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!

19 Responses to “Nikon D7000 Review”
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