Nikon D7000 and Aquatica AD7000 review

NIKON D7000 FEATURES (continued).

Full HD Video capability:

This camera can record full HD 1080p videos at 24 fps, or 720p videos at 24 or 30 fps. It compresses them using H.264/MPEG-4 coding – which is the most commonly used format for dealing with HD videos. Video clips max out at 20 minutes, and in-camera trimming and frame-grabbing can be performed by pausing a video clip, pressing the WB button, then selecting the action you’d like to take (Choose start point/Choose end point/Save selected frame).

ISO and shutter speed (minimum 1/30) can be manually adjusted while shooting, but, frustratingly, you have to leave live view to both adjust the aperture and to reset the custom white balance. There are two focus modes to choose from when in live view – single-servo (AF-S) and full-time-servo (AF-F). Each of these modes can be used with any one of the four focus areas (face priority, wide area, normal area, or subject-tracking).

In AF-S mode, autofocus is activated when the shutter is half-depressed, and stays put when released. When in AF-F mode, the camera makes focus adjustments continuously to keep the subject sharp, until the shutter is half-depressed, which momentarily switches it into AF-S mode. On paper, this sounds like an ideal setting for shooting video, but in reality, it’s a little disappointing. The contrast-based autofocus system used in live view mode is not nearly as quick or accurate as the Multi-CAM 4800DX sensor, and left the camera hunting for focus, and getting confused when switching between a close foreground and a distant subject. Sometimes the system seemed to give up altogether, requiring a quick tap of the shutter to jolt it back to life.

I always used either the normal focus area, or the subject-tracking function when shooting videos, since the wide focus area covers too much of the frame, and the face priority function is useless underwater. The subject tracking function is an interesting feature, which is similar to the 3D tracking mode in the camera’s primary autofocus system – simply place the focus box over the subject, press OK, and watch the little focus square follow the subject around. However, again, this is much better in concept than in practice. During my stay in Dominica, I tried to use this feature to track a number of different subjects, but could only get it to work reliably on stationary subjects that stood out from their surroundings.

While the autofocus system was rather disappointing, the quality of the videos was impressive. I didn’t have any video lights, so chose to shoot with ambient light and a magic filter whenever possible. Not only are colours rendered vibrantly, the sensor produced usable videos in even the dimmest conditions, because of its low noise levels at high ISOs.