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D7000 first impressions

NY Jim

Cortlandt Manor, US
69 posts

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NY Jim Registered since 11th Feb 2009
Wed 03-Nov-10 02:14 PM | edited Wed 03-Nov-10 05:11 PM by NY Jim

I just received my D7000 last night, and took my first few test shots this morning. My first impression is a huge smile. I was afraid that 16.2M pixels on a DX sensor would not deliver sharp images when viewed 1:1 on my computer monitor. The reason for my fear? I had purchased a Canon 50D when it first came out. That camera tried to squeeze 15M pixels on a DX-sized sensor. When I looked at test images of a $20 bill (shot with the new Canon 50mm prime) , they were soft. I sent email to Canon asking for help. Their reply stated that the camera was working as designed, and I should stop “pixel peeking”. I return it the next day. When the dpreview.com folks subsequently reviewed the 50D, they were also disappointed and thought that perhaps 15M pixels were too many for a DX-sized sensor.

So I bought a Nikon D90 which fit only 12.3M pixels onto a DX-sized sensor. This worked pretty well. The new Nikon 50mm prime delivered OK test images of the $20 bill. While I liked the D90 a lot, I wanted better AF and better low-light (high ISO) performance. So I sold it and bought the D7000.

The D7000 has crammed 16.2M pixels onto a DX-sized sensor. This made me nervous. Would I be able to extract center crops and get sharp images when viewed 1:1 on my computer? Based on my first few test shots, the answer is YES!! A small crop from a test shot of a $20 bill can be viewed at this link: http://norwegianbachelorfarmers.com/D7000

NO SHARPENING has been done to this image!! I used the Nikon 50mm prime, shot RAW, and used Adobe’s Lightroom 3.3 RC (release candidate) to view, crop, and export a JPEG. I’m really impressed. My normal workflow always includes sharpening, and I’ll continue that practice with the D7000, but the raw sharpness of this test image is remarkable in my experience. If you want to see the whole $20, I’ve uploaded it (with just the bill cropped from the entire image) to my website, and you can view it using this link: http://norwegianbachelorfarmers.com/D7000

On the other hand I also learned that not every shot is going to be this sharp. With the exact same setup, I took a few shots varying the f-stop. What I see if that wide open (at f/1.4) the raw image is soft. The above (sharp) image was shot at f/5.6. Smaller apertures were very close to the f/5.6 image in sharpness. Could be that 16.2M pixels on a DX sensor is a lot more demanding of the lens and of the photographer’s technique than I’m used to. Other test shots (not shown) confirmed that the D7000's AF is dead on. I also minimized camera shake by using a tripod, and by using the D7000 exposure delay mode (menu d11) that flips up the mirror, waits for a second, and then triggers the shutter.

I did not have a lot of time for test shots this morning, but I did walk outside and snapped a test shot of a few tree leaves in the blazing morning sunrise. This shot used the Nikon 300mm f/4 lens wide open, and was hand-held at 1/640. I’ve uploaded both the raw image (un-retouched in post processing), and a “cooked” version of that image (using some standard NIK tools). DOF is shallow due to the long lens a large aperture, but the leaves at the focus point in the cooked version look pretty good to me (based on my experience with this lens without a tripod). I love the creamy blur on the background!
http://norwegianbachelorfarmers.com/D7000

I do not expect to win any prizes with that shot of the leaves, and I promise to post some better samples as I get time. It’s hard to put the D7000 down, but life calls

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