Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hands-On With The D7000: The Images

Today on my Examiner page, I did a short report about my hands-on experience with a Nikon D7000, the camera that, at announcement, was quickly deemed the greatest thing since sliced bread. Well, after getting a hands-on experience with the camera, I can testify to the fact that the image quality the D7000 renders despite the 25% increase in resolution is all that it's cracked up to be. So, since I can't post large enough files on Examiner to show off the D7000's greatness, I'm going it here, instead.

The full scene, so note how heavy the crops are

Noise Test
For the noise test, I shot the display case at Loomis Camera in Elyria, OH, where the store proprietors were kind enough to let me play around with the worlds hottest camera. Why the display case? Well, there is a great range of brightnesses here going from white to black and noise appears differently thanks to brightness levels. So, let;s see how the D7000 does.

Bright Areas
In bright areas of the image, the D7000 is virtually noiseless through ISO 3200, an incredible achievement for an APS-C camera. At 6400, graininess starts setting in, but isn't truly objectionable until the top setting of ISO 25,600 (Hi 2) at which point the colors also appear greatly washed-out, too.

Dark Areas
In the shaded areas of the picture, the D7000 continues to perform very well, especially considering that it's not FF. Here, noise levels are fine through 1600 with only slight grain appearing at 3200. At 6400, grain starts to creep at a stronger level (just look at the bar code at the top left of the crops). By 12,800, the graininess increases and the colors appear slightly washed-out. 25,600? Avoid if at all possible, this is clearly 1 stop too many.

VR on the 18-105 works as advertised

VR Test
The camera I got to play with came with the 18-105 f3.5-5.6 VR lens attached. In Nikon literature, the VR mechanism in the 18-105 is marketed as having a 3 stop effectiveness. Well, deciding to put this to the test, I set the camera at base ISO and shot, this time, an ancient Minolta SLR from the film days. After about half a dozen shots, no camera shake appeared at 105mm with a shutter speed of 1/5th second when, according to conventional wisdom, one should need to shoot 1/100th second for such a result. Not bad.

Bottom Line
The Nikon D7000 is one heck of a camera. The image quality is top-notch, with some people comparing it to that offered by the original D3 and D700. So, the high IQ combined with the new Sigma 8-16 lens effectively renders FF pointless except for people who want a large viewfinder and desire to use fast, mechanical drive primes. The only real nitpick in the D7000 itself is its dual function buttons on the rear of the camera (the D300s and up buttons are single function). Unless these two characteristics describe you, just buy a D7000, if you are lucky enough to find them in stock . . .

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