September 16, 2010

The DSLR Arms Race Goes Nuclear: Nikon Fires Back at the Canon 60D with New D7000

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:

Link: Nikon D7000 Preview at Digital Photography Review

Your Comment

8 Comments

I thought the 2nd video was fun, 1st one instantly annoyed me.

I'm looking to buy my first HDSLR, and even though I've always shot with Nikons I'd rather have the 60d over the d7000.

a. Canon has been doing this longer and better.
b. The articulating viewfinder saves me a lot of $$$ in hoodloupes, monitors (critical focus will not be as important for me as professionals with cash)

September 16, 2010 at 10:01AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Perhaps too early to tell, but over at Ninofilm they're saying the aliasing isn't looking so good on the D7000.
http://ninofilm.net/blog/2010/09/15/nikon_d7000/

September 16, 2010 at 11:02AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Agreed about the articulating viewfinder -- thanks for the link, James. Seems the D7000 will be better in low light but might suffer from the same kind of aliasing artifacts Canon shooters are accustomed to.

September 16, 2010 at 12:18PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Wow , pretty impressive visuals but where is the story. I think since the explosion of great cameras people are so obsessed with image that when it comes to writing a great story they totally neglect it. If people spent as much time learning the ins and outs of these cameras and spent it on writing a great script , I am sure we would see a lot more meaningful pieces rather than the mediocre films with a lot of depth of field. Just my two cents.

September 16, 2010 at 5:03PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Rob

Couldn't agree more, Rob. That's why you don't see a whole lot of short technical videos from me out there -- I'm off writing.

September 16, 2010 at 6:49PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

from what I see on those videos, I think aliasing is still there, but rolling shutter is mostly gone (I think those rotating windmills would look worse on a canon, and horrible on any different nikon, including D3100)

the bitrate could be the problem here: from the maximum recording times, it seems like it's about half of that on the canons, so even if nikon doesn't use a horrybly poor H.264 encoder such as the one on canon DSLRs, it could prove to be too low

September 17, 2010 at 4:05AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Hi Koo,

First of all congrats for the amazing job!

I have a Nikon D7000 and for the first time went to Barcelona´s main street to shoot some movies (my first!). Here is the result: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at8WpvOTL_0

Final video is far from what I was expecting:
- stutters, has lines all around, shakes a lot)
- Footage looks much better and rocky stable when seen on camera screen

I am almost sure it has to be with the way I imported footage as my comp is quite new (not YET a Hackinstosh...) and videos are perfect viewed on the Nikon D7000.

Important info:
- Recorded at 1920 x 1080 24 fps high quality
- Lens: Nikkor 18 - 105 VR set at A mode most of the time, using auto focus
- Footage imported direct from camera to file archive and then into Adobe Premiere CS5
- Exported as wmp 1920 x 1080 24 fps
- Same issues when exporting as h.264

- Computer specs: Gigabyte Motherboard GA-X58A-UD3R, Intel i/ Quad-Core processor, Gigabyte ATI Radeon HD 5770 GPU, SSD 60, Western Digital 1T 32, Sony DVD recorder

Where am I doing wrong? Thank you A LOT!

February 28, 2011 at 1:40PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Miguel

Agree with you folks on a lot of this stuff. Lucky I started off as a writer; then film school in screenwriting; then selling low, low budget specs...and crewing at the same time. You really do get to learn both sides. As I'm directing my first feature based on a trailer for some investors; I'm also finishing up another spec; doing 2 rewrites and an outline for a new spec. Thank God I started off writing short fiction first; read a good amount of plays before graduate film school...but I got most of my education from watching a lot of movies and reading a lot of books. And then just enjoying the blank page to fill it up. I've seen a lot of slick-looking stuff lately, but there is just an emptiness of story and characters. Not every movie has to be LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. I love film noir; tragic stories with flawed characters...as well as great popcorn and foreign movies. But it will always be about the story...and not the lens I look through. Cracked or otherwise.

September 29, 2011 at 9:46PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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MARK GEORGEFF