Two weeks ago, Gordon and I visited Kent for a winter walk from Faversham to Whitstable. It was a crisp December day with good light, interesting skies and hardly any rain. For each of us, the walk was an opportunity to use recently acquired equipment: a Leica M9-P with 28mm lens for Gordon, and a Nikon D7000 and Tokina 11-16mm lens for me.
I’d picked the D7000 as my next digital SLR soon after it was released in early 2010. It was clearly, both ergonomically and technically, a major step forward for Nikon’s DX range of cameras. Having used a D40 and D70 extensively in recent years, I was immediately comfortable with the D7000: the body feels good in my hands and I understand the menu options without having to open the (large) manual. The D7000’s 100% viewfinder coverage (a first for Nikon DX bodies) makes framing photographs far more precise. The shutter is more responsive than my previous Nikons and the rear LCD monitor is also excellent – easily accessible RGB histograms are another improvement.
The DX’s format’s 1.6x crop factor (compared to FX or 35mm equivalent formats) takes away some of the wider focal lengths so I decided to purchase an ultra-wide lens to solve the problem. There is currently a gap for a fast wide DX prime lens in Nikkor’s range (perhaps this will be resolved in 2012?). The best wide options available currently are all zooms, chiefly the Nikkor 10-24mm, Nikkor 12-24mm and Tokina 11-16mm. I bought the “made in Japan” Tokina based on its many excellent performance reviews and its consistent f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range. The Nikkors are slower throughout and rather more expensive. Finally, the availability of a DxO module for the D7000 and Tokina 11-16mm clinched it for me.
Over the day’s variable light and weather conditions, the metering of the D7000 was excellent; I rarely had to adjust exposure manually. I concentrated more on using the Tokina lens. Forcing oneself to get closer to the subject is something I’ll become accustomed to, in time, with this lens. For example, in this shot, I was no more than eighteen inches away from the boat’s rudder:
I shot RAW and ‘basic small’ jpegs simultaneously with the D7000 all day: I wanted the immediacy of jpegs but to also have RAW files for processing in DxO Optics so I could evaluate the quality of digital capture. So I selected a dozen or so images in Lightroom for processing via DxO. I’m impressed with the results: there is a great level of detail and sharpness – for example, the wood grain and flaking paint in the shot above. The images displayed in this post are jpegs created after the master files were processed in DxO.