Here are my thoughts on the new Nikon D7000 after 48 hours. For perspective, I’m comparing to my trusty old D90.
- The weight and feel are very close to the D90. The other reviews I’ve read oversold the differences.
- What they don’t tell you is that the D7000 is quiet. The mirror bounce and shutter are much quieter than the D90’s. At first it’s a little spooky, actually.
- The high ISO sensor is terrific. ISO 3200 is very usable. ISO 6400 will even do in a pinch. This is the primary reason I bough the camera, and I’m quite happy with it.
- The new autofocus system is also great, with 39 focus points, nine of which are cross-point type. This is another of the main reasons I bought the D7000. I usually select focus points manually, and I felt limited by the 11 focus points (only one of which is cross-point) in the D90. I guess I was spoiled by the 51-point D3s I rented for a while.
- The two User Setting modes (U1, U2) are yet another feature that’s important to me. For example, I like to shoot HDR and there are multiple settings I have to change to go into and out of my HDR configuration. The U1/U2 settings make it much easier. I only wish the user settings included the continuous-release (6fps) option.
- The external GPS can now be used to keep the internal clock on time. Couldn’t do that on the D90.
- I was actually happy with the 12.3 megapixels in the D90. The D7000’s 16.2 megapixel RAW files are more than twice as large, about 25MB uncompressed using 14-bit depth. I can only get 461 shots (RAW, 14-bit, lossless) on a 16GB card. 682 using the lossy compression. By comparison the RAW files from the D90 are only 10.8MB. I’ve ordered a 32GB SD card (SanDisk Extreme III, $170!) to handle the more than 2x larger files on the D7000. I have yet to determine the impact of using (a) 12-bit RAW instead of 14-bit, and (b) the lossy compression, but I plan to test those options.
- Having two SD slots is going to come in handy! Not sure if I’ll use #2 for backup or overflow.
- I like to program my FN button to bring up My Menu. It worked great on the D90. But on the D7000, it takes you directly to the first item in My Menu instead of the menu itself. I understand why they did that, but it means you’ve got to exit that first option if you want to get to any of the others. I like the way the D90 did it better.
- Using the built-in flash to trigger remote Nikon flashes still (like the D90) only supports two groups, A and B. I don’t know why Nikon doesn’t allow their cropped-sensor cameras to use group C.
- The exposure bracketing is also still limited to three shots with a max of +/- 2 stops. We HDR folks would love to see a total range of six or eight stops like the more expensive Nikons rather than just four.
- The viewfinder seems brighter than the D90’s — I’m not sure if it really is — but the focus points aren’t quite as easy to see. (Other reviewers like the new less-obtrusive focus points in the viewfinder.)
- Because of the huge files, high-speed continuous shooting is still somewhat limited when using RAW, but it’s better than the D90. I tested using the same Class 6 SD card on both bodies.
- At high speed (6fps) shooting 14-bit RAW files, I can get ten shots off before the buffering kicks in.
- At low continuous speed (3fps) I get 14 shots until it starts to slow.
- On the D90 I can only get five RAW shots off at 4.5fps before it starts to slow down, so the D7000 certainly is an improvement particularly considering that the files are larger and they’re coming faster.
- Using the highest-resolution JPEGs, I can get 33 shots at 6fps before it starts to slow down. At 3fps, you can shoot high-res JPEGs continuously.
- Although I haven’t used it much yet, the video is way (!) better. It wasn’t really usable on the D90 except in full-manual mode. But the D7000 has what appears to be excellent continuous autofocus and exposure while it shoots true 1080p video. Very nice.
Yes, I’m really happy with the D7000. It’s a terrific upgrade (at a good price) for D90 users.
FYI, I downloaded the release-candidate (RC) version of Lightroom 3.3, which supports the D7000’s RAW file format. Otherwise, I’d be shooting RAW+JPEG for a while.