The Nikon D7100 has nary a problem when it comes to pure performance numbers. The autofocus abilities in any lighting situation prove that Nikon's focusing system emphasizes sheer speed and accuracy. Though the focusing speed suffers a bit in low light, it is still very good for most DSLRs.
This camera has the option of coming with an 18-105mm kit lens or body only. Most people will go for the body only option as they'll probably be moving up from another DSLR and will use the glass they've already acquired. Unfortunately, the kit lens doesn't really have performance that makes us drool over our MacBook Pro Retina display laptop keyboards while analyzing measurements in Lightroom 4. This is quite telling as this sensor also does not have a Low Pass filter--which means that images should be sharper. It's only when Nikon's very good Nikkor primes are attached were we nodding our heads in approval. Additionally, Sigma's new 17-70mm f2.8-4 lens proved to compliment the D7100's sensor quite well. It was even better when we used a flash.
Overall image quality though was very top notch for a camera in this segment--and we once again have no complaints.
The D7100 focuses quite fast in most situations, but can be a bit sluggish in low light situations. If you want a speed boost, we recommend attaching a Nikon speedlight to the camera and using the infrared AF assist from the flash.
The D7100's pop-up flash can also act as a master to trigger other slave flashes via infrared command. That's really all that we recommend it for though.
This camera also has 3D tracking, which can be selected by pressing in the AF/MF button and scrolling through the control dials. With the right lenses, it's just as good as Nikon's higher end DSLRs.
Potential buyers will also be happy to know that the battery life performance is excellent and it can take a very long time to kill the camera's power source. While cold weather will really beat up a battery, we didn't find this to be a problem. We took the camera in 30 degree weather to a pier to shoot a timelapse and when we returned from our slightly insane testing, the battery was still over 80%.
For this test we used the Nikon 35mm f1.8 G, 50mm f1.8 G, 40mm f2.8 Macro G, Sigma's 17-70mm f2.8-f4 and the 18-105mm kit lens that comes with the camera. It should be stated straight off the bat that the kit lens isn't the best performing one out there and suffers from sharpness and fringing issues.
Other lenses that we tested all performed very admirably and took full advantage of what this sensor is capable of doing. We recommend purchasing this camera in the body only option and building your lens kit from there.
While video footage from the Nikon D7100 looks very good, there is one major problem that the company still needs to fix. At the time of writing this review, one cannot change the aperture of a lens that is electronically coupled while the camera is in video mode. It is an issue with other cameras as well from the company, and they state that they're working on a fix. If you really want to be serious about shooting video with this camera though, we recommend working with Rokinon or Zeiss cinema primes instead.
However, on a related note many users will be very happy to know that the company has incorporated Interval shooting into the camera--which is essentially timelapse recording. Though you can't stitch all the images together into a 4K movie of some sort, it is very nice to know that you don't need an external intervalometer.
Image quality from the Nikon D7100 is overall really quite excellent. The images look extremely digital and not film-like. From ISO 100-3200, we saw very excellent results in terms of detail capture thanks in part to the lack of a low pass filter.
To get the most out of this camera's sensor, we highly recommend that you spring for lenses other than the kit. Nikon's 50mm f1.8 G, 35mm f1.8 G, and 40mm f2.8 Macro are all great options for those on a budget. We've also been using Sigma's new 17-70mm f2.8-f4; which is the latest addition to their contemporary line of glass. It also performs quite well on this camera.
High ISO results between 3200 and 6400 kept noise down quite well, and due to the lack of the Low Pass filter, we also saw no loss of details.
Additional Sample Images
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