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Nikon D7100 In-Depth Review

April 2013 | By Amadou Diallo


Review based on a production Nikon D7100 running firmware 1.0

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)
6 fps
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.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 53
Help taking the next step
By Help taking the next step (4 weeks ago)

Hello guys.

Do you find that exposure problem in live view annoying?

0 upvotes
Sandmanusd
By Sandmanusd (5 days ago)

I think that you will find that most people don't use live view (and SHOULDN"T use live view) to take photos. Using live view while taking photos really slows the camera down with focusing, taking the picture, and displaying the picture after. The viewfinder has an exposure indicator within it. When you look through the viewfinder, it tells you if the shot will be (according to the meter on whatever you happen to be exposing off of) will be exposed properly or not.

I'm not being a smart A%$ but if you are using live view to take photos on a regular basis, chances are you shouldn't be buying a DSLR, especially one of this quality / price. A point and shoot is probably where you want to be looking.

And if you plan on mostly taking videos with a DSLR, then get a Canon 70D, not the D7100. Or better yet, a $300 camcorder for videos.

Basically what I'm saying is that I don't notice it ever, because I'm never in live view.

0 upvotes
davidevans1
By davidevans1 (3 days ago)

I use liveview a lot with a D800 when using a 135mm manual focus lens and tripod. It's 'OK' (takes some practice and zooming in and Ihave to use a Hoodman to view).
The D800 is known to have a comparatively poor screen and the new D810 is upgraded to the same screen as the D7100 I think and so should be far better.

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
lennzy
By lennzy (2 months ago)

I got a question. Im thinking about buying this camera for Landscape Photography and im having trouble choosing lenses. Is the Nikon 18-200mm VR II compatible with the D7100 and is it good for landscape photography?

2 upvotes
ajgaeth
By ajgaeth (1 month ago)

Hi Lennzy,

I just purchased this Camera d7100, been using the Nikon D300 for almost a year. Love the new 7100=) I shoot with the Nikon 18-200mm VR II lens and it seems fine! Sharp photos Great colors still. I also use a 10-20 Sigma Lens on this camera All work Great. Nothing wrong with that lens I use it almost 90% of the time. You can Also rent some glass to try out too! Have fun!

0 upvotes
Buzz Lightyear
By Buzz Lightyear (1 month ago)

If you read reviews of the Nikon 18-200, you'll see it described as having:

◾Pronounced distortion across much of the range
◾Extremely soft at 135mm
◾Rather average close-up performance
◾Zoom creep

Although in the normal to short telephoto range, you might get decent images, but you would not be getting full benefit of the high quality resolution capabilities of the D7100. If you can live with a bit less telephoto reach, the 16-85 lens would be a better match for a "walking around"/landscape lens. If your budget could afford it, adding the excellent Nikon 70-200mm VR (I or II) will blow your mind at the image quality available.

0 upvotes
davidevans1
By davidevans1 (3 days ago)

My wife has the D7100 and was using the Nikon 18-200mm lens. previously she had a D90 and the 18-200 lens was fine, but with the D7100 she wasn't so happy.
She now has a Sigma 24-105mm ART lens (I know it's full frame) and the combination of that lens and the D7100 is superb.
I'd imagine the Nikon 24-120mm F/4 is also excellent with the D7100 but haven't tried it.

0 upvotes
bansheegirl
By bansheegirl (2 months ago)

HELP!!! My normal camera is a D5000 which I shoot very quick powersports with, I decided to upgrage, bought the D5300. Used same settings as my 5000 and almost all photos were out of focus! I'm hearing the 5300 may have a focus problem, so here's my question...the D7100...Is this good for fast sports? I'm talking auto racing, jet ski races, boat races, motorcycles?

Even when I took photos of my dogs, they weren't as crisp and clear as I think they should be.

I'm a little lost and could use all the input I could get. I refuse to go to a Canon so i'm hoping I can get an upgrade for Nikon.

0 upvotes
au_rick
By au_rick (2 months ago)

if it's anything like the D7000, you'll have to use the AF Fine Tune to get your lens to focus correctly and probably use centre focus rather than Auto ?

0 upvotes
Glen from Bedford
By Glen from Bedford (3 months ago)

I know this review has been out there for some time now but I don't see any evidence of "banding" in the samples provided above when increasing the exposure or increasing the brightness in LR. That really puzzles me, because I can create the "banding" issue in almost every one of my D7100 images when increasing the exposure or increasing the brightness. Don't get me wrong, it's not my attention to find fault w/the D7100 but I have a lot of good pics where the "banding" is evident w/out pushing the exposure. And like others, it's now really bugging me to the point where I feel the D7100 is a faulty piece of equipment... much like the D600 was. My D7000 produces no such issues when the exposure or brightness is increased. I read where the sample images of the D7100 at The Imaging Resource do not display banding either. So here's the question... did DPReview and the The Imaging Resource get D7100s w/an improved sensor over production models or are many D7100 faulty and need service.

