This is the Nikon that HDSLR users have been waiting for, and the HDSLR that Nikon users are grabbing. Three significant specs stand out: 1080p, 4.78µm pixels, and 25,600 ISO. Need we say more? Yes.
The new Nikon D7000 is possibly the most advanced digital Nikon currently available…if you can find one. Stores have been swamped with orders. It has a 16.2 Megapixel sensor, Live View, and full 1920 x 1080 24p video. The images are stunning. Low-light capability is astonishing. I spent a month testing the camera; I thought the “sweet spot” for night shooting was 3200 ISO, 640 for daylight, and 1600 for interiors. Your mileage will vary depending on style, stability, and shutter speed. Here’s a snowy day interior at the Lumiere Museum in Lyon, shot at 12,800 ISO on a Nikkor 16-85 mm zoom (superb lens):
The Nikon D7000 has a Super 35mm size APS-C CMOS sensor (23.6 x 15.6mm) with 14-bit A to D conversion. The rugged, magnesium, weatherproof body weighs 24.3 oz. Auto exposure and Autofocus is accurate and fast, thanks to 39 focus points and a unique Scene Recognition System that compares your scene to an internal database of more than 30,000 stored images. Native ISO is 100-6400, with a Hi-2 setting of 25,600 ISO. Resolution is astonishing and almost defies the physics of what many of us had previously learned about smaller pixel size and sensitivity. The pixels on the D7000 sensor are 4.78 microns: about half the size of sensors in current digital motion picture cameras costing 20 to 100 times more. I found the camera’s dual SD card slots very useful, letting me simultaneously store JPEGs on one card and NEF RAW and .MOV files on the other.
Let’s cut to the chase. Shooting Video. Set your menu to 1080P: MENU-SHOOTING MENU-MOVIE SETTINGS-MOVIE QUALITY: 1920X1080; 24 fps; high quality. Be sure to choose MANUAL MOVIE SETTINGS: ON.
Set your lens to manual focus. Although the D7000 handles auto-focus while shooting video, manual focus gives you more control. Same with exposure. Set your ISO first: push the ISO button on the back, and rotate the MAIN CONTROL DIAL with your thumb. Next, set your shutter speed to 1/50 by rotating the MAIN CONTROL DIAL. Set the aperture with your index finger on the SUB COMMAND DIAL located below the MAIN ON-OFF SWITCH. Tweak other settings like Color Temperature, Audio (Microphone), and Destination (Card Slot).
Turn the LIVE VIEW (LV) lever in the direction of the arrow. The image is displayed on the 3″ LCD viewing screen. To begin shooting video, simply press the RED BUTTON inside the LIVE VIEW lever. To stop shooting, press the RED BUTTON again. Still pictures are taken with the regular shutter release button while in LIVE VIEW. Rotate the LIVE VIEW LEVER in the direction of the arrow to exit. It’s all very intuitive. You can shoot about 20 minutes per clip; there’s a count-down timer in the upper right of the LCD screen.
The Nikon D7000 is thoughtfully planned with helpful controls that serve as a paradigm for good camera design. Lots of dials and direct buttons help the user access functions and choices that are too often buried deep within on-screen menus. We may be in a digital world, but these analog buttons are essential and very much appreciated.