Secrets of the Nikon D7000


I’ve had my two D7000’s for a few days now (Yes, it’s true. As a real Nikon “insider” and host of the instructional video the company made about this camera, I only had to wait, what, about a month longer than anybody else who just bought the camera from Best Buy to get my hands on them:-)).

And boy, am I psyched. 

I don’t normally get too excited about gear upgrades anymore, but the new video function in this camera is bringing back the fanboy in me.

There are, however,  a couple of other features in the camera that might be confusing, even to longtime Nikon users.

First, is the new way you select AF modes (AFC, AFS, or AFA). They’ve added a little press in button on the AF/M button (see above illustration). You’ve got to hold that in and use the Command Dial to select the mode. That’s new and it’ll drive you nuts finding it (or at least, it did me).

d7000howto002_001.jpgAnother cool feature is that you assign the AEHold function (beloved by video shooters who use any of the Auto modes) to the Function Button. With the D90, you couldn’t assign this function to the Function button.

That was a hardship if you liked to use the AE-L, AF-L button on the back of the camera for AF On. On the D300s and more “pro” bodies, there are two buttons on the back, one for AF On, and one for AE-L, AF-L.  But the D90 and the D7000 have one.


With only one button on the back, it’s nice to be able to assign AE Hold to the Function button, and AF On to the AE-L, AF-L button. 

I’m looking forward to working with these new cameras….and going to work on a small documentary video project for an inner city charter school with them next week!

In the meantime, as a coda to the lively discussion all of us Constitutional scholars were having in the comments section of my last post on airline security, I offer this from the New Yorker, which is featuring airport security cartoons from as far back as 1938!  Check this one out, from 1972 and tell me if the cartoonist, Ed Fisher, wasn’t clairvoyant!


Have a great and safe holiday!


This Post Has 33 Comments

  1. Bob,

    Clairvoyant maybe…can’t see from the drawing whether crystal balls were in evidence…that all important AOD (angle of the dangle) cannot be assessed.

    1. Paul: Too true, without the vital “Tilt of the Kilt” data, the “Angle of the Dangle” information is not able to be determined. It’s Scottish physics! (Wasn’t that the way that joke went?)

      1. Bob,

        You are clearly a very well travelled photographer to have encountered the Highland Book of Applied Physics…there are other versions too, but best draw a veil over those.

  2. Which would make for a better camera for photo/video?
    Nikon D3s or the newer D7000?

  3. Ralph: It’s an apples and oranges comparison….like asking, which is better transportation, a Ford 150 pickup, or a Honda Fit?

    It depends on what you want to do with it. One is a big flagship camera in the FX format, one is a DX format camera not even considered a pro camera by Nikon.

    You can buy about 4+ D7000s for one D3s. It all depends on what you want to do.

    For travel and most purposes, I’d say the D7000—it has a newer chip, and newer video technology (like fulltime AF in LiveView). It’s a DX chip but very well corrected for high ISO (But the D3s is still the high ISO king). It is not as rugged or well sealed as the D3s, but unless you’re going to use it as a hockey puck, you’d never notice in normal use/abuse.

    For me, the D7000 is the choice, but again, your needs may differ.

  4. Would the D7000 produce ‘pro’ quality photos? Portraits, etc?

    I’m interested in getting into photography on a semi professional basis:

    Portraits, real estate, etc.

    I guess I’m interested in the best image quality, not necessarily for insanely high ISO’s.

    I was wondering if the small sensor with so many more pixels would create a noisy photo compared with the fx of the D3s.

    Also, which would produce a better video? The full frame capture or the higher pixel dx?

  5. Ralph:Sounds like you want to hedge your bets. Be safe and get both.

    That way, you’ll be ready for any internet forum debate on which is the better camera.

    Truthfully, the real wild card in producing the best image quality is you and your skill level….either one of these cameras can do it!

    I wouldn’t sweat the camera, megapixel, “best” thing too much. I can guarantee that neither of these cameras will be an impediment! Just depends on what you like in terms of a body style and a price tag.

  6. You’re right about the skill level. I have limited funds and want to upgrade my D300, but I don’t the opportunity for “hands on” experience with the D3 or D3s.

