At A Glance: Nikon D7000

Nikon was the very first company to offer video capabilities in a still camera with the historic D90 DSLR, which was followed shortly thereafter by Canon, who upped the ante from 720p to 1080p with the EOS 5D Mark II. Both companies set off a revolution in filmmaking, turning “convergence” into the buzz word of the last few years in the video and photography markets. Now Nikon is introducing the D7000.

With a 16.2-megapixel, 2016-pixel RGB CMOS sensor, the D7000 is the second from the company to include full 1080p resolution (after the D3100). The DX-format, 23.6×15.6mm imaging sensor is larger than the chips found in most camcorders, though the APS-C-sized sensor isn’t full frame, like the D3S, which is Nikon’s only full-frame DSLR to offer video (at 720p). At a list price of only $1,199, however, the loss in resolution is hard to argue over the savings in cost when gaining full 1080p (the D3S lists at $5,199).

The high sensitivity of the camera includes a basic ISO range from 100 to 6400, and the D7000 has been receiving high marks for the low amount of noise present up to ISO 800. Two expandable modes easily will capture video even in extremely low light, with Hi-1 and Hi-2 settings of 12,800 and 25,600, respectively. Granted, it’s noisy video, but there are occasions when such a high gain will prove useful. The only frame rate option when shooting 1080p is cinematic 24 fps. You can shoot 24 fps in 720p, as well, and 30 fps and PAL-friendly 25 fps is available in 720p or with SD video at 640×480. Clips max out at 20 minutes on the D7000, which still can’t compare to a dedicated video camera, but is a huge advantage when put up against Canon’s current max of 12 minutes. Nikon also has added a spring-loaded Live View switch to access movie shooting rather than the Lv button of the older models, and has replaced the fairly weak Motion JPEG codec of previous models with the ubiquitous H.264 codec.

The D7000 captures to twin SD/SDHC/SDXC card slots, and it’s unique in that it’s the only camera currently on the market to offer UHS (Ultra High Speed) compatibility. With bus-interface speeds maxing out at a theoretical 312 MB/s with UHS-2 (UHS-1 offers up to 104 MB/s), the new class of SDHC and SDXC cards are important to make note of, as they’re more reliable for video and offer much faster uploading and downloading of files. That has little practical application right now, with only a few UHS memory cards available on the market, like the SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 line of SDHC cards.

Like the D3100, the D7000’s AF-F mode includes full autofocus while taking video, and Live View offers a variety of modes for setting autofocus, including Single, Continuous, Face Detection and targeting AF. A seemingly minor yet major consideration with the D7000 and other Nikon HD DSLRs is that aperture can’t be adjusted through electronic means while shooting video. You must step out of the Live View shooting mode to perform changes to aperture, or you can change it by taking a still image at a different aperture while videotaping. It’s likely that this problem will be addressed by a firmware update eventually, though it has been a prevalent issue for some time now.

The D7000 includes pro DSLR features like magnesium-alloy construction for shooting in inclement weather and inhospitable conditions, as well as the celebrated Virtual Horizon, which presents a graphic level for precise compositions. For audio, the D7000 offers a 3.5mm stereo microphone port to record directly to clips when using an external stereo microphone. Otherwise, it captures movie audio via the built-in monaural microphone. Mic sensitivity is adjustable. List Price: $1,199.

Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.

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