In yesterday’s post, I ran a practical comparison of Nikon’s current Pro level DSLR camera lineup. Today we focus on the new D7000 and how it compares to the older D90. If you’re like many D90 users out there, you’re probably wondering, should I upgrade? Is the D7000 that much better than the D90? The short answer, is yes, it is, but from a practical standpoint, let’s review both cameras.
The D90 is a great camera. It’s a lightweight 12.3 MP DX sensor body that shoots 4.5 fps, which is certainly fast enough for many applications. When it came out, it was basically the little brother to the D300 and the two bodies shared much of the same technology.
For two years, it was the top model in the so called “entry level” lineup, although I know of at least a handful of outdoor pros who used the D90 because it’s lighter than the D300 and it shoots video. (The D300 was eventually upgraded to the D300s, which also shoots video.)
Image quality is certainly good enough for professional work, and there are many pros, semi pros and serious enthusiasts out there who use the D90 for their portrait, wedding, location, landscape and commercial work.
With it’s 11-point area AF and 4.5 fps, it’s not the ideal camera for sports and action, and it’s certainly not as tough or weather sealed as the cameras in the Nikon’s pro line, but if you generally shoot subjects that don’t move very fast and if you don’t abuse it, the D90 will get the job done.
14 Bit RAW: Enter Nikon’s newest camera, the D7000. For a camera that’s only two years newer than the D90, it offers a surprising array of new features and technology. A 16.2 MP body, with dual SD card slots, it will shoot either 12 or 14-bit RAW images at up to 6 fps. That’s HUGE.
I use the D700 and I just leave it on 14-bit RAW mode all the time. Why? Because shooting in 14-bit RAW gives you the maximum amount of pixel data, the highest possible image quality and the most amount of shadow definition. (Here’s an example.)
Why wouldn’t you want that for all your imagery, whether you’re a pro or not? Not taking advantage of that capability would be like owning a Ferrari and only driving it in second gear all the time. Score big on the D7000 for this capability in the image quality department.
Low Light/High ISO: And double score with its excellent high ISO sensitivity, which allows for incredible detail, and very low noise when shooting in low light environments. Put simply, shooting with the D7000 opens up a multitude of new picture taking opportunities. With this new technology, you will no longer shy away from shooting inside. That means you can take on new types of assignment work with confidence.
Metering, AF & Video: When it comes to metering and exposure, the D7000 is light years ahead of the D90. Whereas the D90 has a 420-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Meter, the D7000’s meter operates with a 2,016-pixel system, which offers way more accuracy in difficult lighting situations.
Also, the D7000 has a 39-point AF system. It’s not quite as advanced as the 51-point AF system that the upper level bodies have, but it’s still a big improvement over the D90, which only has 11-point autofocus, and it will handle sports and action much better than it’s predecessor.
Finally, when it comes to HD video, the D7000 leaves the D90 in the dust. Props to the D90 for being Nikon’s first HD DLSR, but two years has seen a huge jump in technology. The D7000 offers 1080 HD video with built in stereo sound and full time autofocus.
Again, HUGE. I could go on, but I’d start to sound too much like a Nikon rep, which I’m not. I’m just a regular user who puts my Nikon camera gear through professional use week in and week out.
So to sum it up, I’ll just equate this with my own experience upgrading camera bodies. As a D300 user (remember, same generation as the D90), I asked myself the same question when the D700 came out. “Should I upgrade?” Well, I did and I’ve never looked back. After all these things are just tools for us to practice our craft and why not take advantage of the incredible advancements that are available?
The Lowdown- Should you upgrade?
If your question is “Should I buy the D90 or the D7000?” then the answer is absolutely clear. Get the D7000, especially when you consider it’s only a $300 difference in price.
If your question is “Should I upgrade?” then unless you just bought a D90 and aren’t ready to spring for another new camera just yet, then I’d say yes, upgrade now, or at least start thinking about upgrading soon. I guarantee, you won’t look back either. And even if you did just buy a D90, well, it never hurts to have a second body…