Having spent a few months with the Nikon D7100, I therefore conclude that it is a good camera to upgrade to if you are coming from the entry level D3200s or D5200s or if you need a second camera for let’s say a D600 user.
If you are upgrading from its older sibling, the D7000, then you may want to skip that and go directly to the D610. If you cannot afford it yet, then you might as well keep your money and save it until you have enough to buy its newer and much better cousin.
I will be reviewing this camera primarily for the second Nikon camera buyer in mind and a few notes for the entry level user upgrading to this.
The camera is a bit lighter than Nikon’s D600 which I have been using for over one and a half years. It is definitely heavier than any entry level camera due to the material used for the body. This is a good thing for those mid 40s or early 50s photographer who has some back issues to contend with.
I have come to believe that the D7100 is a natural second (backup) camera for a D600 (or 610) user. Except for a few button issues that I have, the control layout: buttons, dials and levers are almost the same. The dimensions are almost the same too! They also have the same dual SD card slots which is a big plus for wedding and events photographers.
The battery life is also great! I have yet to experience running out. I usually use it at the same time with the D600 so I really do not worry. I’ve used it a few times on its own in a big event but the battery held out. I did not have to worry.
The short of it is…its good! Its almost as good as the D600. I may have to protect it more from hitting hard surfaces than its older cousin but you may have to do that for all the cameras you own if you really want to have for a long time.
The bottom line is that the image quality that this camera produces will satisfy the scrutiny of any photographer at ISOs under 1600. Beyond this point the noise may be an issue. I love the noise (was that an oxymoron?) my D600 produces even at ISO 6400 but not with the Nikon D7100. I would use it in not so low light even though you will only notice this noise if you look at it closely. I do not use any noise reduction software so I may be wrong in some aspects about this.
A FEW NOTES FOR THE ENTRY LEVEL USER
This camera will surely bring you to the enthusiast level in terms of how you can control the camera, the file resolution that you get out of it and how many frames per second you can get (Its faster than the D600 at 5.5fps), which sadly is not that big a deal unless you are into action photography.
Moving up to this camera requires some investment. The body at the time we bought it costs 42,000 pesos whereas the entry level models are usually priced in the mid 20K level. There is nothing that this camera can do that an entry level camera cannot. IT only performs better at low light, focus faster and noise management. Use an entry level camera with pro level or prime lenses such as the 50mm 1.4 and every thing would be fair game.
Unless you, the entry-level user would be stepping up to earn from photography, then go right ahead. If you will be using this only for the occasional snap shot then your money is worth spending on better quality lenses.