Nikon D7000 Packs a Whole Lot of Pro Into a $1200 DSLR

It's hard for Nikon to fight Canon on video, so they're fighting with what they know: photography. Nikon's new D7000 packs a 16.3-megapixel sensor, 39-point autofocus, dual card slots and ISO up to 25,600 in a $1200 camera. Hot.

A successor to the D90, the D7000 has a new 16.2-megapixel sensor, which Nikon says has "low-light ability never before seen in an DX-format (APS-C) camera." Bold words. But they back it up with a normal ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to ISO 25,600. And, given the lower pixel count than the 18-megapixel 60D (which reuses the same sensor from Canon's lower end T2i), it seems reasonable to assume that D7000'll win out in low-light situations.

Still, on the video side, the D7000 does shoot 1080p at 24fps (or 720p at 24/30fps), with full-time autofocus, just like the lower-end D3100. (Also like the D3100, it's in blessed h.264, not motion JPEG.)

What makes it, er, pro-er, are features like a new 39-point autofocus system with nine cross-type points and a fresh 2,016-pixel RGB 3D matrix metering system. It's also fast, shooting 14-bit RAW photos at 6 frames per second, which it pump into dual SD card slots. The viewfinder provides 100 percent frame coverage, which is nice. Oh, and it seems to hew closer to the semi-pro, D300 level of construction, with magnesium-alloy top and rear covers and a 150,000 cycle-rated shutter system

It's a whole lot of camera for $1200 (body only), or $1500 with a kit lens. A veritable 60D fighter, but it's appealing for entirely different reasons. I like where Nikon's taking things.

Update: Chase Jarvis has a hands on with it. [Nikon]