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Nikon D7000 vs D90 – Help Deciding Between the Nikon D90 or D7000

The Nikon D90 was introduced in 2008 as the replacement of the D70 in Nikon’s “enthusiast” lineup and was a huge success offering excellent performance in a lightweight body and an affordable price, while also introducing video capabilities.  Two years later saw the introduction of the D7000, which was the replacement of both the D90 and the D300s, which was being phased out as Nikon reorganized their cropped or DX lineup to include a “entry” and “enthusiast” line up, as the “professional” DX cameras, including the D200, D300 and D300s were discontinued.  The D7000, which was based on the same body as the D90, was an immediate success due to its amazing low light capabilities and other advanced features.

While the D90 has been discontinued, new versions of this camera are still available in the marketplace.  The D7000 is still in production, despite the introduction of the follow up D7100 and D7200.  Bothe the D90 and the D7000 remain extremely popular cameras despite their age and the introduction of even more technologically advanced cameras.

Keep reading for my full thoughts on these two DLSRs.

Just the Facts, A Side-By-Side Comparison: Nikon D90 vs D7000

  Nikon D90 Nikon D7000
Year Introduced 2008 2010
Format DX DX
Crop Factor 1.5X 1.5X
Megapixels 12.3 Million 16.2 Million
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Processor EXPEED EXPEED
Image Format RAW or JPG RAW or JPG
Sensor Size 23.6 mm x 15.8 mm 23.6 mm x 15.6 mm
Sensor Cleaner Yes Yes
Autofocus Points 11 11 Up To 39
Modes Auto, Advanced Scene, Programmed Auto (P), Shutter Priority Auto (S), Aperture-Priority Auto (A), Manual (M) Auto, Advanced Scene, Programmed Auto (P), Shutter Priority Auto (S), Aperture-Priority Auto (A), Manual (M)
Metering 3D Color Matrix Metering II, Center-Weighted and Spot Metering 3D Color Matrix Metering II, Center-Weighted and Spot Metering
View Finder Coverage 95% 100%
Virtual Horizon Yes Yes
Frames Per Second 4.5 6
ISO 200-3200 100-6400
Lowest Expandable ISO Lo1 (100) N/A
Highest Expandable ISO Hi1 (6,400) H1 (25,600)
Shutter Speed Range 1/4,000 – 30 Seconds 1/8,000 – 30 Seconds
Built In Flash Yes Yes
Card Slots 1 2
Card Type SD, SDHC SD, SDHC, SDXC
LCD Size 3” 3”
LCD Fixed or Swivel Fixed Fixed
Video Yes Yes
Video Type AVI(320 x 216, 640 x 424, 1,280 x 720) Full HD or VGA(1,920, 1,080, 24p)
Internal Autofocus Motor Yes Yes
GPS Optional Accessory Optional Accessory
Wireless No Optional Accessory
Wi-Fi No Optional Accessory
                                              Battery Single EN-EL3e Single EN-EL 15
Unique Features Preset Scene Modes U1 and U2 Settings
Size Without Lens 5.2” x 4.1”x 3.0” 5.2” x 4.1” x 3.0”
Weight Without Lens 22 Ounces 24.3 Ounces
Manufactured In Thailand Thailand
Body Only or with Kit Lens Sold Either Way Sold Either Way
Included Accessories Battery, Manual, Charger, Cables Battery, Manual, Charger, Cables
Cost, Body Only About $579** see here for latest pricing About $599 see here for latest pricing
Cost With Kit Lens (Lens Varies) Varies Depending Upon Lens Varies Depending Upon Lens

*Information from Nikon USA website, including pricing on the D7000.

** The Nikon D90 has been discontinued, however existing stock of new Nikon D90s are still available at select retailers from $599.99.

Similarities Between the D90 and D7000

The Nikon D90 and D7000 share very few similarities beyond both being built around DX format (cropped) sensors, sharing the same body, built-in flash, internal autofocus motors and having the capability to shoot video.   Reason being that both of these cameras are very much different due to technological advances that occurred in the two years between the introduction of the D90 and the D7000.  The body is the same, but the “guts” are different.

The smaller DX sensor is used in the D90 and the D7000, as well as most cameras in this price range.  The reason being that these cropped sensors are more economical to manufacture than full frame sensors and make it possible for Nikon to keep the price points of the cameras found in their “entry” and “enthusiast” lineups affordable.  Compared to a full frame camera, the D90 and D7000 both have a crop factor if 1.5x.  What this means as an image captured using a DX camera with a standard 50mm lens would be the equivalent to the same image captured on a full frame camera using a 75mm lens.  Many sports and wildlife photographers prefer the DX format as it makes their lenses “longer”.

Both cameras share basically the same lightweight body and are identical in size, with the D90 being slightly lighter than the D7000.  There is a built in flash on both cameras, which is very useful when using the flash to fill in shadows.  Larger flash units can also be used on both cameras, as there is a built in hot shoe as well.

Another significant similarity is the built in autofocus motor in the cameras, which will allow older Nikkor lenses with out built in autofocus motors to be used.  The D90 and D7000, both have video capability, with Nikon claiming that the D90 was the first DSLR to have video capability.

