DCRP

Nikon D7000 Review

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor

Originally Posted: March 18, 2011

Last Updated: March 28, 2011

The Nikon D7000 ($1199 body only) is a midrange digital SLR that fits between the D90 and D300s. Its feature set is quite impressive, and even made owners of cameras from other manufacturers drool a little bit (or so I've heard). Some of the highlights on this camera include:

  • 16.2 Megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor
  • Expeed 2 image processor
  • 39-point AF system
  • 2016-pixel 3D color matrix metering system
  • 3-inch LCD with 921,000 pixels
  • Large optical viewfinder with 0.95x magnification and 100% coverage
  • Full manual controls, and then some
    • Shutter speed range of 30 - 1/8000 sec
    • ISO range of 100 - 25600 when fully expanded
    • Choice of four RAW formats (12 or 14 bit, compressed or lossless)
  • Continuous shooting at 6 fps
  • Electronic level
  • Built-in wireless flash support
  • Full HD video recording with continuous AF and manual controls
  • Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC slots
  • Optional battery grip

Sounds pretty good to me! Does the D7000 perform as well as its specs lead one to believe? Find out in our review!

What's in the Box?

The D7000 is officially available in two kits. You can get it with the body only ($1199), or with the F3.5-5.6, 18 - 105 mm VR Nikkor lens ($1499). I've also seen a kit at Costco that includes an F3.5-5.6, 18 - 200 mm VR lens plus a carrying case, 4GB SDHC card and a Nikon DVD/book set for $1799. Here's what you'll find in the box for the official bundles:

  • The 16.2 effective Megapixel Nikon D7000 camera body
  • F3.5-5.6, 18 - 105 mm ED VR AF-S DX Nikkor lens [lens kit only]
  • EN-EL15 lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • Battery charger
  • LCD monitor cover
  • Body cap
  • Eyepiece cap
  • Shoulder strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROMs featuring Nikon ViewNX 2
  • Quick Start leaflet + 325 page User's Manual (both printed)

If you get the lens kit, then you'll be able to start taking photos as soon as you pick up a memory card (see below). I figure that a lot of D7000 buyers will be upgrading from other Nikon D-SLRs, so you can move your lenses right over, without issue. The camera supports all Nikkor F-mount lenses, and there are no restrictions on which lenses can autofocus, which is the case on cheaper Nikon D-SLRs. Nikon makes lenses for every possible situation, with the full list of current lenses found here. Since the camera doesn't help image stabilization built into the body, you'll need to find a lens with what Nikon calls Vibration Reduction (VR) to reduce the risk of blurry photos. The 18-105 mm kit lens includes Vibration Reduction, and was a pretty good lens overall. The only real negative I could find was mild purple fringing and vignetting at times. Whichever lens you end up using, there will be a 1.5X focal length conversion ratio to keep in mind.

Like all D-SLRs, there's no memory card in the D7000's box, so you'll need to pick one up if you don't have one already. The D7000 supports SD, SDHC, plus high capacity SDXC cards, and I'd recommend picking up a 4GB or 8GB card, and perhaps larger if you'll be taking a lot of movies. Nikon recommends cards rated at Class 6 or higher for best video recording performance.

The D7000 uses the new EN-EL15 lithium-ion battery. With 14 Wh of energy inside its plastic shell, this may be the most powerful camera battery I've seen, unless you count the giant ones on cameras like the D3x or EOS-1D models. I'm thinking that this battery will lead to pretty big battery life numbers. Let's take a look:

Camera Battery life, live view off
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon EOS-60D 1100 shots LP-E6
Nikon D7000 1050 shots EN-EL15
Olympus E-5 870 shots BLM-5
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 320 shots * DMW-BLC12
Pentax K-5 740 shots D-LI90
Sony Alpha DSLR-A580 1050 shots NP-FM500H

* Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, live view only

Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

The D7000 is tied for the #2 position in the battery life competition among this group of midrange D-SLRs (plus one mirrorless interchangeable lens camera). Nikon doesn't publish live view only battery life numbers, but at the very least, it'll be half of what you see in the above table.

I should mention the usual issues about the proprietary batteries that are used by all of the cameras on the above list. These batteries tend to be pricey (an extra EN-EL15 will set you back around $43), and you can't use off-the-shelf batteries in an emergency, as you could with a camera that uses AAs. All is not lost, though -- if you pick up the optional battery grip (shown below), you'll be able to install six AA batteries to get you through the day.


Optional MB-D11 Multi Power Battery Pack

And here is the camera's optional battery grip, which Nikon calls the MB-D11 Multi Power Battery Pack (priced from $229). This can hold an additional EN-EL15, or six AA batteries. If you're using a two EN-EL15's (one in the camera, the other in the grip), that gives you the ability to take 2100 shots. Nice!

