The D7000 is Nikon's latest mid-range digital SLR. Aimed at the photographer who's seeking a more affordable camera than Nikon's top-tier devices, the D7000 goes up against Canon's EOS 60D and . You can expect to pay around £1,200 for the D7000 with a stabilised 18-105mm zoom lens (Nikon dSLRs don't feature built-in anti-shake systems).
Whistles and bells
Most pro photographers say you can't go far wrong choosing between a Canon and Nikon dSLR. For serious photography, these two companies' offerings remain streets ahead of the competition -- not just as regards performance, but also in terms of the amount of lenses, accessories and add-ons available. So what does the D7000 do to tip the balance in Nikon's favour this time?
The D7000 includes all the bells and whistles expected at this level, and even some that aren't. It has a 16.2-megapixel resolution, a Nikon DX (as opposed to full-frame FX) format CMOS image sensor, and a basic light sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 6,400, extendable to a see-in-the-dark 25,600.
It also has twin SD/SDHC/SDXC memory-card slots (so you're unlikely to run out of storage space), and a dedicated 'LV' (live view) switch for flipping the camera's mirror mechanism out of the way and using the 3-inch, 920,000-pixel LCD display as an aid to composition and manual focus. Thirty-nine autofocus points and AF tracking complete the picture. Curiously, though, there's no live histogram to show the areas of brightness or darkness in any given image as you're shooting it.
The D7000 also offers a 1080p video-shooting mode, recording at 24 frames per second in the MPEG-4 format, with the benefit of autofocus adjustment as you film. This avoids the need to manually adjust the focus as you zoom in and out of a scene, although you run the risk of the image briefly going soft as the camera lens adjusts, and you also get the noise of it doing so.
Shooting video requires first switching to the live-view mode and then pressing the red record button at the centre of the LV switch. While you have a brief wait, as the mirror adjusts, before you can begin shooting, it's a fairly smooth process.
The HDMI output resides beneath a chunky rubber flap on the camera's side. It will let you connect the D7000 to a hi-def TV or monitor. There are also ports for AV out and USB connectivity, as well as a socket for the attachment of an external microphone for stereo recording. The D7000 offers compatibility with GP-1 GPS units, additional battery packs, and Nikon's Speedlight flashguns too.
Hot to handle
With a rugged, dust- and moisture-resistant, magnesium-alloy chassis, the D7000 feels solid and capable of withstanding occasional knocks sustained in the course of duty. Those who like their dSLRs well-built and chunky will be pleased with this camera.
In terms of handling, the D7000 makes a good first impression, although the handgrip could be wider. On the top plate, a chunky shooting-mode dial, with just the right amount of give, provides access to the auto shooting mode, scene modes, a couple of user-customisable settings, and the standard creative quartet of program, shutter-priority, aperture-priority and manual modes. Nikon hasn't stuffed the D7000 full of pre-optimised settings. The shooting-mode dial is encircled by a second dial that offers a selection of drive modes.