As my faithful readers know, I don’t usually buy new cameras and lenses. The reason is usually this: new stuff is more expensive, and the minute I get it, I will start using it, and not lightly. By the time I’ve had a camera a month, it’s been “rode hard and put up wet,” as the saying goes. So I try to find bargains on cameras and lenses that are more affordable because they are already uglied from use.
The most recent camera I actually purchased new was the matching pair of Fujifilm HS30EXR cameras for my wife Abby and me. We got them new because they were being closed out (thus cheaper), and seemed like a really good choice for our travels. It turns out that they were an excellent choice for our adventures. But as you might expect, mine was looking pretty well-used after just one trip to the desert.
Given my penchant for well-used bargains, today is something of an occasion. Thanks to some attention brought to our credit card by the recent superfraud connected to Target stores, I discovered that for nearly a decade I had completely ignored our “rewards points.” When I poked around online and found them, I decided to use a little less than half of them for a new camera for myself, and give the rest to my wife. A few clicks and a few days later, there was a brown box by the garage with a new Nikon D7100 in it.
The D7100 is at the top of Nikon’s four-digit lineup, which are aimed primarily at amateurs and hobbyists. (The three-digit series, currently the D300S through the D800, are for “advanced amateurs,” and single-digits, currently the D4 and the just-announced D4S, are pro cameras.) I use pro cameras every day at work, but my expectations for the D7100 are more aimed at my casual and fine-art imaging, not the grind of news and sports. As I looked at Nikon’s line-up, the D7100 seemed more and more like the right choice.
- The pixel count doesn’t count. Sensor resolution was enough when it got to eight or 10 megapixels, so the D7100’s 24.5 megapixel tally wasn’t a factor.
- The sensor does not have an anti-aliasing filter. These filters blur the image slightly to reduce moiré patterns, so I am hopeful this sensor has the potential to render super-sharp images.
- This is my first DSLR to feature high-definition video. Our Fujis and our phones are the only other devices with full-HD. Time will tell if I will make the films I think and hope I can.
- Unlike Nikon’s other four-digit cameras, the D7100 can autofocus older AF-Nikkor lenses.
- RAW files from the D7100 are not supported by the version of Adobe Photoshop I currently have. Since I am a RAW shooter, this means I will need to use Adobe DNG Converter to make these files into Photoshop-native files. This adds a layer to my workflow.
- Engineers love to reinvent the wheel, as they have on this camera. For as much experience and expertise as I have shooting and teaching, I still had to go to the manual for information on some very basic controls. The new arrangement didn’t make them any better, and I strongly believe they move them just to keep consumers entertained.
- Build quality and handling are superb, though not, of course, the “hewn from granite” feel of a pro camera. It is lightweight. Operating sounds are solid.
- The viewfinder is huge, and the display inside adapts to lighting conditions. The monitor on the back is quite large at 3.2 inches diagonal. Compared to the 1.8-inch monitor on the D100 I bought at the end of 2003, it looks like a dinner plate.
- It has two SDXC card slots for which you can designate use. I plan to use one for stills and one for video.
I am anxious to put this camera through its paces, including some very-high-ISO trials, particularly of the night sky. In the few hours today that I got to know it, I found that I like what I see so far.