Nikon D3 vs D7000
The Nikon D3 and the Nikon D7000 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (D3) and an APS-C (D7000) sensor. The D3 has a resolution of 12.1 megapixels, whereas the D7000 provides 16.1 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3 and the Nikon D7000? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3 and the Nikon D7000. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D7000 is considerably smaller (45 percent) than the Nikon D3. Moreover, the D7000 is substantially lighter (40 percent) than the D3. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor (as in the D3) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (D7000). You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D3 gets 4300 shots out of its EN-EL4a battery, while the D7000 can take 1050 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D3 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the D7000, Nikon provides the MB-D11 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|Nikon D3||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||45.9 oz||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|Nikon D7000||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||27.5 oz||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|Canon 7D||5.8 in||4.4 in||2.9 in||30.3 oz||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|Canon 1D Mark III||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||40.7 oz||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|Nikon D7500||5.4 in||4.1 in||2.9 in||25.4 oz||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299|
|Nikon D5||6.3 in||6.3 in||3.6 in||49.9 oz||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Nikon D4S||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.6 oz||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|Nikon D7100||5.4 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|Nikon D4||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.3 oz||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|Nikon D3S||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||43.7 oz||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|Nikon D300S||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||33.1 oz||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|Nikon D3X||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||44.4 oz||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|Nikon D90||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||24.8 oz||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Nikon D700||5.8 in||4.8 in||3.0 in||37.9 oz||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Nikon D300||5.8 in||4.5 in||2.9 in||32.6 oz||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|Nikon D2Xs||6.2 in||5.9 in||3.4 in||44.2 oz||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|Nikon D2X||6.2 in||5.9 in||3.4 in||44.2 oz||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D7000 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 70 percent) than the D3, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D3 features a full frame sensor and the Nikon D7000 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D7000 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, the D7000 uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 2) than the D3 (EXPEED), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the D7000 offers a higher resolution of 16.1 megapixels, compared with 12.1 MP of the D3. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.80μm versus 8.43μm for the D3). However, it should be noted that the D7000 is much more recent (by 3 years) than the D3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D7000 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D7000 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3 are 21.3 x 14.2 inches or 54.1 x 36 cm for good quality, 17 x 11.3 inches or 43.2 x 28.8 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.4 inches or 36 x 24 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D7000 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D7000 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D3 does not. The highest resolution format that the D7000 can use is 10800/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D3 and the D7000 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D3 has a higher magnification than the one of the D7000 (0.70x vs 0.63x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D3, the Nikon D7000, and comparable cameras.
|Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D7000 has one, while the D3 does not. While the built-in flash of the D7000 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D3 and the Nikon D7000 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D3 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D7000 uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D3 and Nikon D7000 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|Canon 1D Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D3 (unlike the D7000) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D3 and the D7000 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3 was replaced by the Nikon D4, while the D7000 was followed by the Nikon D7100. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.
So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D3 better than the Nikon D7000 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3:
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1 stops ISO advantage).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.63x).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (4300 versus 1050) on a single battery charge.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2007).
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D7000:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16.1 vs 12.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 16%.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 2 vs EXPEED).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 10800/24p video.
- More compact: Is smaller (132x105mm vs 160x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 520g or 40 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (70 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the D3 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D7000 emerges as the winner of the match-up (9 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D3 and the Nikon D7000 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D3 and the D7000 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|Nikon D3||..||+ +||5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|Nikon D7000||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|Canon 7D||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||o||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|Nikon D7500||+ +||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299|
|Nikon D5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Nikon D4S||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|Nikon D7100||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|Nikon D4||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|Nikon D3S||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|Nikon D300S||+ +||82/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|Nikon D3X||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|Nikon D90||+ +||+ +||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Nikon D700||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Nikon D300||+ +||+ +||5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||o||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|Nikon D2X||..||+ +||..||o||..||Sep 2004||4,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Nikon D3 vs Nikon D7000
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D3||Nikon D7000|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2007||September 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 4,999||USD 1,499|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D7000|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 23.9 mm||23.6 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||860.4 mm2||370.52 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||28.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.1 Megapixels||16.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4256 x 2832 pixels||4928 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.43 μm||4.80 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.40 MP/cm2||4.34 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||10800/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED||EXPEED 2|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||81||80|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.5||23.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.2||13.9|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2290||1167|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D7000|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D7000|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||300 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D7000|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D7000|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||4300 shots per charge||1050 shots per charge|
160 x 157 x 88 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
132 x 105 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||1300 g (45.9 oz)||780 g (27.5 oz)|
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