Nikon D7000 Review

Our Nikon D7000 review includes specs, price, sample photos and comparisons to other DSLR cameras so you can determine whether the Nikon D7000 crop sensor digital camera is right for you.  For those unfamiliar with the Nikon D7000, it’s a “pro-sumer” (or what Nikon calls its “professional-standard camera”) DSLR that, depending upon how you look at it, is Nikon’s flagship crop sensor DSLR as of 2012.

Spec-wise, the Nikon D7000 is fairly impressive. It has a 16.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, an EXPEED 2 image processor, 39 autofocus points and a new autofocus system, 1920×1080 HD video capabilities, a native ISO range of 100 to 6400, dual SD card slots, live view, 6fps shooting, an intervalometer, virtual horizon, built in 3-frame bracketing for HDR, a 150,000 actuation rated shutter, and a myriad of other techno-babble features.

Of course, all of those buzzwords are meaningless if it doesn’t enable the photographer to take great photos. Since I’m not one to fixate on technical details, I won’t do that here. Instead, I’ll share what I think are the advantages and disadvantages of the Nikon D7000 now that I’ve used it for the last year and a half, during which time it has been my primary camera for our Walt Disney World and Disneyland trips. Yeah, I know, I’m sort of tardy with this review. I never even planned on writing one, but I still get frequent emails from people asking what I think of it. So here’s what I think of it…

Single exposure – CRAZY dynamic range!

First, the pros. As with any camera, the biggest concern should be with image quality. As far as image quality goes, the Nikon D7000 excels. A native ISO (rather than “Low 1″) of 100 is great, and it allows you to take even cleaner photos during daylight hours and when you’re using a tripod at night. The dynamic range of the camera is also better, meaning that it captures more detail in the shadows and in the highlights than its predecessors. Even if you don’t understand what “native ISO” or “dynamic range” mean, trust me–these things are important. They’re especially important if, like me, you don’t want to edit multiple exposures to produce an HDR image but still want to be able to do a fair amount of editing to an image to draw more detail out of it or control highlights. This is a real timesaver for those who like editing their images but don’t want to hassle with multi-exposure HDR.

Another single exposure…

On that same note, the ISO range of the Nikon D7000, which goes up to a native 6400, is very solid. It’s much better than any of the lower-level Nikon cameras, even newer ones, although I must confess that I don’t think it was a huge improvement over the Nikon D90. However, to be fair, test images seem to indicate that even the newer $3,000 full frame Nikon D800 doesn’t improve much upon the Nikon D7000 in high ISO capabilities, either. This is a bit puzzling, as the older Nikon D3 line of cameras has incredibly exceptional high ISO performance. It seems like that performance would have trickled down to the lesser models by now. In any case, the Nikon D7000 is pretty good with high ISO, but it’s not a substantial upgrade over the Nikon D90 or Nikon D300.

Impressive at high ISOs!

The build quality and viewfinder coverage are great features that shouldn’t be overlooked, and are ones that don’t come across on paper ‘spec lists’ too well. Other very useful features that roundup the D7000 are the dual memory card slots, which enable you to shoot to a backup card; the virtual horizon, which should assist you in getting your shots level; and the ability of the camera to meter with older non-CPU lenses.

If you already own a DSLR and aren’t swayed by these features on paper, go to a store and actually pick up a Nikon D7000. Many of these features are what I’d describe as incremental improvements that, individually, don’t amount to substantial improvements, especially in image quality. In fact, most of these improvements are for the convenience of the photographer and make taking photos easier. The features themselves don’t individually produce better shots, but together, they make it easier for the photographer to capture the shot they’re after. This becomes crystal clear once you pick up the Nikon D7000 and actually use it. If you’re on the fence about this camera, you should pick it up and see how it feels in your hands. You’ll probably walk out of the store with a new camera.

At this point, the cons are the many little features that have been incorporated into entry level Nikons that, for some reason, Nikon feels people looking at a pro-sumer camera will not use. An articulating LCD screen would’ve been great for getting into tight or low spaces. Built-in WIFI or GPS would have been great, too. That said, even without these features that I think should have been included, I think the Nikon D7000 is a significant improvement over the entry level Nikons, such as the Nikon D3100, Nikon D3200, and Nikon D5100.

Of course, it costs a lot more than each of these cameras, and shooting in perfect lighting on auto mode will likely result in indistinguishable photos between the three, but if you’re looking for something more than an entry level camera and you know how to use manual settings and can appreciate the features of a more advanced camera, the Nikon D7000 is for you. If you’re more concerned about having DSLR quality but plan on using the camera with a kit lens mostly (or only) in auto-mode, I would recommend sticking with a lower-level camera such as the new Nikon D3200.