When it's time to charge your EN-EL15 batteries, just pop them into the included charger. This charger plugs right into the wall (my favorite), and will fill up this powerful battery in a little over 2.5 hours.

As with all midrange D-SLRs, the D7000 can take virtually any accessory you might dream up. Here are the accessories which I think will be the most popular:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
Lenses Varies Varies The D7000 supports all Nikkor F-mount lenses, with a 1.5X focal length conversion ratio.
External flash

SB-700
SB-900

From $313
From $446
Get more flash power and less of a chance of redeye with these Speedlights. Both of these lenses can be used wirelessly, as well.
Sync terminal adapter AS-15 $20 Attaches to the hot shoe and provides a standard PC sync terminal.
Wired remote control MC-DC2 From $27 A shutter release button on a 3.3 foot long cord.
Wireless remote control ML-L3 From $17 Release the shutter without any cables.
GPS unit GP-1 From $203 Add location data to your photos, automatically. Attaches to the hot shoe and connects to the accessory port.
Wireless transmitter WT-4a From $763 A separate (and pricey) unit that provides both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. Requires its own power source.
Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D11 From $229 Holds an additional EN-EL15 or six AA batteries, for up to double the battery life. Also offers extra controls for shooting portraits.
AC adapter EH-5a
EP-5B
From $77
From $50
Power your camera without draining the battery. You need BOTH of these parts!
Semi-soft case CF-DC3 From $49 Holds the camera with a (smaller) lens attached
* Prices were accurate at time of publication

And those are just the most popular accessories. There are plenty of other accessories available, mostly related to the viewfinder.


Nikon Transfer

Nikon includes their ViewNX 2 software with the D7000. The first piece of this software that you'll probably encounter is Nikon Transfer 2, which is used to copy photos from the camera to your Mac or PC. In addition to copying images to a set location, you can also have it send them to a backup folder, and photos can be uploaded to Nikon's myPicturetown online service, as well.


Nikon ViewNX 2

Once that's done, you'll find yourself in Nikon ViewNX 2, which has recently received some actual editing tools (previous versions had none). The main screen should look familiar -- it's like every other photo browser these days. Here you can e-mail, print, geotag, or view a slideshow of your photos. You can also upload them to the aforementioned My Picturetown service.


Editing in ViewNX 2

On the editing screen you can manipulate both JPEG and (finally) RAW images. You can adjust things like sharpness/contrast/brightness/and color, brighten shadows, straighten a crooked photo, remove redeye, or reduce chromatic aberrations. If it's a RAW file you're working with, you can also adjust the exposure and white balance. The only real complaint I have is that it takes forever for RAW adjustments to take effect, and I have a very fast computer. ViewNX 2 also has a movie editor built in. You can put clips into a timeline, remove unwanted footage, add transitions, and then save the results as a new video.

Something else you can use for RAW editing (and more) is Nikon Capture NX2 (priced from $127). This software lets you edit many common RAW properties, and it's unique "U Point" controls take a different approach toward image retouching than what you might be used to. You can select a spot in the image that you want to retouch, select the radius of the area that will be affected, and then adjust things like brightness, contrast, and saturation for that area. You can do the same for things like D-Lighting, noise reduction, and unsharp mask. You can learn more about this software at Nikon's website.

If you own Adobe Photoshop CS5, you can also use its Camera Raw plug-in (version 6.3 or newer) to edit the D7000's RAW images.

So what is RAW, anyway? The RAW image format (Nikon calls it NEF) stores unprocessed data from the camera's sensor. Thanks to this, you can adjust all kinds of image properties without degrading the quality of the image. The D7000 supports four different types of RAW files (12 or 14 bit, either compressed or lossless), though only one size. The downsides of the RAW format are that 1) the file sizes are significantly larger than JPEGs, 2) camera performance is slower, and 3) you must post-process each image on your computer in order to convert it to a standard image format (though the camera does have a built-in RAW editor).


Nikon Camera Control Pro 2

Another optional piece of software that you might be interested in is Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 (priced from $146). As its name implies, you can compose and take photos and videos from the comfort of your desk. Photos can be saved to the camera, or automatically transferred to your computer. You can adjust all of the important camera settings, and live view is available, complete with electronic level.

The D7000 is a complex camera, so you'll need a detailed manual to help you figure it all out. Thankfully, that's what Nikon provides, and in printed form, no less. The D7000's manual is thick, detailed, and keeps fine print to a relative minimum. Odds are that you'll find an answer to whatever question you may have within its pages. Documentation for the bundled software is installed onto your Mac or PC.

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