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D7000: NOT a worthy D90 replacement

Cookies35

NL
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Cookies35 Silver Member Nikonian since 18th Apr 2007
Wed 15-Sep-10 01:15 PM

We finally get to drool over the specs of the new D90 replacement, and ask whether it's "worth" upgrading. As an upgrade for the D90, I think it looks like something close to nirvana. As a D90 replacement, however, it makes me scream.

The problem isn't the new specs. The problem in my opinion is the sheer abundance of specs: the mind-numbing number of possibilities for doing almost everything for a camera that's supposed to be a new D90.

The wonderful thing about the D80 (my first SLR of any kind), and what led me to recommend the D90 to my husband for his second, is how utterly easy it is to learn. There is a tendency, when a camera has all kinds of possibilities, to want to use them to optimize each shot. That means that when you're trying to learn how to track a subject you need to keep track of whether I have time to compose the shot or not, whether the thing is moving slowly and predictably, quickly and randomly, quickly and predictably (I kid you not: in the Nikon literature this is three different settings on the camera …

How anybody's supposed to learn how to take a pikchuh is beyond me. It's easy enough to tell a newbie "just ignore all those other settings when you first start out," but a newbie won't have a clue as to which settings to ignore until they build up some experience. The matter is made much worse by "how to use your camera" books which explain every possibility of every feature they come across, either in an attempt to be thorough or to dodge all that "the book didn't even mention ..." sales-killing reviews on Amazon. Not to mention the newbie's obsession with creating the absolutely best pix the camera is capable of producing on day one (which is why they finally ditched the P&S in the first place).

The issue is, in a nutshell, that the human mind cannot learn a new tool, skill, etc. and use that same tool, skill, etc. to learn something else at the same time. First you learn something, then you use it to learn something new.

In the panning example, for a newbie, it goes something like first you learn (at least a little bit) how to use the camera; then, if you've realized you need to learn how to pan, you learn to pan, at least get a little comfortable with it, probably with things that are newbie-pannable. THEN you learn to have a masters-level discussion with the independent mind which is supposed to act like your "tool" over which panning mode you think is most suitable to the given situation.

In my own experience (it wasn't learning panning, it was something else), trying to learn all three at the same time leads to a level of mastery with of camera menus (knowing what's in them somewhere) and very, v-e-r-y slow (if ever) mastery of the camera (being able to USE the camera, and — when appropriate use its menus, to be able to take stunning pix).

My introduction to photography was stinted by spending far too much time reading and far too little time shooting. But at least, once I realized the problem, I had a camera that could actually be operated, with some really rewarding success, by somebody who didn't yet know all the information in all those books, and really was starting from scratch.

I can't see that with the D7000.

The D300 has the same "problem." There are lots of people who got into the digital photography rage in the past couple years and decided that if they eventually wanted to have the most powerful camera they could own they should just start with that camera and learn on it, rather than starting on a "starter model" and then upgrading.

From what I understand (I wasn't on the scene back then) that was possible with the D100 and the D200, but in my opinion that's simply a disaster waiting to happen for the D300. Even Darrell Young, of Nikonian Mastering the Nikon D300 fame, says in his book that his first impression of his new D300 was "wow, what a complex camera!" and how he struggled (his words, not mine) to understand the auto-focus system, among other things. This was the learning curve for someone with pro-level photography skills and experience, coming from a D200! The D90 on the other hand, Darrell says (in that book) is "complex, but not overly so."

Comparing the specs of the D7000 to the D90 and those of the D300 has led many of us to wonder whether this new camera won't just replace both of them. That, in a nutshell, is a PROBLEM.

Don't get me wrong: ALL these features look sumptuous. All of them will be used greedily by any experienced buyers, that is, people for whom this isn't their first SLR, and perhaps at this stage, even their first dSLR. But for somebody who is just starting out, they simply G-E-T I-N T-H-E W-A-Y of learning to use the camera, not to mention actually learning photography. (We forget, in these times of computer-with-a-lens-on-the-front tools we use these days, that distinction to our peril.)

So what does this D7000 give us? A prosumer-level D300.

And we no longer have (after December 2010 if I understand the dates right) is a camera that can truly function as a First SLR which will autofocus (etc.) non AF-S lenses.

I'm very, very sad. In my opinion, we really don't need an even more powerful dSLR for rich folks who are already knee-deep into photography. We desperately need to keep a can-also-function-as-a-starter model for people who know they want to jump in all the way, the people who are buying a D300 but shouldn't be, something with far more photographic heft than a D5000.

My $2 anyway.

— LaDonna


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