Nikon was nice enough to send us out two of the new D7000′s to test on the upcoming As I Lay Dying video.
I was blown away!
These days everyone seems to be more than happy with Canon’s rig and the big question was why switch?  For me the answer was simple.  I shoot with a Nikon d300 for all my still work, so all of my lenses are Nikon mount.  The Nikon body allowed me to use all of my great wide angles that I couldn’t fit onto the Canon.  I also got to try out my sweet new Sigma 10 – 20mm fixed 3.5 lens that has a Nikon mount!
So what made this camera better?
We beat the hell out of this rig (when you see the video you will understand what I mean) and it held fast never crashing and holding up perfectly at high ISO’s.  There are a lot of little things that make it more enjoyable to use than the 7d, but the most notable advancement was the auto focus. It uses this face recognition technology that will lock onto subjects face no matter where they are in frame.  It will also find other subjects faces and pull focus to the person closest to the camera and hold it as you approach.  This is very useful when using macro lenses in low light situations with out a focus puller.  Very scary technology!
We ended up shooting the video with a ridiculously small lighting package, and sometimes just using flashlights.  That forced me to shoot at ASA’s between 3500 to 6500 and the image held up wonderfully.  As we previewed the footage on the computer we noticed that there was barely a rolling shutter issue!   The entire video is hand held and I expected to have to use the after effects plugin to correct the loose image we get from DSLR’s.  Not the case!   The Nikon rolling shutter is leaps and bounds better than Canon’s.  So good in fact that our visual effects guys asked if we had fixed it!
The camera also took quite a beating.  We had it mounted to the face of our camera operator (and co-director Ian McFarland) as he was pulled own hallways, thrown into vans, and dragged through the San Diego desert!  The Nikon stayed with us with now crashes from impact!


Some other cool things about camera:
- 20 minutes of recording time!  That’s twice as much as Canon and there are two SD card slots in the body allowing you to go longer without switching cards (though I wouldn’t suggest it).
- Adjustable on-camera mic audio and a mic input!  We ran this for a guide track.
- Easily accessible “Live View” mode with the standard Nikon menu options.
- The camera only overheated on us once!  We rolled that baby all day for a 15 hour shoot and we only got one overheat error.  Our Canon would have at least 10 times!
- Very clean image grain.
A few things that the camera is lacking in are that it doesn’t shoot in 60i which means no slow motion, and you have to exit Live View mode to change you aperture.  Two simple things that I’m sure will be remedied soon.
Overall I was more than happy with the camera and it looked awesome mounted on our custom build POV rig!  We also got to test this new wireless HD CUBE from Teradek that broadcasts HD to wireless devices.  I will talk about in my next post  and maybe I’ll explain the POV rig too.
Thanks for reading,
Mike Pecci