The venerable Nikon D7000 was released to much fanfare back in 2010, on the back of the excellent D90. The D7000 came with a sensor “upgrade” from 12MP to 16 MP, plus an improvement to the autofocus system to boot (from 11 points to 39 points). It never really replaced the “pro” grade D300s, but rather existed alongside it to provide users with a choice of a higher grade sensor with better video, or a better built body with a better autofocus system.

Now, in 2021, as a digital media manager in charge of photography, videography, design and basic web development, I’ve been using the old but gold Nikon D7000 for the past month for work. In my work, I am required to create marketing collaterals for my company’s website as well as for the e-commerce platform.

This is therefore a review of the Nikon D7000 in 2021, from a working professional’s point of view. Some questions addressed here. Is a 10 year old camera still relevant in 2021? Yes, to a certain extent. Would I get better results from the latest cameras? Yes, of course. Should you upgrade from your D7000, even if it is still working? Depends on your use case.

Same old feeling

I was handed the company Nikon D7000 to use for the creation of our company’s latest venture, using an e-commerce platform to sell hampers and landscaping/gardening goods (the company is a landscaping company).

Having used the D7000 a decade before, the controls all came back to me in a jiffy. The viewfinder, layout and grip felt intuitive, just as I remembered. Certainly, no one will complain about the build quality of Nikon’s enthusiast grade DSLR offerings in general use cases. In any case, this unit was working fine, except for the LCD screen which was getting darker and the corners were completely black.

In this age of smartphones, people might wonder why we even need dedicated cameras. A lot can be said about the feeling of a sturdily built camera in hand. Granted, the weight of a DSLR may not be for everyone, but the tactile feel of the camera, allowing the user to “switch” into photo shooting mode, is something intangible that must be experienced first hand.

Image Quality

Pairing it with the 18-105mm VR kit lens, I set about taking some shots of the goods that we will be selling. I understood that the older sensors did not have the ISO invariance that became rather famous after the release of the 24MP sensors by Sony. I therefore knew that the raw files could not withstand as much pushing as the ones from the newer sensors.

Image quality is good at low ISOs
Taken under bright conditions, ISO under 400

Generally, the raw files cleaned up very well in Lightroom when taken in good lighting, this shots were taken in the late morning or late afternoon.

Shot under low ISOs of under 400 with bounced lighting, very clean, useable images

I then tried to take photos using speedlights, and here the ISO values were kept below 400.

One usability factor to raise is that the pop up flash on the D7000 is extremely useful for controlling external flashes under S1 receiver mode (ie. the external flashes will strobe in response to the on board camera flash). This made my workflow much faster.

I generally had no complaints for the image quality for the work that I was doing (studio lighting with little need for a massive dynamic range) and amount of details that I could get from the raw files below ISO 400. I was able to push the shadow details in Lightroom somewhat. I would, however, recommend not pushing the shadow slider above 50 if you don’t want to see a lot of noise in the shadow portions of of the image.

Image quality compared to a smartphone?

Smartphone camera image quality has seen astounding improvements over the years. One might wonder if DSLRs have any image quality advantages over computational photography offered by phones like the Google Pixel and the iPhone.

Again, it depends.

If you’re willing to take the time and effort to take a picture using proper technique and also process the raw photos, you realise you may have a lot of more creative control over how your picture will turn out compared to the “pre-baked” photos spit out by an iPhone, for example.

Pricing reference in 2021

In 2021, a brief check on Carousell, one of the main platforms for selling second hand items, showed that a D7000 without a lens can be had for under SGD300.If you’re lucky, you may find a beater set (well used) for under $300 including the lens to start you off.

Buy? Or not.

Whether a second hand D7000 is still a good purchase depends a lot on your use case. If you are on a budget, and you would prefer an enthusiast grade camera with sufficient manual controls and a built in flash for external flash control, you could do worse than with a Nikon D7000.

For:

People on a budget but need a dedicated camera for casual sports, birding, everyday situations, simple studio work not requiring high resolution output.

Not for:

People who need superior image quality, the 16 Megapixel sensor is outdated and the image quality shows, especially when you push it under extreme lighting conditions

People who want very nice and smooth bokeh, even with the kit lens (one will need to make the jump to full frame)

People who want the instant ability share a photo or video taken (just stick to your smartphone :D)

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