Does the Nikon D7000 have a split personality?

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These are tough times for the single-minded. Existential decisions abound and choices have to be made on an hourly basis: paper or plastic? skim or 1%? grande or vente? And of course, the great decision facing anyone with an HD SLR camera: stills or video?

That last one is the great bugaboo I’ve been struggling with lately. And it’s not made any easier by the fact that, when doing one or the other, I have to set up the camera in two completely different ways.

What do I mean? Well, for stills, I like the AF to start off the back AEL/AFL button, and keep the shutter release free from focusing functions. I like to work in half stops, not third stops, daylight is my default WB, and Aperture Priority my default exposure mode. I use the Function button to lock exposure, I use Continuous AF and I never use auto ISO

In video mode, I like the shutter button to start the focus, the AE/AFL button to set to lock exposure (AEL Hold), I work in 1/3 stops so I can get the desired 1/50th of a second shutter speed for 24fps video, Shutter Priority is my go to setting, as are Single AF and Auto WB.  And for video, I use Auto ISO (set to go from ISO 100-1600 when the shutter speed drops below 1/30th).

Well let me tell you, that’s a heap of custom functions to reprogram everytime you jump back and forth from stills to video. And in the light of this pressure, I have to admit that I’ve become a user.

But before you call the intervention folks, when I say user, I mean the menu item that allows the D7000 to assume one of completely two different personalities depending upon the user…that’s User 1 or User 2.

Yes, you can program in two completely different sets of custom functions, save one as USER 1 and the other as USER 2 and switch back and forth with a click of the top dial!

Pure genius (can you tell I’m smitten with this camera????).  And if you should decide to, say, switch one function while in a User menu, all the other functions seem to hold on until you reselect the User setting. 

Now, you know I’m no techno-phile. And for all I know this ability to chose user menus has been present in previous camera models. But it hasn’t been until I had to choose between two such utterly disparate crafts as stills and videos have I ever felt the need to be so, um, schizoid in my settings. Having a split personality has never felt so good…or been so useful!

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12 Comments

  1. Arun Paul February 10, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    I have had the D7000 for a while now and thanks to you, I just figured out that there is a U1 and U2 option right out in the open for all to see. Thanks Bob. I have now become a “user “as well.

    • Bob Krist February 11, 2011 at 12:58 am #

      Hi Arun: We’ll have to start a support group….first thing we ask for is 1080p 30fps…and then 60fps! When are we shooting your rock guy?

  2. Jim Donahue February 11, 2011 at 3:08 am #

    Get Two Cameras?

    • Bob Krist February 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

      Jim Yes. One with the wide zoom, one with the tele. But I don’t “got milk!”

      • Jim Donahue February 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

        IF..you/me had the milk would it not be better to just get a regular video camera. I once saw a series of “lessons” abt equipting a DSLR to shoot video, (Scott Kelby’s D-Town) and the add on’s cost more than the Camera and it looked absolutely frighting. I see some great Vid Cams for 3 or 4 Hundred Bucks, and it makes me wonder why Manufacturers cram stuff into the DSLR’s like they do instead of just improving the quality of the Still Camera. But that’s just me.

        • Bob Krist February 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

          Jim: You are not alone in that sentiment. Most seminar and workshop audiences of photo enthusiasts I’ve polled lately about video in DSLRs are overwhelmingly uninterested in paying extra to have video capabilities.

          It’s the indie film, documentary, and photojournalist communities that are driving the move and they/we are all willing to put up with awkward Rube Goldberg-esque add ons to get the Holy Grail of shallow DOF, good high ISO performance, and the beloved bokeh. They’ll do anything for bokeh!

          Sony and Panasonic are coming out with large chip, interchangeable lens camcorders and once those (and other company’s versions) start hitting the shelves, in all likelihood the HDSLR gold rush will be more or less over. Because this new breed of camcorders will have the beloved bokeh, but they’ll handle like camcorders (we hope).

          I know, from my own forays into video, especially covering stuff documentary style, that a camcorder is TONS easier to handle and use. I’ve got a little Sanyo that I love above all things for its convenience, size, and features….but it’s not good in low light and with the small chip, it’s almost impossible to get any shallow focus effects.

          So, I think you may get your wish, but probably not for a couple of years!

  3. Anonymous February 12, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    Hi Bob….I just purchased a D7000 and I would love to know your opinion of 4 of the best quality lenses to have on hand. I take scenery, bokeh, selective focus, portrait, macro, seascapes, etc. I like it all! I have a photo card business along with matting and framing 5×7, 8×10 and 11×14 shots. I have been saving for two years and would greatly appreciate your feedback

  4. Mike Morse February 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Bob: In my old age, just turned 60, I have lost some brain cells. In still photography, I usually focus on my subject and then reframe. With the camera in AF-C, won’t the camera refocus when you reframe? I have always used the shutter 1/2 way down to focus rather than using the AE/AFL button. Thanks Mike

    • Bob Krist February 17, 2011 at 1:57 am #

      Mike: I’m right behind you….how come you have so much more hair?
      In answer to your question, no, when you have the autofocus set to start off the back (i.e., the AE/AFLock button) and Continuous focus, the camera won’t refocus when you reframe….it won’t refocus until you hit that back AE/AFLock Button again because you’ve told the camera that that is the way you’ll activate focus…and in the C mode, the camera is in “Release Priority” so it’s gonna fire whether or not it thinks it’s in focus.

      Takes a little getting used to, but once you do, you’ll never go back!

  5. Mitch Doty February 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    Bob, have you tested the speed of the focus acquisition when switching from U1 to U2 and changing AF modes? It’s outstanding! I’ve shot friend’s Canons and there always seems to be a bit of a lag when changing between banks of settings; but with a D7000 in hand I just shot a rodeo and was able in a 15 second ride to get sharp stills, and then with a turn of the dial, instantly get nice panning shots of the riders heading for the line. Will there be a support group for those of us who can’t put the camera down?

    • Bob Krist February 17, 2011 at 1:58 am #

      Mitch: Haven’t tried it but I will! Thanks for the tip. cheers, Bob

  6. Mike Morse February 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    Bob: Thanks for the clarification on the AE/AF button. I have read the manual as well as David Busch’s book on the D300s and it wasn’t really clear. Now that you have mentioned the function button as one where you set the exposure, you have really confused me.

    So, when shooting stills, in the past I have pushed 1/2 down on the shutter release to lock in the focus and exposure. I assume if I use the AE/AF button to lock focus, the exposure will be set when I release the shutter? Is that why you then assign exposure to the function button?

    Now comes the dumb question….when would you want your subject that is in focus to have a different exposure after you reframe. The books don’t explain that one.

    I think the U1 and U2 are a really good idea. The thought of going through the menu to have a different set of custom functions was challenging. Maybe you could do a video on Nikon USA for camera set up like McNally does for their lighting system? I would guess that the majority of amateurs have no idea what to do with some of the functions Nikon felt it was important to add to their prosumer cameras.

    One last question, do you know the girl from New Hope that was on American Idol this month?

    Thanks for your time and expertise. Mike

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