This long overdue review of the Nikon D7000 is based on my 3+ month experience with multiple samples of the camera. Due to my busy schedule and a very high demand on the D7000, I was not able to obtain a copy earlier to test. I actually thought it was a good thing to wait, because I did not want to get one from the initial production (which seemed to be rushed, resulting in lots of bad samples out there). Ever since the Nikon D7000 was released, I have been getting many questions from current and potential buyers, asking about backfocus issues, overexposed images, bad video quality, autofocus problems, image quality at low and high ISOs and hot pixels. For this review, I made a note to myself to test the camera against each of the listed potential problems and report on my findings.
1) Nikon D7000 Specifications
- High Resolution 16.2 MP DX-format CMOS sensor
- High Speed 6 frames per second continuous shooting up to 100 shots
- 2,016-pixel RGB (3D Color Matrix) sensor
- Pentaprism Optical Viewfinder with approx. 100% frame coverage and approx. 0.94x magnification
- Twin SD Card Slots with SD, SDHC and SDXC memory card compatibility
- Built-in Speedlight flash with i-TTL and Wireless Commander support
- Optional MB-D11 multi-power pack
- Two User Definable Settings (U1, U2) on the Mode Selector Dial
- Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape Picture Controls
- Virtual Horizon Graphic Indicator
- Full 1080p HD Movie capability with Full Time Autofocus and external stereo microphone jack (up to 20 minutes of recording time)
- Dynamic ISO range from 100 to 6400 expandable to 25,600 (Hi2)
- Customizable 39 point AF System with nine center cross-type sensors
- Magnesium-alloy top/rear covers and weather and dust sealing
- 150,000 cycle-rated shutter system
- 3 Inch, 921,000-dot Super-Density LCD Monitor with 170 degree viewing
- Fast Start-Up time of 0.13 sec and 50ms Shutter Lag
- Compact EN-EL15 Battery (850+ shots)
- Built-in HDMI Connection
- Active D-Lighting for enhancing details in shadows and highlights
- Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close-up or Night Portrait Scene Modes
Detailed technical specifications for the Nikon D7000 are available on Nikonusa.com.
2) Camera Construction and Handling
In terms of construction, the Nikon D7000 sits between the Nikon D90 (all plastic) and the Nikon D300 (all magnesium alloy) – the top and the rear of the camera is made of magnesium alloy material, while the front and the bottom parts are plastic. Nikon wanted to make the camera tough without adding too much weight, which is why only the most used part of the camera got the extra protection. And it was certainly a good decision, because the D7000 is only 70 grams (2.5 ounces) heavier than the D90. Here is an illustration of the D7000 frame (front and back):
In terms of handling, the D7000 balances and fits nicely on hands, very similarly to the Nikon D90. If you are planning to use the camera with big lenses like Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, then I would recommend to add the new MB-D11 battery grip for additional balance. Speaking of which, the new EN-EL15 battery and the MB-D11 are not something I am thrilled about. I understand that the new EN-EL15 is better, lighter, more compact and more powerful than the EN-EL3e, but then it means that not only I cannot share batteries with my D700, but also I have to carry an extra charger as well. Add the new MB-D11 and now I have to carry two different camera grips on top of that. So if you already own the Nikon D300 or the Nikon D700 and you are looking at the D7000 as a backup body, keep all this in mind. I personally would not buy a D7000 for this reason alone. Unless the upcoming Nikon D400/D800 camera bodies are also going to use the same battery and grip, this is not a smart move by Nikon. On the positive side, I like the new battery safety holder on the D7000 body, which helps prevent the battery from dropping on the ground when the battery door is opened. I’m sure Nikon will add this holder going forward to other Nikon DSLRs.
The exterior of the camera is completely redesigned and although you can see quite a few similarities with the Nikon D90, there are some newly introduced changes that are not present on any other Nikon DSLRs. The most notable change is the two-step/dual top mode dial that allows the photographer to not only set different camera modes, but also control shutter release modes. Nikon simply took the bottom part of the left top dial from the D300s/D700 and the mode dial from D90 and stacked them together. I personally liked this new “dual dial”, because it gives plenty of control over how the camera functions in one place, without having to go through the camera menu or other additional buttons. On the other hand, I did manage to accidentally change the camera mode a few times when I was shooting – I wish Nikon had made the top dial a little more stiff to minimize such accidents. Another welcomed button change is the way Liveview is triggered. Instead of simply pressing an “Lv” button like on the D90 or D300s, now there is a Live View lever with a red recording button in the middle. I’m sure those of us who shoot video will really welcome this change and I hope Nikon will use the same switch on the upcoming Nikon DSLRs. The AE-L/AF-L button is placed similarly as on the D90 – further away from the rear rotating dial. I wish it was closer or there was a dedicated AF-ON button like on the pro-level bodies, because I usually move the focusing action from the camera shutter to a dedicated button (for focusing and recomposing shots). Lastly, the focus switch located on the front left side of the D7000 has also been redesigned – there is now a button in the middle of the switch that allows changing autofocus modes – also a welcomed change that gives faster and simpler control to photographers. The Nikon D7000 also comes with two SD card slots, and you can select how you want to store data on those two card slots, just like on the pro-level bodies. Overall, I am very pleased with how the D7000 is designed.
As for weather and dust protection, Nikon says that the D7000 is sealed to withstand tough weather and dusty environments. I did not have a chance to test it in a dusty environment, but I did take it with me to shoot in very cold temperatures below zero. The camera functioned very well without any problems, but the battery did not last very long, which is normal, because batteries do drain fast in very cold temperatures.