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Is D7000 really that bad?

Jon Reisegg , Jun 05, 2012; 04:27 a.m.

I'm reading with astonishment a number of forums where people are complaining about the D7000, in particular the focus system seems to cause a lot of problems. I have just received mine, and must admit that the focus system is quite advanced with a number of settings where you easily can go wrong. I also see that a number of the D7000s are returned to Nikon for fixing the problem and are reported ok when they come back, which tells me that it must have been something wrong.
My question is if all these complaints about focus issues are real or if this simply are user errors. And if they are real, how can I test mine to see if I have something to worry about?


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evan north , Jun 05, 2012; 05:10 a.m.

i have had the d7000 for about 9 months now. never really had any focus problems other than user error and a few dust spots, (wet cleaned once). i have used it with both af-s, af-d nikon lenses and tamron and sigma glass. its my third, and best nikon dslr to date. you do need to take a little more care regarding its pixel density, ( 16 mp is a lot for a small sensor). a lot of people that have problems are those that have gone all out to look for them . if you are happy with its performance in a real world situation then there is no point in shooting test charts and nit picking for the sake of it. enjoy your camera, its a classic.

Bruce Campbell , Jun 05, 2012; 05:57 a.m.

Most but not all of the complaints are from nincompoops. Don't go looking for problems, if you haven't experienced them in the real world.

Wouter Willemse , Jun 05, 2012; 06:29 a.m.

I strongly believe a lot is user error. It took me about a year or so to really grasp the various options of the AF on my D300, and certainly more time to get the "best" out of it (it's so competent that I guess I do not come close to its best). I've read many messages like the ones you describe, and I usually get the impression it's the type of buyer that think "I bought a better body, so now I should get better photos". And they leave most on auto - and don't study which setting does what. It simply does not work that way - the more advanced body ask you to invest quite a bit more time in getting the best out of them, and they tend to require more that you set your settings right. Less soft cushions to bail you out.
It's a bit the same as some forums being full of back- or frontfocussing lenses. I tested for it once after getting the idea one of my lenses was a bit off. Turned out to be my error, and with tiny DoF, I could have known it was more likely me. But sometimes it is easier to blame the equipment, as fixing yourself has a bit more of a learning curve ;-)

So, if I'd have a D7000 I just happily use it, and if you have problems, investigate whatever causes them and resolve that.

Hector Javkin , Jun 05, 2012; 07:04 a.m.

I'm getting ready to buy a second D7000, because it's nice to have two identical bodies on the occasions when I shoot events. I must have missed the many forums in which people are complaining. Could you provide some links?

As to testing methods, I only test cameras and lenses by shooting with them, but a good source of information and materials for simple formal tests of focus is provided by Bob Atkins, an administrator and contributor on photo.net who also has many helpful things in his own site. Here is his article on focus testing .

D.B. Cooper , Jun 05, 2012; 07:07 a.m.

It's usually a poorly skilled craftsman who blames his tools. At 16mp, there are lots of opportunities for unsharp shots...usually rooted in poor shooting technique, operator error, or dodgy glass.

And if they are real, how can I test mine to see if I have something to worry about?

After reading the part in the manual about what kind of subject and conditions AF needs to work correctly, try some test shots from a solid rest, like a good tripod. Use AF-S single shot/single servo, not continuous AF-C, which can drift. Use a high enough shutter speed to eliminate camera/mirror vibration as a cause of unsharpness. Use a quality lens fairly wide open so DoF doesn't mask the actual focus point. Use as low an ISO as possible to eliminate high ISO NR and noise as issues. Use the center focus point. Vary the subject distance from up close to medium distance. Print the test shots (Monitors don't have nearly the resolution of a print. If you feel the temptation to zoom in with your monitor, resist it and print bigger instead). Look at the prints, ignoring the edges and anything else that wasn't near the focus point. Now try it again using manual focus with live view and up to 6.7x zoom on the LCD to help get the MF just right. Does the focus point in the prints look different? If not, you're good to go.

Shun Cheung , Jun 05, 2012; 07:15 a.m.

First of all, it is very typical that 3% to 5% of any consumer electronics to have some problems and may require warranty repair, including any Nikon DSLR model and the D7000 is no exception. Even for higher-end DX-format DSLRs such as the D300 and D7000, Nikon must have sold over a million units. 4% of 1M is 40K defective units. Even 1% of those 40K owners post the various forums, you'll see a lot of complaints (not just AF).

On this forum, we have had a number of threads on D300 and D7000 problems, including various AF issues. If you only read those threads, anybody would conclude that Nikon makes very lousy DSLRs. However, my experience is quite the opposite. Every Nikon DSLR I have owned since the D2X has excellent AF capability: D2X, D300, D700, and D7000. I also had opportunity to test D300S, D3, D3S, D3X, and D800 samples; every unit I get to use is excellent.

The Multi-CAM 3500 (on all D3, D4, D300, D700, and D800 models) and Multi-CAM 4800 (D7000) are complex AF systems that require some effort to understand. Apparently some users simply don't bother to spend the time. Back in 2007 when I first bought my D300 as soon as it was available, it took me a few weeks to learn and experiment with its various AF options, and I have been using Nikon SLRs for over 30 years and AF for like 20 years.

Currently, the D7000 is my camera of choice for capturing hummingbirds. Their erratic flight pattern is extremely challenging to the AF system. Yet, for me, it is quite routine to get mostly sharp images with the D7000, similar with using the D300, D700, and D800. Another additional issue is that the D7000 and D800 have very dense pixels. When people pixel peep, it is easy to notice that images are not entirely sharp. Therefore, it is predictable that there would be a lot of complaints about various AF issues on the D800. If you read DPReview forums, that is exactly what you will find. I am afraid that it will be even worse for the 24MP, DX format D3200.

The image below was captured with the D7000 at ISO 1600; that is why you need some noise. However, after I down sample, the 8.5 x 11 print looks great to me.

Anna's Hummingbird, D7000 @ ISO 1600

Archimedes Alcantara , Jun 05, 2012; 08:15 a.m.

Operator error ---- as usual...

Jon Reisegg , Jun 05, 2012; 08:20 a.m.

Thank you Guys. You all confirm my suspicions, - and exactly DPReview is the source for my concern. That's also the reason why I posted here and not on DPReview.

Hector Javkin , Jun 05, 2012; 08:22 a.m.

I really like that shot, Shun!

Just in case I wasn't clear above, the reason I'm getting a second D7000 is that I like the one I have. The D7000 has been the best DSLR of those I've used: D50, D90, D300. It's possible that you were led to think it has serious problems not only by reports from incompetent shooters, as several have suggested above, but from topic lines such as, "Is the D7000 really that bad?" Posing questions in this way is something to avoid, because it suggests facts for which there is no evidence. Consider: "Is your Representative a crook?" As it happens, ours is definitely not, she's excellent, but enough questions like that can create a negative impression.

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