Nikon D7100 In-Depth Review
The enthusiast-targeted Nikon D7100 becomes the company's latest APS-C DSLR to feature a 24MP sensor, joining the D3200 and D5200 models that were announced in 2012. As the eagerly anticipated successor to the very popular two-and-a-half year old D7000, the D7100 faces a sizeable task. In our in-depth review we found its predcessor to combine very good image quality, class-leading noise performance and great handling in a solidly-built body.
Nikon appears to have taken this challenge to heart with the D7100 looking, on paper, like a very significant upgrade. The D7100 becomes the first Nikon DSLR to omit an optical low-pass filter (OLPF), a move we've seen rival Pentax take with its K-5 IIs. In theory, removing the OLPF altogether should result in a higher resolution than the filtered 24MP sensors found in the D5200 and D3200 can produce. We saw Nikon test the waters in this regard with the 36MP D800E, in which the effect of the OLPF was 'cancelled out'. Based on our test results with that camera, we suspect that realizing benefits of the OLPF's omission will require some very good optics at optimum apertures. The downside is, of course, greater potential for moiré-induced artifacts when shooting stills of objects with fine patterned detail.
Other D7100 upgrades over the D7000 include a significantly upgraded AF system, with focus algorithms borrowed from the top-end Nikon D4, 51 AF points (15 cross-type) and the stated ability to focus in light as low as -2EV. The D7100 gains a slightly larger 3.2-inch 1.2M dot rear LCD that features an RGBW display. The additional white dots allow the screen to either be run at lower power or noticeably brighter than the RGB panels found on previous Nikons for increased brightness or efficiency, depending on need. Owners of multiple Speedlights can also make use of Nikon's wireless remote operation (dubbed 'Advanced Wireless lighting') of up to three separate groups of flash units. And, as with the D7000, the camera's built-in flash can be used in Commander mode to trigger remote flashes.
|The D7100's 24.1MP CMOS sensor does not include an optical low-pass filter (OLPF). While the flagship D800E had the effect of its OLPF 'cancelled out', this is the first time Nikon has done away with the filter altogether.|
Video shooters get some upgrades as well. The D7100 offers 30p and 25p as well as 24p (rather than just 24p) recording and built-in stereo microphones. When using the D7100's optional 1.3X crop mode, which gives an effective focal length increase of 2X (a 50mm lens provides the crop of a 100mm), 50/60i movie recording is available. This crop mode also allows for 15MP stills capture at 7 versus the standard 6 frames per second.
The D7100 supports Nikon's WU-1a Wi-Fi unit, which plugs into the camera's accessory terminal and allows images to be transmitted wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet for uploading to social networks. The device also allows remote control of the camera from your smartphone, complete with live view, which can be a fun way of setting up self-portraits or group shots.
In a seemingly small, yet very practical upgrade over the D7000, the D7100 inherits the well-implemented Auto ISO program that we saw first on the D800, and later on the D5200. This allows the camera to set the minimum shutter speed automatically based on the focal length of the lens in use, with a choice of five user-controlled settings that bias towards faster or slower speeds. This fixes one of our biggest criticisms of earlier-model Nikon DSLRs, and obviously makes Auto ISO much more suitable for use with zoom lenses.
Nikon D7100 key features
- 24.1MP DX format CMOS sensor, with no OLPF
- EXPEED 3 processing
- ISO 100-6400 standard, up to 25600 expanded
- Max 6 fps continuous shooting in DX mode, 7fps in 1.3X crop mode
- 51 point AF system, 15 sensors cross type
- 2016 pixel RGB metering sensor
- Spot white balance in live view mode
- 1080 60i/30p video recording, built-in stereo mic, mic jack and audio monitoring jack
- Pentaprism with 100% coverage and 0.94X magnification
- 3.2", 1.2m-dot LCD screen (640 x 480 X RGBW)
- Front and rear IR receivers
- Equivalent water and dust resistance to D800/D300S
Key specs compared to the Nikon D7000
In the table below you can see how the major specifications of the D7100 compare against the D7000.
|Nikon D7100||Nikon D7000|
|Sensor resolution (type)||24MP CMOS (no OLPF)||16MP CMOS|
|Autofocus System||51-points with 15 cross-type||39 points with 9 cross-type|
|ISO sensitivity range||
100-6400 (H1 and H2 expansion up to 25,600 equiv)
|Display size / resolution||Fixed 3.2", 1.2m-dot LCD||Fixed 3", 920k-dot LCD|
|Maximum framerate (DX mode)||
|Movie Mode||1080 60i/30p||1080/24p|
|Battery life (CIPA)||920 shots||1050 shots|
|Dimensions||136 x 107 x 76 mm
(5.3 x 4.2 x 3.0 in)
|132 x 103 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0in)
|Weight (with battery)||765 g (1 lb, 11 oz)||780 g (1 lb, 11.5 oz)|
Compared to the Nikon D7000
Physically, the D7100 is very similar to its predecessor, with practically identical size and weight. Place the two cameras side by side in fact, and you'd need a moment to tell one from the other. With the exception of the new movie button on the top-plate and the addition of a fifth button along the left side of the camera, the key controls are almost identical, and fall in basically the same places. Most of the interesting bits of the upgrade are hidden away inside the D7100's magnesium-alloy and polycarbonate shell.