Nikon D7100 Review

Introduction

The Nikon D7100 is the successor to the previously released D7000 and praised as Nikon’s best APS-C camera. At first glance, it looks identical to its predecessor inheriting a similar design, control scheme, and layout. We classify this camera as the APS-C hybrid between the D7000 and D700, with the addition of a 24.1-megapixel sensor. While 24-megapixel ASP-C cameras are nothing new, Nikon did opt to remove the Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF) with this installment in the lineup. The results of which make the performance this camera offers comparable to that of the Canon 70D, quite a remarkable feat indeed.  An exceptional number of photographers have said that this the best Nikon camera to date, today we discuss the validity of these rumors to see if there’s anything substantial about those claims. 

Nikon-D7100-specs-camera

What are some of the goods, bads, and the uglies of the Nikon D7100?

Pros:

Image Quality

With the removal of the OLPF, the camera has an exceptional ability to resolve more precise detail, especially at higher ISOs, which results in overall sharper images and better low-light performance. This improvement means that the photo created in-camera further reduce the need for any post-process sharpening. This camera inherited a similar system to that found in the Nikon D300S, the results of which are images whos quality now outperforms the Nikon D600 and almost comparable to the D800E. The fact that this level of performance is available at this entry-level range is a massive win for Nikon. Overall, images have excellent sharpness, detail, and superb color accuracy.

Low Light Performance

It has a native ISO sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 6,400 that is also expandable to 25,600. ISO performance is superb, and this camera provides usable images up to ISO 6,400 with only moderates amount of noise in the mid-tones. As expected, however, significant amounts of noise are found on anything above ISO 6,400. The low light performance seen is the result of the inherited EXPEED 3 image processor from Nikon’s high-end D4 and D800, making its performance amazingly comparable to both of these cameras. 

Dynamic Range

The dynamic range is impressive, and it performs similar to the D600 in this regard. The ability to recover shadows and highlights is remarkable considering the small sensor size.  

Video Quality

It has strong video performance, offering sharp videos at even ISO 6,400. Available video formats include 1080 HD video at 30 FPS and 720p at 60 FPS. Interestingly enough, the camera also allows users to take photos while filming. 

Focusing Performance

It has 51 AF points, 15 of which are cross-type, that cover almost the entirety of the sensor. This autofocus system is the same system found in the higher-end Nikon D700. It also has 3D tracking for continuous AF, which works well provided that the subject’s color contrasts well with its surrounding environment. Overall, focusing performance and accuracy is found to be a significant improvement over the predecessor, even in low light, and is class-leading for the price-point. 

Battery Performance

It provides 920 shots per single charge and inherits the same battery from the Nikon D600 and D800 series cameras. This finding is understandable considering the performance offered, but it is a slight reduction compared to the battery life of the predecessor. 

LCD & Viewfinder

It has an updated LCD, which is now OLED, that provides even better contrast and readability compared to the predecessor. Overall, viewing the on-screen text and information panes is easy, even in bright daylight conditions. The LCD is also anti-glare and fingerprint resistant and, surprisingly, provides greater visibility than both the D800 and D4. Outside of visibility, the LCD renders true colors with abundant sharpness. 

User Interface

The overall user interface is simple yet intuitive. It offers extensive customization and a dedicated menu showcasing a history of previously made changes. Users can change this “recent” menu into “my tab,” allowing them complete control over any of the elements nested within it. This option gives users the freedom to tailor the list to their specific shooting style. Not to mention, there’s also a dedicated retouching menu that enables users to resize images and immediately apply in-camera filters. While not a feature aimed at professionals, it is something the amateur will appreciate.  

Physical Layout & Ergonomics

It provides a similar layout to both the Nikon D750 and D610. If you’ve used either of these cameras before or are a prior Nikon shooter, you’ll be pleased by the design of this camera. Its button placement is excellent, and the body is sturdier than the predecessor, now being constructed primarily of a magnesium alloy. Overall, ergonomics are excellent, and the camera is comfortable for prolonged use. 

Extras

It has an internal autofocus motor, allowing users to use any Nikon made lens regardless of whether the lens itself has an internal autofocus motor or not. When using manual lenses, the camera can perform full 3D matrix metering once you specific the lens installed in the menu.

It has a built-in rangefinder, similar to the Nikon F4, that assist users shooting in manual focus. This rangefinder adds indications on-screen that designates whether or not the selected focus point is sufficiently focused. This feature is particularly helpful for those who find it challenging to achieve critical focus through the viewfinder alone, as articulating this level of detail is confusing.  

It has a stereo microphone for sufficient audio capture when needed.

It has custom user modes, allowing users to fully customize the settings to tailor each of the two methods to their specific shooting style. 

It has built-in lens distortion correction that works well and completely removes the need to this in post.

It has built-in HDR, which works well and saves time for those craving to bypass combining the files in post. It also has a built-in multiple exposure function that is fully customizable in its number of exposures as well.

