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Nikon D7000 D-SLR

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Simon Stafford previews the latest D-SLR from the Nikon Corporation, the D7000.

15th September 2010: The Nikon Corporation have been busy, because today it announced its second new D-SLR camera in less than four weeks, the D7000. The D7000 is not a replacement for the D90 as has been speculated elsewhere. The D90, introduced during 2008 and the world's first D-SLR with a video recording capability will, apparently, remain in the Nikon range of D-SLR cameras for the foreseeable future.

Key Specifications of the D7000:

16.2MP CMOS sensor (DX)
Expeed 2 image processing
2,016-pixel RGB TTL metering sensor
Multi-CAM4800DX AF sensor with 39-point AF system
Viewfinder with 100% frame coverage and 0.94x magnification
3-inch 921,000-dot LCD monitor screen
1/8000s shutter speed and 50ms shutter lag time
6fps continuous shooting speed
Mirror lock-up on release mode dial
Front and rear IR sensors for ML-L3 IR remote release
Dual SD memory card slots
ISO sensitivity range of 100-6400 (extendable to 25,600 in Hi2 setting)
HD 1080p (24 fps) / 720p(30/25/24 fps) D-Movie mode (video)
One-touch video and/or live view button (as per D3100)
Full manual control of exposure during video recording
Continuous AF during video recording
Frame grab from video (similar to the D3s)
External stereo microphone input
HDMI output terminal (Type-C mini-pin)
Remote accessory terminal (MC-DC2 remote release/GP-1 GPS)
Built-in Speedlight (16mm coverage and CLS Commander mode)
Advanced Wireless Lighting flash control
Virtual Horizon display (single axis only)
Flicker control for shooting under fluorescent light
Magnesium-alloy body shell and chassis
Shutter tested to 150,000 cycles
Durable sealing against ingress of dust and moisture
EN-EL 15 battery (7.0V, 1900mAh) and MH-25 AC charger
Optional MB-D11 battery pack with controls for vertical shooting

For me the significant features of the D7000, begin with its all new Nikon designed 16.2 Megapixel CMOS (23.6 x 15.6mm) sensor (it has a pixel pitch of 4.78µm), so the camera now has the highest pixel count (4,928 x 3,262) of any Nikon DX D-SLR, overhauling the 14MP D3100, announced last month.

Next comes the all new 2,016-pixel RGB TTL metering sensor, which is a significant development, as it represents more than a doubling in the number of the sampling points on this key component compared with the venerable 1,005-pixel sensor that was first introduced way back during 1996 with the launch of the Nikon F5 film camera, and which has served in every mid and top of range Nikon D-SLR camera ever since. By adopting a new sensor with more sampling points the camera will have the benefit of more information, which should not only enhance the capabilities of the 3D Color Matrix (TTL) metering system but also those of the Scene Recognition System (first introduced on the D3 and D300 cameras that where launched during 2007) to provide improved AF tracking performance and automatic white balance control.

Closely allied to the 3D Color Matrix metering system is the autofocus system. Another innovation is the new Multi-CAM4800DX AF sensor that a provides the D7000 with an array of 39 AF points (the central nine are cross-type), which are fully integrated with the Scene Recognition System enabling the camera to plot subject location within the frame area to enhance automatic exposure control. Another new aspect of the autofocus system is the Full-time servo AF (AF-F) mode, which performs continuous autofocus in both Live View and D-Movie mode.

The D7000 has a very wide ISO sensitivity range (100 - 6400) that will provide plenty of flexibility regardless of the shooting conditions, and if necessary it can be expanded up to an ISO equivalent of 25,600. The optical viewfinder provides a 100% (approx.) view of the frame area, a first for a Nikon camera in this class. The camera has dual SD memory card slots for increased shooting capacity, which should satisfy even the most prolific shooter, even when the shutter is chattering along at the camera's fastest 6 fps rate! Alternatively, the user can specify storage of different file formats to separate cards, so for example stills images can be saved to one card, while video files can be saved to the other.

The D7000 offers both Live View and video capabilities with options for full HD 1080p resolution at 24 fames per second (fps), as well as HD 720p at frame rates of 24 / 25/ 30 fps, and uses the H.264 compression codec to provide broad compatibility with popular post-production video editing software, plus the camera has an input for an external stereo microphone. One aspect of the specification that does not seem to have drawn much attention is the new 'Manual movie settings' option in the Movie Settings item of the Shooting menu. The default setting is 'Off' but select 'On', put the camera in to its manual exposure mode, and you then have full manual control of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO during video recording just like the D3s! Brilliant!

The D7000 uses Expeed 2, which is the enhanced version of Nikon's in-camera image processing regime, which in the D7000 includes 12 or 14 bits per colour analog-to-digital conversions and 16 bits per colour digital image processing. Expeed 2 not only helps to support the video functionality of the camera, including its HD (1920 x 1080 pixel) resolution and use of the MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 codec but is also claimed to deliver improvements to stills picture recording in respect of better noise reduction, smoother tonal graduation and greater color fidelity. As you might expect the speed of image has also been boosted with Expeed 2, although at this time I have no definitive answer as to by how much.

There are several aspects of the D7000 design that look as though they will enhance camera handling and operation over the D90 including, the arrangement of a release mode selector dial with dedicated lock button, set below the exposure mode dial on the top left of the body, and the "flick" style one-touch switch to active Live View and its central on/off button for video recording, which has been migrated directly from the D3100. The optional MB-D11 battery pack will not only extend shooting capacity by providing additional power for the camera but it also has a full array of controls to facilitate vertical shooting, to further improve handling characteristics.

Finally, the D7000 has clearly been built to last, with its magnesium-alloy body shell and chassis, extensive sealing against the ingress of dust and moisture and robust shutter mechanism that is tested to at least a 150,000 cycles.

The D7000 will be available as either a body only option, or as a kit with the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens. Prices will be as follows:

D7000 (body only) £1,099.99 / €1,303
D7000 + DX 18-105mm VR £1,299.99 / €1,540

Further details are available here:

http://www.nikon.com/about/news/2010/0915_d7000_02.htm

Copyright (2010) Simon Stafford

Posted on: Thursday 16 September 2010

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