This post is not meant to be a review. You can read reviews all over the internet all day.
What I am writing below are non-scientific impressions and observations, impressions if you will, of using the D7K during the last two weeks.
First a little background. When I finally bought my first DSLR, a D90 two years ago, I distinctly remember the salesman being all happy telling me the functionality included video. Further, as a photographer first, I remember thinking, OK who cares, I will never use that function. I didn't for over a year.
Jennifer's need for continuing documentation has gotten me more into video than I ever thought I would. People and the events are now demanding video clips for advertisements and promotion of the events she is participating in. I find myself, the Accidental Videographer.
(As a side note, Jennifer was just called on of the "ten or twelve best street painters in the world" by Womens Day Magazine.)
One general observation before getting to the details. Playing around with video has made me a better photographer. With photography you need to be "there" at the "moment it happens." With you need to be there before it "happens" and stay with the shot until after it "happens." I had a hard time learning this fact.
Video has taught me more about setting up shots, angles, lighting and capture than 30 years of photography ever did.
1. The files coming off the D7000 are huge compared to the D90. On an 8 gig card I can only get about 176 JPEG+NEF from the D7000 but around 300 JPEG+NEF from the D90. (Settings JPEG fine, NEF 14 bit.)
2. The files (particularly the NEF files) are stunning. The detail the sensor finds makes me giggle all the time.
3. Nikon screwed up (IMHO) and the color of the photos is not the same as the D90. Even though I shoot flat or standard files the color rendition is different. I continue to play with getting them very close to the same, coming from the camera.
4. I don't care what you read the mass and size of the D7000 is more than the D90 - noticeably so. Most of the press tries to state they are very close, IMHO, they are not. This point becomes more evident with battery grips attached.
5. I don't know why Nikon felt it necessary to change batteries but what a PITA. Not only were there additional batteries to purchase but now those and an additional charger needs to be packed for travel. With that said, the battery in the D7000 last FOREVER, even with heavy video use.
6. Nice feature is the Battery grip has one battery so the grip can be removed and you can keep shooting quickly with the battery in the body.
7. Surprisingly, and disappointingly, the addition of the grip and second battery does not increase the burst rate as it did with the D90. Bummer. You are stuck with the base 6 fps. I was trying to wait for the D300s replacement - for burst rate and buffer but could not wait any longer.
8. Focus. Focus is faster than the D90, no doubt, I have not tried it yet in low light on a moving object (BIF) but from the late evening and early morning shots I took in Denver - it will be fine, I believe.
9. More Focus. I am deciding if the focus sharpness is equal to the D90. My first tests on static objects both handheld and from a tripod on a side by side test show no difference at "normal size" prints, up to say 8 by 10. But there is at 100 percent crop and 11 by 14 prints. I am continuing to test, with various lenses, and will report in, but I think what I am finding is the 16 Mpix sensor is taxing most of my lens set. I didn't want to believe it but I think the sensor is better than the glass.
10. The on/off switch feels "plasticy."
11. I like U1 and U2, easy to use and set up.
12. The menus seem longer, greater and more nested on the D7000 when compared to the D90. I wonder why this is. Getting to ISO change seem to take forever.
13. More focus. My 300 f/4 is the lens sharpest on the D7000.
14. Even More Focus. I am not particularly enamored with the kit lens that cam with the camera. I think the 16 Mpix sensor needs pro glass.
15. This pizzed me off. I was unprepared to upgrade software in addition to purchasing the D7000. Short story and a slam against Adobe. I was using PS4 which did not have a RAW (NEF) upgrade for the D7000 file format. Thus, I needed to spend additional $$$$$$ for the PS5 upgrade. That made me really pizzed off.
16. The menu system and buttons will feel very friendly to anyone using the last couple of Nikon DSLRs. The big change is the placement of the single/continuous button, which is now a dial.
1. I went through a huge gyration considering many video cameras, while making the decision to move from the D90 (for video) and my Flip camera. I consider moving to Canon, which I will admit has some decidedly nice features for video. I was VERY close to purchasing or renting a Sony NEX-VG10 but that would mean a commitment to another lens set - which is expensive and the Sony lenses aren't so great. Nice camera though.
2. In the end my decision points circled around: a) primarily being a still photographer b) lots of travel this year where I didn't want to get stuck with one camera body (in case it broke), c) trying to minimize travel kit, d) good reports on the video coming from the D7000.
3. The video coming from the D7000 is as good as any I have seen on VIMEO or YouTube, coming from a APS-C sensor camera.
4. Nikon made a great improvement with the D7000 by committing some of the precious real estate on the camera back to a dedicated live view lever and video on/off switch. Excellent improvement and easy(er) to use. Great. very easy to use and great application. Did I say great, yet?
5. Still too much noise in the on board mics. I purchased a RODE shotgun mic for the hot shoe. Excellent decision.
6. Still too much AF noise - but it is this way on all DSLRs I tried during my research.
7. I am using only 35mm and 50mm primes and 12-24 Tokina in manual focus for the video below.
8. Manual focus and the camera in Manual or Aperture are the only way to go (for this camera) in video.
9. Nailing focus is still tough in Live View (for me).
10. Nikon needs to approach the more open system that RED, Panasonic and Canon seem to be tracking by allowing hackable firmware. I think there are improvements to the firmware Nikon could and should allow. 50 or 60 fps for example.
11. Nikon should have thought about 50 or 60 fps for slow motion with this camera. If they did it would have been a huge leap and market maker for the action sports guys - taking market share from the 7D and 5D. But, alas, Nikon is still playing catch up, I think largely because Canon, Sony and Panasonic all make motion specific cameras that can transfer technology. Nikon is a still photo company. I think no one has true slo mo speeds in their DSLRs because of heat generation.
I rarely double post, but for those of you who don't make it over to the "off Topic" forum, I am posting the link to my latest for Jennifer.
If you want to converse on the points I raise above lets do it, feel free, my feelings won't be hurt. Also, C&C the video, please.
FYI - the dolly shots in the video were taken atop a kids skateboard, I borrowed, who was standing at the edge of the art, watching Jennifer work.
Again, I will report in as I continue to set up the D7000.
I've not used video mode on mine much but tried at a graduation recently and wish I had some practice before. The focus issue is my main complaint, I found that during my shot in two occasions the camera decided to try to refocus which did not go well. I didn't buy it for the video feature and will rarely use it but hope to at least reach the point where I can get passable videos out of it.
It's quite a change coming from my D80. I was going to get a D90 but for the marginal cost I figured the updates and advantages were worth it.