The Nikon D7000 is one of the most talked-about cameras of the year. With a new 39-point AF system and 2,016 pixel RGB metering sensor, can the D7000 live up to the hype? What Digital Camera's Nikon D7000 review finds out...
Nikon D7000 review – Performance
The D7000’s entirely new 39-point AF system will be the clincher for many when considering purchase as it really raises the complexity at your disposal and it’s a far more advanced system than the Nikon D90 had to offer. As per the 51-point Multi-CAM 3500DX AF system found in the D300s and above, the D7000’s new Multi-CAM 4800DX system is highly customiseable, albeit with fewer available points and has nine cross-type sensors rather than the 15 found in the Multi-CAM 3500DX system.
The AF button to the bottom left front-side of camera can be held and the rear and front thumbwheels then control the autofocus mode (AF-S, AF-C, AF-A) and AF Area within that mode. At its most advanced the latter provides the option to choose between 3D tracking, Auto (using full array of AF points), single point selection, centre nine-point array, centre 21-point array and wide AF. Although having more available AF points is great for subject tracking, a secondary 11-point array is also available should this better suit your shooting style. The main menu also provides yet more specific detail to control whether capture can take place in absolute focus or when the shutter is pressed, plus there’s a five-point level to adjust the sensitivity of focus tracking (to avoid unnecessarily quick refocusing if a closer subject passes the frame for example), a focus point wrap-around and AF illumination control. In short this is approaching pro-spec control in a more mid-level enthusiast body and the results are fantastic across the board.
In fact the only slight let down is the 18-105mm lens that’s outclassed by the camera body for the simple reason it doesn’t produce the fastest possible response. Attach another lens (in this test a 24-70mm f/2.8) and the speedier, smooth and swift adjustment during focusing is an immediate additional benefit.
Switch the D7000 into its live view mode using the switch on the rear to the top left of the screen and autofocus speed shifts fairly dramatically downhill however. As great as live view is to have, there have been some fairly dramatic third party revelations during the last year in the form of Sony’s Quick AF Live View and Single Lens Translucent technologies. As such the D7000’s live view AF feels a little plodding – though that’s only by comparison. Realistically, even the Canon 60D and similar-specified cameras won’t provide a superior solution in this department. However, on the up side, the AF-area on the rear of the screen can be moved edge-to-edge for dramatically accurate focus across the frame. Face Priority, Wide-Area AF, Normal-area AF and Subject-tracking AF comprise the four available focus options. Add to this significant magnification possibilities for fine focus and, given the context of what it’s designed to be used for, the D7000 is ideal for shooting still life or landscape work.
With LCD screen resolutions increasing and more commonly found upwards of the one million dot mark, the D7000’s 3in, 920k-dot screen may not be pushing any boundaries but it’s perfectly adept for preview and playback. Should more detail assessment be required then a quick zoom in using the left-hand buttons can promptly assess the finer levels of detail.
The D7000’s viewfinder provides 100% field of view horizontally and vertically, meaning that what you see in the frame is precisely what you’ll get in the final image. There’s even a horizontal virtual horizon feature that, when activated, utilises a +/- display at the bottom of your view to assist in straightening up shots.
Power comes from the brand new EN-EL15 li-ion battery and a single charge lasts for a very long time indeed. In fact It was possible to shoot some 50 minutes of movie clips in addition to 500 still (Raw + JPEG) images, including long exposures and the use of a variety of autofocus and live view modes, plus a considerable amount of preview and playback. Shooting stills alone, it’s possible to shoot several hundred frames.
Elsewhere the 6fps continuous shooting mode makes the D7000 pretty nippy. It may be marginally slower than the D300s’s 7fps capability, but the difference is relatively negligible. When shooting JPEG fine it was possible to shoot 100 frames (the max continuous release option) without delay on a single still subject, while a moving subject provided subtle delay for the autofocus to catch up and shoot. It’s only when shooting Raw that things slow down a little, as Raw + JPEG Fine maxed out at 11 frames before a brief pause, showing some slight limitation to the buffer’s capacity.