Previous page Next page

Performance

Overall Performance

The Nikon D7100 is a very responsive camera, whether you're navigating through menu screens, zooming in and out of live view previews or using the command dials to change shooting parameters. Furthermore, its wealth of external controls can greatly limit the time you spend in the camera's voluminous menu system. To take advantage of this efficiency though, you'll need to spend some time at the outset configuring the camera's extensive array of custom settings to your liking.

If the D7100 is powered-up with the shutter button held down in manual focus mode, exposure is essentially instant, meaning that the only thing potentially in the way of capturing 'decisive moments' is AF acquisition. Overall unless you'll be doing a lot of shooting in burst mode, which we'll discuss below, the D7100 is ready to shoot when you are. The camera features dual SD card slots and you can configure the secondary card slot as overflow (default) or duplicate storage. When shooting in RAW+JPEG mode, you can also dedicate one card slot to each file format.

Continuous Shooting and Buffering

The D7100 offers two basic burst modes, with a number of options that can dramatically influence performance. A Continuous Low (CL) option is available that can be configured between 1-6 fps. Continuous High is always set to the camera's maximum shooting rate. In the default DX mode, the D7100 is spec'd at a 6 fps maximum. Switch the camera to its 1.3x crop mode (which because this is an APS-C sensor yields a 2x crop compared to full frame 35mm output) though and the D7100 can shoot at 7 fps while yielding a quite usable 15MP file.

As you'll see in the tables that follow, the number of images you can shoot with the D7100 before filling its buffer varies according to the crop size and, to an even larger degree, the image quality settings. And if you shoot action and sports, understanding the ramifications of these settings will go a long way towards getting the most out of the camera. When examining these numbers, keep in mind that you can still shoot single images as well as access all of the camera menus and shooting options - though curiously not the 'i' button screen - while data is being written to the card.

For the timing tests below we used a Sandisk Extreme Pro 8GB Class 10 SD card (95MB/s). Active D-Lighting and lens distortion correction were disabled. JPEG compression was set to 'Optimal quality'. Raw file output was set to the camera's default 14-bit, lossless compression settings.

DX Mode (24MP): Continuous Hi

Timing
JPEG Large/Fine
Raw
Raw+JPEG Fine
Frame rate 5.9 fps max 5.9 fps max 5.9 fps max
Burst capacity 50 images 6 images 5 images
Buffer full rate 4 fps 2.7 fps 1 fps
Write complete 33 sec. 5 sec. 5 sec.

1.3x crop mode (15MP): Continuous Hi

Timing
JPEG Large/Fine
Raw
Raw+JPEG Fine
Frame rate 7 fps 7 fps 7 fps
Burst capacity 100 images 7 images 6 images
Buffer full rate n/a 3.5 fps 2 fps
Write complete 1 min. 5 sec. 5 sec.

In DX mode, the maximum frame rate of the D7100 essentially matches that of its predecessor, the D7000. This is no small feat, as the D7100 is pushing out 24MP files versus the 16MP images of the previous model. We did find that the maximum 5.9 fps we measured was not achieved consistently throughout the burst, as times averaged between 5 and 5.5 fps.

In our tests, shooting JPEGs in 1.3x crop mode lets you maintain the maximum 7 fps rate the entire time your finger is on the shutter button. The 100-frame limitation is simply to prevent heat buildup.

In RAW mode on the other hand, the D7100 has a noticeably limited buffer capacity compared not only to its predecessor but to Nikon's full frame 24MP D600 and 36MP D800 models. Shooting in RAW or RAW+JPEG mode restricts you to a burst of only 5-6 images before the rate drops to a level insufficient for even casual action shots. For anyone using the D7100 to catch critical moments of fast moving athletes or vehicles, shooting in JPEG-only mode is, for all practical purposes the only feasible option - something that won't be all that surprising to sports and action photographers.

Continuous Lo at 3 fps: DX mode

The D7100 gives you the option of specifying the maximum frame rate when the camera dial is set to Continuous Lo drive mode. Interestingly, it can be set between 1 and 6 fps , omitting only the top rate for Continuous Hi in 1.3x crop mode. The table below shows results at the camera's default setting of 3 fps.

Timing
JPEG Large/Fine
Raw
Raw+JPEG Fine
Frame rate 2.9 fps 2.9 fps 2.9 fps
Burst capacity 100 images 100 images 5 images
Buffer full rate n/a 2.5 to 2.9 fps 1 fps
Write complete 1 min. 1 min., 2 sec. 5 sec.

As the numbers show, the only real benefit of shooting at a slower frame rate is that it allows longer shooting bursts at maximum speed when shooting in JPEG or Raw mode. With the camera set to Raw+JPEG, the burst rate is just as limited as when shooting in DX mode.

Autofocus area

One of our criticisms of the AF arrays of the D600 and D800 was that on those full frame sensors, the coverage area occupied a relatively small central area of the image area. On the APS-C D7100, Nikon's Multi-CAM 3500DX autofocus sensor module (nominally the same unit found in the D300s, although there are specification differences - for example the D7100's AF is rated down to -2EV, as opposed to -1EV) provides 51 AF points which cover a much wider proportion of the frame.

And that's just the start. Set the camera to its 1.3x crop mode and the AF array then covers a large majority of the entire frame, as you can see in the example below. Combine that with a 7 fps burst mode and AF tracking technology inherited from the pro spec'd D4 and there's a lot to like for hobbyist sports shooters.

