Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nikon D7100 Announced; Available for Pre-Order

Last week NikonRumors posted that Nikon scheduled a product announcement for this week, possibly for the D7100.  A couple of days ago, it looked like the announcement would be for a high-end Coolpix.  But indeed, the Nikon D7100 has been officially announced.

Release date is March 21, 2013.

A majority of the specs I predicted came true, with a couple of surprises:

  • Surprise! Sensor: I guessed it was the same as the D5200's (which is 24mp with slightly better high ISO performance that the D7000).  DPReview says the D7100's sensor is completely new.  Update: notwithstanding what Nikon says, the D7100's sensor may be the same as that of the D5200.  See here.
  • Surprise!  NO low pass filter.  This is a surprise.  One of the things I liked about the D300 is that it had a weak low-pass filter which made everything look sharper.  The D7100 has no low-pass filter at all.  I'm not super worried about moire because I think it can be handled it post.  I hope.
  • As predicted: The new, smarter Auto ISO (just like the D4, D800 and D600) that can take into account the focal length.
  • As predicted: Support for WU-1a allows remote live view.
  • As predicted video: Can do 1080p at 30fps or 1080i at 60fps (D7000 can only do 1080p at 24fps).
  • As predicted: Exposure mode dial has a button and lock, just like the D600.
  • Surprise! It has the instant 100% zoom on playback that was present on the D300, D700, and pro bodies but was missing from the D600.
  • Surprise! 51 AF Points with new AF algorithm, and low-light AF capability.  I thought it was unlikely but thank goodness Nikon pulled through.  Not just that, but it's supposed to focus up to -2EV, which beats even the D600 which can focus at -1EV.
  • As predicted: still no PC sync.
  • As predicted: 1/8000 shutter speed.
  • Partial surprise: As predicted: flash sync is 1/250 (no mention of 1/320 non-HSS sync speed) with the option for non-HSS 1/320 sync speed.
  • New! 1.3x crop mode. In this mode, the image will be cropped slightly (effectively 2x crop compared to full frame 35mm, very similar to Micro 4/3 and 4/3 ratio).  The focal length will be effectively 2x instead of 1.5x, the continuous shooting speed increases to 7fps, and the AF points will fill the frame from edge to edge.  The crop mode also works in video.  If the implementation is the same as that of the D600, then the 1.3x-cropped video will still have full 1080 or 720 resolution.
  • New! Spot white balance: instead of taking a manual white balance shot of the whole screen, you can take the white balance from any small spot of the screen (in Live View).  No need to look for a gray card.
  • New! LCD screen is slightly larger (3.2 inches vs. 3.0), higher resolution (1.229M vs. 921k) and brighter (has white pixels, not just RGB).
  • As predicted: Price is $1200 for body only.
  • Wishful thinking: Can specify whether exposure compensation affects ambient only or both ambient and flash.  Not sure yet whether this is true.
Early verdict: I was sort of on the fence whether to order this because the D7000 is already such a great camera, but: 
- probably kickass sensor (otherwise Nikon would use the D5200's sensor), --> but see here
- no low-pass filter
- new AF system
- smart Auto ISO
- instant 100% zoom 
...are just enough for me to take it up instead of the D7000.  So, yes I will preorder one.

If you're interested in the D7100, please join the Flickr group for it right here.  I will be posting there regularly.

Comment:  One issue is whether it's better to spend money on a good body or a good lens.  From a purely financial standpoint, spending money on a good lens is a better way to save because lenses depreciate more slowly than bodies.  On the other hand, in terms of actual impact on your images, it appears that a great sensor with a good lens outresolves a good sensor with a great lens (see this post from LensRentals).  In addition, a good body has the potential to improve all your images (from a lower noise sensor, or a body with better autofocus), not just the images from a single lens.  So, as long as you're ok with the inevitable financial hit, I think choosing a better body is a reasonable decision.