Nikon D7000: The D90 meets the D300

Nikon D7000 at Amazon

The Nikon D90 was released about 2 year ago and the D300 almost 3 years ago (D300s replaced it about a year ago). There’s a pretty big gap between these two price points. The D90 was an incremental upgrade from the D80 and lacked most of the “professional” features of the D300s. The D300s is a beast and has more in common with the D700 then any of the lower priced models. Now we have the D7000 thrown into the mix and boy does it mix things up.

I honestly think the D7000 is one of Nikon’s most significant releases in recent years. The big step in price between the D90 and D300s really priced out amateurs and hobbyists who might have wanted a little bit more than what the D90 offered. The D7000 is priced smack dab in the middle of that gap. As amateurs like myself delve further into photography and hone or skills we become more demanding of our equipment. The D7000 represents an opportunity for shooters like me to get access to professional features for $500 less than previously possible.

So for an extra $300-400 over the D90, what are we actually getting (in my approximate order of importance):

  • 39 AF sensors and 11 cross type (compared to 11 and 1 on the D90)
  • 2016 pixel meter sensor (twice that of the D300s and 4 times that of the D90)
  • Magnesium alloy body
  • U1 and U2 recall modes
  • Ai indexing tab for use with older Ai lenses
  • Improved rubber grip
  • 1/250 flash sync speed (up from 1/200 on D90)
  • Double the minimum shutter speed (1/8000 vs 1/4000 on D90)
  • Quiet single frame advance mode
  • Ambient white balance option for AUTO WB (suppose to handle warm lighting better or at least not try to correct to white)
  • 100% viewfinder coverage
  • 6fps (up from 4.5fps on the D90)
  • 4 more megapixels (16.2 up from 12.3)
  • Full 1080p video at 24fps
  • Dual SD card slots
  • Lower ISO 100 now available
  • External mic input
  • 14-bit A/D converter from the D300s

Odds are if you are looking at the D7000 then you have lenses already and just want to get the body, but it is available with the 18-105mm as a kit. Another option is to get the body only and then add on the very nice Nikon 18-200mm VR instead.

Nikon D7000 at Amazon

5 Replies to “Nikon D7000: The D90 meets the D300”

  1. I am so confused as to what to buy. I am debating between the D5000 & D3100 I am just beginning in photography but want to use the camera to take various classes with and eventually do some outdoor family photography. I want a basic camer to start with and then one day will invest in a pro one. My primary use will not be for video but I will use the video features on occasion. I am concerened as I read there was a recall on the D5000.
    Also what basic lense do I need to begin practicing outdoor portrait and candid photography?

  2. Hi Kate,

    The D3100 is a great place to start. It has slightly better video than the D5000 if you ever do use it, but they are practically the same besides that at a lower price. The new D5100 has slightly better video, but I think any extra money in your budget is better spent on lenses targeted at your specific needs. The D3100 is a really solid camera for the money.

    The 18-55mm kit lens will get your started, but you’ll maybe want to look at “portrait” lenses when you start getting the hang of things. The kit lens has a minimum aperture of f/3.5 at 18mm and f/5.6 at 55mm. The main limiting factor will be that f/5.6 aperture, it is slow (less light coming through) and offers poor control over depth of field (DOF).

    Portraits are usually shot at longer focal lengths, 35mm is about the minimum. Lenses normally used for portraits have a minimum aperture of f/1.8. The lower f-stop number (larger opening in the lens) allows in more light, but it also gives you more control over DOF. At f/1.8, the DOF will be very shallow where a subjects face will be in focus, but the background is completely blurred. The cheapest option for that would be the 35mm f1/.8 AF-S or the brand new 50mm f/1.8 AF-S. Primes like these lenses also tend to have very good image quality. The 35mm f/1.8 spends a lot of time on my D90.

    Let me know if you have any questions, more than happy to help.

  3. I have been reading your blog non-stop recently along side with your recommendation of Ken Rockwell. All are great information for beginners photographers. I am an ammeture photographer looking to move up to a “big boy” camera. I travel internationally and looking to take high quality photos. No more point and shoots. I have been focused on the Nikon D3000, D5000 and D90. After feeling as though with knew what direction I was moving towards I started to read up on the D3100, D5100 and the D7000. They sound even better and are just a little bit more, price wise, than the model before. What is your take on these models and where does the D90 fit into the picture? Also, do you know if the D90 will be coming out a new model any time soon?


  4. piano,

    Here’s my quick take on each model:

    D3000 – Don’t even consider it, inferior and ancient CCD sensor, discontinued

    D3100 – Very solid camera for the money, good first DSLR, small and lightweight

    D5000 – Very similar to D3100, but not as good value, discontinued

    D5100 – If you are going to shoot video this is a better option over the D3100. If not, the D3100 is a better value. Nearly exact same sensor as D7000.

    D90 – Solid balance between the high end and lower end cameras, includes autofocus motor for non AF-S lenses.

    D7000 – Very nice camera if you have a larger budget. Bigger and heavier though.

    I think the D90’s has been completely replaced by the D7000. If you need the autofocus motor then you’re going to have to pay for it. Otherwise the D5100/D3100 are the beginner options. The D300 or D700 will probably be upgraded next and the D7000 will be the bridge between “pro” and “consumer” models. Only speculation on my part and there haven’t been any rumors of a D90 upgrade.

    Your camera body matters up to a certain point. Lenses are arguably more important (and the person behind the camera being most important). So starting out it might be better to spend less on your body and budget more for higher quality lenses.

    Let me know if you have any questions or additional thoughts.

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