DX mode (24MP) 1.3x crop mode (15MP)

In the rollover above, you can compare the difference in AF coverage with the camera set to its default DX mode and then with the 1.3x crop option which puts the majority of the image area within range of the AF points. In the 1.3x crop mode the D7100 delivers a 15MP image.

The D7100, like the full frame D800 and flagship D4 has an impressive focus sensitivity down to -2 EV, besting that of the the D7000 and D600 by a full stop. In practice, this means that you can acquire focus without a lot of hunting in low light scenarios like stage photography and nighttime street shooting. As you'd expect, the center-most AF points can outperform those at the edges in acquiring focus in low light, but with the extra stop of sensitivity, we find this to be less of an issue than we reported in our D600 review. The Canon EOS 6D and Pentax K-5 II/IIs still share the low-light AF crown with their -3 EV sensitivity rating. But for Nikon shooters, this is currently as good as it gets.

Autofocus performance

In terms of autofocus performance, the D7100 is very much a tale of two cities. On one hand it inherits the 51-point AF system of the flagship D4, with 15 cross-type sensors and a focus sensitivity limit of -2 EV. These are attention-grabbing specs on a camera in this price range. The D7100 also shoots at a respectable 6 fps in DX mode. Add to this the ability to switch to a 1.3x crop mode which, as illustrated above, allows the AF array to cover almost the entire frame and pushes the camera to a 7fps burst speed.

And as the table below illustrates, the D7100 can utilize the center-most 15 AF points with a lens whose maximum aperture is only F5.6. You could also put a 2x teleconverter on a lens like the very good AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm F4G ED VR and the D7100 could still use its center focus point at the F8 equivalent maximum aperture this combo would produce.

Maximum aperture F5.6 lens focus points Maximum aperture F8 lens focus point

For dedicated sports and action shooters, however, this is all tempered by the D7100's paltry buffer size in RAW/RAW+JPEG capture mode. A 6fps shooting rate becomes less appealing if you can only fire off 5-6 images in a single burst before waiting for image data to be off-loaded to the SD card. And that's the issue you'll be facing if you shoot in either Raw-enabled mode. Put simply, if you're going to be shooting sports you're essentially forced to shoot JPEG only.

While many action photographers may still reflexively reach for JPEG mode when shooting bursts, one of the more compelling features of a camera like the Canon EOS 7D or certainly the pro-level EOS 1D X, is the ability to shoot in a Raw-enabled mode and still be able to fire off an acceptably high number of frames. Make no mistake, in JPEG-only mode the D7100 can be a brisk performer, but you will need to carefully consider white balance, color and noise-reduction settings, before you begin shooting.

This limitation aside, the AF system itself works very well. Focus acquisition is very brisk and the predictive tracking modes, while not offering a 100% hit rate, have in our time shooting with the camera returned more than a fair share of acceptably focused shots in every burst, under both indoor and outdoor lighting conditions.

ISO 3200, F4 1/800 sec., 1.3x crop mode ISO 4000, F4 1/800 sec., 1.3x crop mode
100% crop, NR off 100% crop, NR off

The images above were shot in an indoor arena using the Nikkor 70-200mm F4 lens with continuous AF enabled and the camera set to its 21 point dynamic AF mode. The D7100's 1.3x crop mode was used as this allowed for a tighter in-camera crop and thus significantly greater scene coverage for the AF array. The D7100 was able to acquire focus very quickly whether using the center or outermost AF points.

In an effort to pull as much detail as possible form the JPEGs, the camera was set to NR off. This doesn't completely disable noise reduction, as the D7100 will always apply NR at ISOs of 1250 and higher, regardless of the user setting. This baked-in suppression is, however, less aggressive than the user-selectable NR Low setting.

Previous page Next page

Comments

Total comments: 32
Glen from Bedford
By Glen from Bedford (1 week 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.

3 upvotes
sadatoni
By sadatoni (1 week 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.

4 upvotes
svesi
By svesi (1 week 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

0 upvotes
jll59
By jll59 (2 days ago)

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

0 upvotes
Awes Khan
By Awes Khan (3 weeks 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
bull detector
By bull detector (3 weeks 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 weeks 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...

0 upvotes
jjlad
By jjlad (3 weeks 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.

0 upvotes
Wannabballers
By Wannabballers (1 month 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
Timothy G
By Timothy G (1 month 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 (1 month 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 (1 month 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 weeks 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
Blhtang
By Blhtang (2 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 (1 month ago)

completely compatible...no problem

1 upvote
Westmill
By Westmill (3 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 !!!!!!!

1 upvote
Guidenet
By Guidenet (1 month 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.

0 upvotes
StillLearning
By StillLearning (1 month 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.

0 upvotes
Guidenet
By Guidenet (1 month 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.

1 upvote
Bud Robertson
By Bud Robertson (4 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 (3 months ago)

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

0 upvotes
sophi loren
By sophi loren (4 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 :)

1 upvote
RMLurie
By RMLurie (4 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 (4 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

1 upvote
maurizio220
By maurizio220 (5 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
1 upvote
Salkareem
By Salkareem (5 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.

2 upvotes
Tal Shachar
By Tal Shachar (8 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 (6 months ago)

Very nice review you got there...

0 upvotes
Cankon
By Cankon (8 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 (8 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 (8 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 (7 months ago)

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

1 upvote
Total comments: 32