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Customer Review

910 of 956 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The new DX standard..., March 16, 2013
This review is from: Nikon D7100 24.1 MP DX-Format CMOS Digital SLR (Body Only) (Electronics)
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...
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Showing 1-10 of 88 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 16, 2013, 3:50:49 PM PDT
Thanks for the review. Would you recommend this camera over the d600?

Posted on Mar 16, 2013, 5:54:14 PM PDT
Marc Myers says:
Excellent review. I was thinking of upgrading from my 5100. I don't own any high priced pro glass, how do you think the 7100 would pair up with my 16-85? Would I notice a big difference or would it just be the dynamic range you mentioned of cheap glass? Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2013, 10:31:45 PM PDT
P. Hartung says:
Craig, the question really depends on the glass you already own, the importance of high iso performance, and whether wide angle is more important than telephoto reach. If you're already invested in good DX glass, then it might be cost prohibitive to liquidate and upgrade to lenses that will take advantage of the D600's sensor. And if you're accustomed to the 1.5x crop factor of a DX body then you're going to find your reach limited moving to the D600.

One of the advantages of the DX cameras is that if you are using full frame lenses then there's less distortion, vignetting, and the sharp 'sweet spot' of those lenses is what your sensor is capturing due to the crop factor. But many would rather have the the shallower depth of field, smoother rendition in tonality overall, and the best iso performance the 35mm format can provide. So it really comes down to your values as a photographer (and, of course, your budget).

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2013, 10:38:05 PM PDT
P. Hartung says:
Marc, excellent question. There's a japanese blog (see link below) that did and in-depth review that compares the D7100 to the D7000 (same sensor as the D5100) using the 16-85mm lens. I don't own this lens, but I think you'll find some of the comparison images stunning in how the D7100 renders so much more detail (pay special attention to the side by side screenshot of the top of the building, about half way down the webpage):

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2013, 11:00:05 PM PDT
It has been really difficult for me trying to decide. Money is not really an issue. Currently I have the nikon 16-85, 55-300, 85 1.8, 50 1.8, and 35 1.8. I recently purchased the d600 with the 70-300 and 24-85. I'm still within the return period. Looking at the specs on the d7100, it seems to be the better camera except for the sensor. I like all types of shooting, particularly portraits and landscapes. In the end I just want the best camera. I know this is largely personal preference, but I just can't make up my mind. Thanks for the help!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2013, 3:24:51 AM PDT
I don't own D7100 or D600. But I am trying to help if I can.
Your choice is a difficult one. I tried both the D7000 and the D600 with my friends and in photography shops while I am thinking of upgrading from my D5100. I can admit that full frame is another standard. Although the D7100 is having many new features with only very few better than D600, it can't do any real thing the D600 can't do. The only feature I like most (on paper) in the D7100 is the ability to shoot sport with the x1.3 crop for the focus points to cover all the frame you are shooting and this also applies to video. So, if your question was just D600 or D7100? I would say clearly D600 due to the sensor size and its impact on photo quality and high iso and sport performance.

However, what make it less clear cut are the following factors:
1. the issue of sensor dust or lubricating oil coming into the sensor that many reviewers mentioned about the D600. I like to feel comfortable this will not annoy me if I get the camera.
2. The 3 prime lens you have with your DX format camera. to compensate for that with the FX lenses, it will cost a good amount of money. You already have good zoom lenses to cover the range with the D600. calculate how much it will cost you to substitute the primes.
3. while you have the D600 try to see if the percentage of the frame covered by the AF points make any difference or deficiency for your style of photography. If not, ignore such point. Actually, I didn't feel any deficiency when I tested it with my friend's D600. and by the way the canon 6D has 11 focus points and its users are very happy with it.
To sum up, I think the D600 is a better choice if you manage the issues of sensor dust and lenses. I feel you have no much problem to arrange for the lenses. If this is true, it remains with the sensor dust issue to feel comfortable with. I don't like to worry about sending the new camera soon after 200 shots (as reviewers say) to the service. and if I can make this I want to know if they do permanent or temporary solution for it. If Nikon service guarantee permanent solution and returning the camera in its new condition without such problem, this last issue of concern against D600 will disappear for me. I am not in the US so I worry about the quality of Nikon or other brand maintenance service in my place (to send a brand new camera for them) but I heard that Nikon service in US is excellent..
wish you get a good decision and be happy with whatever you choose..
Good luck

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2013, 7:06:30 AM PDT
Marc Myers says:
Thanks! I checked out the link and the pictures seem to reflect what you're saying...if only I could read japanese...

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2013, 9:03:53 AM PDT
Thanks for your great response. I'm also thinking the d600 is the better choice. Based on the pictures I've seen from the d7100 so far, the image quality doesn't seem to be on par with the d600. The prime lenses I have are FX format, except the 35 1.8. So the only lens I really need is an ultra wide. I'm not having much issues with sensor dust. Also, I would just clean the sensor myself anyway. It's really easy to do, I've already done it once. I also don't care about the 1.3 additional crop on the d7100, I can always crop in Lightroom. The d600 seems to be the clear better performer so far. I hope a real review of the d7100 comes out before my return window on the d600 runs out. However, I think the d600 was the right choice.

Thanks again.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2013, 9:58:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 17, 2013, 9:59:40 AM PDT
You are welcome. If you have found it is easy to manage the sensor dust issue and have 2 FX prime lenses, then the D600 is definitely better. packing 24 MP in a larger sensor area let each pixel receive more light with all its benefits. the sensor is almost x2.35 times the size of the D7100 sensor (D7100 sensor is 42.55% of the D600 sensor). I hope there will be a full review within your return time to be more comfortable with the decision.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2013, 10:29:52 AM PDT
P. Hartung says:
Craig, remember that a full frame sensor really taxes the lenses abilities (or inabilities). Having a larger sensor can be overrated when unwanted vignetting and softness are introduced by glass that frankly doesn't hold up across the sensor. Also, the D600's autofocus is inferior to that of the D7100, and this might not be a problem for you if tracking moving subjects isn't common in your flow. A DX shooter could be shocked also that the AF area on a full frame camera is apparently smaller (but not really) and with the large peripheral field unavailable to AF. You should go to a shop and play with the D600 to see if the AF is an issue for you or not...
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