With its 16.2-million-pixel CMOS sensor, Full 1080p HD video capture and a 2,016-point metering system Nikon’s latest enthusiast DSLR hints at what is to come in its professional DSLRs. Richard Sibley tests the Nikon D7000
As we have seen before, the new 16.2-million-pixel sensor is the same resolution as the latest Sony 16.2MP APS-C sensor. Given that Nikon has previously used Sony sensors in its DSLRs, this is probably the case once again. However, it must be remembered that the sensor is just one aspect of many that influence image quality – the low pass filters and analogue-to-digital converters, as well as how the digital signal is processed, all have a huge impact, and will differ between the Nikon and Sony cameras.
The full specification of the new sensor shows that it is a 16.2-million-pixel, DX-format (APS-C) CMOS unit, which outputs raw or JPEG images at a resolution of 4928×3264 pixels. By default, the camera saves these raw files as 14-bit files, although there is the option to reduce this to 12-bit via the in-camera image settings.
The processing of the information captured by the sensor comes down to the new Expeed 2 processing engine, which, upgraded since its original incarnation, is set to offer D7000 users improved colour performance and noise reduction.Like the D90, the D7000 uses SD rather than CompactFlash memory cards. The newer SDHC and SDXC cards are compatible with the camera, and will be needed to cope with the larger file sizes. Usefully, the D7000 has two SD card slots, allowing two cards to be used at once. How this twin memory is used can be decided in-camera and will largely depend on the type of photography being undertaken. At its most basic, the secondary socket can be used as ‘overfill’ storage, with the card only being used once the first one is full. More useful is the ability to save raw files to one card and JPEGs to the other. Similarly, it is possible to save images to one card and video to the other, all of which makes it easy to organise your media both in-camera and when importing files to a computer.
Although enthusiast photographers rarely push their cameras to the maximum sensitivity settings, like the ‘megapixel race’ it is one of the few items on a specification list that gradually keeps going up. The D7000 has a default sensitivity range of ISO 100-6400, plus extended ‘Hi’ settings including Hi2, which offers the equivalent of an ISO 25,600 setting. This is a 2EV increase from the extended sensitivity range of the D90.Like the sensor, the autofocus and metering systems of the D7000 are also new. The AF system now features 39 points, with the central nine being the more sensitive cross-type AF points. This is a substantial improvement over the 11-point system of the D90. Similarly, the resolution of the metering system sensor is over four times larger, with 2016 pixels compared to the 420-pixel sensor of the D90. and the 1005-pixel sensor found in the D3 and D300 cameras. There is a likelihood that we will see this new metering system in the Nikon professional cameras that we expect to be announced next year.
Of course, no newly released DSLR would be complete without HD video capture and the D7000 once again improves on its predecessor (which was, in fact, the first DSLR to feature HD video capture). The D7000 offers Full 1920x1080p HD video capture, with footage saved as MOV files using H.264 compression.These are the main updated features, but there are many more tweaks and upgrades to the existing specification, which will be discussed in more detail in their relevant sections. One thing is for sure, though: on paper, the D7000 looks to be a very impressive camera.