The Nikon D600 may be an attractive package for many photographers who want to dip their toes into the world of full-frame photography, but for many, the financial outlay is just too much. Thankfully, Nikon has the D7100 in its line-up, which has plenty of advanced specs for the avid photo lover.
Design and features
Though it is only an APS-C sensor, that's no reason to shy away, as you're getting 24.1 megapixels, no optical low-pass filter (OLPF) and a burst shooting rate of 6 frames per second (fps). Reduce the resolution to 15.4 megapixels, and the world of 7fps shooting opens up.
Taking away the OLPF, or anti-aliasing filter, is designed to increase the sharpness of images straight out of the camera. This is a feature particularly useful for landscape photographers, though it can sometimes lead to more noticeable moire on images and video.
The D7100 gets a new 51-point AF system with 15 cross-type points, which is actually better on paper than the D600's 39-point system, and matches that found on the professional-grade D4.
Overall, the camera feels very similar to its predecessor, the D7000. It's a tiny bit bigger than the older camera, but shaves off 15 grams, which is hardly noticeable. Like other Nikon cameras, the D7100 uses a dual-dial control system for changing aperture and shutter speed parameters. Other buttons fall within easy reach at the back of the camera in case you want to shoot one-handed. The mode dial now comes with a locking centre button that needs to be pressed to adjust the shooting selection.
The D7100 has a pleasingly large 3.2-inch LCD display with 1.29 million dots and a few new buttons to help with accessing frequently used camera functions. The information button, tagged with a single "i", brings up recent settings for adjustment.
Inside the optical viewfinder is an OLED display, which promises to use very little power and offers good visibility even in extreme temperatures. The chassis is made of magnesium alloy and offers, according to Nikon, a "high level" of dust and water resistance. On the top panel is a locking mode dial, as well as another dial underneath used to select between single, continuous and quiet shooting modes — much like the one on the D7000.
Using the built-in crop mode (1.3x), photographers gain an effective focal-length boost of 2x and better burst performance at 7fps (but at a 15.4-megapixel reduced resolution). The native ISO range is from 100-25,600, and as usual, there's full HD video recording at 1080/60i or 1080/30p.
Like the D5200, there's a stereo mic built in to the camera just near the hotshoe, and there is provision for an external 3.5mm microphone input and headphone jack. Unfortunately, there's no built-in Wi-Fi capacity, though the D7100 is compatible with the WU-1a wireless adapter, which allows users to transfer photos and videos to a mobile device. There are two (yes, two) SD slots provided for plenty of storage space, though they can be customised to perform overflow or redundancy tasks.
As well as the D7100, Nikon also announced a wireless remote controller called the WR-1 that covers a distance of up to 120 metres. Using the remote, you can fire the shutter, as well as set up an interval timer plus configure it as a transmitter or receiver with more than one unit.
The D7100 comes with a built-in focus motor, meaning you can use lenses on this camera that do not have their own AF motors.
|Nikon D7100||Canon EOS 70D|
|24.1-megapixel APS-C CMOS||20.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS|
|3.2-inch, 1229K-dot LCD screen||3inch, 1.04K-dot flip-out LCD screen|
|Full HD video (1080p, 1080i, 30/25/24fps, 60/50fps)||Full HD video (1080p, 30/25/24fps)|
|51-point AF system (15 cross-type)||19-point AF system (all cross-type)|
|Wireless transfers with optional adapter||Built-in Wi-Fi|
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Start-up to first shot time
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- RAW shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
Canon EOS 60D
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)
Canon EOS 60D
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The D7100 is a proficient performer, able to grab an almost unlimited number of JPEG shots in the fastest continuous mode. RAW shooters will find that the camera slows down to process shots after six frames, reducing the overall continuous rate to just 2.9 frames per second.
Autofocus feels particularly zippy in the majority of lighting situations. It is only in very low light that the camera has to hunt a little more than usual. Also, there has been an improvement made to the performance of AF-F, or continuous autofocus while filming or in Live View mode. It is quicker than the D7000, and doesn't constantly try to find focus once it has been obtained.
Nikon rates the battery at 950 shots.
We tested the D7100 in conjunction with the 18-105mm lens, which is provided in a kit configuration with the camera, but doesn't feel like the best lens to get the most from the sensor. It also makes the D7100 feel a little more sluggish than it should when it comes to AF performance, which is generally swift and excellent, with better lenses.
Overall, images definitely appear sharper than those delivered from the D5200 and from the D7000 before that, which is thanks to the removal of the OLPF. Nikon appears to have tweaked the metering and automatic exposure control, as it no longer blows out highlights in selected areas like the D7000 did. The D7100's dynamic range is very good, though it appears to give more latitude for detail recovery in the shadows rather than the highlights.
Images stay clean up to and including ISO 400. Moving into higher sensitivities brings a small degree of noise, though photos are absolutely usable as they are until ISO 3200.
The D7100 processes its JPEG files particularly faithful to the RAW.
Video quality is very good for most purposes, with a clear, sharp image straight from the sensor. Default settings and picture styles will deliver a very contrasty image, so you might find it advantageous to switch to a slightly flatter style, or tweak with the settings.
Rather frustratingly, the D7100 doesn't allow you to adjust aperture when in video mode. To do this, you will need to have a Nikon lens that has a manual aperture ring — that is, any lens without the "G" label.
Exposure: 1/2000, f/5.6, ISO 160
Exposure: 1/4000, f/3.5, ISO 160
Exposure: 1/320, f/5.6, ISO 800
Exposure: 1/800, f/8, ISO 160
Offering an attractive combination of performance and usability, the D7100 is a proficient SLR that caters for plenty of different photographers.