The Myths and spirit of Nikon D7100
krikman | Product Reviews & Previews | Published Apr 26, 2013
What is it?
It is my review of features and myths of D7100 Nikon DSLR body.
- It is not another technical specification listing, and here will be no files to pixel peep in DXOmark style.
- No obvious chewing as FX vs DX or "N." vs "C."
- It is honestly and thorough comparison of features and possibilities of 2012-2013 camera bodies.
- It organised as Q&A for better reading and because D7100 already has plenty of myths and insinuations based on specs lists as advertised and few opinions and reviews.
Why I write this review?
- Because I was in search of good camera to replace D300s. And now share my experience and conclusions.
- It combines all useful innovations and feels right in the hands.
To whom this review?
- For users experienced enough in general photography and in Nikon DSLR bodies.
What annoying me?
What annoying me in D800
- While perfect for professional work, D800 still too large for everyday amateur usage.
- Larger than D4 body with battery grip
- If my regular income on photo assignments will greater $1000/month I'll buy it.
- I mean 'regular', i.e. USD 12000 income from photography alone in one year.
- Bad color repair at ISO 2000+ (greens are still greens, but skin tones gets posterized)
What annoying me in D600
- AF coverage, overall feel, fear of oil spot issues.
- No use of zoom preview on OK button alone keeps me out of D600.
- Still downgrade from D300s in many aspects
- Bad colors at high ISO 4000+
What annoying me in D300s
- No AUTO ISO SPEED
- IQ not consistent with today's standards for professional work. Body still too large for everyday usage with battery grip.
- Basically D700 is the same as D300. At least in good lighting.
What annoying me in D4
- Nope annoying except price of body unreachable for amateur.
- If my regular income on photo assignments will greater $2000/month I'll buy it.
What annoying me in D7000
- While nice camera, lacks too many features of pro body.
- No AUTO ISO SPEED
What I love?
What I love in D4
- Feel in hand. Gods! it feels just right! And these light buttons made fantastic camera! (all other things just right)
- ISO 400-6400 colors way better than in any other camera.
What I love in D300s
- Sturdiness and feel with battery grip
- Works in bad environment
First steps required for D7100
- Set OK Button to focus point zoom preview
- Set AUTO ISO SPEED to +1. It helps avoid smash.
- Feel free to set up to ISO Hi-1 (12800) if you don't use flash
- Set image area for Fn button+wheel
- Set Preview button as AE-Lock (because at f/5.6-8.0 you rare needs actual DOF preview)
- Set default picture control sharpness +1 for better focus check
- Set Hi-ISO NR OFF for better shot to shot performance
- Set Fine-tune optimal exposure for matrix metering at -2/6
- Set another things and controls at your wishes
What Lenses best for D7100?
All of my present autofocus DX and FX lenses shows better performance with D7100 than with D300s. But for every lens I kept only best exemplars. Bad ones were sold earlier.
Every lens you have definitely needs accurate AF adjustments.
AF adjustments procedure
I prefer adjustments by using LCD monitor as target. It is because with D7100 it is easy to catch moire. If you catch moire with LCD monitor it means that you focused right.
Sensor of D7100 allow far more precision AF adjust.
More interestingly, these new refined adjustment values works better with my D300s.
Is D7100 hi-speed machine gun?
D7100 utilizes most performance of SDXC interface. While buffer fills in just 1 second burst, with fast card you get 2 fps up to 100 shots at largest file size and 3 fps in x1.3 crop. If you need more please shoot video 60 fps. (Or JPEG at 6 fps)
Is D7100 low light machine?
ISO100 is clear as in top cameras. Up to ISO 3200 nobody charges your photo as noisy when printed poster size (A1) And you still have +-2 EV adjustments freedom. Feel free to shoot documentary style photos up to ISO Hi-1 (12800). Going higher you will get loss of colors and contrast even in simple scenes, but still comparable with iPhone best results. At all ISO settings avoid corrections greater 2EV.
