Nikon D7100 review

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MEMORY AND BATTERY

D7100 has dual SD memory card slots. They can be used in overflow or backup mode, and allow recording of different file formats to each card (RAW, JPEG, video). D7100 produces very large image files and can benefit from fastest cards on the market.

Battery is a familiar EN-EL15 Li-Ion unit. It can provide more than 1000 shots in burst mode without LCD use, but in real life you can count with 600-700 shots (normal LCD use and occasional video or live-view work).

LIVE VIEW, MENUS AND RESPONSIVITY

Live view on D7100 has some peculiar omissions. When you enter live view, camera will close aperture at preset value. If you change it while in live view nothing will happen, so you’ll have to exit live view and engage it again in order to see aperture change. Also, there is no histogram available in live view.

After taking a picture in live view, screen will be blacked out until it is written to memory card. In case of using RAW or RAW+JPEG and combined with slow memory card this can last up to several seconds. This is not a first Nikon with such problems and I wonder why they aren’t fixed yet. Canon and especially Sony (Sony SLTs work in full time live view mode anyway) don’t have such problems.

D7100 occasionally had a slower response time than what I’d want from a camera at this price point. Upon playback button press, it took up to two second to show image sometimes. Slow SD card might be a reason, but I used SanDisk Ultra class 10 cards which are not that slow… With D7100, you’ll just have to buy Extreme Pro if you want fastest possible response.

Menu system is identical to other Nikon DSLR models and offers quite a lot customization options. It is fast and responsive and can be controlled with front and rear dial (I prefer them to multi-way controller).

NIKON D7100 AUTOFOCUS AND BURST PERFORMANCE

AF system with 51 points is borrowed from D300s. It covers a very large area of the APS-C frame (a big problem on D600 is small AF frame coverage), and when used in 1.3 crop mode (15 megapixel) covers the frame from edge to edge. It is sensitive down to -2EV (D300s went only to -1EV). Focus is very consistent when used in single AF point mode, especially on one of the 15 cross type points.

AF tracking algorithms are borrowed from top of the line D4, so D7100 might look very attractive for sport shooters, but the problem is small buffer; even with fastest memory cards on the market, D7100 will shoot only 8 RAW images at maximum 6fps burst before slowing down. You can get much better results using 12-bit RAW or shooting JPEG.

VIDEO RECORDING

Video recording is possible at several resolution and frame rate modes, 1920×1080 at 30p being the best one. 60p is possible in 1280×720. There is also option for 60i and 50i recording at full HD, but I strongly advice against using interlaced video since it will produce ugly artifact when panning. Stereo microphone is built in and is much better than the one on D7000. 3.5mm input for external microphone is present as is the case with sound output for monitoring headphones. The cherry at top of the cake is the fact D7100 can output uncompressed video via HDMI out.

CONCLUSION 

All put together, Nikon D7100 is a camera I’d very much like to own. Shooting experience is almost perfect: camera feels and responds like a proper photography tool but is not overly big or heavy. 24MP sensor without AA filter is a true gem: I can’t recall any other APS-C camera I used (and I used almost all of them) with such amount of details in images at ISO 100; shooting landscapes with D7100 will be a true joy. Advanced AF with large frame coverage is also a strong reason to buy D7100; it is fast and reliable. There are some imperfections on D7100, but when evaluated as a complete product, there’s really not much to complain about the D7100. If you don’t have a strong reason to go full-frame, D7100 combined with good lens (like Sigma 18-35 F1.8 or any good Nikkor) will offer excellent ergonomics and image quality for affordable price.

PRO:

  • Supreme low ISO image quality and details
  • Build quality
  • Ergonomics
  • AF system
  • Dual SD card support
  • Weather sealing

CONS:

  • Noise becomes apparent at lower ISO settings
  • Grip still a bit to shallow for my liking
  • Small buffer limits burst shooting
  • Somewhat weird behavior in live-view (no aperture controls in video, screen balckout when taking picture)

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