I have been a d50 user for many years, and was very happy with it, buying a number of lenses for the Nikon system, but unfortunately my house was robbed, and my camera body was stolen. They thankfully left the lenses (strange, because they're worth far more than the old d50)..
Anyway, all my lenses are without inbuilt motor, so buying a replacement d3X00 or d5X00 would mean I have to sell those. I am looking at the d7000 instead, which I can now buy brand new for 720USD including 2 year warranty. My alternative is selling everything and buying a canon 650D kit and a 50mm, as I refuse to buy a dslr that is crippled by its inability to use a large numbers of lenses.
My question is, how does the d7000 viewfinder compare to a pentamirror design, is it really a substantial improvement? Is it closer to a 35mm viewfinder, or closer to the dark and icky DX pentamirrors? This is an important point for me, as it always annoyed me on the d50.
how does the d7000 viewfinder compare to a pentamirror design
> is it really a substantial improvement?
All other things being equal, yes.
> Is it closer to a 35mm viewfinder, or closer to the dark and icky > DX pentamirrors?
I suppose its all in the eye of the beholder.
D7000 has a nice big, bright viewfinder. My eyesight has gone to hell over the last five years (turned 45 then BAM! Can't see ####) and I still find sighting through the D7000 to be perfectly comfortable. At least for now, since my required vision correction is within the range of adjustment of the diopter knob.
I think you'd be very pleased with the Nikon D7000 viewfinder in comparison to the D50. I owned a D50, and upgraded to a D90, so it's been some time since I've actually looked through the viewfinder of a D50.
Recently, however, when I was looking a new Tamron 70-300mm lens at a camera shop the store employee fitted the lens up on a Nikon D5200* that was in the store (he didn't have a D7000 or D7100). Holy smokes.. I couldn't believe how dinky the image looked compared to my D7000.
I subsequently purchased the Tamron lens, and I can attest that the viewfinder image with my Nikon D7000 is WAY better than the D5200*.
(*) The specs on the D5200 are similar to the D50 = 95% coverage, 0.75X magnification with a 50mm f/1.4 lens focused at infinity.
The D7000 is an upgrade in every imaginable photo taking parameter, including a pentaprism that has much less light loss than a mirror. You will surely like the D7000 for its very quiet sensor, beautiful 3 inch bright 920,000 pixel monitor, good AF, auto WB and ISO that really work well, much more resolution and sharpness to images. wider dynamic range so protecting highlights from blowing out is easy and many more features. A shot at 100 ISO will amaze you in how little noise there is and how much dynamic range was captured compared to not only the D50 but also any cameras before the D7000. In fact it still have wider dynamic range than any Canon every made at lower ISO. Shadow recovery is even better than the new D7100, D700 or D3 which were top of the line cameras before the D800 and D4 replaced them. Get the D7000.
Some of the best deals for fast MF lenses is from Samyang. Their 85 1.4, 35 1.4, 24 1.4, 14 2.8 and 8mm fisheye all get good reviews and are low cost. The 85 might be tough to mf without a focusing screen change but the wide angles are even easier to use than AF. They have a new 24 TS coming out this month. I have not seen it but the specs look good. My main mf lens is the Nikkor 50 1.2 that is still made in the traditional way like the best lenses of the past. It feels great to the touch but optically the newer lenses are probably better. I am interested in their 14mm 2.8 for FX. It is hard to beat the f1.8 AF-S lenses in the Nikon lineup. The 28, 35, 50 and 85 are all really good, and the 85 is flat out great. Stan St Petersburg Russia
To add to what everyone else has said, yes, get the D7000. I don't think you'll regret it at all. It's a great camera.
Like you, I have a number of older Nikon AF lenses without built in motors. Thus, buying a Nikon camera without an AF drive lug was, for me, out of the question. However, even if that were not the case, the fact that the D7k has a pentaprism with a 100% viewfinder image makes it all the more attractive.
Good choice on the D7000. I've had mine about two months now and it is an amazing camera for the money. I bought it to travel with because my D2x is just too big and heavy to drag around. I now use it pretty much exclusively and haven't had the D2x out since I bought my D7000.