Nikon upgrades most everything in its launch of a new midlevel flagship.
In the Field
One advantage of an advanced DSLR is a more user-friendly design. The D7000 sports two command wheels, so shooting in manual mode is seamless, with one wheel controlling aperture and the other shutter speed. Thanks to Nikon’s ample customization, you can choose not just which wheel controls what, but which direction you turn to increase or decrease the numeric value of a setting, and which direction the displays move as you change a setting.
Like the D3100, the D7000 employs a flip-switch to enter live-view shooting mode with a button in the center, adorned with a red dot, to start or stop video recording while you’re in live view. This made live-view shooting extremely convenient and led to our using it more frequently than usual. If only the D7000 had an articulated LCD screen (like the D5000), it would have been among the best live-view experiences we’ve had.
The second Nikon to record 1080p video (the first was the D3100), it delivered impressive video quality, with accurate-looking, well-saturated colors and relatively few artifacts. But, at its top resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, you’re limited to 24 frames per second instead of the 30 fps that’s native to most TVs. For a 30-fps frame rate, res drops to 720p. While we excused this at the D3100’s price ($600 less than the D7000), we’d prefer to see 30 fps at 1080p from a camera in this class.
Another new addition to the body is a button to select AF mode, located in the middle of the switch for auto/manual focus. While experienced Nikon shooters might be left hunting for this control, as we were on first picking up the D7000, it proved a great way to control that function. It also underscores the fact that higher-level photography is truly a two-handed endeavor.
In fact, once you learn the placement of the D7000’s controls, you likely won’t pull your eye away from the optical viewfinder. Most essential controls can be operated through external buttons, with settings visible in the window. And the finder’s 100-percent accuracy and ample magnification are a big plus.
One of the few controls that isn’t a hard button is drive mode. For the first time in a camera at this level, Nikon included a locking wheel on the top of the body’s upper left side to control this, as on its higher-end cameras. Unlike those models, the mode dial sits atop that wheel on the D7000.
Typical of a Nikon in this class, the grip is extremely comfortable, with a nice indent on the inside for your fingertips and a ridge underneath the shutter button for leverage when tilting the camera up and down. The body has a decent amount of heft, and it balanced well even with moderately heavy lenses such as the full-frame 24–70mm f/2.8 Nikkor, which yields a field of view similar to a 36–105mm due to the D7000’s APS-C sensor's 1.5X crop factor.