An attractive camera, aimed at the enthusiast, the Nikon D7100 follows on from the well-regarded D7000 which, I noted in my DPS review at the time, was described as a ‘professional-standard’ camera, not a professional one!
The company has bumped up the CMOS resolution to 24.1 effective pixels from the D7000’s 16.2 megapixels, reason enough to whet your appetite! However, don’t get too excited because the sensor is the same size, which means the pixels are working harder.
And that’s not all: the LCD screen is slightly larger and has increased resolution (1,229,000 pixels); the AF system performance has been lifted and given a higher low light ability; purists will appreciate the removal of an optical low pass filter. And more.
ISO range runs from 100-6400, reaching 25600 in expanded mode.
There is now a maximum rate of 6 fps continuous shooting at full resolution or 7 fps in cropped mode (4800×3200).
The camera can shoot in cropped mode for both stills and HD video. Stereo audio can be recorded via the inbuilt or an external mic.
The AF system has 51 points, with 15 of these sensors of the cross type.
You can attain spot white balance in Live View mode.
Maximum image size is 6000×4000 pixels, or 51x34m as a print.
HD video at 1920×1080 pixel resolution can be shot. If you fire off a still mid video recording, the latter will stop.
Two SD card slots can be used for overflow or backup; files can be copied between cards.
The camera is built with magnesium alloy and has water and dust resistance.
Images can be shared wirelessly with an attached WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter.
Possibly because I had not encountered a DSLR for some time or was a little in awe at the swell of positive comment this ‘un was generating. I took things gently at first: by that I mean I jumped in at the deep end and set about the task of shooting my ISO tests without a glance in the manual.
I dialled A on the PASM dial, adjusted the f stop, dropped the ISO mark to its start point — and shot the tests.
Very straightforward. Easy peasy. Which means there is a degree of comfortable user friendliness. Well done Nikon!
Immediately you know this is a DSLR if, like me, you’ve recently encountered a swag of compacts, MILCs etc: a bit on the bulky side, with a pronounced speed grip, but with a nice texture on the handling surfaces and evenly distributed weight, so it has an agreeable balance in the hand. With the review camera was the AF-S f3.5/24-85mm lens. Total weight: a manageable 1.2kg. Maybe a little heavy for handheld video shooting.
You tend to forget the generous real estate in a DSLR, which allows largish, well-spaced control IDs. Another factor is the large, bright white ID texts used on control points.
Front: off to top left is the lens release button; to the right and flanking the lens are the flash release button, the BK button for bracketting exposure and a tiny two position lever to switching between manual and AF.
I also noticed that the lens barrel’s lever for auto and manual focus plus another on/off for VR (Vibration Reduction) crammed in very close to the manual/AF button. Suggest you get used to it!
Top: at left is a generously sized mode dial with positions for auto, PASM, special effects (night vision, color sketch, high and low key etc), U1 and U2 custom settings and scene modes (portrait, child, close up, sunset etc) plus a position for flash off. I should point out that the various positions are secured by a detent button. Brilliant!
Beneath the mode dial is a release mode dial offering shooting options: single shot, continuous low and high speeds, quiet shutter release, self timer and mirror lockup.
Still on top: the control panel display, on/off lever and shutter button, exposure compensation, the poorly placed video record button and one that allows you to directly format any card and swings you through the various metering options; just for’ard is the sub command dial. And a note: swing the on/off lever farther right and you illuminate the control display.
Rear and above the screen: replay button, trash and across to the right is the AE and AF lock button plus the main command dial.
Lower and left: menu, white balance (amongst other matters), enlarge display, image quality and size, ISO, the i button to change settings such as image size and quality, screen brightness etc.
To the right: focus selector lock then, lower down, are the Live View button and display options.
All in all, quite comprehensive. Many of them you will pick up in the early hours of ownership but I do suggest some trial shooting with manual firmly in hand in the aim of making your camera-person interface intuitive.
The viewfinder menu system is typically Nikon: comprehensive and clear.
Nikon D7100 ISO Tests
ISO 12800 equivalent: noise up but still useable.
ISO 25600 equivalent: noise and image sharpness make this level a no-no.
Nikon D7100 Review Verdict
Quality: excellent as you would expect, with an exceptional range.
Why you would buy the Nikon D7100: an affordable DSLR with many bells and whistles.
Why you wouldn’t buy the Nikon D7100: maybe your ambition is to shoot full frame.
A well-priced DSLR with many pro features makes this number an ideal enthusiast camera.
I only question the APS-C format for those who want to make really big images or perform severe cropping. But it will sure please many a keen photographer unwilling or uncashed enough to dive into the full frame market.
Should sell by the truck load.
Nikon D7100 Specifications
Image Sensor: 23.5×15.6mm CMOS. 24.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multi, centre-weighted, averaging and spot.
A/D processing: 14-bit.
Lens Mount: Nikon F.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Shutter Speed: Bulb, 30 to 1/8000 second. Flash X-sync: up to 1/250 sec.
Continuous Speed: 5-7fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards in two slots.
Image Sizes (pixels): 6000×4000 to 2400×1344. Movies: 1920×1080 to 1280×720.
Viewfinders: Eye level optical pentaprism and 8cm LCD (1,228,000 pixels).
File Formats: NEF (RAW), JPEG, NEF (RAW)+JPEG, MPEG4.
Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 6400 with expansion up to ISO 25,600.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI mini, DC input, external stereo mic, remote, audio in- and output.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor.
Dimensions: 136x107x76 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 765 g (with battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Nikon D7100 (body only) or Nikon D7100 with 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR ED Nikkor Lens.