New D7000 and think I'm in over my head


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Jul 11, 2013
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I own a four year old Nikon D40 (which I still love) and last October purchased a D7000. My husband and I kind of made an "impulse" buy in that I knew I wanted a new camera but we were on vacation, I hadn't done much research and we didn't spend that much time in the camera shop (great place near Minneapolis). I ended up leaving with the D7000 and a Tamron 28-75mm 2.8 XR Di. I already owned the original 18-55 lens kit and and the Nikor 35mm 1.8 DX. Since then I've done MUCH more research, spent a lot more time learning and practicing and taken some seminars. And to this day my favorite combo is still the D40 + 35mm. What is wrong with me? I cannot for the life of me get the D7000 to match, to my eye anyway, the quality of my pictures taken with the other camera, even with the 35mm on the D7000. I loathe the Tamron lens. I was sold on it at the time based on what the salesman said would be a good fit. Versatile, affordable, close in abilities to the 35mm while offering the zoom (I almost never used the kit lens, and was very used to just moving myself really). The photos from the D7000 + Tamron lens combination were horrible, soooooo blurry. Granted, I've stopped trying very hard with b/c I get so frustrated but in one class I did take the instructor noticed how shaky I apparently was, which had never been brought to my attention before. He said he thought it was so bad that I either needed to stick to fixed lenses or if I was intent on a zoom lens to make sure and buy one with IS. I've always read IS is only really needed in low light, long focal length situations. But he insisted that he thought I was so shaky that I would have to stick to over 1/60 shutter speed at least if I was taking hand held pictures, and probably always use shutter priority with that combination, unless I got a lens with IS.

So that's the story. Right now I'm trying to decide if I want to sell the Tamron and get something with IS, but that means a major jump in price and I'm afraid with my ability level still where it is it wouldn't be worth it. But I do want something not quite so wide angle as the 35mm, even though I love it. The salesman at my local shop tried to persuade me to buy the 85mm, and since I have been practicing a ton on my portrait shots I know I would like it, but is that worth it? It's also a very pricey lens. What about the Nikor 50mm? It's more affordable and from the research I've done seems to be a good general lens. Although I remember the salesman in MN telling me the 50mm wouldn't be any different at all than the 35, but I can't remember if he meant that about the D40 or the D7000.

Sorry if this was rambling, but I just got it all out once I started typing. In summary, why am I doing so badly with the D7000, is it me or the Tamron lens and should I sell it, and would the 50mm or the 85mm be worth it?
Posting some samples would go a long way towards helping you.
Eliminate causes for the problem until you determine what it is. Put the camera on a tripod or on a table or something solid. Use the self timer to take a shot at a reasonable shutter speed ( say 1/250 or higher) and aperture (say f/8 or narrower) to eliminate camera shake, shutter speed, and depth of field. If that comes out sharp then it is something in your technique. If it doesn't then it's probably something in the camera.

Some D7000 bodies have reported a back-focusing problem that Nikon will repair under warranty. You also have some fine-tuning adjustment in the body itself.

A 50mm lens on a full-frame body has a roughly equivalent field of view as a 35mm lens on a crop-body camera. Both the D40 and D7000 are crop-body cameras so the 50mm and 35mm will appear different to you.
The boots pic is with the D7000. The other with the D40. Also the lenses were switched around here, the Tamron 28-75 on the D40 and the 35mm on the D7000. Is all of this as simple as settings issues? Also the D7000 photo is in the shade.


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SCraig will try, thank you!
It's impossible to compare images taken with two different lenses under two different lighting situations.

Take a shot of a static subject, using the same lens on both cameras. Make sure the settings are the same as well.
Sorry, I will do that asap. Thanks! This is actually the first time I've tried a forum and the seminars I've been to have been one day things, so most of my critiques have been from myself :/. I have a ton to learn.
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Think of your camera sensor as a "movie screen" and your lens as a "movie projector". If you switch movie screens it will no affect on how "sharp" the the image will be because that's all controlled by the projector, the quality of the lens, and how well-focused it was.

You mentioned shutter speeds and not being shaky and that your instructor suggested keeping the shutter speed faster than 1/60th... but there's a little more to it.

