The DSLR product refresh cycle in the recent past has gathered momentum at least for the entry-level DSLR cameras. However, the models for the more serious amateur and beginner-professionals are refreshed less often. Canon and Nikon are the biggest competitors in this field and both have competing products at different price brackets.

Large connectivity options on the left side

Large connectivity options on the left side

The Nikon D90 was one of the most popular DSLRs of its time and there have been quite a few models since then. The D7000 is a replacement to the D90 and there are the expected set of improvements made to it and it’s been around a while. Nikon has since then moved on to a newer naming convention – the D40X was replaced by the older D3000 and the D90, with the D7000. 

 

On video: Nikon D7000

Design

When you first look at the D7000, you can’t help, but notice the similarities between it and the D90. They appear identical in dimensions. It’s clearly larger than the entry-level D3100 DSLR, if you’ve seen one of those, it’s also quite a bit heavier. The texture on the camera gives you a sense of confidence when you hold it, unlike the more entry-level ones, which feel slippery. There’s quality everywhere – the buttons are designed to last a while – they’re chunky and can handle some abuse.

Manual focus and VR controls on the lens

Manual focus and VR controls on the lens

There are two jog dials, one at the front and one at the rear. The rear one flows smoothly, while the one at the front offers slightly more resistance. The lens too is large and has a good comfortable grip to it. The ergonomics of the camera are great, too. The large size means that the right hand grip has a deep groove in it, which makes holding the camera in one hand really simple. 

Features

The Nikon D7000 has an upgraded sensor that offers the user 16MP image shooting capability, while the D90 used a 12.3MP sensor. All these cameras – the D90, the D7000 and the D300S are based on CMOS APS-C size standard sensors. The new sensor and processor allow the D7000 more breathing space, in terms of sensitivity as well – the ISO range is extended upto 6400 on the higher side for better low-light performance and on the lower-end is stretched to 100, which presumably should allow more detail when you have plenty of light.

Nikon bundles a 18-105 VR lens with the D7000 just as they did with the D90 back then. Of course, you have the option of buying just the body and choosing a lens of your choice separately. We’ve always been fond of the 18-105mm lens, though – it offers a good amount of flexibility and is all rounder in the past.

The 18-55mm bundled with the more basic D3100 and D5100 feel somehow limited offering roughly 3x optical zoom. Video recording was one of the cool new features of the D90 – it could shoot 720p video, the new D7000 is more up-to-date with its 1920×1080 recording capability, at 24 fps.

Now space for two memory cards

Now space for two memory cards

The D7000 adds two SD memory card slots, so you can shoot more and not have to shuffle between memory cards. There’s also the 3-inch display that’s handy while focussing during photo and video shooting. There’s also a top view display that lets you quickly access controls and settings without having to look back at the larger display over and over again. In terms of connectivity, there’s a mini HDMI port, a microphone in port and even one for an external GPS module. File transferring is done using the mini USB port, but if you buy an Eye-Fi capable card, you’ll be able to transfer data over Wi-Fi.

An additional ring for choosing shooting styles on the left

An additional ring for choosing shooting styles on the left

The controls are a bit more complicated. There’s the standard mode selection dial, which includes the PSAM (program, shutter priority, aperture priority and manual) shooting modes, along with a second dial that allows quick switching from the single shot mode to the burst modes, and so on. This is bound to be a tiny bit confusing at first, to any entry-level DSLR user. In the long run, however, switching to different shooting modes becomes simple. The primary mode selection dial has two settings reserved for customizable settings.

Pretty identical to the D90 on the rear

Pretty identical to the D90 on the rear

Operation is relatively simple like it was with the D90. The two jog dials make switching parameters and settings easy. The menu itself is colourful and self-explanatory. There’s also a neat little Help button on the side, which lets you get a quick brief of each feature. There’s plenty of firepower as far as effects and filters are concerned. 

Video shooting is simple. The settings for the video recording appear in a separate camera menu, but the shooting can be started by simply pressing the dedicated video record button. There’s also a notch, which lets you turn on and off the Live View feature. 

Performance

Focussing is quick, all thanks to the 39 focus points and 3D tracking features. The lens doesn’t work particularly well for macro shots, but playing around with the zoom helps you do the trick. There’s hardly any delay between you pressing the shutter release button and the photo being captured.

Image clarity and performance is fantastic. It performs very impressively across the ISO range, right from 100 to 6400. At ISO 6400, there’s visible noise, but the image is still very usable, especially when you resize the image. At lower ISO settings, such as 1600 and 800, the image is still pretty flawless. At 400 right down to 100, it’s pristine. Image colours are fairly natural and there are no clear issues visible. 

ISO sensitivity test

ISO sensitivity test

The lens add a subtle amount of depth of field, as you increase the amount of exposure. At the tiniest exposure, the images are crystal clear and detailed. We used ISO 100 during the test to ensure that there was unnecessary sensor noise and distortion due to it.

Aperture test run at ISO 100

Aperture test run at ISO 100

The lens does a fair job, too – the image doesn’t distort much at maximum zoom. The zoom as we earlier mentioned is very usable and also great for getting portrait shots with even depth of field as well as shooting slightly distant objects. Burst mode is also quick. With ample amount of natural light, photos look rich in colour and well lit-up. Details across dark portions of the image are clearly visible. The lens along the renewed sensor makes for a very great overall package.

Outdoor shooting

Outdoor shooting

A minute of video footage shot at 1080p at a frame rate of 24fps takes up 155 MB on the SD card. The file format used is MOV. The video quality is good and the camera manages to perform well even in low light areas.

Vibrant colours

Vibrant colours

Transition between dark and bright areas happens relatively fast. The only issue we noticed was while trying to focus. As the motor works to get the camera to focus, the noise from the motor is picked up by the microphone. 

Good depth of field

Good depth of field

Nikon bundles a 1900mAh battery with the Nikon, which Nikon claims to be able to shoot some 1,050 shots in all. There’s also support for a larger battery pack which can further improve the performance of the camera.

Verdict

The Nikon D7000 is really impressive in many ways. It has a few new features that make it superior than the D90 – primarily the larger resolution shooting and the 1080p video recording. Other than that, there are minor feature additions – nothing that would compel a D90 user to really upgrade.

The replacement for the D90 is finally here

The replacement for the D90 is finally here

However, someone using a D3100 or D5100 or other cameras in the Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 35,000 price range would find this to be very good purchase, especially for slightly long-term purchase. Sure, you’re going to feel the pinch when you consider that the D7000 sells in India for a price of Rs. 72,700 in the market. This includes the standard kit along with the Nikkor 18-105mm 1:3.5-5.6G VR lens.

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