4 upvotes
ezyernie
By ezyernie (2 months ago)

I use Topaz for the light banding. There may be other solutions, but that one works for me.

0 upvotes
Nikonhead
By Nikonhead (2 months ago)

Which Topaz program are you using to get rid on the banding? Denoise?

0 upvotes
sadatoni
By sadatoni (3 months ago)

I'm confused. In this review, the 100% coverage viewfinder is mentioned as a prod, but in the K-3 review it is not mentioned. In this review, "6 fps burst rate (7 fps in 1.3x crop mode) is mentioned as a pro". The K-3 review says "Good buffer depth and continuous shooting rate" for a pro. It's over 8 fps. There are other disparities of this type as well.

6 upvotes
svesi
By svesi (3 months ago)

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category:

K-3 = Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
D300s = Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
EOS 7D = Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR

D7100 = Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
EOS 70D = Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
K-50 = Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR

1 upvote
jll59
By jll59 (3 months ago)

The Pentax K-3 as Semi- Pro? Hum....

0 upvotes
Awes Khan
By Awes Khan (3 months ago)

i am using nikon d7100 with 18-105 lens
and it is having noise problem in low light
when lights are low for the camera and we use to increase ISO it gives noise problem and grains is shown on the picture
can this problem be solved by settings
because i feel this is a focus problem or may be lens problem

0 upvotes
ezyernie
By ezyernie (2 months ago)

D5200 and D7100 typically set ISO as high as 3200 in low light, especially on AUTO. check your NR settings and auto ISO settings.

0 upvotes
bull detector
By bull detector (2 months ago)

18-105 is not a good lens and does not really show the real Quality of this camera

0 upvotes
bull detector
By bull detector (3 months ago)

With Canon not admitting that the 70d has Auto focus problems I started to look at the D7100 and found that after a while it gets oil and spots problems on the sensor? Apparently when I starts it keeps on coming back? I really just want a good and reliable camera

0 upvotes
TimAZ
By TimAZ (3 months ago)

To be perfect for class the D7100 needs three things:
* Tiltable touch screen (ala D5300, EOS 70D, EM1, XT1, et al)
* Onboard WiFi
* Onboard GPS
Will we see D7200 at Photokina 2014? Got fingers crossed...

2 upvotes
skyrunr
By skyrunr (2 months ago)

and USB 3.0!

0 upvotes
Sandmanusd
By Sandmanusd (5 days ago)

Fluffy junk that I'd rather not have if it means they can pack more high end features to take better pictures. The 70D has all those "cool features" and has worse low light performance, isn't as crisp, and has lower Dynamic range... So your "perfect for the class" list should be on the Canon 70D review saying

"To be perfect for the class, the 70D needs three things
*Better low light performance
*Crisper pictures, (Lets get rid of the filter)
*Better Dynamic Range"

0 upvotes
jjlad
By jjlad (3 months ago)

I had focus problems on my D7000 for 2 years. Sometimes perfect, often not, The auto focus fine tune adjustments would disappear whenever the camera shut down. It was finally replaced a month ago under warranty with a D7100. What a difference. The sharpness is already well covered here so I'll comment on dynamic range. I shot an event recently and didn't compensate for back-light on some quick shots of the participants. Those color photos looked like silhouettes ...black on white. When I processed them in LR5 though, they actually turned out fine. Even though shot at ISO800 the images had enough range and contained enough data to generate good skin tone and eyes and even fine peach fuzz on arms and cheeks turned out. I could not have saved those from the D7000 even in RAW, because it clipped too hard at both ends ...highlights and shadows. It would also have 'hunted' focus in that situation. So to me the D7100 is excellent and shows what 2 years of technological improvements can do.

1 upvote
Wannabballers
By Wannabballers (4 months ago)

I owned a D7000 and 2 shutter blades broke off while i was shooting my 6 year olds basketball game. So it's time for a new camera.

Will a D7100 be a significant upgrade? I was thinking about getting a D7100 or a used Nikon D3 for speed. I primarly shoot indoor basketball but now my 4 year old daughter is starting soccer so i'll be shooting some out door sports as well. Can anyone help with suggestions?

