A couple of days ago I wrote a post that was an excerpt from my version of what's wrong with the world. In one of the comments a reader shared in a very mild way his non-love-affair with his D7000 as well. I received more than one email from Nikon D7000 users with exactly the opposite feelings. They were absolutely head over heels in love with the camera. All of them questioned my so-so or even negative feelings. Why do I feel the way I do…?
I wish I could sum my feelings up with a succinct reason but I cannot. It's more of a lot of little things that add up to me just not warming up to it as a camera that I like to spend a lot of time with. Some of them D7000 specific, some of them APS-C format specific, and some of them a strange Nikon combination of both. Here is a list of impressions both subjective and objective in a out of order, non-prioritized, stream of consciousness sort of way.
- It's not a really small camera but for some reason the traditional Nikon control layout seems amazingly awkward on the "smallness" of the D7000 compared to say the D2 or D3 series cameras. So what we have is a camera that is not as small as a traditional film body but is just small enough where my fingers overshoot all of the critical controls - making it cumbersome for me.
- I swear I like the focus sensor layout less with each Nikon AF iteration. I have way more focus areas but they seem some how moving more and more toward the middle. My issue is usually not the breadth but more with the height when viewing the finder horizontally. That top row just doesn't seem high enough and the bottom row just doesn't seem low enough - well they are in the middle but that's it. This causes me to sort of fight with the AF sensor layout vs the way I compose. Yea, yea, yea - I could just use one and lock/recompose like the old days but then what is the point of 800 sensors? In the old days I could at least evaluate focus on the ground glass - hmmm now? - not really.
- Speaking of the AF system, let's just say that it is not at all confidence inspiring. First off I have a feeling that the precision to which the sensor plane/focus sensor plane is put together is not nearly as good as it used to be with Nikon - both film and digital. How is this you may ask - well, every single solitary lens I own needs AF fine tuning in the same direction for about the same amount. I do not buy the bullshit that "every lens and every body is a little different, blah blah blah". With rangefinders - yes. With SLR's - NO. Bullshit. If that were remotely true you would expect the focus fine tuning parameters to be all over the map. So now I have to do a software calibration that should be a precision manufacturing calibration that is forking Nikon's job? Oh wait a minute… AF fine tuning does not work on manual focus lenses. Shit out of luck there. You think I am the only one? Guess again, 1000's of D7000 buyers have experienced this. Most of them buy into Nikon's bullshit about every lens is different in combination with the other bullshit which is "well now that you have more megapixels you can see better and…" Hmmm, I have owned and used 100's of cameras. I have shot, processed, obsessed over, evaluated, edited, 100,000's of thousands of images in every conceivable format over the last 30 years and what you are telling me is that I have no idea what I am seeing. Yea - okay - you're right - it's all in my head. Go F' yourself Nikon, you have an issue - fix it - F' you.
- One more thing on focus - even under controlled circumstances it's not super consistent either.
- Some how it seems the recipe for Picture Controls has changed and not in a pleasing way from my perspective. I really do not like most of the OOC JPEG's. You do know that for a lot of things I actually really want my OOC images to actually somehow excite me in the way they look right? Maybe it is the Picture Control recipe but maybe it's just the new image processing engine as a whole. I don't know what the heck Nikon did but the D7000 images - even the RAW files - look kind of smeary and digital in a lot of lighting conditions. It's perplexing. I swear I thought I had some sort of really high lousy noise reduction thing accidentally turned on. Nope. Certain lighting conditions seem to always turn out squishy and smeary and horrible - very much like a really bad cell phone picture. Or a low end consumer digi-cam of 2002. I am serious here, in a lot of cases the visceral quality - especially in the OOC JPEGs - gives off that cheap, strange, smeary quality of crazily noise/detail reduced muck that you associate with old "digital". Low contrast, soft light seems to aggravate it more. You know like with window light - that horrible window light that you would never want to shoot with anyway. Please do not tell me that what I am seeing is the D7000's crazy good noise performance. The noise performance is in no way better than my D3 but the visual quality is way worse.
- Mmmm - the viewfinder is really not that great. I was expecting somewhat better than APS-C viewfinders that came before this - it was kinda promised. Sorry - same old same old. Guess I was expecting too much.
- Everyone raves about the matrix metering and always have. Call me the odd ball here but to be honest exposure is simple - really it is. Matrix metering still gets it wrong in the same situations it always gets it wrong which happen to be the same situations where center weighted metering gets it wrong if you have no idea what you are doing. I guess what they are really talking about is matrix auto balanced fill flash bullshit as compared to Canon's hopeless crap - or as compared to having no idea about flash exposure. I know - this is nothing new but how can a "color" matrix meter that has been "completely" improved still not understand forking white. Oh come now - with distance information, focus point info, matrix metering you are still going to be hit or miss on backlighting? Really? Realllly? Oh - the D7000 also reacts differently than previous and current matrix metering cameras - good job Nikon. For those poor fools that went down the not so smart path of "getting to know" matrix metering and arguing with it via exposure comp (as opposed to using something that worked the same way all the time) you just gave them a new puzzle to work out. My advice - skip it except for all those occasions where you actually don't have time to evaluate the light or meter (hmmmm what was this photography thing about again?)
- The diopter adjustment is too easily moved. I swear I have to adjust it every time I look through the viewfinder.
- Nikon still hasn't produced reasonably priced, nice, compact lenses that are DX specific worth talking about. The 12-24 or the new 10-24? Hmmm so-so with a slow aperture. the 17-55 2.8? Big, heavy, expensive. Hmmmm the DX macro - worthless. The 35mm 1.8G? - Okay I guess but why not a 35mm 1.4 - oh I know because that one is FX and costs a fortune. Really there is not a great selection of useful, fast, reasonably priced focal length equivalents compared to 35mm tradition. Don't fool yourself - they are not small nor are they super high performance relatively speaking either.
I probably could go on and on but I won't. There you have it, some more negative energy out of the way. Needed to get that done with. I think it has to do with built-up disappointment, disillusionment, and even more so the shift in the weather from 75 back down to 50 and windy over the last week. You cannot just hand me springtime and then tear it way like that without some sort of horrible reaction.