Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nikon D7000 Is Here!

Well I finally got my hands on Nikon's latest DSLR so I thought I would share my initial impressions. I've only had it for a few days and haven't put it through its proper paces yet, but I will hopefully be doing that soon. So I'll just briefly talk about what I've seen so far.

My first thought was about size, for some reason I thought it was going to be bigger than it is. I had read that it was slightly bigger than the D90. Slightly might be an over statement. The D7000 is a sliver taller but otherwise the dimensions seem to be almost identical. As a matter of fact, at first glance they appear to be the same camera.

When you look a little closer you start to see some small but significant differences. First is the quality throughout the camera. The D7000 has a PRO build to it. The rubber grip is solid and and seems to be higher quality material that is easier to hold. The weather sealed body magnesium alloy body also feels nice. There are also little upgrades like the clasps for the camera strap resemble that of the D300+ camera bodies.

It also seems that there aren't any more buttons than the D90 but again you have to look closer. The mode dial is now a dual dial. It is the "Mode Dial," which includes the "Aperture Priority", "Shutter Priority" etc. It now includes U1 and U2 modes which can store and recall customized shooting settings. The second part of the dial is the "Release Mode Dial." This is where you select "Continuous High", "Continuous Low" etc. But it now offers a "Quiet Mode," which is a single shot where the noise is reduced. I also found that it reduces camera shake which I will talk about another time. The D7000 also offers "Mirror Up" mode which was not available on the D90. Using the "MU" mode you can press the shutter once to move the mirror up, then press it again to actually trigger the shutter. The remote mode also has a "Mirror Up" option. When you press your remote the mirror will go up, and the second time you press it the shutter will be trigger. This is an excellent option when you are trying to reduce camera shake.

The 39 point auto focus system is new for the D7000 and with it comes several options that were previously only found in the D300+ bodies.

Another feature not available in the D90 is Auto focus Fine Tune. I found the D90 to be excellent in focusing lenses correctly. But once I did some testing with a "Lens Align" type device I noticed there was some minor front and rear focusing issues on various lenses than can now be corrected on the D7000. That said, my D7000 seems to back focus more than the D90. Again, this can be resolved with the AF Fine Tune.

There is an option for release type. The shutter can be trigger for "Release" which means it will go when you press the button no matter what. Or, it can be set for "Focus" which means it will only trigger the shutter when the "In-Focus Indicator" is displayed. The D90 had no such option.

Focus Tracking with Lock-On is now an option. You can set it to be "OFF" so the camera will immediately adjust the AF if the distance to the subject changes. This requires excellent panning for moving objects, because the AF will quickly jump around. You can also set it to "1 -Short" through "5" giving you more or less time if the distance suddenly changes. An example of how this works is if your tracking a bird and it goes behind a tree. If the setting is "OFF" then it will immediately focus to the tree, otherwise it will wait the selected amount of time for the bird to come out from behind the tree and reacquire it.

That's probably enough for one day but I'm just scratching the surface of the new abilities of the D7000. If your a D300(S) or an FX shooter some of this isn't news to you. But it does illustrate that many PRO features are now available in the D7000 line.

*Amendment - I wanted to update this post to say that I found a couple of the lenses I was using had a back focusing problem beyond the D7000. I tested the lenses on a D90 and D300 and found the back focus pretty consistent. Fortunately with the D7000 and D300 you are able to fine tune adjust the focus into proper calibration.

I will soon be posting a high ISO test of the D7000 vs previous generation cameras, the D80 and D90. I will also share more observations and experiences with the new camera.