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The Nikon D7000 entered the marketplace in 2010 as an upgrade to the Nikon D90. As of February 2012, the D7000 sells for as low as US $970 and consumers can buy the D90 for around US $640. The D7000 retained the same basic style and size of the D90, but its feature set expanded. Intended as a prosumer camera, the D7000 matches many of the features of the more expensive Nikon D300, but lacks the D300’s build-quality.
Nikon retained the ergonomic design of the D90, but the D7000 has a more solid feel than its predecessor. While the D90 comes with a 12.9-megapixel sensor, the D7000 can capture images up to 16.2 megapixels. The D7000 sports a fast ISO 6400, a new metering system and a new 39-point autofocus array with nine cross-type autofocus points.
The D7000 comes with advanced movie functions, capable of recording full high-definition video. Nikon also designed the D7000 with two memory card slots, compared to a single slot in the D90, and engineered the D7000 to accept older, non-CPU Nikkor lenses, including Ai and Ai-S models.
By expanding on the technology of the D90, while creating a feature set that rivals the D300, the D7000 serves as a highly sophisticated camera for serious enthusiasts and professional photographers alike.
Nikon D7000 Price Comparison
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While the D90 sports a polycarbonate body, Nikon upgraded the D7000 with a magnesium alloy body. The D7000 has a thicker rubber coating than the D90, but has the same basic ergonomic shape. The slightly larger size and new body frame accounts for a small increase in weight, from 1.5 pounds to 1.7 pounds.
The D7000 retained most of the same exterior controls of the D90, but new functionality was also added, such as the Fn button. Users can assign different functions to the Fn button, including one-touch RAW recording, grid-line overlay in live view or access to the electronic level. Nikon retained the conventional design of the exposure mode dial, but added a second dial that enables users to quickly adjust drive settings, switch to quiet mode or set the camera’s timer. The D7000 also comes with a new button dedicated to exposure bracketing, located just below the flash popup button on the front-right side.
The battery compartment remains on the bottom of the camera, but the D7000 uses a new type of rechargeable battery that provides longer live between recharges. While the D90 has a single memory card slot, the D7000 is fitted with two slots that accept SD, SDXC and SDHC memory cards. Users can choose how the camera utilizes the second card: as a backup; for overflow storage; or to store only certain file types, such as movie or RAW files.
The viewfinder of the D7000 enables users to see 100-percent frame coverage, as opposed to the 96-percent coverage offered by the D90. The D7000’s built-in diopter allows for adjustments ranging from -2 to +M-1. It also features mirror lock-up and an electronic vertical-travel shutter.
The D7000 offers shutter speeds ranging from 30 seconds to 1/8000 second and a flash sync of 1/250 second. Users can also enable exposure compensation adjustments in one-third stop increments.
The D7000 is fitted with a 3-inch rear LCD screen that displays 921k dots. The camera back also features a customizable exposure and autofocus lock button, along with ISO, white balance and image quality menu access buttons for making quick technical changes.
Nikon did not make many changes to the D7000’s rear-screen menu displays. The live view screen can be accessed when shooting still photos or videos and enables users to overlay technical settings, such as aperture and shutter speed, for image and data viewing. The live view screen also features an electronic level and 16-segment grid to overlay on a live images for precise composition.
By pressing the INFO button on the back of the camera, users can access the information screen, which displays critical technical data, such as ISO, exposure mode, aperture, shutter speed, image quality and shooting mode. Pressing the INFO button a second time switches the screen to an interactive mode for making adjustments to technical settings.
The D7000’s play menu enables users to view technical data overlaid on the playback image. Users can view basic information, such as focus point, or more detailed information, such as shooting data, highlights or the histogram.
Movie mode features submenus for adjusting video quality and microphone settings. The still image shooting menu features the usual submenus, for setting functions such as white balance, noise reduction, color space, image quality, jpg compression, RAW recording and file naming.
The custom menu allows users to make custom adjustments to autofocus and metering functions, such as the number of focal points and exposure compensation. The D7000 also features a retouch menu for in-camera image editing in the field. Users can correct red eye, make perspective control corrections, adjust color balance or add filter effects.
D7000 users can capture images in RAW, TIFF or JPG file formats, or record a RAW image along with a low-resolution JPG. The JPG format includes three quality levels – fine, normal and basic – and image sizes range from 2464 x 1632 pixels to 4928 x 3264 pixels.
Imaging experts speculate that Nikon dSLRs come with Sony sensors. However, Nikon guards its sensor manufacturing information as a trade secret. The D7000 sports a 23.6 x 15.6 mm CMOS sensor, which records images up to 16.2 million effective pixels, as compared to the 12.3 million effective pixels offered by the D90. The D7000’s sensor also includes an onboard cleaning system. When shooting movies, users can choose between three sizes, ranging from 2464 x 1632 pixels to 4928 x 3264 pixels. The D7000 offers full high-definition movie capture at 1080p and includes a microphone jack for high-quality audio recording.
D7000 users can choose between 21 preset scene exposure modes, including traditional settings such as sports, night portrait and snow, and more unconventional selections, such as candlelight and autumn colors. The D7000 also features automatic, manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, program and user-defined exposure modes. For fine tuning exposure, users can set EV levels ranging from -5.0 to +5.0, using one-third stop steps.
The D7000 captures images at light sensitivity levels from ISO 100 to 6400. Users can choose between single or continuous frame shooting modes, along with self-timer, quiet mode, mirror lock-up and remote. The internal metering system features spot, center-weighted and matrix modes.
Camera retailers sell the D7000 body-only or bundled with an 18-105mm f3.5 Nikkor kit lens. The D7000 accepts Nikon F mount lenses that have autofocus contacts, along with many non-CPU Nikkor Ai and Ai-S lenses. Unlike past generations of Nikon dSLRs, the D7000’s metering system works with compatible non-CPU Nikkor lenses.
The D7000 does not have a full-frame sensor and captures images with a crop ratio of 1.5. Due to the crop ratio, an 18mm focal length is reduced to 27mm, while a 105mm focal length is extended to 157mm.
The D7000 features a new 39-piont autofocus system that includes 3D-tracking functionality. While the D300 has a 51-area metering system, the D7000 system has larger line detectors, which equates to a greater sensing area. The autofocus system enables users to choose from four autofocus modes, along with manual focus.
The new autofocus system in the D7000 performs well in low-light settings, with near full-frame coverage. It does a good job when following action, even when compared with the D300.
The D7000’s matrix metering system provides excellent light metering, even in scenes with extreme dynamic ranges. It also handles pattern and color recognition better than its D90 predecessor.
The D7000 uses Nikon’s standard picture control system, which produces high quality images, and typically provides good color balance in mixed-light settings.
The ability to use old Ai and Ai-S lenses with metering capabilities amounts to a huge step forward in the evolution of the Nikon prosumer camera line. This enables users who have owned Nikon equipment for many years to use more of their lens collection, without the need for handheld metering.
When comparing features, build and performance, the D7000 surpasses the D90, for a small price difference. The D7000 comes packed with many of the same features found in the D300, but at a lower price.
The D7000 has some room for improvement. When using live view in manual exposure mode, the D7000 does not display changes to camera settings until after the user takes a picture.
New Nikon users may have trouble understanding how to switch between the D7000’s many scene modes. Navigation of the menu system is a bit awkward, especially for users who have owned other makes of DSLRs.
Sports photographers may find the D7000 difficult to use when shooting RAW format images, due to its 15-image buffer capacity. In situations where a higher image buffer capacity is needed, images often lose highlight detail.