Feb 28, 2012

Nikon D7000 Review

In the past month or so i've been quite curious about the prospect of adopting a Nikon D7000 to the camera bodies I currently own.  My main reasoning was to have the ability to shoot high quality video.  Secondary has been the thought of moving towards a lighter camera body.

First some thoughts on the weights of camera bodies.  I normally shoot with a D700 which weighs in at 995 grams or more than two pounds.  A year or two back i regularly added the MB-D10 battery grip to the body which added another 290 grams.  Throw in a couple batteries in camera body and grip and we're up another 150 grams.  Total weight for a D700, grip and batteries would be about 1435 grams or almost a staggering 3 lbs without any lens attached!  Let's add a 3 pound 70-200 f2.8 VR and an SB-900 flash with batteries and we're up in the 8 pound range!  Lift that 8 pounds to your eye a couple thousand times and you have a typical wedding day.

Last summer took me in another direction.  Most weekends i photographed two weddings which meant i had to minimize fatigue as best as i could.   I started the summer by stripping the grip from the D700. Next i used primes wherever i could, mostly a 35mm f2 and an 85mm f1.8.  This netted me a couple of benefits.  I was able to use flash less due to the lenses letting in a stop more light than the f2.8 zooms but it also eliminated between 1-2 pounds depending on what zoom i would have used.  My wrists loved the combinations!

John Alteen of Altronics Ltd. on Broadway in Corner Brook was kind enough to borrow me his D7000 for a few days to assess if this camera body would be worthwhile as part of my kit.  With 5 or 6 days behind the camera i really started to feel what this little black beauty was capable of.

Video on this camera is stunning.  It shoots full high definition video at 24 fps which renders a very cinematic feel.  Unfortunately unlike the Canon 7D it does not do 60 fps at 720P.  Thankfully it does have the ability to set exposure manually, which would be beneficial for what i have in mind.  It also does full time AF with face detection but do be prepared for noise from the autofocus system if you use the camera to record sound.

I took the camera to a local hot spot for birds to test the video with my Nikkor 500mm f4 VR super telephoto.  Even with the 1.7X teleconverter the video kicks ass.  Check it out....

With a ton of birds flying all about me it was just was well to test the AF tracking ability when shooting stills.  Here i got another pleasant surprise!  The autofocus on this camera to me is just as responsive and tracks just as well as the D300 or D700!

Here are a few stills from the session.

Image quality is quite good from a DX sized sensor.  It trumps the D300 by a stop or so at equivalent ISO.  800 was about as far as i wanted to push my D300 and even then IQ wasn't all that great.  I didn't hesitate to push the D7000 to ISO 1600 to get the shutter speeds necessary (1/1600 +) to get sharp birds in flight.  There was a little chroma and luminance noise but both cleaned up well in Lightroom 4 Beta.

One area where this camera does suffer is the buffer depth meaning how many images the camera can take and store on internal memory before it writes the images to the memory card.   With only eleven images deep as compared to the D300's thirteen and a slower write speed which is possibly due to larger file sizes (D300 12 MP vs. D7000 16 MP) one has to be more selective when shooting bursts.   To minimize buffer issues there are multiple courses of action one should take.  The use of a fast memory SD card would be very beneficial.  Shooting peak action would be a good approach to take.  If you shoot RAW setting the camera to shoot in 12 bit will also allow faster write times.  I also choose to shoot with noise reduction off as it slowed down both my D300 and D700 write times.  To be honest i don't know if it made a difference on the D7000 or not but with a workflow based in Lightroom i'm really not concerned with noise reduction in camera and always turn it off regardless of what camera body i'm using.  Once these actions are implemented the buffer depth is less of an issue than it appears to be intially.

So we have a camera that shoots great video, has great autofocus and image quality is darn good for a DX sensor, all in a lightweight body.

Sounds like i just might add another camera to the collection!

RONiN photography (Scott Grant) offers print and image sales, print service, photographic and post processing instruction for both groups and private individuals.  Photography services include weddings, engagement sessions, people and pet photos, corporate events and so on.

If you or someone you know are looking for a wedding photographer for 2012 time is running short!  I'm getting heavily booked so please call or email to reserve your wedding day!  I'm also taking bookings for 2013 and beyond.

If you would like to contact me please do so at scott@roninphoto.ca or call at (709) 639-5335.  I'm located in Steady Brook, on the west coast of Newfoundland, in Canada.

Visit me on facebook at RONiN photography.

I also have a ton of images of all kinds on Flickr.

If you would like to learn more about RONiN photography please visit www.roninphoto.ca.

1 comment:

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