Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nikon D7000

    Yesterday I talked about high end compacts, and today a total shift in gears back to DSLRs. This morning Nikon announced the D7000, which is the D90 replacement. This camera is packing some serious upgrades over the D90 it replaces, starting off with a 16 mega pixel CMOS sensor, a new battery type (EN-EL15), MB-D11 battery grip, a 39 point AF system with 9 cross type sensors, a native ISO range of 100-6400 (up to 25,600 with extended settings) and continuous shooting at 6FPS. Then of course you have the new 2016 pixel RBG matrix meter, a pentaprism viewfinder with 100% coverage (vs.96% in D90), 1080p video at 24FPS (still no manual control, really Nikon?), a magnesium alloy body with dust and moisture seals, and 12bit or 14bit RAW files, and last but not least a lockable mode dial with drive mode settings and real mirror lockup. Best of all the D7000 has dual SD/SDHC/SDXC card slots.

    In that list of new things you can see that the D7000 is a very impressive amateur/wannabe semi-pro camera, very much like the D90 before it! Although I don't intend to buy this camera, I would like to play around with it, just as I would the D3100! For me the reason I am not really interested in the D7000 is the use of a new battery type, and the lack of CF card support. I have a few spare EN-EL3e batteries (which would be expensive to replace) and the fact that it only takes SD cards, although dual slots, made me think twice, in spite of all the impressive features of the D7000. Another kicker is the layout of the mode dial, that makes the upper right side (from the front) very chunky, and depreview already noted that it is really easy to bump the shooting mode (Auto, P, S, A, M) setting when pulling your camera out of a bag, because the dial sits so high up on the camera. Nikon should have put a lock feature on that too, either that or make the dial stiffer.

    I like the fact that the camera has the drive model dial, that is one of the things that I really like on the D300, but the addition of these feature is what made the other dial stick up so high. Why couldn't they use the flat layout as they do on the pro cameras? I guess the mode dial would have to be smaller, which wouldn't work very well. The button layout of the D7000 seems very cramped on the small body. It is as if Nikon took some of the D300s button layout and combined it with the D90 layout. I'm still not sold on the switch/button combo for liveview and movie recording, but I'll hold my judgment until I can use it in practice.

    The thing that Nikon has really missed the boat on is the movie mode. Yes Nikon has implemented 1080p video, but still no manual control over shutter speed, aperture or ISO? Nikon is showing that movie support is just tacked on, which in some ways is a good thing. What, how can that be cries the movie shooting crowed. Simple, it means Nikon is more interested in the still photographer side of the camera! So all still photographers take notice of which brand between Canon and Nikon cares more about still photographers!

    It looks like my D300 will be safely maintaining its' status as my primary camera for at least another year, till we see a D300s replacement. At that point I think I could swallow buying new batteries, as long as I could still use my collection of high speed CF cards. I would then place my D300 in a backup roll, since I'm hoping the control layout will still be similar, which would make switching back and forth between cameras a lot easier. I also suspect that the D400, if there is going to be one, will have an even more impressive auto focus system, most likely the same one we'll see in next years D4 camera.