Monday, March 25, 2013

Nikon D7100 Review


It must have been something of a sinking feeling for those waiting for a successor to the Nikon D300s to see the arrival of the very well spec’d D7100.  Though some may argue against, I hold that the D7000 was indeed the commercial successor to the D300s whether or not Nikon admitted to it, and that the D7100 is now the second camera to carry the line forward. Product-wise, it doesn't have the build quality or performance to qualify it as the mythical D400, but it's certainly 90% of the way there. Theoretically, there is room in the Nikon line-up for a professional quality DX camera, but I’m not sure that it will ever be built. With the exception of the D600, “professional” now means FX; I don’t think that we will return to the days of the semi-pro DX workhorse era of the D200/D300. It's not that a D400 wouldn't be a great camera, it's just that it would be hard to compete professionally when the competition are serving clients with 5DmIII's and D800's.

Spot the differences. The D7000 and D7100 side by side.
A pro-quality DX camera is something of an anachronism in today's market. Nikon Professional Services won't enlist you if you don't shoot full time with a qualifying camera which must be you primary camera, and which must be pro spec. In other words, Nikon isn't interested in taking on new NPS shooters who use a DX camera as their primary machine. Not at the moment anyway.

Professional aspirations aside, the goalposts have once again moved for DX. For the same entry price as the D7000, we once again moving to a new level of performance and features. Nikon might be disappointing some with their handling of 2012's quality issues, and others with their mysterious reluctance to properly fill out the DX lineup, but when it comes to the core product model that is the serious-enthusiast dSLR line, they haven’t let users down, not in each successive generation since the D70.

First off, some additional resources if you are interested in how the D7100 compares to other cameras:

   
Also, a word of thanks to Dave Lai and the staff at Broadway Camera for my time with the D7100.

D7100 Construction


The D7100 will be familiar if you’ve handled either D7000 or a D600. Most of the controls are laid out in the same way, with the D7100 inheriting the D600’s Live View / video switch. I still prefer the spring-hinged lever of the D7000, as I tend to go back and forth between phase detection and contrast detection when I want to squeeze in a “safety” shot during times I would focus to be as precise as possible. To that end, I’m glad the D5200 kept its sprung Live View lever as a hold-over from the D5100.  On the 7100 and the D600, it’s not a deal breaker, though, just personal preference.

D7100 - Note the deeper notch under the front command dial.

Another minor change in the D7100 from the D7000 is that it inherits the D600’s locking mode wheel (as also found on the Canon T4i). Having used the D600 a few times more since its launch, I’ve decided that I’m not a fan of the lock button. Some people will like it, especially if they find that the wheel is too easy to turn off of your preferred setting, but I think this is an overly complicated solution to a simple problem. It would be simpler- and would give better tactile feedback - if the mode wheel was “tighter” and required a little bit more force to “click” into place. With the lock on the mode wheel and the lock on the shutter drive mode, the left side of the camera seems a little on the “childproof” side for quick operation. It work's at cross purposes... a wheel is supposed to give you quick access but the lock slows down that function down. The better solution would have been to make the wheel more precise; but they've confused that with making it slower to use. I'd like to point out that Panasonic makes excellent mode wheels that stay in place without resorting to a cumbersome wheel lock.

The connection covers on the left side of the camera are now hinged instead of the one-piece rubber covers from the past. It's an added convenience and keeps the covers open while you are plugging in cables, but otherwise, I've never had one of the old style connectors fail me, either. The microphone is now stereo and has moved to the top of the camera, further away from the sound intrusion of the focusing motors (both in-camera and on-lens).

D7100 - New top microphone and locking mode dial.

The rear LCD is new, and is larger by 0.2" and uses Sony WhiteMagic technology, which adds white pixels to the traditional RGB layout to improve brightness. This is an added convenience for outdoor shooting, but I wouldn't say that it's a dramatic difference. If you were bothered by bright sun washing out the read display on the older cameras, the new display isn't going to solve that (and why are you shooting during the middle of the day when exposure and colours are at their harshest?).

D7000 and D7100 - No more clip on protector.

