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Using the Nikon D7100

The D7100 is a well-designed and robust camera that brings to the table everything you'd expect to see in an enthusiast DSLR, whether APS-C or full frame. It's a very satisfying camera to hold and to shoot with. Picking up the camera for the first time, you're struck by a quality feel and construction that differs from the full frame D600 only in terms of a slightly shorter hand grip. Buttons and controls are well-placed for easy operation, and the few quibbles we do have - and will discuss below - will simply be of little concern to photographers outside of those using the D7100 as a second body alongside either the D7000 or D300s. In fact, with the D7100, Nikon has to a large degree now standardized the control layout and operability of all three of its enthusiast-grade DSLRs, a consistency which makes a great deal of sense.

According to Nikon, the D7100 features dust and moisture-resistance equivalent to the D600 and D800. While it's not a fully weather-sealed camera like the Pentax K 5IIs, the D7100 has performed without a hitch in the rainy climate of our Seattle location.

Nikon claims the D7100 offers the same level of weather-sealing as the much more expensive D800. Its seals are illustrated here, as yellow lines. The D7100's front plate is polycarbonate while the top and rear plates are magnesium alloy.

Overall handling and notable features

In your hand

The D7100 feels like an ever-so-slightly slimmed-down D600, a camera whose handling we quite enjoyed during the course of our in-depth review. The D7100's body shell is predominantly magnesium alloy, and thick rubber coats the hand grip. Buttons and switches are well-spaced and large enough for trouble-free operation even with thin gloves. As with all high-end Nikon DSLRs, the D7100 has two rubberized control dials, one on the front above the hand-grip and one on the rear, for operation with the right thumb.

Despite the camera's relatively modest weight - though physically larger than the Pentax K5 IIs, it's a lighter camera - it balances rather well with Nikon's top prime lenses as well as high-end zooms like the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR. Those with even medium to large hands may find that the height of the hand grip falls just shy of comfortably accommodating all three fingers, as you can tell by the protruding digit in the image below, but this is hardly unique among APS-C DSLRs.

The D7100 sensibly divides controls among both sides of the camera. With your hand in the shooting position you can easily lock focus or exposure, cycle through the camera's 51AF points, change metering mode, adjust exposure compensation and start/stop movie recording. Lockable shooting and drive mode dials prevent accidental operation when handling the camera.

'i' Button

While the camera has no shortage of external buttons for adjusting shooting settings between exposures, it's always nice to be able to change camera and image quality settings without a distracting trip to the main menu. In this regard the D7100 introduces a new 'i' button along the bottom of the camera back that makes it a bit easier to access at least a selection of these settings. This behaves like the quick menu buttons on other makers' cameras. With one press, the information display appears on the rear LCD and the two rows of camera settings are activated for navigation. On the D600 and D800, this access required pressing the info button twice, a requirement unlikely to occur to users who missed that page of the camera manual.

Things get even better in live view mode, as pressing the 'i' button here brings direct on-screen access to seven useful options including image size and quality, remote timer settings and monitor brightness. Set the camera to playback mode and the 'i' button calls up the Retouch menu, eliminating the need for the dedicated - and we'd suspect seldom used - retouch button found on the D600.

A new 'i' button gives easier access to onscreen controls for commonly used functions. For normal viewfinder shooting it directly enters Nikon's familiar active control panel to change settings.

Spot white balance

The D7100 debuts Nikon's new 'spot white balance' feature, which allows you to set white balance while in live view mode, by simply selecting a small area of the scene from which to take the reading. This is a very welcome contrast to the previous requirement of filling the entire frame with the object to be made neutral, which in studio-lit tabletop photography could often mean removing the camera from the tripod if you'd neglected to set the custom white balance before-hand.

A new spot white balance option in live view presents you with a small area (the yellow square) from which to set a custom white balance, insead of having to fill the entire frame with a target as on previous Nikon DSLRs.

To use spot white balance, set the camera to live view mode, press the WB button and use the front and rear dials to select the appropriate custom WB preset number. Press and hold the WB button a second time to call up on-screen a small white balance square which you can move around the scene via the multi selector. Once in place over your intended target, press the OK button to set the white balance. The process still retains much of the complexity any Nikon owner will be familiar with, but there's no denying that this is a more user-friendly approach than the standard Nikon method of selecting manual WB, choosing a preset, then pressing and holding the WB button and taking a test shot. In conventional (non live-view) shooting with the D7100, this method is unchanged.

Auto ISO

The D7100 inherits the same improved set of auto ISO sensitivity parameters we described in great detail in our D800 review. With Auto ISO enabled in the shooting menu or via the front dial, the camera will select a sensitivity between the current user-selected ISO and the maximum Auto ISO setting you have configured in the shooting menu. So setting ISO 100 and configuring the maximum Auto ISO to 6400, for example, will allow the camera to choose an ISO sensitivity anywhere within that range.