My other initial complaints about the Nikon D7000 mostly related to the camera in comparison to the Nikon D90. That was when it was originally released and you could purchase a Nikon D90 for around $600 but a Nikon D7000 cost $1,500. Since then, the price has dropped on the D7000, while it’s hard to locate the now-discontinued D90 (if anything, the price on it has gone up!). I still have my reservations in recommending that someone who owns a Nikon D90 make the leap to the Nikon D7000.

Of course, if you’re making the leap into the DSLR world and are on a budget, you also need to consider the cost of lenses and various accessories. I feel lenses are more important than a camera body, so keep that in mind when budgeting. Refer to our reviews of different photography equipment, accessories, books, and software for Walt Disney World and Disneyland photography if you’re making the leap into the world of DSLRs (and congrats!). Also, if you really enjoy photography, you should probably check out ISO 5571, a podcast I co-host that is entirely focused on Walt Disney World and Disneyland photography.

Overall, the Nikon D7000 is a great camera, especially if you want to use something at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, but it’s not for everyone. I’d recommend it for people who are looking to upgrade from their entry level models or who are wanting to get into photography and expect to be “serious” about the hobby. It’s a lot of camera at first, but it gives you plenty of great options and offers many improvements over the entry level models. If you own a Nikon D90 or Nikon D300, I probably wouldn’t look at the D7000. Likewise, if you’re not too serious about photography but want the quality of a DSLR, go with an entry level model, instead.

If you do want to purchase this lens–or any other photography equipment–please use the Amazon links here (like this one). Not only does Amazon offer great customer service and low prices, but using the links here help support (at no cost to you!) and help us continue to provide you with great content. 

If you’re looking for other photography equipment recommendations or photography tips in general check out a few of my top photography blog posts:

Photography Buying Guide: Everything from Underwater Cameras to Software
Best Books for Improving Your Photography
5 Indispensable Tips for Better Vacation Photos
Infrared Photography Guide & Tips

Your Thoughts…

Do you own the Nikon D7000 DSLR camera? Interested in it? Share your thoughts about this camera in the comments!

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19 Responses to “Nikon D7000 Review”

  1. David says:

    Tom, great fair review of the D7000. I am a new owner of a D7000 and based on reviews (yours included), sold the kit lens and bought the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8. Couldn’t be happier.

    I know you don’t like to get too “techy” here but could you assist with the focus settings you use for shooting at the parks. I hope i don’t have a bad camera body or lens but somehow my focus seems to be a bit off when taking photos in available light situations.

    Love the site and thanks for providing us with good content to read and see in between visits to the parks!

    David V.

    • Jon says:

      Tom Thanks for the Review. I am new to DSLR (thanks in large part to you). My first camera was the D5100, since then my girlfriend has purchased the D7000 and I have to say that I plan on trading my D5100 in to get either the D7000 or its replacement at the end of this year. The “ease of use” is so much greater with the D7000. Like you said if you are only interested in auto mode then you will probably be happy with the D3200 or D5100, but for people that like to get creative and shot in manual or semi manual modes or people that plan on shooting in different environments, the D7000 is by far the better choice. The controls are all right there at your finger tips whereas on the D5100 you have to scroll through the info screen to make adjustments to the ISO, focus mode, quality, or many other settings. I have pretty well grown out of my D5100 in less than 4 months. That doesn’t mean it is not a great camera. It is just not designed for the person who likes to take a large variety of shots. I am much more productive with the D7000 than I am the D5100 simply due to the fact that it is easier to make adjustments to the settings on the D7000.

      I also agree that it would be nice to have the flip out LCD from the D5100 on the D7000 but to be totally honest I would rather have the extra buttons that are missing from the D5100 to accommodate that flip out screen.

      The only other advantage that I can think of right now with the D5100 is the Video Frame rate, so what I have been doing is filming video with the D5100 on a tripod while I take stills with the D7000. And even then the video quality is not THAT much better on the D5100.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Interesting point about the extra buttons. I think the D5100 is missing buttons not because of the articulating LCD screen, but because it’s smaller. In other words, the D7000 wouldn’t have to lose buttons to gain the flip screen. It could have both.

        I think Nikon views this as something pros don’t value. This is probably partly true–but I’d value it!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I usually use AF-C whenever I’m in WDW. That might help you achieve better focus. Focus generally isn’t as good in low light situations, though.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Lisa says:

    I do own a D7000 and while I love it sometimes the images do not seem as sharp as they should be. I am planning a trip to Disneyland in October and I want to recreate some of your great shots. I just ordered a filter for the fireworks shots and I can’t wait to learn how to use it. I have the Kit Lens the 18-105mm lens and the Prime 50mm lens. I am thinking of renting a Wide Angle Lens for the Trip, what do you recommend?