I'm guessing that it's the same display used in the D800 and D4, as the inclusion of the plastic screen protector is no more. The LCD glass has moved in step with the smartphone industry, and uses Gorilla glass, which being a tempered glass, is strong and scratch resistance for it's weight. I never took the LCD cover off of my D7000... the display isn't colour accurate enough for it to matter, and I've always felt safer that there was an added layer of protection between the LCD glass and a direct strike. To be honest, though, the weak point of tempered glass is at the edge, where an impact will not just cause it to crack, but to potentially explode (think basketball slam dunks...) I couldn't help but notice that the store I was in had a complete selection of LCD protectors for sale... you got the protection for free last time, if you want it this time, you're going to have to pay extra. Small nit, but I'm not a fan of the redesigned border around the LCD. The overall shape and aesthetic of the D7000 rear panel seems to be more professional and business-like than that of the D7100.

Other than that, the weight of the D7100 is similar to the D7000. Despite the similar size and weight, and more ergonomic grip, there is something about the D7100 that makes it feel a bit more chunkier than the D7000; in fact, the official spec sheet indicates that it's actually marginally lighter. Otherwise, if you aren't paying attention, you could mistake one for the other from across the room.

Menus and Controls 


As with each generational change, if you've used a Nikon before, then you'll generally have no trouble stepping into the new one. However, there are some differences in the control layout, and though many of the indicators are (more or less) in the same place, the way some of the information is displayed is different, e.g., the top LCD icons for focus mode... same place, same control, slightly different look.

D7100 - Rear controls, like a D600 in miniature.


The left side of the camera has gotten a tweak. A new "i" button has joined the rest of the button stack on the left side of the rear LCD display, and lets you access commonly used functions. The ISO button remains second from the bottom, with the lesser used Quality button moved above it. You now have instant 100% zoom when reviewing your pictures. The pro cameras have had this, but on the older consumer cameras, you had to stab at the enlargement button a few times if you wanted to pixel peep. Small change to how flash exposure compensation is handled. There is now an option to let you decide whether or not you want overall EV compensation to be linked to flash EV compensation, or if you want to adjust ambient and flash exposure's separately.

D7100
The rubber thumb pad is now taller, wider, and is a more complicated shape. Even though it's comfortable (actually, it might be more comfortable than the D7000), I'm not a fan of the change; it remains me too much of the fussy styling on modern cars, such as (Hyundai's  "fluidic sculpture" design language comes to mind). The shape on the D7000 is simpler and more aesthetically pleasing. However, the new one reverses a trend of incremental size reductions in the thumb rest area.  The new thumbpad and the deeper middle finger "hook" on the front of the grip will probably make the camera more comfortable to hold. 
D7000

Another reason why I don't like the new rubber pad shape is that it's thin top left corner looks like it will be more prone to unpeeling than on the D7000. The soft rubber (neoprene-based, if I'm not mistaken) absorbs oils from your hand over time, which makes the rubber expand and push away from the camera body. It's more of an annoyance than anything else, as it's easy to remedy with rubber cement, but the complication of this simple area of the camera seems like a design change for the sake of change.

Just as an aside, it seems that with every new Nikon, the staff at DPReview manage to find the placement of the ISO button "awkward," this despite the fact that it has been more or less in the same position as it has been since the dawn of the digital era. I know that there is a case for having ISO control over on the right-hand side of the camera, as with Canon, but I think that Nikon has the placement about right, and clearly they think so too, as the layout hasn't changed. ISO, White balance and picture quality are all parameters that you ought to be setting before you engage in active shooting, they're ambient settings, not situational ones. This leaves the control of the right-hand side of the camera dedicated for focus and exposure, which are more critical and which can change from moment to moment. Why isn't ISO a moment to moment critical control, you may ask? Despite continued advances in high ISO image quality, each stop that you increase it, you correspondingly reduce dynamic range... there's no getting away from it. This is why the ISO button is on the left side of the camera. (If you want, you can always map it to the multi-use function button on the front of the camera).

Autofocus


I never had significant problems with the D7000’s phase detection autofocus system, but I’m also a bit more willing to believe that the fault is in myself rather than the camera. Others are more demanding of their equipment and have noted that the D7000 was not as easy to nail down the focus with as with the D300 and D300s. Having used both the D300 and the D7000, I would agree, and was quite pleased to learn that the D7100 would be using the same AF system that Nikon uses on the professional bodies.

