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Nikon D7000 vs Nikon D90 vs Nikon D300s







Preview based on a pre-production Nikon D7000

Stop the rumor mill - the D95 D7000 is here! The much-anticipated successor to the D90 new DSLR isn't quite what a lot of internet pundits expected, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a lot to get excited about if you're a D90 user impatient for an upgrade. In fact, that's exactly what the D7000 is - an upgrade option for D90 and D5000 users, which occupies a new position in Nikon's DSLR lineup, between the D90 and D300S.

Although ergonomically, the D7000 is a very close match for the D90, its overall 'feel' is considerably more serious, thanks to a magnesium alloy body shell and thicker rubber coating on the hand grip and rear of the camera. In terms of its specification, the D7000 actually outguns the D300S in many respects, and at 16.2Mp it offers the second highest resolution of any Nikon DSLR, behind only the 24Mp D3X. All of these pixels are packed onto a newly developed CMOS sensor, which is almost certainly the same or very similar to that in the Sony Alpha SLT-A55. As well as extra resolution, the new sensor also offers a higher 'standard' ISO span of 100-6400, expandable up to the equivalent of ISO 25,600.

The D7000's AF and metering systems are also new, and represent a significant upgrade to those used in the D90. The new camera boasts a 39-point AF array with 9 cross-type AF points and works in collaboration with a new 2016-pixel RGB metering sensor to allow 3D AF tracking (essentially tracking by subject color, explained here). Other changes include the same combined live view/movie switch control as the recently announced D3100, and a significantly upgraded movie specification, up to 'full HD' - 1920x1080 resolution at 24fps. Unlike the D90, the D7000 can also maintain AF during live view and movie shooting, thanks to its AF-F ('full time') AF mode.

D90 owners have been waiting for a replacement camera for a while, and although the D90 isn't set for retirement quite yet, the D7000 certainly represents a compelling upgrade. We've been using a pre-production D7000 for a few days - just long enough to compile our impressions into a 7-page hands-on preview article. Read on for an in-depth look at Nikon's newest DSLR...
Nikon D7000 Key Features
16.2MP CMOS sensor
1080p HD video recording with mic jack for external microphone
ISO 100-6400 (plus H1 and H2 equivalent to ISO 12,800/25,600)
39-point AF system with 3D tracking
2016 pixel metering sensor
Scene Recognition System (see 2016 pixel sensor, above) aids metering + focus accuracy
Twin SD card slots
3.0 inch 921k dot LCD screen
New Live View/movie shooting switch
Full-time AF in Live View/movie modes
Up to 6fps continuous shooting
Lockable shooting mode dial
Built-in intervalometer
Electronic virtual horizon
Shutter tested to 150K actuations
Positioned alongside the D90 and D300S, the D7000 is clearly a lot closer to the former than the latter in terms of its size and control layout. The similarities between the D90 and D7000 don't run much deeper than the surface level though - where specifications are concerned, on paper, the D7000 at least matches and frequently surpasses the abilities of the D300S in several key areas.


Nikon D7000 and Nikon D90: Key differences

The D7000 sits above the D90 in Nikon's current lineup, and as befits its new position in the range, the D7000 combines elements of the D90 with elements of the D300S - Nikon's current APS-C flagship. The most obvious physical clue to its new position is a magnesium alloy body shell, which up to now has been reserved for Nikon's top-end APS-C and full frame cameras.

'Under the hood' though the differences are legion - a new 16.2MP CMOS sensor, dual card slots, a new 39-point AF array, 'true' HD movie mode with full-time AF and more customization options, some of which are inherited from Nikon's professional DSLRs. Like the D90, the D7000 supports AF with Nikon's older AF and AF-D lenses (lower-end models are limited to compatibility with AF-S and AF-I optics only) but additionally, because the D7000 has an Ai indexing tab on its lens mount, up to 9 'non-CPU' lenses can also be registered with the camera.

This allows the use of virtually any Ai specification or later lens to be used in aperture priority or manual mode with the P7000, with almost no loss of functionality (apart from AF). Novice DSLR users might never look beyond the horizons offered by their kit lenses, but for the enthusiast, legacy support like this could well be a deal-breaker.

The overall dimensions of the D7000 are very similar to the older D90, but the heavier, magnesium alloy body shell and thicker rubber on the hand grip lend it a noticeably more 'serious' feel.
Higher resolution sensor (16.2MP vs. 12.3MP) Choice of 12-bit or 14-bit NEF (RAW) 1080p HD movie mode Limited movie editing functionality AF possible during video shooting (but we're not over-optimistic on this score) Live View switch (basically the same as D3100) Faster AF in live view mode. Twin SD card slots Non-CPU lens data function (allows registration of up to 9 non-G lenses with manual apertures) Magnesium alloy body shell Wider ISO span (100-25,600 including 'H1' and 'H2') Newly developed 39-point AF system 'Quiet' single frame advance mode 'Proper' mirror lock-up (as distinct from 'exposure delay mode') Lockable drive mode dial Higher maximum frame rate (6fps) with a Continuous Lo shooting option (1-5fps) 100% viewfinder Choice of 12-bit or 14-bit NEF (RAW) recording in compressed or lossless compressed formats Up to 9 'non-CPU' lenses can be registered (same as D300s/D3s/D3X) New EN-EL15 lithium-ion battery New MB-D11 battery pack (magnesium alloy construction)
     
