Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nikon D7000: Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory

I am a Nikon user: in fact, I am a 'Nikon Professional User'. As such, I am pretty satisfied about the two 'professional' Nikon cameras I use (don't ask me about Nikon's own software though, that's a different matter). My Nikkor lenses are pretty darned good to.

But, Nikon, what on earth gives with your new 'consumer model', the D7000? Let me summarise by saying this:


On paper, the D7000 filled a niche for me: significantly lighter than the D3 series bodies; more resolution; DX sensor so I can do 3:1 panos with PC-E tilt/shift lenses. I could see this being near ideal for overnight mountain-top trips. Not as well built as the D300, but close and good enough. Even the IR remote seemed a better option than the 10-pin cable for the D3/300 (which is really really fiddly, especially with cold fingers).

I checked out the manual (there's a link in an earlier post) for compatibility with the PC-E lenses. Apart from the expected limitations with metering (not accurate with tilt/shift applied) and focus confirmation, neither of which bother me, no other problems were mentioned.

So, my order went in, along with the aforementioned remote, a Arca Swiss plate direct from Kirk and a spare battery. A few days ago I browsed Thom Hogan's site, and clicked through to his D7000 review posted on December 19th. Long story short, Thom warns that the PC-E lenses do not even physically fit very well, without risk of damage to lens/body, not to mention fingers.

Since I trust Thom Hogan's advice more than Nikon's, my order got cancelled.

In my mind, there are two ways that this could have happened: human error (ok, we all do that - but really, is there just one person in Nikon who's tried to attach a PC-E lens to this camera?); or a deliberate attempt to hoodwink customers? Honestly, if Nikon thinks it's a good idea to hoodwink customers, especially those who are willing to cough up £1500 for a PC-E lens, then be prepared to watch those same customers walk. Not today, not tomorrow, but may be not that far off either.

Some might argue that wanting to use a PC-E lenses on a consumer-grade body makes me part of a small minority. Probably right, but given that the 16mp D7000 packs a higher pixel density than even the current top-of-the-line pro DSLR, the 24.5mp D3x (10.5mp in DX mode), I can see tilt lenses being highly desirable on the D7000 for landscapes and macro. It's the only way to get the best out of the resolution whilst making maximising the effectiveness of the depth of field at middle-apertures (f/5.6,f/8), so avoiding the diffraction limiting that comes from having to use small apertures.

PS There'll be some tasty D7000 accessories on ebay in the new year.


Vladimir Jirasek said...

Hi Tim,
Interesting post. I looked at this page http://imaging.nikon.com/products/imaging/lineup/digitalcamera/slr/d7000/compatibility02.htm and it seems PC-E lenses are somewhat compatible but only if tilt and shift is not used (remark 3); which of course is pointless. So I guess Nikon gives that information but with some small print.

Tim Tucker LRPS said...

Hi Vlad, I think what Nikon are pointing out here, in their own not-very-clear-way is that using tilt/shift means that the exposure and metering systems won't work properly. This is physics rather than a Nikon issue - you are basically changing the light path. I find that a manual meter reading taken with the lens un-shifted or tilted works OK most of the time when the lens is shifted.