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Nikon D7000 Digital Camera Review$1,199.99
The Nikon D7000 has a lot of recording options, which we’re pleased to see. Previous Nikon DSLRs that could record video didn’t have anywhere near this kind of extensive list of quality settings or frame rates to choose from. Also, the D7000 is Nikon’s first camera to use the MPEG-4 codec rather than Motion JPEG (MJPEG). MPEG-4 is generally regarded as being a better codec for video and it is widely used in the camcorder industry.
All videos are saved using the MOV file format and the camera has a maximum clip length of approximately 20 minutes (according to Nikon). We like having the options to record using either a 24p or 30p frame rate, but we’d like to see a 60i or 60p option as well. We also think it is a bit odd to use a 640 × 424 resolution for the standard definition record option (instead of the standard 640 × 480 or 720 × 480), but we don’t mind too much… we’re more than happy to see all these record modes available on the D7000.
In addition to the multiple recording options listed in the table below, the D7000 also has the ability to switch to PAL recording in its menu system. When this switch is made, the camera offers 25p recording instead of 30p recording at 1280 × 720 and 640 × 424 resolutions. The 24p record settings are unchanged in PAL mode. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content
The Nikon D7000 has a generous set of manual controls, but the camera suffers from a confusing interface in video mode. This has been a problem with Nikon DSLRs that record video ever since the launch of the D90 a few years ago (the first video-capable DSLR to hit the market).
Nevertheless, we are happy to see the camera offer aperture, shutter speed, and ISO control, as well as a new auto focus system that works during recording—without the need to press or hold a button.
Unless you go into the camera's menu system and turn manual movie controls on, the D7000 will function with automatic controls during video recording. You can, however, still adjust exposure in this mode.
The new continual auto focus feature is a pleasant surprise, but it has its fair share of problems. For starters, the system is extremely loud with its audible clicks and noises every time the camera attempts a shift in focus. We also found the system to be fairly inaccurate and slow at times. But the feature does work if you give it time, and the fact that it is present on the camera in video mode is more than you can say about many video-capable DSLRs.
The kit lens on the D7000 is an 18 - 105mm lens, which is close to a 6x optical zoom. You can get more (or less) zoom depending on what kind of lens you have attached to the camera. Zoom is controlled by rotating the zoom ring on the lens, which is how you control zoom on nearly all DSLR cameras.
We talked about the D7000's continual auto focus mode, but it's not the only focus features available on the camera. There's four focus options to choose from when you select auto focus for video mode: Face-priority AF, Wide-area AF, Normal-area AF, and Subject-tracking AF. The latter of these focus modes is the most interesting, and it reminds us of the tracking modes that are popular on high-end consumer camcorders. With Subject-tracking AF engaged, you may press the "ok" button the back of the D7000 and the camera will "follow" your subject as it moves about the frame (and focus the subject properly in the meantime). The feature works surprisingly well, although it has the same problems with noise and focus speed as do all of the D7000's focus systems.
If you don't want to be bothered with the noisy auto focus, you can always focus manually with the D7000 using the focus ring on the lens. There's also an auto focus option that does not work continually, and will only be prompted to focus when you press the shutter button down half way.
All three of these controls can be adjusted manually on the D7000, but the setup for each is a bit confusing. Exposure adjustment is the simplest, as it can be set in any mode as long as the camera isn’t in manual mode. The only confusing element is that the camera makes you think you can adjust exposure from -5 to +5 in 1/3 EV increments, but video mode really has a range of -3 to +3. We have no idea why the camera lets you adjust to the higher or lower levels, as there is no actual exposure response when you do. It is confusing, sneaky, and poor design on Nikon’s part.
To control aperture and shutter speed on the camera you must switch over to manual movie settings in the D7000’s menu. You can then set aperture and shutter speed values independently when the camera is in “M” mode only. Aperture-priority mode allows you to set the aperture control (but not shutter speed). The one confusing element to all this is that the aperture cannot be set manually during recording, while shutter speed can. In fact, to set the aperture, you must exit Live View mode on the camera and change the aperture values prior to re-entering Live View mode. Nikon had a similar system on previous models, but at least the process is now outlined in the manual (it was even more confusing before, if you can believe it).
ISO control is available in video mode, but the ISO is locked when recording begins. The camera has a wide range of ISO controls for video, which is great, but we find it strange that ISO cannot be set to automatic control if you have the camera set to manual movie mode. What if you want to adjust aperture and shutter speed, but allow the camera to pick a corresponding ISO? Not possible on the D7000. You either have full manual ISO control, or full auto ISO control.
Video-capable DSLRs certainly aren’t known for their good audio features, but at least Nikon tried to put together an intriguing package for the D7000. Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t offer anything that we didn’t see on the Nikon D300S, so if you’re familiar with the audio options on that camera you won’t read about anything new here.
The D7000 has a very poor built-in mic that records mono audio only. It also picks up tons of extraneous noise ranging from the loud auto focus mechanism to clicking dials or buttons manipulated by the user. There is also a 3.5mm external mic jack on the camera, which is a feature that has become quite popular to find on video-capable DSLRs these days. The external mic jack allows you to record stereo audio with a connected microphone.
In the camera’s menu system, you’ll find three audio recording sensitivity settings. This isn’t quite as impressive as full audio level control, but it is something (and it is more than you find on many video-capable DSLRs). Alas, the camera does not offer a wind cut or hi-pass option for filtering out wind noise.