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|In a homage to Anneka Rice, Gary Wolstenholme donned his shell suit and giant mobile phone for a treasure hunt around London with Nikon's new D7000 camera.|
Nikon's newly D7000 sits at the top of their consumer SLR range, adding a raft of features that will please advanced enthusiasts and beginners alike. Priced at £1100 for the body on its own and £1300 for the kit with the 18-105mm DX VR lens, it costs a pretty penny, but sports many features handed down from Nikon's professional range. Gary Wolstenholme went to Nikon's launch event in London to take a preliminary look before completing an in depth review.
A 16.2 megapixel DX format CMOS sensor lies at the heart of the new camera, boasting a sensitivity range of ISO100 to ISO6400, plus ISO expansion up to an equivalent of ISO25600. The D90 only has sensitivities up to ISO3200 without expansion, so it will be interesting to see how the D7000 performs at these high sensitivities.
The autofocus system has been overhauled, and brought more into line with Nikon's cameras from higher up the range. The full 51 AF points present on models from the D300s upwards aren't available here, instead a brand new 39 point Multi CAM 4800DX has been developed providing plenty of scope for most photographer's needs. This system includes the same 3D tracking and lock on technologies found on Nikon's pro-level bodies, which must be a good thing. The group of nine sensors in the centre are all cross-type with a detection range of -1 to +19EV, for accurate focusing, even in low light.
Continuing the theme of borrowing features and technology from Nikon's professional cameras, the top and rear plates of the camera are constructed from tough magnesium alloy. Also, environmentally sealed joints promise to protect the camera from dust and moisture, which made the camera ideal for testing in the inclement weather we encountered at the event. The camera is a similar size and weight to the D90 although the high build quality helps to make the D7000 feel quite different. It feels robust, yet compact and lightweight. The camera's shutter has been tested to 150,000 cycles, which also provides extra reassurance of its durability. The 920,000 dot three inch LCD screen even has a reinforced glass cover! More professionally oriented features added include 100% viewfinder coverage and twin memory card slots. The camera accepts SD and SDHC cards rather than Compactflash though, which is more in line with their consumer offerings.
Many of the controls have been tweaked, or completely redesigned such as the new rotating switch for activating live view, which should please left eye dominant photographers, who may have had issues in the past activating this feature with their nose by accident. The exposure mode dial has also been overhauled, moving the preset scene modes into a menu. The camera's drive options are now located on a bezel below this dial, allowing more direct access to this control. The maximum frame rate is an impressive six frames per second, which should be adequate for most action and is a big improvement on the three frames per second the D90 can muster.
Full HD videos can be recorded for up to 29 minutes. As the camera has two memory card slots, you can keep one card for stills and one for video, which I think is a nice touch. Briefly checking the footage on the screen during the event it looks smooth and sharp enough on first impression.
I really enjoyed the new control layout. Once I had given myself time to adjust everything felt very natural and direct. The range of metering options allowed me to achieved decent exposures in a wide range of conditions, whether it be underground at the disused Aldwych tube station, or out and about in challenging contrasty lighting.
After the event was over, I found the time to take a quick series of ISO test shots. More detailed analysis will follow in the complete review, but on first impressions the camera appears to perform well up to ISO3200, where noise is present, but isn't too intrusive. Even ISO6400 looks to be very usable.
|Nikon D7000 Hands On Preview ISO Test – Click for high resolution images.|
|ISO6400||Hi1 (ISO12800 Equiv)||Hi2 (ISO25600 Equiv)|
Nikon D7000 Hands On Preview: Verdict
Nikon have designed this camera around the requirements of those photographers who may look towards their professional range for extra ruggedness and features such as a fast continuous shooting rate and improved autofocus performance. The D7000 looks to have many of these included, whilst still keeping the camera lightweight and user friendly.
As this article is a preview it's too early to reach a conclusive verdict, but so far I am impressed by the range of features and attention to detail when it comes to the revised control layout and design.
A full, in depth review will follow shortly once we have properly put the camera through its paces.
Nikon D7000: Specification
|Lens mount||Nikon F Mount|
|Sensor size||DX 23.6 x 15.6mm|
|Max. Image size||4,928 × 3,264|
|Viewfinder||Pentaprism, approx 100% coverage|
|Focusing system||39 point Multi-CAM 4800DX with 9 cross-type AF points|
|Focus types||Autofocus (AF): Single-servo AF (AF-S); continuous-servo AF (AF-C); auto AF-S/AF-C selection (AF-A); predictive focus tracking activated automatically according to subject status. Manual focus (M): Electronic rangefinder can be used|
|File types||JPEG, RAW|
|ISO sensitivity||ISO100-6400 + ISO12800 and ISO25600 with expansion|
|Metering system||TTL exposure metering using 2,016-pixel RGB sensor|
|Metering types||Matrix: 3D colour matrix metering II (type G and D lenses); colour matrix metering II (other CPU lenses); colour matrix metering available with non-CPU lenses if user provides lens data. Centre-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 8 mm circle in centre of frame; diameter of circle can be changed to 6, 10 or 13 mm, or weighting can be based on average of entire frame (fixed at 8-mm when non-CPU lens is used). Spot: Meters 3.5 mm circle (about 2.5 % of frame) centred on selected focus point (on centre focus point when non-CPU lens is used)|
|White-balance||Auto (2 types), Incandescent, Fluorescent (7 types), Direct Sunlight, Flash, Cloudy, Shade, preset manual (up to 5 values can be stored), choose color temperature (2,500 K to 10,000 K), all with fine tuning; white balance bracketing: 2 to 3 frames in steps of 1, 2 or 3|
|Exposure compensation||-5 to +5 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV|
|Shutter speed range||1/8,000 to 30 s in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV, bulb|
|Continuous shooting||1 to 5 fps (CL) or 6 fps (CH)|
|Movie mode||D-Movie – full HD (1920 x 1080) movie clips|
|Monitor||Large 7.5 cm (3-in.), 920k-dot, high-resolution LCD monitor with reinforced glass|
|Media type||SD, SDHC, SDXC|
|Power||Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL15|
|Size (wxdxl)||132 × 105 × 77mm|
|Weight (with battery)||780g|
The Nikon D7000 body only costs around £1100 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Nikon D7000 body only
The Nikon D7000 with 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 DX VR lens costs around £1300 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Nikon D7000 with 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 DX VR