Every year I pick a camera (or cameras) of the year. The criteria is pretty simple. The camera must have been released in the calendar year. It must be commercially available. It must have one or more of the following features:
1. Great bang for the buck
2. Some new or innovative feature
3. Some paradigm shifting function
4. Amazing image quality
5. That special something extra
I compare my experience with other opinions and where I see consensus I start to narrow the field. I’ve already published my 2010 Camera Buying Guide and you’ll see several of my favorites there.
This year I’ve decided to single out just one camera. It’s a DSLR that broke new ground in several of the aforementioned categories. My pick for camera of the year in 2010 is:
I arrived at my conclusions by a number of methods. I conducted polls (some formal – some informal) on Twitter, my blog and at my various workshops and talks. I read other industry reviews. I did my own reviews. In every poll I ran on this subject, the Nikon D7000 won by a landslide. Combining my own experience with that research it’s easy to pick the D7000 as Photofocus 2010 Camera of the Year.
The Nikon D7000 is a 16.2 MP camera with many new features and rivals cameras costing 33% more money. That may be its strongest feature. The price is really low for something this capable. I love the Canon 7D. I bought one of the first Canon 7D bodies ever sold. But I think the D7000 is a serious competitor to Canon’s 7D. I’d say the D7000 is 4/5ths a 7D at 2/3 the price.
The D7000 has lots of features. It has the world’s first 2,016-segment RGB meter and it works really well. The camera features dual card slots (and now supports the super fast SDXC format.) It’s image quality is utterly amazing for its price point, and with this camera, Nikon FINALLY got serious about video. They dumped the Motion JPG codec in favor of a more widely-used and accepted H.264 codec. The 1080p video is as good as anything I’ve seen from Canon. Nikon also offered full-time autofocus in video mode. This is still not widely available on almost every hybrid DSLR.
The 39 point autofocus (with nine cross points) works very well and the low-light performance of the camera is excellent for the price point. The camera’s ergonomics are also second to none.
The D7000 features a partial magnesium alloy body and sealing against dust and moisture. It also offers something almost unheard of in this price range – a nearly 100% viewfinder.
I originally tested a prototype of this camera at the Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico and was very impressed. I was so impressed that I purchased a D7000 for my own use. Note, I already own several Nikon D3s bodies. So I don’t NEED a D7000, but I wanted one. For me it’s the perfect walk around camera when paired with the lovely new Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S Nikkor.
The image quality from the D7000 is second to none. It’s light. It handles well. It shoots great video. It’s highly configurable. It has all the features most people need. It’s a real winner. In my opinion, when looking at bang for the buck, it’s the finest DSLR Nikon has ever made and perhaps one of the finest cameras ever made by anyone.
Here are the usual disclaimers. I also own several Canon 1D MK IV bodies. I own lots of Canon gear. I shoot both systems and I happen to think both companies make great cameras. But this year, I think Nikon has the edge. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with Canon. It just means that in my opinion, the D7000 edged out anything Canon makes this year. Who knows what will happen next year?