There's a "guideline" for the minimum shutter speed when taking a hand-held photo.

First... you need to have a good technique for holding and bracing the camera. Your body needs to be stable and your center of gravity needs to be balanced above your legs -- this way your muscles aren't working hard to keep you from falling over. Your camera needs to be held right up to your eye - touching your face and not held out in front of you. Your arms need to be below the camera with your elbows tucked in and resting on your stomach. Again... we're trying to reduce the need for your muscles to "work" to hold the camera and just get your body frame / skeleton "braced" nicely so that things stay in place without you really having to work very hard at all. And speaking of "bracing"... by all means CHEAT! If you see a wall, pillar or post, railing, etc. and you want to lean on it with your body or rest your camera on a railing, go for it! The less work your muscles have to do to keep your body and camera in place, the more stable you will be.

When the shutter speed has to get really slow, a tripod is a fantastic tool. If that's too bulky a mono-pod wont hold the camera solidly, but it will support it vertically and that helps quite a bit.

The guideline has a formula. The formula says that there's a minimum shutter speed that is safe for most people to use based on the focal length and crop-factor of the camera. It is a "guideline" and not a "rule" because it's based on what an average person can do... some people are more steady than others. But also... it does assume you are using proper camera holding techniques and a good stance and TRYING to be steady.

The formula says the minimum shutter speed you should use is: 1 / (focal length of the lens) X (crop-factor of the camera)

The crop-factor of your Nikon D40 and your Nikon D7000 are both 1.5. That never changes.

So now your formula becomes: 1 / (focal length of the lens) X 1.5

Suppose you're using your 35mm lens. The minimum shutter speed is 1 / 35 X 1.5 or 1 / 52.5 seconds. You can't adjust your camera to 1/52.5 seconds. So you'll round UP to the next nearest shutter speed that the camera WILL let you choose... in this case 1/60th.

Now suppose you're using the Tamron zoom and you've zoomed all the way in to the 75mm end. Now your formula becomes 1 / 75 X 1.5 or 1/112.5. You cannot adjust your camera to 1/112.5 seconds so you'll round up to the next exposure you can choose... which is 1/125th sec.

These examples assume you're "average" about how steady you can be when you're using proper techniques to be steady. Suppose you're just not as steady as the average person. Just "pad" the crop-factor value. Instead of using the crop-factor value of 1.5... nudge that value up a little... suppose you use 2.0. Now the formula becomes YOUR formula and not a general average formula.

With your 35mm lens the minimum shutter speed is now 1/80th... because that's 1 / 35 X 2 or 1/70th but you have to round up to the next shutter speed the camera will let you set... which is 1/80th sec. With your 75mm zoomed-in Tamron it's 1/160th because that's 1 / 75 X 2 or 1/150th but the next nearest shutter speed is 1/160th.

We did mention image stabilizing lenses. These are "probabilities" gambles. An image stabilizing lens might claim to let you shoot 2 stops, 3 stops or even 4 stops slower than what you can do without an image stabilizer. But it's not a GUARANTEE... its just helping your odds of success a bit.

Here's how that works:

Suppose your minimum shutter speed for the handheld shot turns out to be 1/125th. If we reduce that by 1 full stop (double the amount of time that the shutter is open) we get 1/60th (yes, I know 125 ÷ 2 is really 62.5 and not 60, but cameras round these things off to keep it easy to do the math in our heads.) At that speed, with image stabilizing turned on, it is HIGHLY LIKELY we can hand-hold the camera and still get a shot free of any blur caused by camera movement. At 2 stops slower (1/30th second) it is SOMEWHAT LIKELY that it will work and we'll get that clean shot. At 3 stops down (1/15th second) it is MODERATELY LIKELY that we'll get a clean shot... notice now there's a pretty good chance we wont get a clean shot. At 4 stops down it is actually HIGHLY UNLIKELY that we'll get a good shot... but not out of the realm of possibility. The lens always does it's best to help. At 5 stops down it is still not out of the realm of possibility -- but neither is it out of the realm of possibility that you'll get struck by lightning and win the lottery on the same day. It could happen... but we rather doubt it will.

