Nikon D7000: Camera Road Test With Chase Jarvis

A while back I got call from the Nikon mothership which put the very first HDdSLR–the Nikon D90–into my hands months before the world had seen that technology. I won’t ever forget that experience. That little camera kicked off this whole craze of photo and video convergence that we’re swimming in today.

Well…low and behold, a few months ago I got another one of those calls from Nikon. “Chase-san. We have a new camera…” I love those calls. And so today I’m again excited to share with you another new camera that will get its moment in the spotlight next week at Photokina: the Nikon D7000.

There’s a feature list a mile long after the jump below, but the only data I cared about heading into this can be summed up in 4 lines:

_16.2 Megapixels. (CMOS sensor, DX format, 6fps)
_1080p full HD video. (24fps)
_ISO up to 6400 (pushable to 25,600)
_Magnesium alloy construction (read “pro quality”)

When an automaker rolls a new car off the assembly line, the first thing they do is call in a professional driver to “road test” that car. They’re armed with the basic tech specs, but the drivers aren’t overly saddled with capturing data and providing computer-style analysis. In reality they don’t care about that stuff. The care how the car feels.

In the very same way, I got to “road test” the Nikon D7000. This behind the scenes video (above), this short film Benevolent Mischief I got to make with the new 1080p HD video (below), and the still photos I shot after the jump tell my story of getting to play with this cool new camera.

Sample photos from our shoot, images of the camera from every angle you can imagine, a full feature list, and some other links after the jump (click ‘more’ or ‘continue reading’…)

Beyond what you see herein, there was nothing formal about my road test. In fact, I carried this concept throughout my experience. There was no bloated production, no official script, not even a definitive shot list to be honest. It was absolutely back to basics. Simply making pictures. Nikon gave me several cameras, creative freedom, and a budget to rally my staff and a handful of friends out on the road to make some images for my portfolio, as well as a short film I’ve had in my mind for quite some time.

So that’s what we did. And we had a blast. I hope you dig some of the results.

Click here to see a gallery of sample images I shot with the Nikon D7000.

Click here to see a gallery of product shots of the Nikon D7000 camera, displays, buttons, dials, ports, etc.

My “road” test revealed:
1. The camera feels great. I had fun using it. It was effortless to make great pictures.

2. It’s beefier than D90. Faster. Better. Kicks more ass.

3. Will do well for lots of markets. The photojournalist, the wedding shooter, the pro-sumer, the video crowd, backup body for pros. Pretty much everybody wins.

4. It feels great in your hand.
Personally I think ergonomics are waaay underrated on cameras in general. Nikon usually does great in this department, and this is on the mark. It feels dreamy in my palm. I used it almost entirely with the optional vertical grip because it feels more pro in my hand and the extra battery life is important for video.

5. Nice Price. = It’s not confirmable yet, but it will be around $1000 USD. [UPDATED: actual price is $1199, pre-order or check it out here at B&H] Given that the top of the line flagship Nikon cameras I use everyday for my commercial work are several times that price, this is a sweet spot.

Reminder, if you’re looking for official specs or 3rd party “testing”, I’m not your guy. I’m an opinionated photographer and a filmmaker, and these are my gut responses. Nikon didn’t review this post and they didn’t tell me what to shoot. They didn’t pay me for a technical analysis. They did pay for me to go out and make pictures and make a short film – and I had a blast doing it. They were cool and generous, and I’m thankful for the opportunity. And the camera rocked.

—- UPDATE ! Tons of folks were asking for some full resolution JPEGs to take a look at. I’ve tossed them up on this page here D7000 Preview Images, for everyone to look at download. These are right off the SD cards. —-

Since I’m the only photog on the planet who’s actually shot this thing for any length of time, I’m guessing there are gonna be questions. I’m happy to answer any that I can. In fact, Scott and Dartanyon and Erik are also around to answer questions too – they’ve spent as much time as I have with the D7000 and even more time with the files. Let’s let the comment section below act as sort of a forum. Collectively we’ll try to keep up with the questions that pour in.

If you dig this sort of stuff and wanna see more behind the scenes photography/video stuff, please subscribe to this blog here. “Like” me on Facebook. Follow @chasejarvis on Twitter. I’ll surely be following up this post with more info–and other similar stuff–regularly. Hope to see you again.

In the mean time, here’s a more complete spec list:
_16.2 megapixels with new Nikon DX-format CMOS sensor (4,928 x 3,264 pixels)
_ISO sensitivity range from 100 to 6400 at normal setting; can be raised to ISO 25600
_Full HD (1080p) D-Movie
_H.264/mpeg-4 video compression
_Makes .mov files at 24fps in 1080 (30fps at 720HD)
_Movie has built in mono, but stereo sound recording capability with optional external mic via stereo mini jack
_20 minute movie recording times
_High durability magnesium alloy body (dust and water resistant)
_6 frames per second still image capture
_9, 21, 39 point AF systems
_Double SD card slots
_12 or 14 bit color depth
_HDMI out display port
_Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) capabilities onboard
and if you really need more info than that, I can’t be of much help, but the Nikon site here might be…

Lastly, the music we use in all our vids is a big part of the fun for us. And we always get a boatload of people who want to check out the bands in greater depth, so here are iTunes links to everyone. All are highly recommended:

The Black Angels
Sera Cahoone
Head Like A Kite
Viva Voce
Victor Shade (RA Scion and MTK)
Joshua Roman

Thanks to everyone who helped out on this fun project. More fun yet to come…

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