Banding and streaking issue
It occurs when you badly underexpose picture and then restore in RAW converter. With -2 EV metering and corresponding corrections you'll never get banding or streaking. In any condition you'll need +5EV exposure adjustment in shadows to see banding. Streaking is more complex problem and in ideal condition with venetian blinds you can repeat it at home (Again, you need +2...4EV in shadow area to see it). Anyway you dark regions must be less than 0.5% level to see streaking (i.e. very underexposed).
Smashing and blurred pictures
Sometimes handholding camera you get smashed pictures. This phenomenon in my sense relies on 3 points:
- Dense pixels
- D300s style shutter mechanical device - moving parts weights too much for small body
- Bad weight distribution with heavy 500+ g lenses
I've catch some smearing when shooting while camera still moving (to catch unexpected subects). You need MB-D15 handgrip to avoid shaking issue.
D7100 at a glance
What nice additions found new?
All enhancements were introduced before in different cameras so while you'll definitely find plenty of it, correct list of novelties will depend on your previous experience
Imaginary bugs and troubles in D7100
- No AF-ON button
- Configure AE-L as AF-ON, and half-shutter press as AE-Lock.
- No PC-sync.
- Can be cured with PC-Sync adaptor.
- No 10-pin terminal
- Compensated by IR remote ML-L3. Small and nice.
- Plastic mount frame and overall feeling
- Yes, but very good plastic.
- Too many pixels
- No comments.
- Small grip
- But it is definitely larger than any previous DXX and DXXXX series
- Shutter speed increase
- True, you need 1/2f or even 1/3f to handhold such dense sensor
Before all, you need thoroughly set fine AF adjustments to all your lenses. Some lenses shows their defects, but most lenses benefits from such resolution increase. Also diffraction smoothens picture at f/8, so best lenses are those that peaked in resolution at f/5.6.
Real bugs and troubles in D7100
- Mirror slap induces vibration, i.e. body too small for shutter and mirror weights.
- Cumbersome button placement - bracketing button, Fn button, Red button, ISO button.
- ISO button combined with review buttons. If you set ISO while preview you'll get preview zoom.
- Fn button too small, too close to lens mount, accessible by little finger only.
- Camera's foot (bottom plate) made of plastic, not rubber.
- 1.3x crop mode frame in viewfinder too thin.
- 1.3x crop mode not indicated at top LCD.
- No Release+Focus priority in continuous AF mode.
- Auto ISO 'Autospeed' parameter too rough. Zero value equals 1/1,5F, next step equals 1/3F, while optimal would be 1/2F (for 300 mm lens they are 1/450, 1/1000, 1/600 respectively.
- Auto ISO shutter settings get 1/30 with full manual lenses (Pre-AI).
- Hardly predictable ISO speed settings while using flash.
- Unusable great red button near shutter button must be configured as Fn. Anyway it does no function until you shoot video.
I don't know what is
- Small rubber opening to battery compartment near battery cover.
What would be fine...
- Darkening viewfinder in 1.3x crop.
- Somehow cure for banding and streaking.
- Configure red button behavior in photo mode as a Fn2 button
- Return 'Release+focus' in AF-C
- Remove unusable mode dial and replace it by ISO, crop mode and bracketing buttons.
From D300s to D7100. What's better.
- AutoISO auto shutter speed
- Great, great 1.3x crop
- Bracketing with 2 EV step
- Definitely better focus tracking
- Rangefinder in viewfinder <o>
- AF sensitivity
- General responsiveness
- Stereo microphone and any video mode you ever need with greatest quality.
- Ergonomics and usage
- OK button placed inside navigation wheel.
