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Nikon D7100 review

Sabyasachi Biswas May 8 | Updated on November 21, 2017

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The continuous AF mode is quick and ideal for moving subjects, as in sports photography.

The D7100 can be used as a versatile camera, but its autofocus sometimes falters in low light.

Typically many outdoor photographers, especially wildlife and bird photographers, opt for a crop sensor camera as the first choice. The secondary reason is the difference in focal length that one gets while using a super-telephoto on a crop sensor, and the primary being that APS-C sensor cameras are less expensive than full frame cameras. For those who really don’t need to print photos bigger than 20x30 inch frames, it really makes sense to buy a less expensive crop sensor camera, and invest more in lenses.

In the semi-pro or advanced amateur segment (whatever you like to call it) Nikon has always had a few good cameras. The last generation of cameras saw the D90 and D7000 being the favourite choice of many, with the bias towards the latter. But launched nearly three years ago, the D7000 was coming of age, and Canon’s EOS 7D had always been a quicker and more responsive camera.

We now, however, have the D7100 from Nikon in the form of its flagship DX format camera. Exactly how much better is this over the D7000? And however much I hate comparing Canon and Nikon (Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali, Dire Straits and Pink Floyd, you get the idea), how does it fare against the EOS 7D?

What’s new?

A lot. The first thing that I noticed when I took the D7100 out of the box was how it looked like a smaller D600. But then I started noticing how much it was NOT like the D600. The stock grip feels more reassuring than the D600, and much, much more than the D7000. The body feels lighter, easy to swing around and there are more contours on the body for a good hold. Sadly, the buttons are still as tightly packed as they were on the D7000 – EOS 7D has a lot of room between the buttons as its form factor is a bit larger.

But the most number of changes have been done inside the camera, than outside. The D7100 gets the same Expeed 3 image processing engine, that’s present on the D4 and D800 cameras, and I could notice the change while shooting too. Apart from that, the D7100 now has a pixel bump up to 24.1 million effective pixels on the 23.5x15.6 mm CMOS sensor. Continuous shooting rate is now up to 7 frames per second from 6.

Newfound focus

But what really comes as a surprise and a delight is the new AF system. Action photography enthusiasts would love to note that that the D7100 now has a 51-point Multi-CAM 3500DX AF module, which has 15 cross-type AF points around the centre of the frame. The D7000 has 39 AF points, of which nine are cross-type. The AF points are selectable between 51 or 11 in single AF, and in the continuous shooting mode the D7100 offers 51, 21 or 9 AF points (after selecting the starting AF point).

Nikon’s also thrown in a 3D tracking mode in continuous A, which judges the colour of the subject and based on that tries to follow it around the frame.

Performance

I used the stock 18-105mm lens kit for the test, and also used a Nikon D7000 and a Canon EOS 7D to compare responsiveness and difference in behaviour.

From the moment you switch it on, the D7100 makes it very apparent that it is aimed at the enthusiast photographer. The camera turns on instantly, and is ready to capture the moment you flip the power switch.

What I was particularly keen on using, and liked using, was the new AF system. The AF system is very quick to respond, and it is a blockbuster when it comes to outdoor photography. I could focus quickly on moving and static subjects in daylight shooting conditions, and on burst mode, the AF tracking did not disappoint. But the burst mode at times took a lot of time to process.

Under little dim lighting conditions, the Canon EOS 7D outperformed the Nikon D7100, as the latter’s AF system faltered under low-light conditions. The AF assist beam doesn’t help much either. Apart from that, the Nikon D7100 can be used for a versatile range of photography genres.

The Nikon D7100 also excels when it comes to colour reproduction. The Auto White balance system does not struggle at all and produces accurate and lifelike colours on the screen. The images did don a little cooler colour temperature when there were a lot of vivid colours in the frame, but the second Auto2 AWB takes care of it, by offering warmer results as a default setting.

However, image noise is a different story. Sometimes, frames shot at ISO 1600 didn’t show any noise at all, but on some ISO 800 shots with a lot of white surfaces some grainy texture could be seen. There are times when the exposures also become a little unsteady, but turning on the Active D-Lighting corrects that too.

We say

Clearly, the Nikon D7100 is a very versatile camera, and advanced amateurs and semi-professionals can put it through a number of roles. Even professionals seeking a backup crop-sensor DSLR can find a lot of uses for the D7100. But coming back to the original question – is it better than the Canon EOS 7D? I’d rather not answer that because it will be like comparing an off-road motorcycle to a highway cruiser. Yes, the EOS 7D is good at quickly changing modes and settings and performs in a different manner in low light, but as with DSLRs, it completely depends on how you use them. If you have been a Nikon user, and have a few Nikkor lenses, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t go for this camera.

Rs 94,950 (with AF-S 18-105mm kit lens)

Love – Quick and responsive AF, colour reproduction

Hate – Inconsistent low-light and burst-mode performance

>sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

Published on May 09, 2013

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