Nikon D7100 review

The Nikon D7100 is the latest in the line of semi-pro DX format cameras from Nikon.

It comes in to the range above the D7000 but below the D300s that still remains available.

In many respects, the D7100 far outperforms the D300s apart from a couple of areas.

The D7100 includes a DX format 24MP CMOS sensor with no low-pass filter. This in theory means sharper images as the blurring effect of the low-pass filter is not present. It also means an increased chance of moirĂ© in images where there are repeating patterns causing interference – these situations however are few and far between and any moirĂ© in an image can be removed by Lightroom, Photoshop or Nikon's own software.

The D7100 has a new 51 point AF system with 15 of those points cross type and can shoot at an impressive 6 frames per second.

The buffer however is not so impressive if you want to shoot raw files at just 7-9 frames depending on the Raw setting chosen. If you are happy to shoot JPEGs where a high burst rate is required then you are much better served with a buffer then of around 33 images in Jpeg Fine or 100 in Jpeg normal. Shooting with the highest possible speed SD card really makes a big difference in the D7100 so don’t be tempted to use old cards – budget for one or two 95mb/sec cards as a minimum.

The D7100 offers many improvements over the D7000 with upgraded focusing, metering and resolution and high-ISO performance.

In use the D7100 feels very solid though lightweight compared to Nikons D700/D800 for instance. In fact, the body is a bit small to use comfortably with longer heavier lenses and if this is what you use we highly recommend the MB-D15 battery grip. Unlike some Nikon Grips, the MB-D15 does not provide an increase in frame rate but does allow the camera to be powered by AA batteries or for a second EN-EL15 to be used – doubling shooting time. You can also set the order batteries are used up in the camera menu and the grip provides duplicated controls and shutter release for use in portrait format.

The D7100 takes the Nikon EN-EL15 battery so is often chosen as a second body by D800 users as it has the extra 1.5x reach of the DX format and increased frame rate compared to the D800 as well has high 24mp resolution.

Another option is to select the 1.3x (effectively 2x in 35mm terms) crop mode – this gives you a 15.4MP image but effectively doubles you lens focal length – so a 70-300 zoom becomes effectively 140-600mm. For situations where you want to fill the frame at a great distance and don’t want to crop in post this is a useful facility to have- it also increases the maximum frame rate to 7fps.

The D300s has the advantage of a greater buffer and the option of increasing the frame rate to 8fps using AA’s in the MB-D10 grip and is a bigger heavier camera. In all other respects it is behind the D7100 .

The D7100 has improved high ISO performance and can comfortably be used at ISO 3200 in any situation, ISO 6400 does show some image deterioration and so may need some post processing for best results and higher ISOs than this will need work to get a decent size print. For such a high pixel count on a DX sensor this is remarkably good performance.
So the D7100 comes highly recommended – just budget for some high speed SD cards to make the most of the performance on offer.

The rear LCD screen is the 3.2" high resolution version as used on the D4 and D800 series so no complaints there. The optical viewfinder is also nice and bright and spectacle wearers can see all four corners of the screen quite comfortably.

The D7100 then comes highly recommended as is probably the best crop sensor camera currently on the market when taken as an overall package - if Nikon could just increase the buffer size via a firmware upgrade it would be close to perfect - but maybe they will be able to make the D7100 compatible with the new ultra fast SD cards now coming to market and solve the issue that way?

The Nikon D7100 is available from Park Cameras - please click here to check it out on the Park Cameras website.

Please leave your comments below.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that the buffer size can be increased via a firmware update, what the camera needs is more physical memory for this (surely), and that can only be done by adding more memory chips/capacity to one of the PC boards inside... unless they could find a way of expanding it using one of the external connector sockets, like the one that the external GPS module can plug into; maybe a plug-in extra memory module for increased buffer size and higher fps?

Park Cameras said...

Thanks for your comment - much appreciated. To increase the physical memory in the camera would be the ideal solution - and Nikon have done this before with the Nikon D3 for instance. The buffer may also be capable of being increased via firmware - Canon did this with the EOS 7D Firmware version 2.0 which increased the burst rate before the buffer filled on the 7D from 15 to 25 raw images. Thanks again for your comments.

Steve - Park Cameras

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