It’s time for me to trade up from a Nikon D70 to a more advanced camera. The D7000 sounds perfect but the older D90 is still available at a much lower price. Should I go for the newest model or get the D90 and use the money I would save to buy another lens? Matt W.
This is a common question from owners of all brands of cameras, Matt. My answer depends on how significant the upgrades are in the new/improved DSLR. If they are really meaningful, and you already own a couple of decent lenses, I recommend buying the newer model. While a higher megapixel number may be the most attractive, other DSLR features are actually more important.
When testing the 16.2-megapixel Nikon D7000 I rated it as one of the best in the enthusiast-level category. The 12.3-megapixel D90 was certainly impressive in its time, but since then, superior technology has been developed: Nikon’s fast new EXPEED 2 processor and CMOS sensor for amazing high ISO quality, the new 39-point autofocus module with 15 cross-type focus detectors and faster tracking focus, improved 2016-pixel RGB 3D Matrix metering system and so on.
With a Google search (listing any two camera models and the word differences) you can find charts that provide useful comparisons. For example, DPReview has published one about the D7000 vs the D90. In addition to the benefits I have already mentioned—and the superior quality at all ISO—, I consider the following upgrades to be particularly valuable: full HD 1080p (vs. 720p) Movie mode with new full time AF, larger 100% viewfinder and the faster 6 vs. 4.5 fps) drive mode. The D7000 is also even more rugged than the D90, thanks to its magnesium alloy body shell, a feature usually reserved for pro DSLRs.
A new lens that’s much better than those you own—or is an entirely different type such as an ultra-wide or macro—would be tempting too, of course. And if you have only a single lens, like the 18-55 mm zoom, you may want to buy the more affordable camera and upgrade to a superior and/or more versatile lens. Otherwise, I would suggest acquiring the best available DSLR now and saving up to expand your system when your budget allows.