    I’ve noticed that the D300 performs poorly at ISO 800 and above and wondered if the D7000 would be better even after crowding more pixels on the same sensor.

    I guess the best thing to do is wait until next year (2011) and see Nikon’s replacement for the D300/s and the D3s.

    It seems the newer Nikon cameras in the prosumer grade are now up to the pro level at a much lower price.

    1. Ralph: The high ISO noise performance on the D7000 is slightly off from the D700 and some of the other FX cameras, but it is remarkable. You should Google “high ISO and Nikon D7000” and see what the pundits are saying. Everybody (myself included) is mightily impressed.

      Yes, your observation is correct. With the fast turnaround time on digital bodies, todays consumer camera can easily outperform a pro body of 18-24 months ago. It’s the digital life cycle.

      I can heartily recommend the D7000 for what you want to do, especially if money is an object (as it is for most of us!).

  7. Bob,

    Thanks for the info. I think I’m going to be selling by D300 and looking to buy a D7000.

  8. Bob,

    Thanks for the info. I think I’m going to be selling by D300 and looking to buy a D7000.

  9. p

  10. Bob,

    Nice to see your excitement about the D7000. That speaks volumes for this camera.

    The ability to record video in full manual mode is a plus with the D7000. Audio is a different story. I could not find in the downloaded manual any hint that levels can be controlled.

    May I suggest a DSLR Audio Adapter from Beachtek: This allows for connection of two pro mics. Of course this adds to the weight of the rig for hand held use. Alternatively a mic like the Sennheiser MKE 400 would give you a small shotgun mic on a budget:

    It’s been said that sound is 50% of what we see.

    Will you be sharing any samples from the documentary?

    1. Gerry: You can adjust mic sensitivity level on the D7000 in three stages: low, medium, or high. I’m familiar with the Beachtek, but at that point, if I’m going to run another piece of gear attached to the camera, it’ll be an audio recorder.

      I don’t mind running my Sennheiser MKE 400 (I’m with you on that choice…I’ve got two) right into the camera for B roll, but for interviews or anyplace where the audio is more critical, I run it, or the wireless, right into my Olympus LS 10 recorder, where I can control and monitor levels and get great sound quality.

      Here’s a cool gadget from Cool Lux that splits into two cold shoes that will allow both the mic and the recorder to ride on top of the camera at the same time.

      I’ll be posting a link to a short documentary I shot in Senegal soon….the charter school piece probably won’t be finished for about a month or so.

  11. I look forward to seeing your video work.

    The DSLR video movement is amazing. I recently added a P7000 and have been very pleased with the images. And the D7000 is on the horizon. My video camera is a Sony HVR-Z5U.

  12. Hi Bob, how are you? It seems as my Nikon D2x is in need of an overhaul and I am needing another body. I need something good in low light and very fast. I had just about thought the D3s might be the one for me, I do not need video (or who knows) but I am doing fast moving like wild horses, bullfights (usually low light) and dance without flash. I still have the two F100 bodies that you recomended me to buy in ’03!! What do you think?

    1. Hi Karen: Dunno. If you need the frame rate, and you like a big camera, maybe the D3s. But you’ll need to update your lenses because you’re moving from DX to FX format.

      Would a D300s with the motor drive handle (I think it’s 5 FPS) be fast enough for you?

      That would keep you in DX land—-as would the D7000, which I think does have the handle option too.

      But if you go D3s, you’re talking more $$ and new lenses.

      1. Thank you, Bob. I appreciate your time! On Cyber Friday I found a deal on the D3s and I have been saving for a 70 – 300 2.8! Karen

  13. One other exciting button secret missing in this article is the assignable DOF preview button to the lower left of the lens mount when looking from the front. This button can also be assigned many other useful functions like the FN button above it.

    I never really gained much from the button on my D90 but use it for what ever need arises during shooting. I also plave the customization menu in my custom menu tab in the root menu.

    1. Thanks Jody, that’s great to know!

  14. Hello Mr. Krist,

    Do you like it more than your d90s? Also will you post your review in the future?

    Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Paolo: Yes, I do like the D7000 better than the D90….

      I don’t do full blown camera reviews–I’m not technical enough. I just write about my “impressions”.

