Zeroing in a new (to me) camera. You have to get your hands around it.

One of the sentinels of Barton Springs.

In a previous blog I wrote about buying a used Nikon D7000 and returning it because the back focus was sooooo bad it couldn't be fixed with the in camera focus correction tools. plus or minus twenty were both equally ineffective. But I really did want a back up camera for the D7100 for those time when I want to use that body commercially. You see, I am incapable of leaving the studio for a paying job without a backup camera that will take the same set of lenses and generate images of the same basic image quality. The best case scenario is two identical bodies (or, if prices fall low enough, four---as in my collection of EM-5s) but the next best scenario is the previous model having most of the same control interface and (importantly) the same batteries.

I'd read a lot since 2010 about the Sony sensor that found its way into the Nikon D7000, the Pentax K5s and various other cameras that shifted the way we thought about high ISO performance and dynamic range. I'd made a mental note to try another used one if it became available for and advantageous price. I found my next one for under $500 in very, very nice condition with about 14,000 cycles on the shutter.

The first thing I did was test the focus accuracy by shooting various Nikon lenses nearly wide open (which, coincidentally) is the way I like to shoot most of the time. I'm not really an "f8" kind of guy.
The camera absolutely nailed focus with everything and I was happy. But I wanted to see what kind of operational differences there were between the 7000 and the 7100 so I took the older body out for a walk around the lake.

Most of the buttons are in the same place and the finder is very, very similar. As Ken Rockwell would say (paraphrasing) "One shows information in green the other in white. That and the different density sensors are the only real differences."  I think I have to agree with him except for one thing. At the sizes I use the files the older camera has a greater impression of sharpness in the files.

But none of this has anything to do with the core message of this post and that is that cameras need to get, for want of a better phrase, zero'd in. I find nearly every body I shoot with has tiny differences to identical models. Little things like the way the shutters sound or the way the shutter button feels. When you accept a new camera you need to "wear it" for a while and shoot it until it becomes second nature. Only then are you ready to take it out and shoot commercially with it. If you don't shoot for money then the goal is to feel comfortable enough to use it for a "once in a lifetime" experience.

It may sound funny but the previous (defective) D7000 felt off. That's one of the reasons I checked it right away. The new one felt almost immediately comfortable. Again. It's just a hand, brain, feel kind of thing and not a series of magic metrics that I can measure on an instrument here in the studio. But it seems as obvious to me as f11.

Into the Nikon bag this one goes. Ready to leap out and soldier on should the D7100 falter or fall.

Interestingly, of the four EM-5s I have from three different sources, all with lower shutter counts, each one feels a bit different in action from the others...shutters sounds, hand feel and even the finders. I guess even in this age of ultimate automation there's still enough variance to notice.


Tony Nyberg said...

Hi Kirk

Welcome to the D7000, I have been using one for about 3 years professionally to great effect
When used with the battery grip and the 85mm 1.8 the handling is near perfect.
Just watch the mode dial, it can move easily, so make sure the U1 and U2 options are setup how you like as you may find they are set to basic Jpg by default.

As a side question, what has been your experience of the GH4 when shooting handheld video with moving subjects.
My Nikons shoot competent video with locked down shots, but everything goes to pieces with movement.
Shooting 60p and creating a 60p project in FCPX helps but Vimeo doesn't play native 60p is that correct?

Any advice would be welcome

Craig Yuill said...

Good choice! I have been enjoying my D7000 for the last two years. It takes great photos with wonderful tones and good detail. I had stopped using it for a while, favoring instead my V1. But a while back I started using it again as my go-to camera when I expected I would be taking photos and doing little to no video work.

James Hildreth said...

Thanks for the update on the Nikons. I really like my D7000 but I think I might have a focus problem with the 12-24mm Can you explain how you check for it (if it's not the obvious: "look at your pictures" on-screen), and how best to get the correction dialed in (again, if not trial-and-error)?