It has dual SD card slots, perfect for those demanding an extra card for overflow to shoot JPEG & RAW simultaneously or for backup.

It has a custom white balance function, found in Live View, which enables users to make presets by selecting a point via the d-pad. Once selected, the camera automatically measures and uses that point as a reference, fundamentally simplifying custom white balance to just one-click. 

It has a burst rate of 6 FPS that provides approximately 7 RAW frames sequentially before slowing to 2 frames. While these are not industry-leading figures, this is a marketed improvement over the predecessor which only had a burst rate of 5 FPS. Not only that, the camera has a 1.3x crop mode that, if enabled, increases the burst rate to 7 FPS. 

It has a built-in crop mode, which crops the sensor from 1.5x natively to 1.3x. When this occurs, the sensor resolution is degraded down to 16-megapixels. The benefit, however, is that this alters the focal length of the lens being used to increase its range. For example, say we use the FX NIKKOR 50 mm f/1.8, natively this lens is a 75mm equivalent. However, if 1.3x crop mode is enabled, that same 75 mm equivalent becomes 100 mm. This feature provides a 1.9x magnification and essentially doubles the focal length of the lens used. 

When filming, users can display and adjust audio levels, which makes setting microphone gain simple. 

It has a headphone input port. 

It has an external microphone input port.

The viewfinder provides 100% coverage of the sensor. 

It inherited the same sealing from the D800 and is now entirely weather and dust sealed. 

It has a built-in pop-up flash which can also act as a commander for Nikon speed lights for remote triggering.  

Has an information button that allows custom features to be assigned to the user interface, a feature not found on the predecessor. 

It has a dedicated Live View button on the camera itself, similar to the D800 and D4, which grants immediate access to live view shooting whenever required. 

It has an HDMI port that outputs a clean signal directly to an external device for both viewing and recording.

Cons:

Image Quality

When shooting, changes in Aperture are not reflected as changes in exposure on the LCD causing you to chimp (shoot them immediately review a photo) to ensure proper exposure. 

Video Quality

During Live View filming, you cannot adjust Aperture whatsoever. Only the shutter speed and ISO are adjustable. To make this change, users must disable Live View, make the change then restart video recording. This lack considerably slows down workflow and is a complete waste of time.  

Extras

The camera has a slow buffer that fills after only 5-7 RAW images in a single burst. In practice, this limitation can be overcome as the buffer is found to at least clear quite fast.

Is the Nikon D7100 a good starting camera?

Absolutely. Besides the minor grip with Aperture control, this camera is a no brainer. Overall, the performance offered is among the best Nikon has to offer. The camera has the best AF system from Nikon available, superior image quality, solid dynamic range and, overall, handles quite well. While this is a camera that is optimized primarily for landscape, wildlife and sports photographers. We can absolutely see this as being a solid choice for even the newest photographer looking to purchase their first digital camera, be it Digital SLR or mirrorless. The image quality offered is among the sharpest resolution and best performing low noise performance Nikon has to offer before stepping up into a full-frame camera. This being the primarily result of the camera over the predecessor as Nikon has opted to remove the OLPF. Overall, the tweaks and modifications that have been made make this lineup that much more competitive and a bargain given the price-point. The D7100 provides significant value for both beginners and serious professions alike. And a camera someone can truly develop with long-term and the best valued Digital SLR.

What are the best lenses for the Nikon D7100? 

General Photography: 

NIKON-AF-S-NIKKOR-55-200mm

Nikon-18-55mm

Nikon-18-105mm

Nikon-18-200mm

Specifically for Macro Photography:

NIKKOR-40mm lens

Specifically for Landscape Photography:

10-20mm

Specifically for Portrait Photography:

nikon lens

NIKKOR-55-200mm

stock lens

Best bundles for the Nikon D7100

camera bundle

Is the Nikon D7100 a good camera for you?

Yes. The cameras optimize for both novices and pro level photographers. And offers both automatic mode/scene selection roads as well as manual control and customer user selection modes for quick selections and scenes constantly being shot. Overall it provides superb images, with lots of detail and natural color. It’s worth keeping an eye out. Provides a fair amount of value for both beginnings and serious shooters looking for a second camera, as they can take advantage of the resolution plus added reach for your current lenses with the crop mode to increase versatility and range.

Nikon-D7100--vs-Nikon-D7200-comparison-banner

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Dynamic Range
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
  • Feature Set
3.7

Summary

The Nikon D7100 is an excellent successor to the D7000, which offers an overall performance that makes it among the best Nikon can provide. The tweaks and modifications Nikon made with this iteration create a camera that is still competitive even in today’s marketplace, especially in this price range. A surprising number of photographers have claimed that this was among Nikon’s best cameras to date, and we agree. With the removal of the OLPF and features inherited from their pro-level cameras, Nikon has created a camera that is still worthwhile to the amateur and professional photographer alike.