Thursday, 12 December 2013

First takes on the D7100

4003 by Mawz
4003, a photo by Mawz on Flickr.

D7100, 18-70G DX

I've got about 100 frames now on the D7100 and am obviously still in new toy mode, where I tend to love a new camera just due to its newness. But I do have a fairly solid first impression of it already.

In terms of handling, it's larger than I'm used to at this point, but it fills my smallish hands quite well, pretty much a perfect grip for me. Weight is similar to the E-M5+halfgrip+14-54 when I've got the 18-70 mounted, this is because the smaller 18-70 offsets the larger body in weight. The button/control layout is excellent although I've come to prefer the Sony-style location of the front wheel. MUCH better than the E-M5 where the wheels were nicely located but all the buttons on the body were difficult to access without looking. Oh, and I love the locking mode dial. No more mode surprises, a continuous bugaboo and one reason I like Sony's virtual mode dial on the NEX-7 and NEX-3/5 lines.

Control setup is pretty simple. I'm in A mode, shooting Auto-ISO with an ISO 100 base, ISO3200 limit and shutter speed in Auto (this means the camera will bump the ISO when the shutter speed hits the 35mm-equivalent focal length. Which is utterly awesome, Auto-ISO that's actually useful). Button assignment is limited, unlike what I'm used to, but it's not a real issue aside from one case. I have Non-CPU lens on the Fn button (lower front), AE-Lock Toggle on the Pv button (upper front, the usual DoF preview button), AF-On on the AE-L/AF-L on the back and easy exposure compensation enabled (puts Exp Comp on the non-primary dial in P/A/S modes). The only disappointment here is I can't reassign the Movie button to something useful, but then again there's nothing I really need to assign to it, my control needs are pretty simple and all of them are already assigned. With Nikon's Two button format and the i button, I doubt I'll ever be in the menus.

The big change though is coming back to an OVF from 4-ish years with an EVF. It's a change, and a pleasant one. I like EVF's, especially for the ease of focusing, with magnification and peaking, the low-light boost and the information displays. But I had forgotten how much better an OVF is in bright light, and how nice the shorter blackout and lack of lag is. I still like EVF's for cameras, but it's good to be reminded that they are not unconditionally better than a good OVF.

In terms of IQ I'm seriously impressed. I never found the 24MP NEX-7 to have a clear advantage over the 16MP NEX or m43 bodies. The D7100 however seems to, it's probably a combination of the lack of an AA filter and the cleaner Toshiba sensor. But I'm digging it. A pleasant surprise is that the 18-70G DX stands up much better than I expected. I always knew it was a good lens, but I expected 24MP to be a bit much for it, however it's standing up pretty well and delivering better initial results than the E-M5+ZD14-54. Is it a better lens than the ZD 14-54 II? Nope. But it's a better combo than that lens on the 16MP Oly.

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