Set your camera's ISO to values much above ISO 100 though and you may get unintended results. That's because the standard 'ISO sensitivty' value you have chosen for non-Auto ISO mode will override any maximum Auto ISO setting you make. Here's an extreme example. If you set ISO 3200 in the ISO sensitivity menu option, but enable Auto ISO and set its 'Maximum sensitivity' to only 800, the camera will make every effort to meter and shoot at ISO 3200, setting a lower value only when choosing ISO 3200 would require a shutter speed that exceeds the camera's maximum of 1/8000. So if you'll be toggling Auto ISO on and off on a regular basis, it's always worth checking to make sure that you've got a low ISO value set when enabling it again. Curiously, this is the exact opposite of the behavior we saw in the D600, which under those same circumstances honors the (in this case) more appropriate Auto ISO maximum.

In addition to specifying a fixed, minimum shutter speed to ensure sharp pictures, you also have an Auto option for minimum shutter speed. In this mode - provided you are using a modern 'CPU' lens which transmits data to the camera - the D7100 automatically sets a minimum shutter speed value based on the focal length of the attached lens. This comes in particularly handy when shooting with zoom lenses.

In the ISO sensitivity menus you can specify the range of ISO values from which the camera can select. With the minimum shutter speed set to 'Auto' the camera will use the focal length of the currently mounted lens to determine a hand-holdable shutter speed. An 'Auto' sub-menu (highlighted here in yellow) allows you to bias the camera towards choosing slower or faster shutter speeds for any given focal length.

You can even fine-tune this automatic shutter speed selection. There is an adjustment slider in the sub-menu for 'Auto minimum shutter speed' that ranges from 'slower' to 'faster' in 5 steps. This lets you bias the camera towards higher shutter speeds of approximately 2x and 4x the current focal length, or to lower shutter speed values of roughly 0.5x and 0.25x the current focal length. This former is useful for freezing action with high shutter speeds (or simply minimizing any chance of camera shake with non-VR lenses), the latter for taking maximum advantage of image stabilization to keep ISOs as low as possible.

MB-D15 Battery Grip and external connectors

Photographers looking to add bulk for better balance with expensive, heavy zooms like the AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens, more comfortable portrait orientation shooting, or simply increased battery performance can opt for the MB-D15 grip. The grip allows you to add a second Li-ion battery or in a pinch, power the camera via AA batteries. Note that there is no speed boost when using the grip, with any battery combination. It is purely intended to aid handling.

An accessory grip is available for the D7100, providing vertical controls, and the option to power the camera with a second Li-ion battery or AA batteries. The MB-D15 grip costs $269.95 in the US and £279 in the UK.

In terms of accessory compatibility, the D7100 also offers an array of connectors seen on previous Nikon DSLRs such as HDMI and USB/AV outs, a stereo microphone input for movie recording, and a multi-function port that accepts both Nikon's optional GP-1 GPS unit, and the MC-DC2 electronic cable release. The camera also has also front and rear receivers for the ML-L3 wireless remote. One upgrade over the D7000 is a headphone socket for monitoring sound during movie recording.

Specific handling issues

That the D7100 manages the neat task of being immediately familiar in handling and operation both to D7000 owners making an upgrade and D600/D800 users looking for a more affordable backup camera, speaks well of Nikon's sensible design approach. The D7100 maintains most, if not all, of what we liked about the D7000 yet inherits elements common to both its full frame siblings, like the top-mounted movie record button and integrate stills/video live mode button/switch combination. The introduction of spot white balance, a quick menu-like 'i' button and brighter rear RGBW LCD all make positive contributions to the handling of the camera both in the field and in the studio.

The vertical placement of the zoom in and zoom out buttons have been swapped on the D7100 compared to its predecessor, the D7000. This will certainly involve a bit of unlearning for those making the upgrade, but outside of anyone who plans to use both cameras, this is an adjustment that can be quickly made. And D800 owners interested in a smaller APS-C second body, will find these buttons exactly where they'd find them on their main camera.

Our biggest gripe about the D7100 from an operational standpoint will be familiar to readers of our D600 review. Changes made to aperture settings while live view is engaged are not are not previewed on-screen. This can easily lead to focusing errors which is doubly frustrating since working in live view mode offers the most accurate way of manually focusing a camera. You can read about this issue in more depth on the live view page of this review.

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Comments

Total comments: 48
Help taking the next step
By Help taking the next step (2 weeks ago)

Hello guys.

Do you find that exposure problem in live view annoying?

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
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
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 (3 weeks 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 (3 weeks 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 (3 weeks 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
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: 48