I’ve come up with a list of 5 good reasons (random order) that I’d want to replace my D5000 with the new D7000, if I had to (and some bonus reasons as well):
Autofocus during video recording
Nikon D5000 doesn’t support autofocus during video recording, meaning you’ll have to manually focus. While manual focus in video does open up for some creativity, I think most users would prefer video autofocus for most times. You can autofocus before you start recording, but once you record, you have to manually focus. You could, of course, record with a small aperture like f11 or something and hope that you have enough depth of field so that focus doesn’t become an issue, but if you do not have enough light available then f11 isn’t practical.
Besides, one of the cool things about DSLR video is the possiblity to record video with a large aperture such as f2.8 and get a really shallow depth of field in your videos, making your subject matter stand out – and give a more “film like”-mood to your video.
Nikon D7000 supports continuous autofocus while recording video in HD. It even has face tracking!
I don’t do nearly as much video recording with the D5000 as I’d like to, because manually focus limits me too much.
Audio (microphone) input
Another thing D5000 doesn’t support is an external microphone. D5000 only comes with a built-in mono microphone which doesn’t do much good. While having an external microphone mounted in the hot shoe and connected to the mini-jack connector on the side is not practical in every situation, it’s certainly nice to have the ability to record HD video with good sound every now and then.
Like with the lack of autofocus during video, I don’t record much video with my D5000 because the audio I get is just not very good – and outdoors you’re likely to get a ton of wind noise.
Commander mode for wireless flash
Yet another missing feature in the entry-level D5000 is a commander mode for wireless flash, also known as CLS which is Nikon’s “Creative Lighting System”. With the D5000, you basically have three ways to get a flash off-camera:
1) Attach a TTL cable and stretch out your arm – or have somebody else hold the flash. It doesn’t get farther away then the distance of the cable, of course.
2) Add some kind of “flash detector” to your flash and use your built-in camera flash to fire it. The “flash detector” on your external flash will see the light from your built-in camera flash and will then tell the external flash to fire as well. This is wireless but it’s also manual, so you have to adjust the flash output power directly on the external flash, it’s not automatically like with the TTL cable above or the solution below:
3) Find $250 in your pockets and buy the Nikon Su-800 commander remote which, as I understand, basically gives you the same features as the commander-mode that’s built in to more expensive cameras such as Nikon D300s, D7000 etc. This is wireless and supports TTL which means the flash can be automatic – or you can control some of its features directly from the camera, without touching the flash. This doesn’t work with SB-400 though, you’ll need the SB-600, SB-800, SB-900 or the new SB-700, if I’m not mistaken.
An external flash can be very useful for a lot of things and being able to bounce the flash off a wall or ceiling can give you some really great light. I miss being able to do it wirelessly as I’d love to explore that kind of flash photography.
Magnesium alloy body
D5000’s outer shell is more or less plastic. I guess the frame or whatever it’s called, the inside of the body, are made of something sturdier though, maybe metal? With D7000, some of the body is made of magnesium alloy and also has durable sealings to keep out moisture and dust, something D5000 doesn’t have protection against. I highly doubt that you can use the D7000 in your shower (even if you wanted to) but outside in light rain shouldn’t be a problem (as far as I know). Also a magnsesium alloy body should simply be stronger and give a better build quality feeling to the camera.
D5000 is my first DSLR so I can’t really comment on whether or not the build quality of D5000 is up to the standard, but I believe it is. However, I’m interesting in trying out a higher quality camera body that has some magnesium alloy and weather protection too.
LCD screen on top
Nikon D7000 has this “pro”-looking LCD screen on top of the camera body, showing you the necessary camera settings so you don’t have to turn on the 3″ LCD screen on the back, unless you need to do adjustments that can only be done from the menu.
With D5000 being my first DSLR, I didn’t really know what I was missing out in terms of that extra LCD screen on top, but I do feel a bit annoyed from time to time having to turn on the back-side LCD screen or having to look at it to check some settings (that are not displayed in the viewfinder). Having talked to a few higher-end Nikon DSLR owners, I now understand that the LCD screen on top is just essential.
And some bonus reasons too, which, for me, are not as important as the five main reasons above:
- 39-point autofocus system.
- Full HD video recording (1080p)
- Internal focus motor for lenses without built-in focus motor
- 3″ hi-res LCD screen
- 1/8000 shutter speed