Nikon has now improved one of their most popular DSLR lines and brought us a new Nikon D7100. With a brand new 24MP sensor, a huge step up from the 16MP predecessor, Nikon has brought its A game with this new shooter. With a spec list unheard of in this pricepoint, Nikon is challenging the competition on numerous levels. Then with a host of professional features from improved AF, weather sealing, fast 6fps shooting and other new features, combined with a prosumer price point of $1199, The Nikon D7100 is sure to be a popular and well performing DSLR.
Almost every part of the New D7100 has been improved from the previous D7000 starting with the new sensor. At 24MP, the new sensor has dramatically improved resolution combined with a great ISO range of 100-6400. It does not look like Nikon is ready to set a new standard of low light performance, but it is clear they believe that even with the increased megapixel count, the D7100 will deliver results similar or better to the already great D7000. Video has been improved as well to bring this camera in line with the competition. The D7100 will shoot at 1080p 30fps, 24fps, and 60fps @ 720p. A nice addition is the headphone out jack in addition to the mic input jack which will make video users happy, although Nikon has lagged behind some other models in the past by removing audio adjustments while shooting. A built in stereo mic will help those without an external mic though I would not expect amazing results. The camera is also fast at 6FPS although not quite as fast as the Canon 7D. The Nikon does have a trick up its sleeve however with a 1.3x crop mode that allows faster shooting at up to 7fps. This mode is also available for video and typically brings a higher quality image, increased zoom range, and also unlocks a new 1080p @60i shooting mode. The built in flash remains in the camera and the flash sync mode is also still a fast 1/250 of a second. For HDR shooters, AE bracketing is reduced to 5 images (many will shoot 7 or 9) though 5 frames is still enough to satisfy almost all enthusiasts and a welcome departure from the 3 frames that some cameras are limited to. Some inherited professional features include a max shutter speed of 1/8000 seconds, 100% viewfinder coverage, a shutter rated to 150,000 actuations, and a completely weather sealed body in line with that of the Nikon D800! The OK button is now customizable like the D800 to zoom into a desired area of the frame. This feature, notably absent on the Nikon D600 is a welcome upgrade. The D7100 is roughly the same size as the D7000 and is only a couple of mm larger and 8 grams heavier. It still has the welcome 2 SD card slots (pay attention Canon) and has the same battery as the D7000 though it is now rated to more than 950 images. The AF system has also been improved bringing the 51 point AF (15 Cross type sensors) system from the D300S to the D7100 though with a few improvements. Nikon claims new algorithms based on the D4 that allow faster focusing even in extremely low light down to -2EV. The focus points also extend further towards the end of the frame allowing for a wider range of compositions. Unfortunately, cross type points are still clustered in the center unlike the Canon cameras so focusing on the edges of the frame could be a mixed bag. A LED focus illuminator is also present to help focus in low light. This feature can be annoying at times so I usually leave it off, but there are times it could be a lifesaver. A new 3.2” screen is also a welcome upgrade sporting a industry winning 1.2 million dots vs the 920,000 dots of the old screen.
There is no optical low pass filter on this camera. This filter is usually present to reduce moire and patterns in fine details and is included in every Nikon other than the D800E. With a large amount of pixels on a small sensor I am not sure how Nikon plans on dealing with the usual pattern noise but hopefully they have a plan. Without this filter, the camera is likely to yield sharper images all the way around the frame. Moire has previously been an even greater problem with video and it is very likely that this could be a greater issue in the D7100.
A new Spot white balance mode allows for quick white balance in live view by just selecting an area of the frame. The new Camera also has both front & rear IR receivers to help with optical control of the camera. A new ‘i’ button, likely similar to the Canon Q button, will give access to the cameras most used functions and allow for quick changes of common settings. The viewfinder display for settings is OLED now instead of LCD which is a small difference but will likely lead to better viewing quality
Not a lot actually, especially considering the low price of the camera. In fact, most of these are just nitpicking on what we know Nikon is capable of but did not do. There is no built in WiFi or GPS like the Canon 6D. This is certainly not a surprise although built in WiFi is becoming more popular and has many great uses. The camera is only USB 2.0 which will lead to slower data transfers while tethered from the camera to the computer. The D7100 does have the same locking mechanism for exposure and drive controls as the Nikon D600 and unfortunately, the locking mechanism for the 2nd drive mode dial is extremely difficult to unlock and quick changes are difficult
Ok, there are a couple of big issues here as with every camera. I do wish the ISO button had a dedicated button on the top of the camera near the shutter. Combining it with the zoom button is even worse as the zoom button will operate during image review while shooting and you can accidentally zoom instead of changing the ISO or change the ISO instead of zooming. I would also love to see the white balance button moved to the top as well but this is not as big of a deal because it is usually not used as often. I did not like this button placement on the D600 either. You cannot change the aperture in live view!!! This to me is a huge issue for Nikon for live view and movie shooters as it makes it impossible to change the aperture, not only while shooting video, but even in standby. It is the same for the Nikon D600 and has led me to not recommend these cameras for those who enjoy live view or movie shooting. It makes video and live view shooting such a pain that I often refuse to use it.
Although we are still waiting to get our hands on to test this camera, it looks like Nikon has produced a winning DSLR with the D7100. Add to it that they were able to accomplish this without raising the price is astonishing, especially in light of the price increases for Canon cameras. With an opening price of only $1,199 and a host of features that will make professional’s lust, the Nikon D7100 is sure to be a great and popular camera. If they can address the issue of changing the aperture in live view they will remove the only serious issue I can find. I can’t wait to get my hands on this camera and expect it to exceed the already great results of the Nikon D7000.