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My take on the Nikon D7000

This is my third DSLR and it will replace my D90. Its specs are vastly superior to that of the D90, which is a cross between the D300 and D700 but still use an APS-C sized sensor.

There are so many reviews of the D7000 out there and I don't intend to add to what was written already.

What I'm writing about is how my experience with the D7000 is taking place, coming from the D90.

AF lockup issue

I hate starting on a negative tone, but I have to be honest to myself and to the community.

I picked up my 1st D7000 from Columbia Digital Star Company on November 30, 2010. I was excited and thrilled with the new features, and I need to familiarize myself with the operation fast as I will use this to take photos of NCAA and UAAP Women's Volleyball games.

My initial impressions were actually positive, and this is the unit that I used to take the following ISO test shots.

The first thing clearly noticeable is the new AF indicator that is represented by the symbols >•< that at first I didn't bother to find out what they mean. Reading up on the manual yields the following:

> means the focus point is in front of the subject

< means the focus point is beyond the subject

• means proper focus has been acquired, and is exactly the same on the D90.

These new indicator gives directions to manual focus users on how to turn the focus ring.

Manifestation of the problem

When the AF lockup occurs, the lens stops focusing and the AF indicator shows > and < lighting up alternately, as if trying to find focus. This initially happened to my AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and thought that it was a lens issue. Upon further test, it also manifested on both my AF-S VR Micro 105mm f/2.8 and AF-S VR 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses, albeit in fewer occasions.

I thought it was a contact issue, but it was not.

On December 3, 2010, while at the Nikon Product Launch event at Hotel Intercontinental, the AF lockup progressed. A few friends in the same table as I am tested the AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 on their D90 and it works perfectly.

On that weekend, December 4 and 5, while I'm shooting the UAAP games at The Arena, in San Juan, 2-3 instances of the AF lockout occured.

The fix

In order to regain AF, I need to power down, un-mount and re-mount the lens,  and power up. This is a major inconvenience, and I don't want to be missing shots due to this problem.

I cannot accept the fact that I'm having this issue so I asked CDSC for a replacement, which promptly, they did. Therefore, this is my 2nd unit of the D7000.

Getting rid of a major issue, I'm now prepared to share the experience.

The Body

The D7000 body is a hybrid or magnesium and plastic. Magnesium is used on the more critical areas, and the rest is plastic.

The Controls

I particularly like how the controls are laid out and how they work together with the main and sub-dials. One favorite is the AF/MF that now has a button so I can set the different AF modes.

Another feature that I like is the fact that I can now save common settings in two banks called U1 and U2, and they can be selected via the left control dial

Here are some body shots.

The Menu Structure

As far as the menu style goes, nothing differs from the D90. The structure has changed though, to accommodate the new features.

You can check out the menu structure here.

AF Module

The D7000 does not use a re-hashed, old AF module. It features a brand new Multi-CAM4800DX AF module with 39 AF points, 9 of which are cross-type points.

I love the fact that I now have an option of setting release or focus priority on both AF-C and AF-S modes.

Together with the equally new EXPEED 2 processing engine, I was amazed by the new AF capabilities I have at my disposal. Using the D90 as a reference, I feel and see the improvements. With a high shutter speed of up to 6fps, I was amazed.

High ISO

One of the reasons for the upgrade from the D90 was I needed cleaner ISO performance in the top range of ISO 6400. The D90 is already taking a serious beating in this area even if the venue is well lighted, such as that of The Arena.

To prove to myself that I made the right decision, I took a series of shots and recorded them at ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800 and 25600. You can see the results here.

Noise Reduction

On the D7000, I have enabled noise reduction and set it to NORMAL. I still prefer to apply further Noise Reduction using Nikon's Capture NX2, when needed. In addition, I have full control on the amount of noise reduction that I will apply to the photo.

With NR set to NORMAL, and depending on the scene, further noise reduction via Capture NX 2 has been avoided.

D-Lighting

Like on the D90, the Active D-Lighting can be set to apply the feature as you take the shot. In line with my logic of minimizing alterations to capture photographs, I still turn this off. I felt that I will not always agree with what the camera thinks as we may see the subject differently.

My preference is to apply D-Lighting after the photo has been taken, either in-camera or using Capture NX2.

Dynamic Range

All in all, the three previous features, I suspect will affect the dynamic range of the captured images. This is the primary reason why I don't want so much processing done on the camera. I'll just deal with those later using Nikon Capture NX2.

Picture Control

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Live View

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Video Mode aka D-Movie

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