Can someone please explain to me why Nikon feels that I need video in my DSLR?
1. Because they can.
2. Because they have to.
3. Because it adds another market segment to their customer base.
I don't know the first thing about shooting video. It's not much like photography at all. Sure it might be nice to film you kid's basketball game . . . but do you really need depth of field for that sort of thing? I'd rather have a camcorder which will do that job better.
So that means that it's up to the enthusiast/pros to make use of the video. So how 'bout it: How many of you guys are both photographers and videographers?
Although I started in still photography, I transitioned to video, and later made a career in television. I shoot TV for a living, and shoot stills as a hobby (but hope to transition to stills someday).
I think the key difference here is that many filmmakers (i.e., directors of photography) also shoot stills, but I would venture to guess that the majority of still shooters aren't also filmmakers or directors of photography. I think that's at the crux of the reason for the varied responses here.
While I agree that a dedicated video camera is often best, I do concede the point previously made that integrating video into DSLR's has both improved the product overall and expanded the market appeal, thereby lowering prices.
If, by a dedicated video camera being "best," means "easiest" to shoot, or more appropriate for say, local news, or a kid's birthday party (or a basketball game), then yes.
But for narrative-style filmmaking, the modern V-DSLR is a godsend. Also, let's make sure we're comparing apples to apples. It's simply not a fair comparison to equate video shot with a DX-sized sensor, shooting 1080p24 video, through a fast piece of Nikkor glass, with video shot on a similarly priced, 1/8th-inch sensored Handycam with its inherent, near-infinite, depth-of-field, lack of interchangeable lenses, and consumer-ish "fly-by-wire" focusing.
The new D7000 is the first manually controllable V-DSLR to accept Nikkor lenses directly (save, for the Nikon D3s). To the low-budget filmmaking community, the D7000 is basically Nikon's version of a scaled-down RED ONE, for 1/15th the price (not including the $3,500 viewfinder, $2,000 batteries, or the $500 F-mount adapter).
Clearly, the benefit of using a V-DSLR over a traditional, 2/3" video camera is its much larger imager. Sony's top-of-the-line 2/3" ENG/EFP camera, the HDW-F900R, still sells for about $70,000. That's not including the $36,000 HD lens, or the $10,000 color viewfinder. But for all that money, you can't get anywhere near the shallow depth-of-field characteristics that a DX-sized motion-imager can deliver. For about 1/100th the cost of an F900, the D7000 gives you an imager nearly four-times its size.
But, it's "only" DX, you say? The DX/APS-C sensor is about the same size as a Super35 film frame--in the film world, "DX" is what they've been shooting "full-frame" 35mm movies in for decades. The most-commonly used Super35-sized (APS-C) video camera used in major-studio feature film and television production currently is the Sony F35 (below). This thing sells for about $250,000.
Sony "Panavised" F35 APS-C camera with Sony SR-1 dockable 4:4:4 HDCAM-SR videotape recorder.
But, the real beauty of the advent of the modern V-DSLR, and the Nikon D7000 in particular (at least for filmmakers), is the vast array of excellent, and HUGELY inexpensive (by comparison), range of Nikkor lenses. A single film lens can cost $20,000-$50,000. A set of fast primes: $50K, $100K, $150K, and up. Picking up a used, mint-condition Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 manual-focus AI-S lens on Ebay for around $500 . . . priceless.
Furthermore, I think the video DSLR offers compelling advantages beyond just the convenience of carrying one piece of gear.
Agreed. However, I believe the assertion that people are buying V-DSLRs to "carry only one piece of gear" is a bit off the mark. Filmmakers shooting with V-DSLRs typically use an entirely different set of tools and accessories to shoot motion video (Steadicams, dolly track, follow-focus rigs, jib arms, HMIs, etc.). Adding video capability to a DSLR allows the manufacturer to sell the same product to essentially two different market segments: filmmakers and still photographers. The fact that some of us are both, just makes the deal that much sweeter.