Ergonomically, the D7000 and D90 are quite similar, and as you can see from this view of the back of the two cameras, in terms of its control layout, the D7000 is very close to the D90. Some controls have changed slightly (the D90's 'Lv' button becomes a spring-loaded switch for example) but the number of control points is the same and everything is basically in the same place.
Ergonomically, the D7000 and D90 are quite similar, and as you can see from this view of the back of the two cameras, in terms of its control layout, the D7000 is very close to the D90. Some controls have changed slightly (the D90's 'Lv' button becomes a spring-loaded switch for example) but the number of control points is the same and everything is basically in the same place.

Compared to the D90 and D300S: core feature and specification differences


Nikon D7000

Nikon D90

Nikon D300S
ConstructionMagnesium alloy bodyPolycarbonateMagnesium alloy body
Sensor• 23.6 x 15.6 mm CMOS sensor
• RGB color filter array
• Built-in fixed low-pass filter (with self-cleaning unit)
• 16.2 million effective pixels
• RGB Color Filter Array
• 14-bit A/D converter
• 23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS sensor
• RGB color filter array
• Built-in fixed low-pass filter (with self-cleaning unit)
• 12.3 million effective pixels
• RGB Color Filter Array
• 12-bit A/D converter
• 23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS sensor
• RGB color filter array
• Built-in fixed low-pass filter (with self-cleaning unit)
• 12.3 million effective pixels
• RGB Color Filter Array
• 14-bit A/D converter
ISO range• Auto ISO (100-Hi2)
• ISO 100-6400 in 0.3 or 1.0 EV increments
• H1 and H2 (ISO 12800 and 25600) expansion
• Adjustable Auto ISO limit
• Auto ISO (400-H1)
• ISO 200 -3200 in 0.3 or 1.0 EV increments 
• L1 (ISO 100) and H1 (ISO 6400) expansion
• Adjustable Auto ISO limit
• Auto ISO (400-H1)
• ISO 200 -3200 in 0.3 or 1.0 EV increments 
• L1 (ISO 100) and H1 (ISO 6400) expansion
• Adjustable Auto ISO limit
Movie resolution*• 1920 x 1080p (24fps)
• 1280 x 720p (30, 25, 24fps)
• 640 x 424p (30, 25fps)
• 1280 x 720p (24 fps)
• 640 x 424p (24 fps)
• 320 x 216p (24 fps)
• 1280 x 720p (24 fps)
• 640 x 424p (24 fps)
• 320 x 216p (24 fps)
AF sensor• 39 AF points
• 9 cross-type sensors
• 11 AF points
• 1 cross-type sensor
• 51 focus points
• 15 cross-type sensors
Metering sensor• TTL exposure metering using 2016-pixel RGB sensor
• Metering range: EV 0 - 20 EV
• TTL exposure metering using 403-pixel RGB sensor
• Metering range: EV 0 - 20 EV
• TTL exposure metering using 1005-pixel RGB sensor
• Metering range: EV 0 - 20 EV
Viewfinder• Eye-level pentaprism
• 100% frame coverage
• Magnification: 0.94x
• Eyepoint: 19.5 mm
• Type B BriteView Clear Matte screen Mark II with AF area brackets
• Built-in diopter adjustment (-3 to +1.0m-1)
• Eye-level pentaprism
• 96% (horizontal and vertical) frame coverage
• Magnification: 0.94x
• Eyepoint: 19.5 mm
• B-type BrightView Clear Matte Screen II with AF area brackets
• Built-in diopter adjustment (-2 to +1m-1)
• Eye-level pentaprism
• 100% frame coverage
• Magnification: 0.94x
• Eyepoint: 19.5 mm
• B-type BrightView Clear Matte Screen II with AF area brackets
• Built-in diopter adjustment (-2 to +1m-1)
Continuous shooting rate• Approx 6 fps max• Approx 4.5 fps max• Up to approx 8fps with AC adapter or MB-D10 pack and batteries other than EN-EL3e
Memory format• SD/SDHC/SDXC (dual slots)• SD/SDHC• Compact Flash (type I and UDMA) (dual SD/CF slots)
DimensionsApprox 132 x 105 x 77mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0in)
Approx 132 x 103 x 77 mm (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in.)Approx 147 x 114 x 74 mm (5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)
Weight (inc battery)780 g (1.7 lb.)704 g (1.5 lb.)918 g (2.2 lb.)

*In movie mode, 30fps is actually 29.97fps, 24 is actually 23.976fps.

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