Nikon D7000 Digital Camera Review$1,199.99
To take good pictures, a camera has to be able to capture colors accurately. That’s what we test here: how well a camera can capture the 24 colors on our test chart. We found that the D7000 had good color accuracy, capturing most of the test colors with only minor changes from the original. It did struggle slightly with some colors, though: the blues on our test chart were a little lighter than we like to see, and lacked some of the subtlety that would make photos of blue skies look natural. More on how we test color.
The D700 offers a number of color modes (see below): we found that the mode that offered the most accurate color was the appropriately named Neutral mode, although the Standard mode was also very accurate. Below are crops from our test images of the color patches alongside those from other cameras.
NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.
As you can see from the chart above, the D7000 is a strong performer in this test, achieving a score just a bit below the Canon 60D, but better than the Sony SLT-A55V and the Nikon D300.
The D7000 offers 6 picture control modes that affect the way that color is captured. Which picture control you select does not only affect color: these controls also affect sharpness, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue. These settings can also be tweaked from the default settings: the images below are shot with the default settings. In addition, the D7000 can capture photos in either the standard sRGB color space, or the wider Adobe RGB color space.
The color of objects in photos depends on the source of the light that is illuminating it: called the white balance. Your eye automatically adapts to different lighting, and your camera has to do the same thing, which is what we test here. We illuminate a color chart with three light sources: simulated daylight, fluorescent light and a tungsten light bulb similar to the incandescent bulbs in your house. We take photos using both the auto white balance feature of a camera and the custom white balance, where the camera gets to sample and judge the light before the photo is captured.
Automatic White Balance ()
We found that the Nikon D7000 did a mixed job with the white balance set to auto: with the simulated daylight light source, the camera accurately judged the light, only producing a very minor color cast in images that was barely noticeable. The fluorescent light source produced a slight color error, but the main problem was with the incandescent light source, and most cameras seem to have issues with this, producing images with a distinct color cast.
Custom White Balance ()
The D7000 can create a custom white balance setting by analyzing the light before it takes the photo. To use this feature, you have to sample the light first, which is done by holding down the WB button, pointing the camera at a white or gray object and pressing the shutter. The camera doesn’t take a picture, but it does judge the white balance from the white object and create a custom white balance setting. We found that the D7000 was pretty accurate when this was done, producing color errors of only a few hundred degrees, which is barely visible.
If we compare the results for the D7000 with other cameras, we can see that the D7000 wasn’t much worse than the others: all of them struggled to accurately judge the incandescent light source we use in this test.
White Balance Options
The D7000 offers a lot of white balance features and controls. As well as the usual full auto mode, there are 12 presets (including 6 different fluorescent light types), a direct entry mode and five custom settings, which can be either measured from a photo of a gray card or entered directly as degrees Kelvin. The auto white balance mode also offers an option to preserve the warm look of indoor lighting.
Long exposures push digital cameras to the limit, so we test cameras by turning down the lights and taking a photo of our test chart with exposure times from 1 to 30 seconds. We found that the D7000 did pretty well in this test: although the images had definite noise and a slight color error, the noise was pretty constant as the shutter speed got longer. We did find that the long exposure noise reduction the camera offers did reduce the noise slightly with a 1 second exposure time, but it didn’t make a significant difference at other shutter speeds. More on how we test long exposure.
The graph below shows the color error on our test chart at the range of shutter speeds. As you can see, the error remains constant through the range of shutter speeds, with only a very slight difference between the tests with the long exposure noise reduction on and off.
The graph also shows the noise at the range of shutter speeds with the long exposure noise reduction on and off. The only shutter speed where enabling long exposure noise reduction made a significant difference was 1 second.