The not-so-helpfully-named 1.3x crop mode is a welcome feature, as it basically turns the D7100 into effectively a m4/3-sized sensor.  The operation is a bit hard to pick up, but not intuitive once you get you use it. You have to press the function button on the lower right under the lens mount, and then twirl the rear command dial. Once you do, crop lines will appear in the viewfinder indicating the reduced area. In crop mode, the D7100 is basically a m4/3 camera but with a phase detection system that covers nearly the whole frame... nothing like this exists in the actual m4/3 landscape. With the D7100’s pixel density and 1.3x crop mode (which effectively gives you double the FX equivalent of a lens’ focal length), this is an ideal combination for the birders, and is yet another reminder that the D400 is probably not coming…. crop mode is well thought out and clearly was meant to address the subset of D300 users who were demanding pixel density for distance work. I what makes it work is the removal of the anti-aliasing filter (more on that latter), you can crop (proportionally) deeper into a D7100 image than a D7000 image because of the higher acuity.

The switch to the higher-end 51-point AF unit is a welcome change. First of all, it covers more of the frame than the D7000 unit, so it's even better at motion tracking and helps you be more precise with focusing on off-center subjects. Overall, my first impression was that it is easier to nail focus on small objects/areas with the D7100 than the D7000. During the time that I had with it, there wasn't a missed shot where the focus accidentally drifted behind the subject, which can happen if you are not mindful of the true size of the detecting area of a focus point. Focus acquisition speed was about the same as the D7000, but even though I can't quantify it, it doesn't seem to be as quick and snappy as the D300s. Motion tracking seems as good as any Nikon, and if you use 3D tracking, it seems to hold the focus point fairly well so long as you are following the subject with smooth panning motions.

Update: Since this review was first posted, I've since had a chance to use a few more units and I think I would be comfortable that the D7100's focus system is more precise than the D7000. I can't say for sure why that is, but I've posited many times that it's either because the D7000 AF units are larger or they were engineered to be more sensitive for motion tracking. However, it is definitely not as as snappy as with the D300s.

Resolution


With the D7100 (and D600), you get 8 more megapixels over the D7000. Sort of like getting an extra camera's worth, right? Not quite. Counting the total number of pixels isn't as useful as the total number of lines of resolution. Here's a quick run down of what the improvements in pixel resolution over the successive generations of serious-enthusiast Nikon cameras. You can also swap in the D600 with the D7100 figures

 Camera x-axis y-axis diagonal % increase





D7100 6000 4000 7211 22.0%
D7000 4928 3262 5910 14.8%
D90 4288 2848 5148 9.5%
D80 3904 2616 4699 30.1%
D70  3008 2000 3612

Speaking solely about viewing pictures printed at the same size, if you ignore the megapixel count and concentrate on linear resolution (the more useful figure), you can see that the largest increase was in the second generation, with the jump from the D70 to the D80. Likewise, the smallest increase was from the D80 to the D90. I think that in part, this explains the popularity enjoyed by the D80/D200 generation; the D90 was better at high ISO, but better by barely a stop. For the most part, there has to be at least a 10% increase in linear resolution for most people to be able to discern a difference, so in that sense, the difference in resolving power was more noticeable with the D7000 over the D90, and potentially more so with the D7100.

To put it another way, the difference in magnification that you get with the D7100 over the D7000 is roughly the difference between 24mm and 30mm on a DX lens. Yes, it's different, but no, it's not that much different. In fact, if you print at different sizes, you are probably leaving 10-20% of crop room in your shots to take into account different aspect ratios. Here is a test target to illustrate the practical implications of the extra resolution. I chose this tie because Bayer sensors struggle with fine resolution on red's and blues. The following exercise was done on a D7000 and a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, but you can simulate it with nearly any camera. Don't worry, this tie isn't actually part of my wardrobe...

ISO 100, f/5.6, 1.3s

The following are as such: The first is a 100% crop. The second was taken at a longer focal length such that an increase of 22% extra linear resolution is created; it was then re-sampled back to the size of the first shot so that you can compare them at the same object magnification.

Note: you must click on the thumbnails and view the images at full size to see the differences. it's that subtle.
100% Crop. Click to view actual size.
Downsized extra 22% linear resolution.



