Top positive review
Fantastic powerhouse of a camera, just missed the mark for me.
14 May 2013
I have been monitoring this camera for several months and read every review going. When Nikon announced their cash back, I jumped at the chance and I am delighted.
I am not a professional photographer, so my review comes from an enthusiast point of view having come from a D3100. Incidentally, I am keeping my D3100 because I cannot bear to part with it. I have several lenses to pair with my D7000 including a 35 f1.8G, 85 1.8G, 55-300 VR and the main lens which I use which is a 17-55mm.
Look and feel
After becoming so used to the D3100 lightweight body, the D7000 seems much bulkier but in a good way. It feels good in the hand and paired with the equally tank-like 17-55mm it has some weight behind it. Moving from the D3100 to D7000 was easy as the controls are familiar. I used to like having the ISO/Aperture/Shutter Speed information in the live view so getting used to this on the small panel at the top right took some time however now I think this is great and prefer it. It also saves battery by keeping the live view off. However, like most things with this camera, you can customise it so this is on by default should you wish. I like how most of the main function buttons fall where you naturally hold the camera. My one gripe was that when I was moving the autofocus point while looking through the viewfinder, my thumb was right underneath my cheek making it slightly awkward. A minor negative in the scheme of things.
One thing that annoyed me with the D3100 was the auto-ISO function, which I sometimes used when I was being lazy! You had to go into the main menu to turn it on (or off). This took about 10 seconds of annoyance. Now, I have set my U1 setting in my D7000 to auto-ISO. So, now when if I want this on, I can just turn the dial. The beauty of this camera is the huge amount of customisable features. U1 and U2 very useful, you can assign the various function buttons to do different things - AE lock, DOF preview, etc. I also like that you can increase the ISO by 1/3 stop instead of 1/2. There are dials at the front where your right finger sits and at the back where the thumb is. This makes it super quick to change any the ISO and aperture.
The AF is much faster than I was expecting. It locks onto targets super-quick. I have read in some reviews about a back-focusing problem which seemed to be quite common. I unfortunately had that same problem. All my lenses except from the 85mm f1.8 I had to fine tune each of the lenses. With the 17-55mm I had to make a -17 adjustment. It seems to be pretty much fine now. However, I've read that because it is a zoom it is much harder to fine tune. The occasional photo misses the focus slightly, but this is me pixel peeping at 1:1. I will probably bring it into my local shop to get this checked over.
Image Quality and ISO performance
The main reason for the upgrade was for all the reviews regarding the great ISO performance. I agree to an extent. No doubt putting the D3100 and D7000 side by side, the D7000 wins hands down however I was maybe expecting too much from this. In good light, up to ISO 1000 I can barely notice any noise at all. After that noise starts to appear, when you reach ISO 3200, you can see noise but it's not bad. I am happy to use images up to ISO 6400. I don't print images very large but I would be surprised if you see noticeable noise for an ISO6400 in an A4 print. ISO performance and IQ is great, however I was expecting a little more based on what I've read.
There are many other features which I haven't mentioned but there's too many for this review!
In conclusion, the image quality and ISO performance is fantastic. Coupled with the huge amount of customisable features and quick functions to make your life as a photographer easier, this makes it a hugely recommended camera from me. The biggest problem at the moment is the back-focusing issue. I've adjusted it to -17 and it's pretty much sorted, but not 100% accurate. However, for normal sized prints you would not be able to tell that the focus was off. I really want to give this 5 stars, but I can't. The back-focusing issue although not terrible has annoyed me. This is the best camera I have every owned yet this is still only getting 4 stars.
This update is not with regards to the camera but for anyone wanting to use the Nikon repair centre for cameras under warranty. As discussed in the review, I was going to take my camera into the repair centre to double check that my -17 fine tune was accurate. I am lucky enough to be close to one of the official Nikon repair centres. I thought it might take a day or two to look at and fix but they are estimating it to be two weeks before it's looked at. I'm afraid for me that's far too long a wait to get a camera looked at. They said that 2 weeks was the average turnaround time for the quiet periods. My camera would go to the back of a queue and would be looked at in due course. I decided not to leave my camera with them for 2 weeks and live with my -17 adjustment.