Just kidding with that title. Unless we get radioisotope thermoelectric generators in our cameras, there's nothing nuclear about any of this. Anyway... I was never a huge fan of the Nikon D90, having directed and shot two episodes of the online show RADAR with the camera. The D90 was crippled by a lack of manual control and its 720p, low-bitrate footage (which looked good before there were other good DSLRs with a movie mode). The camera -- along with the rest of Nikon's offerings -- quickly fell behind in the DSLR arms race as Canon and Panasonic released 1080p cams. Now Nikon is catching up with the recently announced $700 D3100 -- and now, the $1,200 D7000.
Both of these new Nikons finally shoot 1080/24p, and drop the MJPEG codec in favor of h.264 (no word on bitrate yet, though). Other vitals of the D7000 include a 16.2 megapixel APS-C sensor, full-time autofocus in movie mode, dual SD card slots, 100 percent viewfinder coverage, and magnesium body (not plastic). Its $1,200 price tag (for body-only; $1,500 with a 18-105mm DX VR kit lens) makes it $100 more than its competitor, the not-coincidentally-recently-announced Canon 60D. Here's the first "film" shot on the D7000, by photographer Chase Jarvis. Like most of these camera demos there is no actual story or sound... click through for the 1080p version:
And then there's a road trip video, also shot on the D7000:
You know, honestly I couldn't make it through either video. When the D7000 comes out in mid-October, we'll know more. One thing's for sure though: if you're looking to get a DSLR around the $1k price mark, you're going to have some great options come next month. One advantage I see for filmmakers in the Canon 60D is its articulating LCD screen, but a lot of it is going to come down to bitrate.
Here's the spec sheet for the D7000, which lists a maximum movie recording time of 20 minutes: