Top positive review
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The new DX standard...
on March 16, 2013
While I'm hoping Nikon will release a D400, I couldn't resist trying out the new D7100. As a working pro who uses both FX and DX format cameras, my first impressions of the D7100 are very positive.
My simple summary is that this camera is a bargain and that those already inclined to own the best the DX camera Nikon sells should get one.
Having worked for years with the D300 and the D7000 bodies, my perspective on this one is influenced by what I think is good about those two popular cameras. I hoped that the D7100 would really improve in the areas of autofocus, shadow noise, and overall resolution/acuity. This camera has not disappointed me, and has even a few minor improvements I wasn't expecting.
Of first importance, shooters of the D7000 will appreciate the big improvements in AF (you probably know how sketchy that camera is to focus, especially compared to the 51-point standard set by most older/current pro bodies). It's fast, accurate, and doesn't get fooled into moving if you recompose. On single focus mode, it simply acquires and holds where you want. And the tracking AF is on par with Nikon's pro standard. This is huge for me, since I love the quality of images the D7000 gives but hate the unreliability of its AF. Acquiring focus in low light seems a bit snappier and more accurate than even the D300.
The resolving power of this sensor is unlike any DX camera before it. Because the D7100 doesn't have an anti-aliasing/low-pass filter on its 24 megapixel sensor, I knew it would be able to show a perceptible increase in resolving detail over the older D7000, and again I am glad to report it does - IF you use good glass, stopped down a bit, and process from the RAW files. My test shots captured with the Tokina 11-16 and Nikon 70-200 have blown me away. The acuity when zoomed in is night/day compared to the D7000. However, if you use mediocre glass then the only differences you'll notice are larger files and slightly better dynamic range.
In DX images, shadow noise has generally appeared too stippled even at lower ISO values, rendering a texture that the FX sensors don't have at the same ISO's. The D7100 has definitely improved this. The texture gradient is more uniform and it reminds me of the D600 in this way. Although I haven't done tests above ISO 1600, the shadow textures are more uniform and pleasant (natural?) on skin than the previous DX cameras.
Shooters familiar with Nikon's pro camera ergonomics will appreciate that the D7100 has added the quick magnification/zoom feature to the `OK' button on the rear thumbpad. It's great for snappy, quick inspections at defined zoom ratios to check for focus accuracy. This feature is nonexistent on the D7000 and the D600. I find it very handy and preferable to the +/- buttons.
Speaking of the +/- buttons to the left of the LCD, I have no idea why Nikon reversed their positions on this camera. It's a small thing but still annoying.
I'm still getting used to the new viewfinder display, so the jury is out.
The two-shot HDR feature isn't what it should be since it doesn't align the images. I'd use the bracketing feature on a tripod and be done with it.
I like that there's finally a lock button in the center of the program mode dial to avoid accidental switching, which happens too often on the D7000.
The rear LDC screen is slightly larger and also a bit crisper to my eyes.
The overall fit/finish is solid and secure. I have big hands so I only wish it was the same form factor as the D800 (hey Nikon, give us a D400 already), but at this price I'm not complaining.
I wish Nikon could squeeze out better battery performance from their cameras, frankly, and the D7100 hasn't improved upon what has become normal for the past couple years.
Sorry, but I don't mess with video so I cannot speak to this.
As a still image camera (in the DX format) the D7100 has really set a new standard. Even though I'd buy a D400 if it came out tomorrow, there's nothing stopping me from enjoying the D7100 today as the best you can get. I feel that the price is low for what it is and can create. Highly recommended...