The Nikon D7100 follows on from the popular D7000 and features a number of developments and improvements. Find out how it fares in our full review.
Nikon D7100 Review
Three years ago Nikon announced the Nikon D7000 DSLR, a camera many probably weren’t expecting. With the Nikon D90, Nikon D300 and Nikon D300S models already available, it didn’t appear as through there would be much demand for a further line of models between the two. Nevertheless, the camera gained much popularity thanks to its high features-to-form ratio, and provided a logical stepping stone for accomplished entry-level DSLR owners looking to take their photography more seriously. And now, Nikon has gathered together some of the features seen in its most recent DSLRs and blended them with a handful of new ones to create the Nikon D7100 successor.
With revisions made to the sensor, LCD, AF module and video functionality among other things, the camera certainly appears as a more serious upgrade than some other recent models. But is every change welcome, or are some causes for concern?
Nikon D7100 review – Features
As with the current Nikon D5200 the new camera sports a DX-format sensor with 24.1MP, although the two are not the same. With the Nikon D7100, Nikon has omitted the anti-aliasing filter for the benefit of detail retention. Usually this presents issues with false colour patterning and other effects of aliasing, although it’s likely Nikon has modified its image processing to account for this. Interestingly this is similar approach to the Nikon D800E released last year, only that particular camera maintained a filter, albeit one with its anti-aliasing properties removed.
While the sensor applies a 1.5x crop factor to any mounted lenses (given that it is smaller than full frame), Nikon has included an additional option on the Nikon D7100 which applies a further 1.3x crop factor at a reduced resolution of approximately 15.4MP. So, a 50mm lens which would ordinarily behave like a 75mm lens would in this mode behave closer to a lens with a focal length of around 98mm – this appears to be particularly useful for telephotography work, wherever more reach is desired.
The sensitivity range offered by the sensor is precisely the same as on the Nikon D7000: a standard ISO 100-6400 range, complemented by extension settings equivalent to ISO 25,600. Considering the sensor’s high resolution this is perfectly respectable. Nikon has equipped the model with the same Expeed 3 engine which features in its flagship D4, which handles all image processing tasks and also allows for burst shooting at 6fps, or alternatively 7fps when the 1.3x crop mode is activated.
As we may expect the Nikon D7100 also offers full HD video recording in addition to its stills capabilities, at up to 30fps in full HD (1920×1080) and up to 60fps in standard HD (1280×720). Stereo sound comes courtesy of a pair of microphones nestled in the top-plate, although external microphones can also be plugged into a dedicated socket on the side and mounted into the hot shoe. Furthermore, thanks to a headphone socket beneath this it’s also possible to monitor sound during recording.
One of the most significant upgrades the Nikon D7100 has on its predecessor is the camera’s AF module; while the Nikon D7000 offered a 39-point system including nine cross-type points, the Nikon D7100 boosts this to 51 points including 15 cross-type points. These cover a reasonably broad range of the frame, although when the camera is set to its 1.3x crop mode the array usefully saturates all but the very top and bottom.
Nikon has chosen the Nikon D7100 to debut a few new features, such as the Spot White Balance option which allows the white balance to be set by measuring a small area of the scene to use as a reference target (in the same way that a Spot metering function bases exposure on just a small part of the scene). The pentaprism viewfinder, meanwhile, which provides 100% coverage of the scene and 0.94x magnification, also now welcomes an OLED panel in place of the previous LCD, which displays details in the finder itself such as grid lines and the leveling function. Nikon claims this has been changed to improve visibility, with an additional amendment being the exposure information below this, from the standard green to an ashy white.
Another change comes with the camera’s LCD screen. As with some of Nikon’s other most recent DSLRs, the Nikon D7100’s display itself is sandwiched with a layer of resin to the outer panel, leaving no air gap in between. The result, Nikon claims, is better visibility than before thanks to lower reflections. At 3.2in the display is also larger in size than the more standard 3in unit found on the Nikon D7000, and it makes use of white pixels for improved brightness and lower power consumption. With an extra white pixel for every red-green-blue triplet, its resolution is at approximately 1,229k dots.