- New rubber parts most likely not tend to stripe out
- Smaller camera bag needed
- Bottom plate have large recesses for sturdy holding of battery grip
- Your favorite fixes will become 2-in-1. As if you got 1,3x convertor. 12-24 just reach to normal 50mm equivalent, 70-300 becomes 135-600. 28 acts as normal lens (42 mm eq.) both light telephoto (55mm eq.)
- With 1.3 crop mode you can make very light kit with 1-2 fixes.
- One-hand holding with small lenses is possible.
- Shutter sound more dumped and less annoying.
- Stealthy look grabs less attention
- Exceptional color restore for night photography.
- Very detailed photo for landscape
- Set Auto ISO speed (100-12800) and forget it when using zooms indoors or for sports
- Overall more handy controls, including auto ISO on-off
- Speed and burst improvements with 14-bit RAW
What I don't care about and you shouldn't
- Continuous speed
- File size
- Battery life
- Hi-ISO graininess
- color LCD screen
- It is nice but I'd easily accept 320*240 in change of D300 type viewfinder information
- video modes
- They are good but I don't worry if there was only 640*480.
Because all this fears aren't worth a rotten egg
Why not D7000?
D7000 while being solid body inherits some bad habits from D70-D90 line.
- Mode dial without lock.
- No focus point zoom in OK button
- Previous generation and less capable AF
Honestly I don't even look at D7000 because of its mode dial.
From D7100 to D300s (back to...)
What's looking worse?
- No rubber foot
- No settings bank
- Unused cumbersome mode dial instead of useful buttons.
- Viewfinder presumably leaks light so need a cap while on tripod (only if strong light directed to VF)
- You looking just as amateur with that camera.
- You cannot shoot video 640x480
- Red sign now cheap plastic instead of luxury rubber.
- Rubber used had cheapy feeling.
What I really miss?
- Viewfinder shows only ISO, photo counter or buffer counter once a time.
- Top LCD show less info. No focus point icon. No exposure compensation scale.
- Body solidness.
Now you need a hammer to bang in small nails or use it as lever or doorstop. New camera can't do it while with D300s I do these things occasionally. Also I used D300s body as support while climbing small rocks. Need more care with D7100. But I still have D300s for that loads...
What do you need to use these new cameras from Nikon?
- Speedy and large cards
- Sandisk 95 MB/s 64 GB. Or at least 45 MB/s but no less.
- Spare battery for whole day shooting
- 4-core computer with plenty of RAM and storage
- Use MB-D15 battery grip to increase stability
Train your handholding technics to avoid smash
I've used Nikkor AF-S 50 and AF-S 28 fixes, Tokina 124, Sigma 17-70 HSM, Tamron 28-75 and Nikkor 70-300VR
All lenses show its bests with D7100. Only AF-S50 at f/1.4-2.0, 28-75 at f/2.8 and AF-S70-300VR at 300mm f/5,6 were actually outresolved by too high pixel density. All other lens and F-number combinations show distinguishable increase in resolution, at least in large center area.
Optimum resolution reached at f/5.6 and at f/8 you already see diffraction caused loss of resolution.
So you can use just any lenses which bests at f/5.6. 18-105VR is silly when paired with D7100, because it reaches maximum resolution at f/11. Also super-ultrazooms will suck.
Well, D7100 isn't rumored D4x or D4 with D600's sensor.
Both holding and shooting with D7100 makes tons of pleasure to you and with some intermediate skills I DON'T MISS SINGLE PHOTO from 2500+ shoots in 2 weeks. Seriously, from 1st shot it never produced technically unsuitable picture in any possible condition.
It fits all my needs as:
- point and shoot camera for Sunday walking
- reportage (including wedding)
- portrait and product shot
- landscape and cityscape
- street and family photo
Even before D7100 I've feel that only D4x will fits all my needs in single body. Now with D7100 at hand I can easily wait for D4x and never feel myself sorrowful because of missed photo opportunity of better cameras.
Because D7100 is worthy enough just not to look at D600/D800 for general photography. Or be good complementary to D4-D800 for working pro.