D7100 vs D5100 Image Quality - Not what I Expected

Started Jul 13, 2013 | Discussions thread
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aspalmat
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D7100 vs D5100 Image Quality - Not what I Expected
Jul 13, 2013

I just purchased a D7100 this past Monday.  Previously, I had a D5100 which I have had for about a year and a half.  The D5100 was my first DSLR.  I was just sticking my toe into the DSLR waters, and started with an entry level model.  During that time, I found I really enjoyed taking quality pictures of friends and family.

After a year and a half with the D5100, I decided I was ready for an upgrade.  I struggled with the decision between the D600 and the D7100.  But ultimately, decided on the D7100, so I could still use some of my DX only lenses.  It would be a much bigger investment to go the D600 route.

So, I start taking pictures with the D7100, and start comparing them to my D5100.  To my surprise, I believe the D5100 has better image quality than the D7100.  Attached are 100% crops taken tonight.  Both with the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 lens.  Both on a tripod, the shutter actuated with a wireless remote.  Same aperture, same focal distance etc.  To me the D5100 image simply looks better.  In fact, I would say it's not even close.  This is a 100% crop at a midpoint between the center and edge of the picture.

D5100 image

D7100 image

There is a slight exposure difference, but again, I don't think the two are even close, the D5100 image is simply better.  This is not what I expected!  Honestly, I'm pretty disappointed.  I really like the better build and beefier feel of the D7100.  But it seems like the body build and better AF is the only thing that improved.

Was the Sony sensor in the D7000 that much better than the Toshiba sensor in the D7100?  I've seen people post outstanding images with the D7100.  But when I look at this crop compared the the D5100, I think I'm going to return the D7100, and buy a D7000, and save $300.

I'm I missing something?  What do you think?

Thank you for any feedback.

Nikon D5100 Nikon D600 Nikon D7000 Nikon D7100
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