As you can see, the larger image that has been down-sampled shows a tad bit more contrast and edge definition. it's an improvement, but it's not a big improvement. To show you how small an improvement it actually is, here is the smaller image, but with USM lightly applied:

100% crop with extra USM

It's all very subtle, isn't it? This last sample is with a very light sharpening. You could always go crazy and add more, but in this case, since the weave of the fabric is subtle in real-life, then its depiction in images should be as well. In my short time with the D7100, I don’t think I would say that I could get more meaningful resolving power out of the D7100 shooting handheld than I could with the D7000. There’s a difference, yes, but it’s not the full difference that is implied by the extra number of pixels. As I've said before, if you were dying for 24mp, the selection up until now wasn't that bad, the NEX-7, D3200 and D5200 are all very good cameras, but clearly, the pixel increase alone wasn't enough to move the serious enthusiast crowd. However, there's more to image quality that just resolving power. So now on to the head line feature....


The Lack of an Anti-Aliasing Filter


Can you notice the lack of the optical low-pass filter?

Yes. Most certainly, yes.

This is the one thing that has changed for me between the time the camera was announced and when I was able to use one. At first I thought that there would be a difference if you were looking for it, but maybe not if you were given an image without any further information or context. That changed very quickly the minute I opened the files. You don't have to zoom in to 100% to see the difference, the bump in contrast and colour saturation is noticeable even when you view images at full-screen. Here's a picture of my trusty D7000 taken with the D7100. The way the black has come out in the top shot is gorgeous.

D7000 as shot with D7100 - ISO 800, f/5, 1/50s, Nikon 18-105VR

From D7100 - ISO 800, f/4, 1/50s, Tamron 17-50


I've used the D7000 enough to get a sense of what the images that it produces look like, and the minute I opened the D7100 files, I could tell that it came from a different camera. Maybe not necessarily always better, but at the very least different. File after file, sometimes the differences were subtle, but it would be pretty hard not to notice any difference at all. Properly stabilized, a D7000 will produce amazing detail, but the quality of the contrast is slightly difference between the new and old cameras.To be honest, there isn't a lot of fine detail to pick out in the above images, but the D7100 seems to produce deeper colours and crisper edges straight out of the camera. Sometimes the images almost look over-sharpened -  almost a bit unnatural -  but it's not, as it doesn't have the coarseness that too much USM will give you with a filtered sensor. Here's what a 100% crop of looks like:


This is JPEG straight out of the camera, picture control set to neutral with the exception of sharpness set at "3". On the face of it, it's not that different than the D7000. If you count up all of the lines and edges, the D7000 would have picked them all out as well, but the removal of the anti-aliasing filter is more about contrast than it is about detail. If you must ask, this is what a D600 would produce in similar circumstances:

D7000 as seen from Nikon D600 - ISO 3200, f/1.8, 1/2000s


Different camera, way different lens, but same lighting conditions. Can the filter-less D7100 match the full frame D600? I must admit, sometimes I have to do a double take seeing how much bite there is in the D7100 files, and find the D600 output more familiar looking. Also, bite is not the same as bokeh, and you still can't match a full frame camera with a good lens with a DX rig. In more controlled circumstances, you might not notice the difference... or you might even notice that the D7100 is the visually sharper of the two.

Can you trigger moirĂ© with the D7100? Theoretically, if you try hard, then yes. Not everything will be a problem, in fact, most things won’t. But the potential is there, and it might bite you when you stop thinking about it. You can remove it in post processing, but not everybody spends time in Photoshop after each session. To be honest, I think the issue will be mitigated by natural hand movement and vibration from mirror slap for the majority of users. I didn't see once instance of moirĂ© using the D7100, which surprised me because I went out of my to see if I could provoke it.


Users experienced with the D800 and D800e have noted that the D800e files require less sharpening in post processing to achieve the same appearance as the the filtered D800, both in radius and strength. In other words, the removal of the filter makes for a fairly sharp image already. The actual gain, then is somewhat more subtle than it appears. If you take an unfiltered camera and a filtered one, you would still need to achieve the same amount of appropriate final sharpening for your intended medium. You would have to apply more USM to the filtered camera, but the difference is that the less USM applied to the already sharped filtered camera means that fin low-contrast detail is better rendered. Too often users talk about sharpness in terms of hard edges and outlines, which can be achieved with any camera. There is a little despair in the back of my mind that the D7100 will produce a host of "look how far I can sharpen this image" users... that may be the case, but if you are sharpening it past the point of actual real-life appearance, what is being accomplished?

