This is much more consistent with what I have come to see out of the d7000. Proper exposure when you are shooting at high ISOs is critical because if you underexpose you are going to add considerable noise when you bring up the shadows.
I'm glad that one is learning the "secrets" of this camera! I would bump up your "pretty darn good" assessment. These are terrific! I am struggling mightily with this unit, so it is nice to see some terrific "less than ideal condition" results. I shoot a lot of low ight wild life and would love to achieve this level of result.
I really, really, really like this camera as well. It's been a terrific find for me. Tonight I had dinner with the family in a poorly lit Chinese restaurant in Worcester, MA, and here's some of the pictures I took:
My mother in law at ISO 25,600 (she has ultra-sensitive eyes that cannot take a camera flash), 1/80th sec, F/2.8:
The family at ISO 5,600 (again, cannot use a flash), 1/25th sec, F/3.2:
And yours truly with my beautiful daughters (ISO 400, 1/50th sec, F/5, with an SB600 flash mounted on the camera):
Admittedly, these have been cropped and cleaned up via Lightroom 3, but still.