The similarities between the D90 and D7000 don't run much deeper than the surface level though - where specifications are concerned, on paper, the D7000 at least matches and frequently surpasses the abilities of the D300S in several key areas.

Nikon D7000 and Nikon D90: Key differences

The D7000 sits above the D90 in Nikon's current lineup, and as befits its new position in the range, the D7000 combines elements of the D90 with elements of the D300S - Nikon's current APS-C flagship. The most obvious physical clue to its new position is a magnesium alloy body shell, which up to now has been reserved for Nikon's top-end APS-C and full frame cameras.

'Under the hood' though the differences are legion - a new 16.2MP CMOS sensor, dual card slots, a new 39-point AF array, 'true' HD movie mode with full-time AF and more customization options, some of which are inherited from Nikon's professional DSLRs. Like the D90, the D7000 supports AF with Nikon's older AF and AF-D lenses (lower-end models are limited to compatibility with AF-S and AF-I optics only) but additionally, because the D7000 has an Ai indexing tab on its lens mount, up to 9 'non-CPU' lenses can also be registered with the camera.

This allows the use of virtually any Ai specification or later lens to be used in aperture priority or manual mode with the D7000, with almost no loss of functionality (apart from AF). Novice DSLR users might never look beyond the horizons offered by their kit lenses, but for the enthusiast, legacy support like this could well be a deal-clincher.

The overall dimensions of the D7000 are very similar to the older D90, but the heavier, magnesium alloy body shell and thicker rubber on the hand grip lend it a noticeably more 'serious' feel.
  • Higher resolution sensor (16.2MP vs. 12.3MP)
  • Choice of 12-bit or 14-bit NEF (RAW)
  • 1080p HD movie mode
  • Limited movie editing functionality
  • AF possible during video shooting
  • Live View switch (basically the same as D3100)
  • Faster AF in live view mode.
  • Twin SD card slots
  • Non-CPU lens data function (allows registration of up to 9 non-G lenses with manual apertures)
  • Magnesium alloy body shell
  • Wider ISO span (100-25,600 including 'H1' and 'H2')
  • Newly developed 39-point AF system
  • 'Quiet' single frame advance mode
  • 'Proper' mirror lock-up (as distinct from 'exposure delay mode')
  • Lockable drive mode dial
  • Higher maximum frame rate (6fps) with a Continuous Lo shooting option (1-5fps)
  • 100% viewfinder
  • Choice of 12-bit or 14-bit NEF (RAW) recording in compressed or lossless compressed formats
  • Up to 9 'non-CPU' lenses can be registered (same as D300s/D3s/D3X)
  • New EN-EL15 lithium-ion battery
  • New MB-D11 battery pack (magnesium alloy construction)

    Ergonomically, the D7000 and D90 are quite similar, and as you can see from this view of the back of the two cameras, in terms of its control layout, the D7000 is very close to the D90. Some controls have changed slightly (the D90's 'Lv' button becomes a spring-loaded switch for example) but the number of control points is the same and everything is basically in the same place.

Compared to the D90 and D300S: core feature and specification differences

 

Nikon D7000

Nikon D90

Nikon D300S
Construction Magnesium alloy body Polycarbonate Magnesium alloy body
Sensor • 23.6 x 15.6 mm CMOS sensor
• RGB color filter array
• Built-in fixed low-pass filter (with self-cleaning unit)
• 16.2 million effective pixels
• RGB Color Filter Array
• 14-bit A/D converter
• 23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS sensor
• RGB color filter array
• Built-in fixed low-pass filter (with self-cleaning unit)
• 12.3 million effective pixels
• RGB Color Filter Array
• 12-bit A/D converter
• 23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS sensor
• RGB color filter array
• Built-in fixed low-pass filter (with self-cleaning unit)
• 12.3 million effective pixels
• RGB Color Filter Array
• 14-bit A/D converter
ISO range • Auto ISO (100-Hi2)
• ISO 100-6400 in 0.3 or 1.0 EV increments
• H1 and H2 (ISO 12800 and 25600) expansion
• Adjustable Auto ISO limit
• Auto ISO (400-H1)
• ISO 200 -3200 in 0.3 or 1.0 EV increments
• L1 (ISO 100) and H1 (ISO 6400) expansion
• Adjustable Auto ISO limit
• Auto ISO (400-H1)
• ISO 200 -3200 in 0.3 or 1.0 EV increments
• L1 (ISO 100) and H1 (ISO 6400) expansion
• Adjustable Auto ISO limit
Movie resolution* • 1920 x 1080p (24fps)
• 1280 x 720p (30, 25, 24fps)
• 640 x 424p (30, 25fps)
• 1280 x 720p (24 fps)
• 640 x 424p (24 fps)
• 320 x 216p (24 fps)
• 1280 x 720p (24 fps)
• 640 x 424p (24 fps)
• 320 x 216p (24 fps)
AF sensor • 39 AF points
• 9 cross-type sensors
• 11 AF points
• 1 cross-type sensor
• 51 focus points
• 15 cross-type sensors
Metering sensor • TTL exposure metering using 2016-pixel RGB sensor
• Metering range: EV 0 - 20 EV
• TTL exposure metering using 403-pixel RGB sensor
• Metering range: EV 0 - 20 EV
• TTL exposure metering using 1005-pixel RGB sensor
• Metering range: EV 0 - 20 EV
Viewfinder • Eye-level pentaprism
• 100% frame coverage
• Magnification: 0.94x
• Eyepoint: 19.5 mm
• Type B BriteView Clear Matte screen Mark II with AF area brackets
Built-in diopter adjustment (-3 to +1.0m-1)
• Eye-level pentaprism
• 96% (horizontal and vertical) frame coverage
• Magnification: 0.94x
• Eyepoint: 19.5 mm
• B-type BrightView Clear Matte Screen II with AF area brackets
• Built-in diopter adjustment (-2 to +1m-1)
• Eye-level pentaprism
• 100% frame coverage
• Magnification: 0.94x
• Eyepoint: 19.5 mm
• B-type BrightView Clear Matte Screen II with AF area brackets
• Built-in diopter adjustment (-2 to +1m-1)
Continuous shooting rate • Approx 6 fps max
• Approx 4.5 fps max
• Up to approx 8fps with AC adapter or MB-D10 pack and batteries other than EN-EL3e
Memory format • SD/SDHC/SDXC (dual slots) • SD/SDHC • Compact Flash (type I and UDMA) (dual SD/CF slots)
Dimensions Approx 132 x 105 x 77mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0in)
Approx 132 x 103 x 77 mm (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in.) Approx 147 x 114 x 74 mm (5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)
Weight (inc battery) 780 g (1.7 lb.) 704 g (1.5 lb.) 918 g (2.2 lb.)

*In movie mode, 30fps is actually 29.97fps, 24 is actually 23.976fps.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2010 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 2
GEDERA GUY
By GEDERA GUY (8 months ago)

As an upgrade to the D80 , the D7000 is a definite improvement , but build quality is still lacking , next to say, the D300S .

That being sad , the camera handles well ,even if the video function is still an option I scorn .

The main problem I have, is the slow flash sync speed with my SB 600 flashgun - a pathetic 1/60 sec .To utilise the full potential of the D7000 , I need to upgrade my flash gun - not easy when finances are tight .

0 upvotes
Duncan Dimanche
By Duncan Dimanche (8 months ago)

You never tell us what ISO settings you shoot at in low light mode so how is that helpful ?

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Total comments: 2