One last point... but it's important.

If your primary complaint is that the image is not sharp... it's soft. AND... if we speculate that this is due to slow shutter speeds during a hand-held shot. Then there should be almost no perceptible difference between the D40 and D7000 (unless your body posture is poor and the camera weight is a big factor.)

If you want to test this, put the cameras on a tripod and take IDENTICAL exposures at IDENTICAL focal lengths using the same lens while on a tripod. Use the self-timer so that you don't actually "touch" the camera at the moment that the camera takes the shot. Now you can be SURE that the reason for the blurry image was NOT camera movement or shutter speeds and would have to be due to lens focusing issues.

Again... please post examples because we can tell a lot by looking at your photos and choice of exposure settings (so if your software gives you an option to include the exposure data (aka EXIF data), please leave the exposure data in the image when you share it so we can view that info.)
Why was the D7000 shot at F14? It should have been F4 just like the other one.
Both images need to be taken with the _same_ lens and exposure settings.

Most lenses will do their best work a few stops down from wide open... and this is a generalization, but most lenses tend to be able to create their sharpest images somewhere between f/5.6 and f/8 (it'll vary by the specific lens).

Avoid using high f-stops when trying to judge lens quality because something called "diffraction" will come into play. Diffraction has to due with the wave-nature of light and lenses and cameras can't get around it... the math for calculating diffraction assumes the optics were actually perfect/flawless. You will have a bit of diffraction at f/11 (usually only noticeable if you zoom in and since most of your prints wont zoom in enough to see it, it wont matter. But if you are scrutinizing your images at 100% zoom so you can see every pixel on your screen, you'll see the images are just a touch soft. That's neither the camera nor lens' fault. Blame the universe... it's physics.

When testing cameras and lenses you want to be very careful to choose subjects that will really show off the detail. Typical shots usually aren't a good choice because a LOT of factors can influence the exposure. I noticed, for example, that your boots photo has the boots focused just a tiny bit better than the face of the boy. This is likely a missed focus.
I am going to try testing the two with the remote this weekend. The settings are different because I don't have two pictures from both cameras under the exact same settings at this time and plan on doing it this weekend so I can post them here. I have far fewer samples from the D7000 because, even when I've tried some of the canned settings (sports, children, etc) I have never, not once, come out with a super sharp image like I have with the other, not even by accident. The D7000 shot posted here is about as good as it has ever gotten, with either lens, under any conditions.

Tim: I've often read to up the ISO in order to be able to keep the shutter speed lower, does this fit into the equation anywhere?

What would be a good subject for testing the cameras? I'm assuming not a person b/c of movement factor? Also, just curious, how can you guys tell what the exposure settings were here if I didn't leave the info in the pic?
What would be a good subject for testing the cameras? I'm assuming not a person b/c of movement factor?

Anything that doesn't move. A birdbath. A parked car. A man watching a chick flick.

Also, just curious, how can you guys tell what the exposure settings were here if I didn't leave the info in the pic?

We have low friends in high places. :lol:

Actually, a lot of information is embedded into the image file. It's called EXIF data or metadata. With the appropriate software, you can read it.
As far as missed focus I'm wondering if I have the area mode settings wrong for the auto focus. I was assuming part of my focusing problem was having too many of the sensors available bc it was set to auto. The same instructor who told me to get the IS lens had me set it at d9. That kind of illustrates my point in thinking that I got a camera that was too sophisticated for my current level of experience. I find it much easier to manually switch between the three in the D40.
As far as missed focus I'm wondering if I have the area mode settings wrong for the auto focus. I was assuming part of my focusing problem was having too many of the sensors available bc it was set to auto. The same instructor who told me to get the IS lens had me set it at d9. That kind of illustrates my point in thinking that I got a camera that was too sophisticated for my current level of experience. I find it much easier to manually switch between the three in the D40.

The d7k settings menu was a pretty big shock to me upon use, despite seeing the settings menu online. I came from my d3k at the time.

However, a few youtube videos and a couple weeks of practice and now I produce images that blow away what I could do on my d3k with the same lenses.

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