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Nikon D7000 Fireworks Video: Why I Lug a DSLR Everywhere

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New DSLR cameras are capable of shooting high-quality video. I’ve been using my Nikon D7000 to capture special family moments instead of a dedicated video camera. Here’s a video of my son enjoying his first fireworks show.

I like to carry lightweight gear whenever possible, such as my MacBook Air and iPad 2, but I almost always lug around a big camera when I know there’s going to be a good photo or video opportunity.

(watch video at YouTube or in HD quality for best results)

The above video is a good example of where the Nikon D7000 shines. The Nikon D7000 is obviously bulkier than compact video cameras, point-and-shoot cameras and smartphones, but the tradeoff is worth it for me. The D7000 performs exceptionally well in low-light. Another major advantage of using a DSLR to shoot video is that I can select the best lens for the situation.

I shot the above video at ISO 6400 in manual-focus mode. I used my Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 lens, which is what’s usually on my camera when running around.

The Nikon D7000 is a high-end consumer DSLR that costs $1,299 (body only) to $1,499 (kit with lens. I purchased it primarily because of its video capabilities since my Nikon D700 is a photo-only machine. The Nikon D700 ($2,699) is a higher-end camera, but its specs lag behind the more affordable D7000 since Nikon released it 18 months ago .

Nikon D7000 with kit lens

Nikon D7000 w/ Kit Lens

IF $1,299 or $1,499 is out of your price range, but you love the video-capabilities of the D7000, you should take a look at the Nikon D5100, which has slightly better video functionality and costs just $823 with a kit lens. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that the D7000 does, but most consumers won’t use many of them anyways. If you’re really serious about photography and plan on investing in a lot of lenses and accessories, go with the D7000. If you want to keep things simple, stick with the D5100.

Shooting video with a DSLR is challenging and takes practice. The autofocus system on the D7000 isn’t ideal for fast-moving objects or complex scenes, such as an entire soccer game. Depending on which lens is on the D700, the autofocus mechanism can produce undesirable noise that gets picked up by the built-in microphone.

DSLRs are better-suited for taking short video clips that can be spliced together to tell a story, much in the same way that TV shows and movies are produced.

Most people will never watch home videos that are more than a few minutes long. While my son got to enjoy his first fireworks show with him, I wanted his other set of grandparents and other family members to see his reaction.  A few short closeups of his face and a sample of the fireworks he was watching did the trick. There was no need to record the entire show and upload a 40-minute video.

I love my mobile devices, but usually hate the lackluster videos that come out of them. Childhood only happens once and I intend to capture photos and videos that we’ll enjoy for years to come. I do take pictures and video with my iPhone 4 and Nikon P7000 when I don’t have a DSLR ready to go, but the final results are no comparison to the D7000.

How do you shoot photos and videos of your family? Are you satisfied with your phone’s camera or do you use something else?

Xavier Lanier is the publisher of Gotta Be Mobile and a photographer. He uses too many devices to count, but his current favorites are the iPhone 5s, HTC One, Nikon D800 and Sony RX 100M II. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

12 Comments

  1. Bob Wiggins

    07/10/2011 at 11:04 pm

    Impressive video. My D3s is HD but only 720 and I’m assuming this is 1080 ? How is your D7000 over-all as a camera ?

  2. Xavier Lanier

    07/11/2011 at 3:16 pm

    Yes, this was shot in 1080p, 24fps. The Nikon D7000 is the best camera I’ve ever bought. I love my Nikon D700, but the D7000 feels snappier all around. The photos that come out of this thing are almost on par w/the D700. If the D7000 had a full-frame sensor I’d be a lot happier. I do prefer the viewfinder in the D700 and other full-frame Nikons. 
    Here’s more of my thoughts about the D7000http://www.gottabemobile.com/2011/02/08/review-nikon-d7000-dslr/
    If you’re a D3s user you may not like the D7000′s materials and weight. It’s not quite as solid/sturdy as the D700, D3s, etc. lines. 

  3. Bob Wiggins

    07/12/2011 at 12:50 am

    I appreciate your quick response and comments. My DX camera is a Nikon D300 which I’ve had now for a little over 2 ½ years and just love using. The D3s is new, I’ve only had it for about 3 months and the jury is still out for me on it. I may follow your lead and get a Nikon or Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and see if my photographs improve. What I’ve shot with the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 are good but not much better than with the  D300.  The best results I’ve gotten so far is with a D300 and a Nikon 16-85mm lens. Guess I’m looking for the type of lens to make a difference.

    Thanks, Bob

    • Xavier Lanier

      07/12/2011 at 6:35 am

      Bob- before you go out and spend a bunch of $ on lenses in search of the right lens, I suggest trying out several. The 24-70mm is a good walkaround lens, but most of my favorite shots come by way of my Nikon 50mm f1.4 lens. For sports I prefer the 70-200mm f2.8, but it’s very heavy/bulky. 

  4. Michael Schwartzberg

    07/12/2011 at 5:43 am

    GREAT video!  I love my D7000. What video editing program do you use?

    • Xavier Lanier

      07/12/2011 at 6:36 am

      Just iMovie. Didn’t spend much time editing at all though. 

  5. Filip Braun

    07/13/2011 at 8:02 am

    Nice and fast camera, lets see how does it stand against some of its competitors, namely Canon EOS 40D at http://wikidi.com/compare/nikon-d700,canon-eos-40d

  6. RJ

    07/26/2011 at 8:24 pm

    WOW! Looks amazing! I just purchased a D7000 to video a nightly fireworks display. I picked up a 24mm wide angle lens since I’ll be close to the display. Thanks for the ISO tip, it will save this rookie some time :)

  7. denc

    08/27/2011 at 11:37 am

    I love D7000 too!  But still kinda practicing with it.

  8. danspeicher

    12/21/2011 at 1:02 pm

    I love my D700, and my D7000 is great for video, but maybe I have a bad copy because my AF as a still camera leaves A LOT to be desired. Bob, why are you shooting a 50 1.8 on a d3s? Save money, by a d700, a d7000 and some great glass.. Dont buy a great camera and put mediocre glass on it…The D3s is the best camera nikon has ever made, if you are a journalist, or a sports shooter… It is meant to be abused in very rough conditions, anyone else using it, is wasting their money unless they RELY on it to pay their bills. A $700 lens on a $5000 body is not the right way to go because your lens will long outlive your body… Just my honest opinion as someone who depends on my gear for my meals… The D700 or D7000 will serve 98% of the population better than a D3 or D3s because most people never need the features that it offers…

  9. C E M00photography

    02/11/2012 at 7:45 am

    I have a couple of D7000′s a D90 and a D200 and like you were saying the D7000 is just amazing I here a lot of crap from friends about canon but it’s about ease of use and the fact that I’m simply comfortable with the Nikon family of products.   I’m trying to focus on the right lenses for video because I’m considering purchasing a follow focus for the D7000 and was wondering if I should go with manual focus lenses they seem to be ideal for the situation what’s your thought on that?

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