Nikon D7100 Packs a 24-Megapixel APS-C Image Sensor

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Affordable full-frame D-SLR cameras like the Nikon D600 and Canon EOS 6D have been the apple of many a photographer’s eye as of late, but Nikon believes that there is still a space for a full-featured APS-C camera in the enthusiast market. The new D7100, which offers a laundry list of upgrades over the older D7000, has some unique features that you won’t find in its full-frame big brother, the D600.

From the outside it doesn’t look that much different from the D7000. The control layout is familiar, with most buttons and dials in the same place. There’s a Mode Dial up top, along with a wheel to adjust the Drive Mode, and buttons to quickly adjust the metering mode and Exposure Compensation. You’ll also have access to front and rear control wheels, and there’s the familiar pop-up flash.  There’s a new “I” button that brings up commonly used on-screen controls—its functionality changes based on what functions you use most, and varies depending on whether you’re in Live View still mode, Live View video mode, or shooting via the optical viewfinder.

Internally, the D7100 is built around a new 24.1-megapixel image sensor and the same Expeed 3 image processor that drives the full-frame D4. Like the D800E, there’s no low-pass filter. Omitting this filter increases the sharpness that the camera is able to capture, but introduces the possibility of moiré when shooting fabrics, feathers, and objects with similar fine patterns. Based on feedback received from D800E users, the real-world benefits of omitting the filter outweighed the rare instances of moiré, which can reduced with a few clicks in software like Lightroom and Photoshop.

Its viewfinder is identical to that of its predecessor, offering 100 percent coverage, but the electronic information display is now OLED rather than LCD. When you bring the camera up to your eye the shooting mode, shutter speed, aperture, and other information displayed in the eyepiece are crisper than in other D-SLRs, and cool blue in color.

The autofocus system is a 51-point design, with 15 cross sensors. The center cross sensor can work with lenses as slow as f/8—the previous limit was f/5.6. The lens mount features an autofocus screw, so you can use older Nikkor lenses without AF-S motors with full functionality. There’s a new spot white balance function, which lets you balance off of a single point in the frame, and the ISO can go as high as 25600 in extended mode.

The camera is capable of rattling off shots at up to 6 frames per second at full resolution. There’s also a 1.3x crop mode which reduces resolution to 15.4 megapixels, but offers some advantages for wildlife and sports shooters. It effectively gives your lenses a longer reach—you can double the focal length to get the full-frame equivalency when shooting in this mode. It crops out the area of the frame that is not covered by the autofocus system, so you can be sure that the D7100 can lock on to your subject, even if it’s at the edge of the cropped frame.

When shooting in the 15.4 megapixel mode, shot to shot time improves to 7 frames per second. Video acquisition also improves—it can record 1080i60 or 1080i50 footage in this mode, compared with 1080p30, 1080p25, 1080p24, 720p60, and 720p50 in its full resolution mode. Regardless of the crop, video is recorded in MPEG-4 with H.264 compression. The D7100 can record clips up to 20 minutes in length in its high-quality 24Mbps mode, and the clip cuts off just shy of 30 minutes in 12Mbps mode.

The rear LCD is the sharpest that Nikon has put on an SLR to date—it’s 3.2 inches in size and 1,229k dots in resolution. The body features magnesium construction, and the D7100 features the same level of dust and splash protection as the D300s. Its shutter has a top speed of 1/8,000 second, and flash syncs at up to 1/250-second. There are dual SDXC card slots, which can be configured in any number of ways—you can set one for Raw and the other for JPG, set up real-time mirroring, copy data from one card to another, or use the second card only when the first fills up. The battery is rated for 950 shots per charge, and a vertical battery grip is available.

There’s no Wi-Fi or GPS in the camera, but either can be added via an adapter. The D7100 is compatible with the GP-1 GPS module and the Wu-1A Wi-Fi adapter. Nikon is also launching a new wireless radio transceiver with the camera, the WR-1. A pair of these—one in your hand and one on your camera—give you full control over functions, and they can be used in conjunction with the other remote control devices in Nikon’s catalog.

The D7100 is priced at $1,199.95 as a body only and at $1,599.95 with an 18-105mm lens. Both it and the WR-1, which has yet to be priced, will be available in late March.

By Jim Fisher, PCMag


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