  3. Steve says:

    I love my D7000 and get shots I wouldn’t have with my previous D70, but it did have a learning curve for me and required me to improve my “form” significantly. For me its achilles heel is that the Mode dial has no lock. I use (and highly recommend) a Black Rapid Strap, which has the camera hanging upside down at your side. But I bump that dial all the time and miss shots as I try to figure out why the camera isn’t doing what I want! Otherwise, the D7000 will keep me from feeling the need to jump to full frame for quite some time! Oh – and definitely get the MB-D11 battery grip – you’ll never shoot without it again!

  4. Dave says:

    I just started listening to your podcast and like it so far. I have a film SLR, but haven’t used it in a while. I’ve had a Nikon P&S and now have a Nikon L110, which is essentially a souped-up P&S with a super zoom on it. The one I really miss though, is my 7.2 MP Sony Cybershot P&S. I paired that with a gorillapod tripod and had more fun than anything else so far because it had full manual control which no other camera has had since.

    I’ve never owned a DSLR, so I don’t know everything I’d be looking for in one. After hearing the podcast and seeing this review, I don’t understand full-frame vs. crop frame cameras, can you enlighten me?

    • Dave says:

      Actually, I didn’t realize you guys did a whole episode on buying your first DSLR that explained it, so I’m all set!

  5. Ross says:

    When I first got my D7000 from J&R over two years ago I posted that I preferred its form factor and features over my D90, but I didn’t think its IQ was a significant improvement over the D90. Most people on DPR and Disboards thought I was crazy back then, but it sounds like you now agree with me.

    The D800 provides a significant improvement in high ISO capabilities. The DPR members with both a D700 and a D800 have posted that the D800 beats the D700 in high ISO and DR.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Your last line is one reason why I’m already wanting the D800. I love the D700, don’t get me wrong, but I’d like a bit more DR and high ISO (and low ISO actually) capabilities.

      • Ross says:

        I ordered mine from Amazon on 4/1 and my estimated delivery date is now 6/25 – 7/12. People in the Amazon forums are reporting 3 month wait times, so I think my estimated delivery date is fairly accurate. I’m sure I could get it quicker if I went to a local shop, but I’m more than willing to wait to save some cash. I should have it in time for my trip to the AoA (LK suite) in September, but I still plan to bring my MFT camera on the trip.

  6. Brian Tan says:

    I am an intermediate user with a lot of film experience. I grew up on a fully manual Minolta (still love this camera) but I never purchased a DSLR. I made the jump to the D7000 and I am very happy. Learning to use the D7000 has improved my understanding of all of the extra features on my Canon Powershot S95 (another great camera.)

    Jumping to the bottom line, I love the features. I ultimately selected this model for the dual memory card slots. The programmable user settings give you what amounts to three different manual configurations. The VR lenses are very impressive (I am no longer a skeptic.)
    I got the camera about a week ago and already have my personal settings configured and one user setting programmed. This may not sound like a big deal but it is when you want to try out the differences and effect of some relatively minor adjustments.

    I agree with a lot of the other reviewers that the camera does seam to overexpose. I find myself going a little below the meter a lot and setting up the bracket for -1EV. I am still experimenting with the video but my first impression is that this camera will never replace my Sony HDR-SR11 but it is nice to be able to toggle back and forth. The auto-focus is clearly audible in playback. The focus tracking works but you will probably turn it off for sensitive recording.

    The pictures are great. I think before going up to 24mp I would look into better glass in front of the sensor.
    The camera is a little big for my 7 year old but she is still able to use it and make great photos.
    Exactly what I was looking for.

    buy this camera on Amazon and save $100.95.

  7. Jessica says:

    Hi Tom, Thanks for all the knowledge you share with us.

    I never owned a DSLR and I just got this camera D7000. I would like to know what are the ideal standard settings for taking the best photographs of Disney.

    With Thanks


  8. Nicole says:

    So glad I read your review, I have been using a D40 for about 4 years now & have been looking to upgrade. I was considering the D7000 or switching to Canon (problem there is what to do with my Nikon lenses) you have totally sold me on the D7000. I will be taking a trip to Disneyworld with my family in about a week & cannot buy the camera before that but I think I may rent it for the week…I may never want to pick up my D40 again

  9. Nicole says:

    What lenses are you using in these pictures!!!!

  10. Nicole says:

    I didn’t mean to use (!!!!!!) :) I’d like to know though, as I just bought the d7000 :)

  11. I savour, lead to I discovered exactly what I used to be taking a look for. You have ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  12. Kelly J says:

    Hey Tom- Great articles on photography! I am thinking about investing in a camera and they have been a great help!

    Just a heads up the links in this article to amazon are not working. I saw that they are specific to DTB and wanted to make sure you were aware so you go the most “support” from Amazon!

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