Differences Between the D90 and D7000

Differences between the two cameras are significant and are mainly the result of technological advancements made in the two years between the introduction of the D90 and D7000.  Major differences include total number of effective megapixels, higher ISO ranges, more advanced autofocus system, dual SD cards and the U1 and U2 settings found on the D7000.

The D90 has 12.3 million megapixels, while the D7000 has 16.2 million, which while a significant increase, is generally meaningless in real life applications.  Today, the manufacturers really focus on megapixel count in their marketing efforts, pushing the megapixel count higher and higher with each new release.  While 16.2 million megapixels is nice, 12.3 megapixels is sufficient for most people’s needs.

That being said, the consumer should really focus on more important features such as the ISO range found in the two cameras, as this is where the D7000 really stands apart from the D90.  While the D90, has an ISO range from 200-3,200 and is expandable to 6,400, the D7000 has an ISO range from 100 – 6,400 and is expandable to 25,600.  This means hat the D7000 is capable of capturing clean images in very little light.  The D7000 uses a special noise reducing software, as the image is being processed, to make the images free of noise that would normally be found at high ISO settings.  However, the images can get a bit soft as the noise reducing software also eliminates detail as the image is being processed.

The autofocus system of the D90 and D7000 are also different with the D90 having 11 autofocus points, while the D700 can be configured with up to 39 autofocus points.  The autofocus points are very useful in both cameras as they are evenly distributed in the viewfinder and are not bunched up in the center of the finder.

Another difference in the two cameras is in the number of SD cards each camera can hold.  The D90 can hold a single SD card, while the D7000 can hold two.  The D7000 owner can configure the second card in a number of useful ways including a backup of the first card, capture overflow images and to record video.

Another significant difference between the two cameras is the inclusion of the U1 and U2 settings on the top dial of the D7000.  This feature allows the user to create two customized settings for the camera and use the dial to instantly recall the settings without the need to navigate the camera’s menus.  This feature, which is extremely useful in the field, is not found on the D90.

Pros and Cons of the D7000 vs D90

The biggest plus to the D90 is the price of the camera, which is significantly less expensive than the D7000.  The reason for this is that the D90 has been discontinued for a few years now, but there is still available inventory of new D90s at select retailers.  The introduction of newer models continues to drive down prices of the D90, while the D7000 is very close in price to the newer D7100 and D7200.

The biggest negative of the D90 is that the technology is almost 7 years old now and that is a very long time given the advancements in camera technology.  That being said, the D90 is still a very good camera, capable of capturing amazing images despite the age of the camera.

The D7000’s “claim to fame” has to be its image quality at high ISO levels.  It is simply amazing that a camera can produce such high quality images in almost dark conditions.  Other “pros” of the D700 includes the advanced autofocus system and the U1 and U2 settings, both of which are great features for any photographer.

The biggest negative about the D7000 is the size of the camera, which some users may find a bit small if they have big hands and difficult to hold for long periods of time.  While the D90 has the same “con”, many users wished the technology in the D7000 was used in a slightly larger body such as the D300s, which featured improved moisture protection and a more robust metal body that are found in “professional” cameras.

Pros and Cons – At a Glance

To cut right to the chase, I’ve highlighted some of the key reasons to go with the D90 or D7000 below

Nikon D90 Advantages Nikon D7000 Advantages
Quicker Start-up (0.3 vs 0.4 seconds) Higher ISO (1,167 vs 970)
Better Dynamic Range (13.9 vs 12.5 EVS)
Longer Battery Life (1050 vs 850 shots)
More Pixels (16.2 vs 12.3 megapixels)
Dual Storage Slots (2 vs 1)
Better for Video (Shoots HD)
Better FPS Rate (6 vs 4.5)

Overall Recommendation: My Personal Take

While both the Nikon D90 and D7000 are older cameras, they are still relevant in the market geared towards enthusiasts.  Although this market has seen the entry of budget full-framed cameras, such as the Nikon D750, there is still significant demand for very capable DX cameras due to their results and excellent value.  The D90 and the D7000 both deliver on performance and value, even when compared to Nikon’s more recent introductions into their enthusiast lineup including the D7100 and the D7200.

Overall, I prefer the D7000 to the D90 based upon two factors that are lacking in the D90.  The first is the U1 and U2 settings, which I use all of the time as I switch between color and black and white and these settings simplify the process and speed up the reconfiguring the camera.  Although I have never experienced a SD card failure, the dual SD cards, which can be configured in a number of ways, on the D7000 is also a very useful and important feature to me. It is important to keep in mind that my preference is not based upon any performance issues with the D90, just a preference for a couple of useful features found on the D7000.

If you are looking for a great camera with great specifications, both the D90 and the D7000 fit the bill, as they both laid the groundwork for today’s most recent and technologically advanced cropped sensor camera. You can’t really “go wrong” with either, but the D7000 is a better value for the money based on features alone.

With the D90  being older, you may expect a lower price. However, I’ve been able to find the Nikon D7000 for the lower price. It’s currently around available for a good deal (body only) here.

The Camera Guide Team
 

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