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Nikon D7000 Hands On Preview Digital SLR Review

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.

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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.

Nikon D7000 Hands on Preview – Click for High Resolution Images.
Although the D7000 looks familiar, plenty of tweaks have been applied to the design.   The quick access button for AF modes now nestles in the middle of the AF mode switch.
The exposure mode dial has changed to accommodate two user customisable modes and the camera's drive setting is now located on a ring just below.   Live view is now operated via a rotating switch, reducing the chance of lefties activating the function with their nose by accident.

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.

Nikon D7000 Hands On Preview Images – Click for high resolution image.
The high ISO settings available were useful in the dark tunnels at the disused Aldwych tube station.   Wireless flash exposures are possible with any compatible Nikon Speedlite using the built in flash as a commander.
Colours are accurate yet vibrant using the standard colour mode.   Colour matrix metering results in accurate exposure in a wide range of conditions.

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.
ISO100 ISO200 ISO400
ISO800 ISO1600 ISO3200
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
Price £1,100.00
Lens mount Nikon F Mount
Resolution 16.2Mp
Sensor size DX 23.6 x 15.6mm
Sensor type CMOS
Max. Image size 4,928 × 3,264
Aspect ratio 3:2
Crop factor 1.5x
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)
Image stabilisation N/A
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
Live View Yes
Interface USB, HDMI
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

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Photographs taken using the Nikon D7000

The morning KissTroutbeck from Dubbs roadMeadow brown (actually a speckled wood, thanks Steveo28 for the id)Sun down below Sour Hows TroutbeckSweet peasMagnolia grandifloraPale blue iris throat detail 3Togetherkneading the doughlady in redI can sing a rainbowThe lonely shopkeeperHummingbird mothPheasanti think it's down there

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Chaitanya 12 15 1 United Kingdom
28 Oct 2010 2:46PM
when will we get to read a full review? eagerly waiting for it.
Chaitanya 12 15 1 United Kingdom
28 Oct 2010 3:52PM
when will we get to read a full review? eagerly waiting for it.
theorderingone 18 2.4k
28 Oct 2010 5:00PM
Very soon! I'm working on it now. Smile
30 Oct 2010 10:10AM
Did you mean the disused Aldwych tube station
theorderingone 18 2.4k
30 Oct 2010 4:31PM

Quote:Did you mean the disused Aldwych tube station

That's the one. Not being a London dweller myself I'm easily confused when it comes to public transport there

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