I have owned my D7000 for about 6 weeks and have shot hundreds of images, mostly in Aperture Priority. A while back I made a post on the forum about excessive noise - turns out, of course, this was due to under-exposure, causing shadows to be noisy even at low ISOs. Gradually I have built up U1 & U2 menus, the first for daylight shooting and the second for low light. In both I have set the exposure fine-tune to +.7 EV. This has resulted in much better exposed shots across the board. Naturally there are times when I have to dial in -EV for a particularly bright scene, or even more +EV for a dull scene. I find it strange that, whereas the majority of complaints about exposure on the D7000 have been about over-exposure, my own experience has been the opposite! Any fellow under-exposers out there? (By the way, I do know about the AE-L and have dedicated the AE-l/AE-F button to AE-L(Hold), which I use in some situations.)
I was interested to hear Bryan Peterson's comment that he has his D300S permanently set on -.7 EV. That made me feel a little better, even though it's not the same Nikon model.