Here's an example of what the D7100 can do compared to the D7000, featuring a Canadian $10 bill. Before you ask, yes, this is a legal reproduction under Section 457 of the Canadian criminal code. (Smaller than 3/4 or greater than 1.5 times the length or width, in black and white, or featuring one side only)


(There was nothing else I had on hand that would have been suitable, so yes, the setup is atrocious and the bill isn't even perfectly flat, but I think the differences will be reasonable obvious). When you zoom in on John A. Macdonald's eyes, this is what you see. Note: you must click on the image to see it at true resolution.

Nikon D7100, ISO 800, f/4, 1/800s


And this is what a D7000 would give you. Note that I messed up the focus point, exposure and the aperture, but you'll get a generation impression. (Also, remember to appreciate the setup that folks like DPReview and Cameralabs do for their reviews, it's very time consuming and tedious producing proper comparison shots. It's virtually impossible to do well on when you're on the fly.)

Nikon D7000, ISO 800, f/5, 1/400s



Update: I've since re-shot the D7000 sample of a $10 CDN note under more controlled circumstances.  I think I know what wrong with the focus the first time. It's actually only 1-2mm off, but I now think it was because the live view face detection settings weren't equalized when I was shooting this. The D7100 had face detection activated and the D7000 didn't. So what happened was that the cameras were focusing on different parts of the bill, the D7100 on the eyes and the D7000 on the centre of the bill. That wouldn't be a problem if the bill was perfectly flat and I was using a different lens, but a few mm combined with the field curvature of the lens was enough to throw the focus off. If I had the luxury of better light, I would have shot at f8, but I didn't. Anyway, here is another sample, this time different shooting location, so exposure and white balance aren't comparable, but a much fairer comparison.

D7000, ISO 800, f/4, 1/400s

When I opened up the above D7100 file for the first time, I was floored. Look at the fine lines in the corners of the whites of the eyes and the concentric lines in the iris's and tell me that there isn't a difference. Granted that my experience is mostly with the mid-level enthusiast cameras, but I've never held a camera that has produced such crisp detail at such a small scale before. Under more controlled circumstances, the difference might not be as stark, but the take home point is this: with the D7000, some post processing is in order... the sharpness can be increased, but it won't be as crisp or as fine as the D7100.

But there's another equally important consideration: The D7100 sample actually looks a bit alien to me because I've also never viewed the $10 bill up close like this before. After I took this shot, I did a double take at the banknote to see, if indeed, the lines were as crisply engraved as the camera depicted. Here's the rub: you can't tell. Even if you hold the bill as close as your eyes will focus, you can't make out the detail that the camera is capturing at the pixel level... in that sense, even though the D7000 image is noticeably softer, there's a quality to it that seems more natural... or at the very least more familiar. Though it might be small consolation if you are prone to camera envy, it might not matter which camera is better unless you are printing big; both can pick out details that you wouldn't ordinarily notice with your own eyes.

Image Quality Through ISO Range


It’s no D600, if that’s what you are asking. Yes, it is a stop worse than its FX big brother, but even then, at one stop lower ISO, there just seems to be a little extra texture compared to the D600. However, that’s also how I would describe the D7000, so the good news is that if you shoot carefully, then the D7100 is like the D7000, but with more pixels. That is a good thing.

The following are JPEG's straight out of the camera. First things first, here's the full image at ISO 100. Since there's not much in the way of colour in this scene, I'll be concentrating on the lower left so you can get a sense of what shadow and luminescence noise looks like but taking a snippet of the black lens and the glass counter-top:


Here are 100% crops. As will be plainly obvious when you go through these samples, I once again didn't (and usually don't) have the luxury of being able to use a rigorous setup (there's always DPReview for that...), so there are variations in positioning, focus and camera stabilization, but these should give you a fairly good idea about how the camera behaves as you increase the ISO range. Since any camera does well from ISO 100 to ISO 800, I skipped the formalities after base ISO and went straight to 1600, which is on the cusp of being acceptable for. Indoor store and poor lighting conditions; exposure isn't great, but I left it like this to try to provoke shadow noise a little. Click on the images to see the files at actual 100% crop size.

