With higher ISOs, faster burst rates, and better resolution, this upgrade has something for everyone
Burst shooters will appreciate the D7100’s 6 fps continuous drive mode, and its continuous AF easily kept up during bursts. We always suggest a camera with at least 5 fps for sports, so this body is a good fit for parents looking to capture their athletic progeny. You’ll have to use some restraint with RAW images, though, as the buffer fills after 6 frames; JPEG shooters can grab up to 33 frames at top quality settings. (The Canon 60D allows up to 16 RAW files or 58 JPEGs.)
Taking a cue from Nikon’s full-frame (FX) bodies, the DX-format D7100 has a 1.3X crop mode that jacks the burst up to 7 fps, with a still-respectable 15.4MP pixel resolution in the 12x18mm crop of the sensor. The continuous AF also kept up with this frame rate well. And, since the frame is cropped, the AF points cover a much larger portion of the active frame. Sony’s A99 offers a similar burst mode, though that body costs quite a bit more than the D7100—$2,798 street, body only.
Video enthusiasts will like that the D7100 can record at up to 1920x1080i60 and allows 30fps and 24fps at that pixel count, too. Our footage looked quite nice. The built-in stereo microphone—with level controls—recorded audio as well as a built-in mic can; a stereo mic input lets you add an external one.
The D7100 also sports some automatic capture functions you won’t find on any of Canon’s DSLRs. A built-in intervalometer lets you shoot up to 8991 images at intervals of 1 sec to 24 hours. The self-timer can be set for a 2-, 5-, 10-, or 20-sec delay, and can capture up to nine images in intervals of 0.5, 1, 2, or 3 sec. We are always surprised that more manufacturers don’t develop these kinds of useful capabilities.
The Bottom Line
Despite the rise of complex mirrorless cameras such as Panasonic’s Lumix GH3, the Nikon D7100 remains a great bang for your buck. While larger than the GH3, it feels just right in the hand and manages the weight of big lenses nicely. We spent quite a bit of time shooting with the heavy 24–70mm f/2.8 Nikkor, and it had only a slight downward droop. With the 18–105mm f/3.5–5.6 kit lens, the camera is wonderfully balanced.
The D7100 is a very powerful imaging tool. We’d expect Canon to update its competing 60D before long. But as it stands, the D7100 offers an extra stop of sensitivity, faster bursts, and more resolving power—for a few hundred dollars more, right now.
Nikon shooters thinking of upgrading from an entry-level body or an older model in this series, such as the D80 or D90, should feel comfortable choosing the D7100. We predict it will be one of the most recommended DSLRs of the year.
Imaging: 24.1MP effective, DX-format CMOS sensor captures images at 6000x4000 pixels with 14 bits/color in RAW mode.
Storage: SD, SDHC, SDXC. Stores JPEG, NEF RAW, or RAW + JPEG files.
Video: Records up to 1920x1080i60 (30 fps also available) in MPEG-4 H.264 format; built-in stereo microphone; stereo microphone input; approx. 20-min maximum clip size at highest quality.
Burst Rate: Full-sized JPEGs (Fine), up to 33 shots at 6 fps; RAW (14-bit), up to 6 shots at 5 fps using a UHS-I compatible SD card.
AF System: TTL phase-detection with 51 illuminated focus points (15 cross-type points); single-shot, continuous, predictive focus tracking; tested sensitivity down to EV –2 (at ISO 100, f/1.4).
Live View: Full-time contrast-detection, or single-shot phase-detection AF with mirror interrupting view momentarily.
Shutter Speeds: 1/8000 to 30 sec, plus B (1/3-EV increments); shutter rated to 150,000 cycles; flash sync to 1/250 sec.
Metering: TTL metering using 2,016-pixel sensor; evaluative (Matrix), centerweighted (75% weight given to 8mm circle in center of the frame), and spot (approx. 2.5% of finder at center); range, 0 to 20 EV (at ISO 100), 2 to 20 EV when using spotmetering.
ISO Range: ISO 100–6,400 (in 1/2- or 1/3-EV steps), expandable to ISO 100–25,600.
Viewfinder: Fixed eye-level pentaprism.
LCD: Fixed 3.2-in. TFT with 1,229,000-dot resolution, 11-step brightness adjustment.
Output: Hi-Speed USB 2.0, mini-HDMI video, and stereo mini jack audio.
Battery: Rechargeable EN-EL15 Li-ion; CIPA rating, 950 shots.
Size/Weight: 5.3x4.2x3.0 inches, 1.7 lbs with a card and battery.
Street Price: $1,197, body only; $1,597 with 18–105mm f/3.5–5.6G ED DX VR lens.