      But if it’s useful, I am replacing the D90 with the D7000. That’s a strong thumbs up!

  15. Hi Bob, great inside!.
    Just got an specific question about D7000 menu configuration (moving from D90): Wich value of Sharpening do you recomend in Picture Controls for someone who likes crisp? With D90 I use to max to 9, do not use USM in postprocess and never get oversharped images; but with D7000 I’m getting some oversharping maxing to 9. I’m confused about what value to set up and what to do after (use USM or don’t)I’m afraid of lowering the value and getting blured details…………please give me some light Master 🙂
    All best!!

    1. Carlos: I usually just leave the sharpening at factory defaults. But you just need to season to taste. If 9 looks too crispy, just lower it until you find what you like. That’s the beauty of infinite adjustment choices!

    2. Carlos: I usually just leave the sharpening at factory defaults. But you just need to season to taste. If 9 looks too crispy, just lower it until you find what you like. That’s the beauty of infinite adjustment choices!

  16. Thank you very much for advice Bob!! Cheers

  17. Bob wich AF Mode and AF area combination would you recommend for shooting moving characters (street candid shooting).
    W/ D90 I used to work with AFC + 3D AF.
    W/ D700 seems I get better results with AFAuto rather than 3D.
    I do not fully understand the difference between AFAuto and AFDynamic (I assume Auto chooses automatically between 3D and Dynamic mode) but the Manual adds very little light on that.
    Sorry for all tecnicism but all D7000AF “defective” flooding the net and forums I’m sure are at the end AF learning curve issues.
    To date I see D7000 more tech demanding than D90 was on AF subject.

    1. Carlos: AFA switches between AFContinuous and AFSingle as far as I know. It doesn’t have anything to do with Dynamic.

      I haven’t experienced any focusing issues with the camera, but truthfully, I’ve been shooting video with it almost exclusively since I got the cameras. I might suggest contacting Nikon via their 800 number for advice this technical question.

      I always shoot AFC, Single Area AF with the back button being the AF starter and not the shutter button. I like to be able to select the area that is focusing. I’m also a fan of setting the target to “wide area”.

      That’s about as far as I go, and as much as I know, about the focusing. But it’s not a choice, AFAIK, between AFAuto or 3D….the two settings control different things.

  18. I am looking for advice on the video side. I have the d7000. I am trying to understand AEhold button. I am coming from a d40x and barely got out of auto. Sorry. Still learning. I would love a blog on how to use the d7000 video functions. Settings such as continuous autofocus vs af single. I have also been using shutter priority to keep it at 60. I am using a sigma 18-50 2.8. I have no idea what other settings to touch? I don’t even know. I have as wide a setting for focusing as possible for now, but that may or may not be correct. I like the idea of learning how to do shallow depth of field with the background blurry. However, I have no idea how to get it right.

    Anyway, if anyone knows of books, blogs or other advice on DSLR video. Its welcome.

  19. hi uncle bob, Im mike from philippines, you’re my greatest inspiration in photography, I have all your 3 nikon dvd & I converted & transfer to iphone so i can watch anytime.
    How many nikon camera do you have right now & what do you use most of the time?
    Im also planning to shift to canon camera do you think i will make the right decision?
    thank you very much

  20. I am perhaps a little late to be posting anything here, but just recently searched and found this article, and wanted say a word of thanks. Though I use Canon DSLRs at work, for evidentiary photography, Nikons are mandated at my wife’s job for evidentiary photography, so when she was finally allowed to use her own Nikon, I bought her a D7000. (We work for different gov’t. entities.) Articles and commentary from top professionals, such as this, validate my purchase decision, and encourage me to perhaps buy my own D7000, which would simplify logistics for our personal shooting, particularly when traveling.

  21. Guys this is a great camera, well impressed with the D7000 great for price tag aswell. I can say its very close to the 300s great for semi pro but known as a consumer product i like it

  22. Bob, I really enjoy reading your blog. Your photography and your writing are equally superb! Plus I love the fact you aren’t caught up in the whole FF vs APS-C battle. You do so much with the small sensor cameras with excellent results! I just wish there was a Canon pro out there with your enthusiasm for small sensor cameras… and your entertaining writing. Thanks for all you do and for sharing your insights and experience with all of us!

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