0 upvotes
beemerman2k
By beemerman2k (2 months ago)

I have had great luck with my D7000, nonetheless, I upgraded to a D7100 6 months ago. This is a D7000, but very refined. Focusing, metering, the whole package is much more refined than the D7K.

I primarily shoot my kids sports events and I capture in raw and not jpg. I have a fast SD card and I set the color depth to 12bit, that gives me good enough burst when I need it without overrunning the buffer. I don't like to do burst much anyhow, so the shallow buffer hasn't been an issue for me. The D7100 is a stellar camera to capture children's sports.

One more thing, I always shoot indoor sports with either my 35mm F/1.8 or 50mm F/1.8 prime lens. Open aperture to F/2.8, -1 exposure compensation, manual exposure with the shutter set to 400/sec, auto ISO (unless there is a strong backlight, then it's fixed ISO), and I'm golden. These girls don't move so fast that 1/400 sec can't easily handle.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
ahzwizerd2
By ahzwizerd2 (1 month ago)

Good luck

0 upvotes
Timothy G
By Timothy G (4 months ago)

I have owned a D7100 for about a year now and recently I have noticed that the lens does not seem to move after it has lock in place on the mount. Ever after I hear the lens locking by the sound of the 'click' there is still some 'play'.

Has anyone noticed this happen? Is this okay or should I have my camera checked at a service center?

0 upvotes
LiranC
By LiranC (4 months ago)

HI Timothy

I just bought D7100 and I Need to ask you about shooting with ISO 1600 and higher.
The pictures are very grainy images, especially the grey and the black areas.
Is it normal? I sent it to the LAB and they told me that is nothing wrong and this is the quality of pictures with this ISO even when using noise reduction normal or high

0 upvotes
NoahRR
By NoahRR (4 months ago)

Yes, at that high of an iso there will be a lot of visible noise, always try to use the lowest iso you can.

1 upvote
Awes Khan
By Awes Khan (3 months ago)

i m also suffering from same problem
it is an expensive camera should not give this kind of problem
its a major drawback of this model

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
ahzwizerd2
By ahzwizerd2 (1 month ago)

Please get the book Nikon D7100 for idiots it breaks down all our problems so we can understand real easy. And please read it before useing.
It helped me so much before I threw my camera over the fence.

0 upvotes
Blhtang
By Blhtang (5 months ago)

I am ready to buy Nikon d7100. Just one question, I have old D200 and sets of lenses. Are those lenses compatible with D7100?

1 upvote
Rouzbeh
By Rouzbeh (4 months ago)

completely compatible...no problem

1 upvote
ahzwizerd2
By ahzwizerd2 (1 month ago)

Take your lens to cosco and try it on a display it should work mine do.

0 upvotes
Westmill
By Westmill (6 months ago)

Actions speak louder than words..... Just ordered a second body :)
Sigma 18-35 F1.8 on one body and the Sigma 50-150 F2.8 on the other !
Also ordered the 18-140 as a walkabout for when I am not in the mood for carrying a lot of weight :)
Still waiting for the D400 though... grrrrrr Please wake up NIKON !!!!!!!

2 upvotes
Guidenet
By Guidenet (4 months ago)

I just don't see any reason for a D400. If you want and need pro-level features, you don't need to be spinning your wheels on APS-C. Nikon isn't really doing much in the way of DX glass anyway.

Why no go ahead and move up to FX and invest in FX glass? I would imagine that as a percentage people wanting more than entry level, those satisfied with the D7100 make up the most. Those of us Who want or need that next step above the D7100 have long since migrated to FX.

1 upvote
StillLearning
By StillLearning (4 months ago)

Birders and Macro photographers are probably at least 2 groups that would like a pro dx. Speed , deep buffer and a rugged body for the elements. To get equivalent FOV glass you need to be wealthy or take out a 2nd mortgage to afford them. I have dx and fx and they each have their purpose.

1 upvote
Guidenet
By Guidenet (4 months ago)

Birders and macro shooters should understand that a smaller sensor just makes a smaller crop of a larger image, whatever that image is. No enlargement occurs. The bird is the same size on a crop sensor as on FX. There's just less space around him. The crop sensor just could maybe help you put more pixels on the target. I'd rather have all the advantages of FX, then crop after the fact, if I need to do so.

2 upvotes
dcolak
By dcolak (1 month ago)

But that is exactly the advantage of DX. They use much more pixels for the same FOV, which lets you print larger prints - so there is a zoom factor as long as the pixel density on DX is higher than that on FX.

1 upvote
skyrunr
By skyrunr (1 week ago)

There's another BIG advantage to DX. The focusing points cover/spread into the 1/3 area of the viewfinder. Why not a D610? The 39pt versus 51pt IS very noticeable.