ISO 100, f/6.3, 1/6s
ISO 1600, f/6.3, 1/100s
ISO 3200, f/6.3, 1/200s

ISO 6400, f/6.3, 1/400s
ISO Hi.1, f/6.3, 1/800s

ISO Hi.2, f/6.3, 1/1600s

All told, the behaviour is fairly D7000 like; my own preference is to not use it past ISO 3200 in most circumstances, but I would be willing to use ISO 6400 for small-sized output. For quality shots, ISO 1600 is as high as you can shoot without being too mindful of post processing; you can see in the shot above that it's the last stop before edge detail starts going. This is also the same comfort level that I have with the D7000. However, the D7100 is accomplishing this with more pixels, so that in itself is an achievement. In the ISO 1600 to 6400 range, I prefer the D7100 over the D7000. The older camera looks a lot cleaner than the D90 and D80, but the colours have always seemed to have a bit of a “plastic” texture to them, indicative of the missing histogram data values caused by the digital amplification that takes place after ISO 800 on the D7000. The D7100 colour profile seems a bit more natural and balanced, but perhaps not as punchy. What you can see in the RAW files is that the texture of the noise in the red and blue channels is finer than in the D7000. It will take a while for the Nikon community to get used to this new camera, but already, it looks like it will produce more pleasing skin tones in the high ISO range than the D7000.

Conclusion


This is a great camera, but if you have the D7000, you already own a great camera. If that's the case, then  skipping generations makes practical and financial sense. I can see a lot of people who are unhappy with the autofocus of the D7000 going for the D7100, but I can’t see that being a wise financial decision unless you are being paid for your photography or if you are constantly needing mission-critical shots. I will likely skip this generation, or if I get one, it will be near the end of the model cycle when the discounts come back again… photography isn’t my day job, and the D7000 is still more capable than what I routinely ask of it.

If you are coming from the D90 or older consumer Nikon, then yes, this will be an incredible upgrade for you. Whatever parameter you name…autofocus tracking, image noise, dynamic range, lens compatibility, build-quality…everything will be better with a D7100. That doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to take better pictures, but some of the things that you might have been struggling with photographically will be easier to accomplish with the D7100. Plus you get the added gains that the D7000 gave us, such as AI-S lens metering, autofocus fine-tuning, and more rugged construction.

If you are coming from a D300, it's hard for me to make a recommendation. The improvements in still image quality speak plainly and loudly, but there's a very vocal contingent out there who are still unhappy with the D7100, and who are irked by things like the shallow buffer size. I think it's a small thing... the birder community  that has grown up around the D300 will befit greatly from  the lack of the AA filter and the crop mode; already I've seen some remarkable pictures coming out of this camera paired with the Nikon 300mm f/4. The reason why it's hard for me to recommend is because I think this camera is definitely for the non-pro D300 users who hasn't upgraded yet, warts and all... but that community has it's own opinions. There may yet indeed by a D400, which will make everything moot. (Hint: Nikon and Canon shadow each other very closely with dSLR's, not so much in the emerging mirrorless segment. If there is a 7DmII, Nikon will probably have something to counter, otherwise Canon will flank them in product categories for pro cameras.)

If you don't want to spend the money on a new camera body, but are envious of the the way that the D7100 images look, here are a few things you can do that are more cost effective:

  • Concentrate on improving your hand holding technique
  • Pay attention to the shutter speeds when mirror slap shows up
  • Remove the silly U/V filter if you are still using it on your lenses
  • Think about moving to a higher quality lens 
  • Shoot RAW. If you compare JPEG to JPEG, the crispness that you see in a D7100 is like decently applied two-pass USM with a D7000 NEF. What is two-pass USM you might ask?  First with very wide area and very low strength to improve microcontrast, the second with high strength and very low area for edges.

So in summary: many pros, not many cons. You don't have to shoot like a pro to see the improvements in your pictures with the D7100, but if you do concentrate on technique, you'll be reaching a whole new level of image quality. That's a fairly good upgrade in my books.





    14 comments:

    1. Seen a lot of reviews, previews and comments; your review is interesting and useful from first to last.

      Thanks a lot.

