Shot of the Nikon D7100 DSLR

Nikon's new flagship DSLR, the 24.1MP D7100, features 1920×1080 full HD capture, improved image quality and sharpness over its predecessors, and audio monitoring options which will most certainly heighten its appeal among those interested in its video production capabilities. 

Open the Box

Box contents are pretty straightforward. Camera body and a 18-105mm VR (vibration reduction) kit lens with the usual odds and ends including battery, charger, strap, USB cable, ViewNX 2 CD, warranty and user's manual. We also tried out the optional AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 ED VR 16.7x zoom lens. 

Form and Functionality

The camera has great build quality. It's weather sealed and constructed of magnesium alloy with just the right weight. The rubberized surface lends itself to a firm yet comfortable grip with important buttons and dials laid out in a sensible, easily accessible manner.

Back view of the Nikon D7100
Back view of the Nikon D7100
At the top left is the mode dial and lock release button. Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Program and two automatic modes are available (Auto and Auto without Flash) for those times you want to quickly point and shoot some great photos.

The SCENE mode features a variety of 16 presets designed to fit various shooting conditions, ensuring quality imagery and good dynamic range. Two user-customizable modes are available so you can quickly return to your favorite settings again and again. The EFFECTS mode accesses seven different effects, including Night Vision, Color Sketch and Miniature Effect, which may all be accomplished in-camera, without the aid of external software.

The camera is weather sealed and constructed of magnesium alloy with just the right weight.

At the base of the mode dial is the Release Mode dial and lock release button. Press the release button and turn the dial to select different shutter release options (up to 6 fps burst rate). Available modes are single frame, continuous low or high speed (for moving subjects), quiet shutter release, self-timer and mirror up for reduced camera shake when shooting extreme closeups. Along the left side of the camera I/O ports include USB, HDMI (outputs uncompressed video to an external recorder) and GPS.

Showing the mic, headphone, DV and HDMI ports for the Nikon D7100
Of particular interest to video producers will be the 1/8” (3.5mm) ports for an external stereo microphone (with sensitivity settings of Auto, 1-20 or Off) and headphones (volume adjustable from 1-30). The D7100's built-in stereo mic does a good job of picking up audio – too good in fact for anything more than casual use. Sounds generated by the camera's zooming and focusing functions all come across very clearly, as does any handling noise.

Typically users will record audio to a separate device, however we outfitted a professional XLR microphone with an adapter, plugged it into the mic port and were able to record some excellent audio, with better dynamic range, free of mechanical and handling noise.

Along with the ability to plug in a quality external microphone and monitor your audio via headphones, the D7100 also makes it possible to keep tabs on audio levels using a meter visible in Live View mode.[image:magazine_article:33822]

Two buttons alongside the rear LCD let you zoom in and out of the frame for improved manual focusing. There is no focus peaking option and while the autofocus is great for still photography it is insufficient for serious video production use (typical of AF in general). Also lacking are exposure assist functions such as zebra patterns and there is no way to adjust the aperture while in Live View mode. 

Conclusions

If your interests are primarily photography or non-professional video use you will likely find the D7100 to be an excellent choice. Color reproduction and the ability to render fine detail are excellent while images are crisp with good dynamic range. The NIKKOR glass produces top notch image quality with fabulously shallow depth of field while featuring a very effective vibration reduction system.

Nikon Inc.
www.nikonusa.com
Body Only: $1,200; 18-105mm VR Lens Kit: $1,600
Optional NIKKOR 18-300mm Lens: $1,000 

Tech Specs

Total/Effective Pixels: 24.71/24.1 million
Sensor Size, Type and Format: 23.5mm x 15.6mm; CMOS; DX
Storage Media: 2 – SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card (2)
Viewfinder: Eye-level Pentaprism SLR; Coverage: 100% horizontal, approx. 100% vertical
Shutter Speed: 1/8000 to 30 seconds in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV; bulb
Flash Sync Speed: Up to 1/250 second; synchronizes with shutter at 1/320 second or slower
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 100-6400; Hi-1 (ISO 12,800); Hi-2 (ISO 25,600)
Movie File Format/Compression: MOV; H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding
Movie Audio Recording Format: Linear PCM
Movie Resolutions: 1920×1080 (60i, 50i, 30p, 25p, 24p); 1280×720 (60p, 50p)
Display: 3.2” TFT-LCD; 1,228,800 dots; 170-degree wide-viewing angle; three brightness levels
Power: EN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery
Approximate Body Only Weight: 23.8oz. (675g)
Approximate Dimensions (WxHxD): 5.3” x 4.2” x 3.0” 

Strengths

  • Excellent image quality
  • Great build, buttons well placed
  • Stereo microphone port
  • Audio monitoring
  • Broad dynamic range 

Weaknesses

  • No aperture adjustment in Live Mode
  • No zebra patterns

 

Contributing Editor Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.

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