It also doesn't have the pro (D200/D300S/D700/D3/D4) body layout. The D300S I came from toasted the D610 in low light focusing. I had a D800 for a little while, but it was too valuable (expensive) to take everywhere.

I ended up with the D7100. It wasn't my first choice, but for the money (refurbished) I couldn't be happier with it.

0 upvotes
Bud Robertson
By Bud Robertson (7 months ago)

Just upgraded to the D7100 from the D7000. I'm finding it a very capable camera, so far. Could someone tell me if there is somewhere to increase the sharpness in camera? I was sure the D7000 had that option somewhere.

1 upvote
Entropius
By Entropius (6 months ago)

There is; it's in the Picture Controls settings.

0 upvotes
sophi loren
By sophi loren (7 months ago)

i am too much pleased and happy with my nikon D7100. For me the upgradation of D7000 to D7100 worth my bucks.
My bro wrote also a great review about nikon D7100 here is the review

http://www.squidoo.com/nikon-d7100-price-is-the-d7100-worth-the-bucks

thanks everyone :)

2 upvotes
RMLurie
By RMLurie (7 months ago)

My D7100, bought last May, is fantastic. Together with the 16-85, it is incredible. The dynamic range compared with my D300 is a major upgrade. Photos of a play with spotlights and much dark areas, were wonderful in edited RAW. Used exposure with center weighted aimed at bright area. Unedited, the dark was very dark, but in PS the shadows opened up perfectly. This increased dynamic range is clearly a remarkable advance. This is also shown on page 14 of the review. The 16-85 lens is extremely sharp. In case you didn't get it, I'm very happy with this setup.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
4 upvotes
SHanty
By SHanty (7 months ago)

I do not look at the 7100 as this reviewer does, be it a large upgrade. I would not have kept this camera in the 7000s series, certainly not 7100. Many similarities but the changes there are, are so significant, I personally would not have a 7000 and then say I upgraded to the 7100 because they made the 7100 better. Not talking about on the high end or low end of Camera's it is not an upgrade, it is a new way the line is going and I would have labeled it D8000 if you know what I mean, to show the serious differences.

IMO but what do I know. I bought my First Digital Camera when Kodak came out with the DC40, Owned DC50, by then some point and shoots, owned 20 of those, at least. I understand, You can tell me I am off base, I will take it in fun

2 upvotes
maurizio220
By maurizio220 (8 months ago)

Nice camera but 5xxxx series costs less and produces nice files too. One terrible discover after I got d7100... continuos shooting in raw mode stops after only 5/6 shots... this is terrible. it is a very great handicap! you can't do raw smaller files too...

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
Salkareem
By Salkareem (8 months ago)

It had been a very long decision between Nikon D7100 and D610; I finally bought D7100 for most of my photography work. Using Tamron 24-70 2.8 VC the D7100 provides mind blowing IQ. However, as I often do large size gallery prints I therefore shoot mostly in RAW and post process my image in DXO Optics Pro 9 which provides me the best result for my prints. Consequently, I sold my D800 as I am very pleased with D7100 and the results I get after post processing in DXO Optics Pro 9.

3 upvotes
Tal Shachar
By Tal Shachar (11 months ago)

very nice video explanation, but you should put some indoor videos in the video sample movies. Outdoor videos I can see that they are very good quality, but for wedding photographers we want to see whats the video quality in low light conditions.

beside that for Nikon, I think it's really silly to make Interlaced video recording option because it's low quality. Interlaced compared to Progressive is like Optical zoom compared to digital zoom.

1 upvote
jacyeoh
By jacyeoh (9 months ago)

Very nice review you got there...

0 upvotes
Cankon
By Cankon (11 months ago)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/37345874@N04/9575723740/

Very happy with my D7100, Look at the detail in the focus zone and that's without a tripod.

0 upvotes
dennishancock
By dennishancock (11 months ago)

I've had my D7100 for four months now and I'm liking more the more I use it. Really impressive image quality particularly compared to the D90.

0 upvotes
helltormentor
By helltormentor (11 months ago)

Can you please tell me why the image is that soft? it is soft to the degree of being considered out of focus. Just look at the Queen and compare its level of sharpness and detail to that from E-M5. I am not just talking about out of camera JPEGs. This deficiency applies to raw files as well.
I know that E-M5 is an excellent camera but, theoretically, D7100 must totally beat E-M5 taking larger sensor, higher resolution and removal of AA filter into account.

1 upvote
vittorionava
By vittorionava (10 months ago)

I had the same impression looking at the watch...

1 upvote
Total comments: 53