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In my previous post I touched upon the events that led to my aquisition of my first DSLR the Nikon D7000. I wanted to complete the tale since it didn’t end with the exciting yet painful swipe of the credit card at the register.
As I mentioned my wife called me on March 18 and told me to go get the camera, Her resoning and mine included these factors: 1 – The camera was on sale and the price could go up due to the tragedy Japan had just experienced. 2 – The time it would take for me to save up enough money to actually buy a full frame DSLR camera was going to take a few more years at least and the cost would be at least twice that of this package for a body alone (my dream was to eventually buy the D800 or whatever it will be called when released). So we decided that I’d buy the D7000 now, learn how to use a DSLR well, and then in the future hopefully I’d be able to upgrade and then have two great cameras. And lets face it after almost 4 years of waiting I was out of patience!
I had to work that evening but I was able to stop by the nearest Costco on my way home and I picked up the Nikon D7000 camera pack which included everything you see here: Not too shabby a package, a bit more than the standard one you’d get at someplace like Bestbuy. I also picked up a double pack of 8GB Sandisk Ultra II cards which were also on sale.
Now in addition to the reasons I talked about before I picked this particular package for a few additional reasons.
First was the price of the camera with a lens, however this package included the venerable Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S ED VR II lens which is a much better lens than the standard 18-105mm kit lens that is usually boxed with the camera, and Costco was running a $250 instant rebate. Second Costco has a great return policy and is a trusted vendor for me, I love that store and I’ve never been dissapointed when I’ve had to return something or have it repaired.
So happy day for me right?… Well it didn’t take long for me to realize that the camera was quite a bit different from my old point and shoot, now I’ve used SLR’s and DSLR’s before but having my own to use and fiddle with was an exhilarating and somewhat daunting experience, however when I opened my first photos on the computer I immediately noticed that they were a bit soft. I’m not one to jump to instant conclusions especially since this could be operator error, so I made a few more shots at different f/stops, focal ranges, iso’s etc all on a tripod and still I was not very impressed. So I searched online for any similar problems and was surprised at the number of complaints I found about the focusing on the D7000, now I’m not going to go into detail about what those problems are, just google it and follow some links and you’ll get the jist of it pretty quickly, suffice it to say most of it is over hyped and of various causes, the main one is that the D7000 has a high resolution sensor that shows everything, including lens imperfections! And lenses are not perfect, especially kit zoom lenses. In any case I soon found out about the autofocus fine tune option and how to use a focus chart and ran some tests using the scale.
Ouch! I had some very serious back focus, meaning the lens would focus on the area behind what I was aiming at regardless of aperture. I had to dial in a compensation of -12 just to get it close. Now I really doubt it was the camera that was off, my first 18-200mm was extremely stiff out of the box, I remember being surprised at how hard it was to mount onto the camera and to zoom it when I first tried it and although it loosened up a bit over the week it was never what I would call silky smooth. I truly believe that the lens itself was mostly at fault, in any case after worrying about it for a week I returned the camera to Costco and grabbed another one, the return was smooth and trouble free, I didn’t get a replacement over the return counter, instead I walked back into the store and up to the display and just grabbed the box and placed it in my cart. Well I must have looked pretty cavalier about the whole thing because a lady standing nearby just started to laugh and said “That’s crazy, you just walked right up to that and put it in your basket!” I chuckled and smiled and said “Yep, pretty cool huh?” I didn’t have time to explain I was just exchanging it and I think she’ll have a fun little story to share out of it.
I got the camera home and had enough time to charge the battery and take it outside for a test drive just before the sun set. Oh glorious golden hour light, I went into the backyard and started firing off a few shots of various objects at different focal lengths and apertures, the zoom of this lens was much smoother, and the focusing sounds seemed less labored and a bit quicker. Just as I was about to run inside to view the shots on the computer my daughter decided to come out and see what I was doing so I used her as a model while she played in that wonderful light, and I’m proud to say I got a few keepers of her and did some nice testing in a very dynamic situation; various light/shadow levels and motion all wrapped up in one. The results I viewed in the computer were much better than before and I feel like I’ll be just fine. I ran a test using the focus chart and I still saw a bit of backfocus but it was slight and a small AF fine tune of -2 seems to be plenty to correct it.As of today rumor has it that Nikon will be releasing a firmware update to fix backfocusing issues on the D7000 check here for firmware updates
Unfortunately it’s been snowing or raining here ever since I got the camera so I haven’t had a chance to really run it through its paces. Also I’m waiting on a ballhead for my new tripod but that’s for another post coming up soon. I’ll leave the story here and say I’m glad I’ve got a working camera and lens and from here on out we’ll be experimenting, shooting, learning, and sharing.
Happy Shooting!