Nikon D7100 review

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Nikon D7100 is an advanced DSLR aimed at professionals and demanding amateurs alike. It is still a bit unclear whether Nikon intended this model to be a replacement for both D7000 and D300s… A mystical high end APS-C model (D400) is expected for a long time, yet rumor blogs have not a single proof of its existence. To add to confusion D7100 has a lot of “pro” features, from weather sealed body, 1/8000 shutter speed, dual SD card slots up to 51 AF system derived from D300s. It is also priced just below D600 which falls into different category due to its large full-frame image sensor. As for now, Nikon users who cannot afford or simply do not need full-frame camera, D7100 is the best model in the range. I spent a very pleasant week using it, so keep reading to learn more about this camera.

NIKON D7100 GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Announced: 2013.
  • Type: DSLR
  • Dimensions: 136 x 107 x 76 mm
  • Weight: 765g (with battery)
  • Sensor: APS-C CMOS, 24 MP (6000 x 4000 pixels)
  • ISO range: Native 100 – 6400, Extended 50 – 25,600
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Dust and moisture protection: Yes
  • Flashlight: Built-in + hot-shoe
  • Continuous shooting: 6 fps
  • LCD screen: 3.2″, 1,228,800 dots
  • Memory card: SD (2 slots)
  • Battery: Li-Ion EN-EL15
  • Video: 1920 x 1080 @ 30, 25, 24 fps, 1280 x 720 @ 60, 50, 30, 25 fps
  • Connectors: USB 2.0, mini HDMI, 3,5mm mic input, 3,5 mm headphone output

D7100 CONSTRUCTION AND HANDLING

D7100 is very well built camera, and that was clear from the first time I took it in hands. Frame is made from magnesium alloy, plastic parts are of high quality and the body has water and dust seals to ensure resistance for use in harsh conditions. Grip and thumb rest are covered with soft non-slippery rubber. Overall body size and control layout are very similar to D7000 and I cannot find any major fault with it, yet feel that grip could have been made a bit bigger (I think the same about D600), but this is subjective since we all have different sized hands and different expectations regarding ergonomics.

Being built for advanced users, the D7100 doesn’t lack exterior controls. Dual control wheels are present as is the case with multi-way controller for AF point selection and direct buttons for all major functions (ISO, WB, quality, metering modes etc.). Mode dial has a lock function to prevent accidental rotation and is surrounded with dedicated dial for drive modes. Two buttons at the front beside the lens mount are user configurable (I used one as DOF preview, other to engage virtual horizon indicator in viewfinder).

Settings are changes via familiar Nikon logic; for example you push the ISO button and change ISO values with back dial and engage Auto-ISO with front one. With the press of AF button, back dial changes focus modes, and front one AF point configuration. Image size is controlled with back dial and quality (fine basic, raw…) with front one and so on… It is quite obvious someone at Nikon spent proper time to develop this layout, and I got accustomed to this logic quite fast.

There were some complains from D7000 users because playback zoom buttons switched places, but it’s one of the things you’ll get accustomed quite fast.

LCD, VIEWFINDER

Optical viewfinder uses pentaprism and has 100% coverage. New is the information LCD in the viewfinder which is now white (previous models used green display) and offers excellent visibility. You can engage framing grid across the viewfinder, as is the case with virtual horizon indicators. I just wish virtual horizon could detect front/back tilt; now it can only detect left/right tilt.

LCD has 3.2″ diagonal and 1,228,800 dots. It is very detailed and can be seen even in daylight. It is not tilt-able nor has touch capability.

NIKON D7100 SENSOR

Nikon D7100 uses brand new 24 megapixel sensor which has its anti-aliasing filter removed. This allows very sharp details in images but in theory could result with moire effect. I shot around 1000 shots with this camera during my review and never saw any trace of moire.

Details I found in images from D7100 are simply staggering! Overall image look and amount of fine details is very similar to those I saw using D800E which also has its AA filter removed. Keep in mind – in order to fully utilize this sensor, you’ll need to have very sharp lenses and use them at their sharper F-stop values. I had 35mm 1.8G and it was a perfect pair for this camera.

Noise performance is excellent, but still cannot match that of D600 or D800. I got quite usable shots at ISO 6400. Yet, you should keep in mind this camera starts to show noise very early, even from ISO 400. This is not significant noise level but it is there and you should keep in mind that images might require a bit of noise removal even at lower ISO values, especially if you need to crop heavily. ISO 100 is completely free of any noise, and combined with insane sharpness makes this camera a perfect tool for landscape shooters.

ISO series (all shot in RAW, converted in ACR with default settings):

100 200 400 800 1600 3200 6400 Hi1-12800 Hi2-25600

D7100 also has a very specific feature I can’t recall any other manufacturer has; a 1.3x crop mode when camera uses only central part of the sensor giving an affective 2x crop compared with full-frame. In such configuration, you get images at 15 megapixel resolution but AF point coverage is edge to edge and camera buffer can hold more images. This might be particularly useful for sport shooters.

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