      ReplyDelete
    2. Simply the best camera review I have read in a long while! You do not rely on empty photography rhetoric. You presented the facts about the D7100 just as they are. Your review has convinced me to pick up a D7100 kit for myself.

      ReplyDelete
    3. Great review - thanks. I am deciding between the D5200 and the D7100. I currently have a D3000 so will really notice a difference with either. I can't see many differences- not that justify the price jump. I would appreciate your opinion, please.

      ReplyDelete
    4. Coming from a D3000, the D5200 will feel more familiar. All of the Nikon's - consumer and pro - look similar in pictures, but they feel different in your hand. The D7000 and D7100 are larger and substantially denser. The other noticeable difference is the eyepiece... it's jut plain larger and brighter in the 7xxxx cameras.

      The other thing that print reviews don't adequately convey is the speed of operation... not just talking about fps, but also in switching back and forth between button presses and normal operation.

      The best camera to choose is the one that you will use... sometimes the more expensive option isn't the best choice, but if you are interested in expanding your lens collection, it's definitely the way to go, as the D7100 will meter with older manual lenses and will be compatible with older AF-D auto-focus lenses.

      My best advice is to always go to a store that lets you play with sample units... even if it's a Best Buy. Doesn't have to be a fancy high-end camera store. Once you've got an idea of what the tangible differences are in your hand, the choice gets a little bit easier. Hope that helps!

      ReplyDelete
    5. I am very glad I come across such useful post. I've been looking for this review for a week and finally found one. Now I've decided to go for the D7100. And I will find a store that will let me test it.


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      ReplyDelete
    6. Keith Allen 22nd April 2013

      Searched through a number of reviews most of which have left me still searching for a decent conclusion. This review sums up the Nikon DSLR range re 7100, 7000 and 300s very well. On balance I will now trade in my D300s for the D7100 as a back up for the D800. I hope that the 1.3 crop mode will live up to expectations if a purchase the 300mm f2.8. Maybe this will let me leave the 500mm f4 at home for those trips abroad and the struggle getting my gear on the plane as cabin baggage.

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    7. U did a amazing review up there!! Just one last help from you, before i go out for my brand new D7100, U said "The D7100 colour profile seems a bit more natural and balanced, but perhaps not as punchy". In D7100, is there any way shoot crazy dazzling vivid colors like d7000 without post processing. Or the razor sharp quality is the only this i will get as a trade off for not having LPOF. Plz bro reply and help me out :) i will be waiting for ur expert answer. All i need along with its sharpness, is VIVID COLORS which i have in my D90 and my uncle's D7000

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      1. That's not a problem! You can always turn up the colour in the Picture Control settings.

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    8. Douglas, you wrote: ". . .the colours have always seemed to have a bit of a “plastic” texture to them, indicative of the missing histogram data values caused by the digital amplification that takes place after ISO 800 on the D7000." I have noticed this as well with my D5100 when shooting over ISO 800. Since I do shoot mostly available light, do I need to go full frame or are there other cameras either m4/3 or aps-c that can handle higher ISO's better. Thanks, Mike R.

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      1. Loss of colour tonality occurs with every camera; going full frame helps, but it's not a cost effective solution. You can do things like use a faster lens to keep the ISO down, but at the expense of DOF. I also find that it helps to turn down the contrast and saturation a bit in Picture Controls, but to keep sharpening up. This produces a more neutral looking colour output, but in some cases the it looks more natural. And of course, shoot RAW when you want the utmost in control over the way the exposure is handled.

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      2. Cameras like the Pentax K-3 have image stabilization. Could this feature be used effectively to lower ISO when shooting in available light or indoors?

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      3. Yes, in the same way that in-lens VR helps. However, comparing the D5100 with the latest sensor in the D5300, every new model seems to be slightly better at holding onto colour than the last. Technology marches on. Colour is very subjective, and most of it comes down to default settings... you can change it according to your taste. You might want to have a look at the Fujifilm cameras like the X-E2 or the X-M1. Long (and nuanced) story short, they tend to produce very pleasing results and colours in the ISO 1600-6400 range compared to other APS-C cameras.

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    9. Really great blog. Your article on the autofocus for the D600 and D7100 helped me out immensely. Thanks!

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