Nikon's enthusiast-targeted competition for the Canon EOS 60D and 7D, Olympus E5, Pentax K-7 et al arrives in the impressively rigid shape and form of this 16.2 megapixel digital leviathan. Sensor size aside, the D7000 digital SLR extends its mid-range appeal via a magnesium alloy body construction, which is moisture resistant and dust sealed to boot, so should withstand occasional mistreatment.
As a nod toward semi pro status it also features twin media card slots so there's less chance of 'weekend warriors' who shoot weddings and the ilk in their spare time getting caught short of storage. Tellingly, it was the first device we reached for when asked to shoulder the responsibility of visually commemorating a friend's landmark birthday celebrations during our test period.
At just under £1,000 without any lenses (of which Nikon's system is second only to Canon for choice) the D7000 isn't an impulse purchase by any means however, and will probably continue to be viewed enviously by those who have outgrown their beginner's DSLR and are looking to trade upwards. But, if you have got that sort of cash to splurge on your hobby, should it be shoved in the D7000's direction? For starters we'd recommend spending the £250 extra to get the kit that includes an 18-105mm zoom equipped with Vibration Reduction (VR), the versatile set up we've used on test here.
A review of the Nikon's headline specification finds most of the bells and whistles we'd expect at this price point present and correct, along with some we wouldn't. We've already spotlighted the 16.2 million pixel effective resolution, derived from a Nikon DX format (as opposed to full frame FX format) CMOS sensor. To this is added a see-in-the-dark maximum light sensitivity setting of ISO25600 equivalent, expanded from a 'basic' range of ISO100-6400.
We also get a very similar Live View set up to that found on the D3100; the back screen utilised for shot composition as well as image reviewing, with a nudge of a thumb-operated 'LV' lever at the back, again ergonomically encircling an obvious (and unmarked) red record button for kick starting the shooting of High Definition video. Thus, the D7000 marks the introduction of Full HD video capture at the enthusiast end of Nikon's range. Just as on the entry level D3100, 'movies' are MPEG4 format and 24 frames per second at maximum quality setting and with mono audio built-in.
The screen itself is the regulation three inches, and its high 920k dot resolution is again no surprise given the already sterling competition in its class. Clarity is such that we were able to use it to help determine whether our manual focusing was as sharp as it should be; useful as the inclination of any auto focus mechanism is to render simply whatever is nearest the sharpest, which is somewhat problematic in busier scenes. Curiously though, the camera doesn't provide a live histogram to reveal the areas of brightness in an image as you are shooting it. We do get though a top mounted button with which to tweak exposure and monitor the results on the rear LCD. Additionally, there’s a top mounted display window usefully enabling a quick downward glance at whichever other key settings you have selected at the time.
Some 39 auto focus points and the by now standard inclusion of AF tracking - here the grandly christened 3D tracking (following a subject not just across the frame but from back to front of frame also) likewise make an appearance, and very competent they are too, though when shooting our friend's celebrations with several people moving about the frame we were naturally inclined to switch to manual focusing and pick out our intended target ourselves.