February 21, 2013

Nikon Announces the D7100: $1,200 Gets You an APS-C Semi-Pro DSLR with Uncompressed HDMI

Nikon might have been first out of the gate with the D90, but it wasn't until cameras like the D7000 that their DSLRs started outputting 1080p, and early last year, they beat everyone to the punch by introducing the D800, the first full-frame DSLR with an uncompressed 1080p 4:2:2 HDMI output for better quality. Now they've got a new DSLR, the D7100, which takes most of the features of the D5200, like the APS-C 24MP Toshiba sensor and uncompressed HDMI, and puts it into a more professional and weather-resistant body. The D5200 also does something basically no other APS-C camera in the price range does: it can shoot video that is practically free from aliasing and moire. The D7100, however, has its optical low pass filter removed, so will that mean worse video on the new DSLR?

Check out the promo and a hands-on video:

Here are the specs:

  • 24.1MP DX-format CMOS Sensor
  • 1080p 30/25/24
  • 1080i 60/50
  • 720p 60/50
  • Dual SD Card Slots/Headphone and Mic Ports
  • Uncompressed HDMI
  • 3.2" 1,229k-dot LCD Monitor
  • 6 fps Up to 100 Shots at Full Resolution
  • 51-point AF with 15 Cross-type Sensors
  • Built-in HDR
  • Magnesium Alloy Body; Moisture Resistant
  • Optional WU-1a Wi-Fi Adapter
  • Price: $1,200 Body Only, $1,600 with 18-105mm Lens
  • Available: March 2013

This camera looks like it greatly improves upon the autofocus from the 16 Megapixel D7000, and it also boasts a bigger and higher resolution rear LCD. For many of you, though, the big question is, what's the video quality like? Well, one of the big revelations that has come out since the D5200 has been in the wild is that it actually does have clean HDMI (contrary to what I've said in the past, since it wasn't mentioned in the documentation). Those who have been using it can't seem to get a clean 23.98, however, only 29.97, which is probably related to the way the output is being flagged -- so it's possible a firmware update to an external recorder might be able to fix that.

Either way, the D5200 seems to control moire and aliasing very well, and since the D7100 shares the same sensor, I would expect performance to be similar, except for one change: the D7100 lacks an optical low pass filter, which means it may suffer from moire pattern in stills mode from time to time -- whereas the D5200 would not since it does have this filter in place.

But how does this affect video? Well, Nikon did something similar with the D800 and the D800E, and while the company didn't actually remove the filter in that case, they are using an additional filter to cancel out the effect. The end result is a theoretically sharper still image, with the possibility of moire pattern appearing more often. They may be using the same kind of canceling out effect here with the D7100, but what we've seen from the D800E is that video performance remained pretty much the same, with about the same level of resolved detail and apparent aliasing and moire. We will have to see some more video samples of the D7100 to really know if moire in video is worse, but for now we can get a sense of the overall performance thanks to the two cameras sharing the same sensor. Here is a quick video showing a scene that would have a lot of trouble with most of Nikon's DSLRs:

http://vimeo.com/58959901

One thing is definite, low-light performance looks to be improved in video mode, even in the face of more megapixels on the same sized sensor. Here is a comparison between the Nikon D5200 (24 MP) and the Canon T4i (18 MP) to give you a sense of what we might expect with the D7100 (granted this is only in SD, but the results are clear):

http://vimeo.com/59232019

Now, as for resolved detail, here is a test between the D5200 and the T2i:

http://vimeo.com/59767574

To my eyes, they look pretty similar (the 5200 may be a hair sharper), which tells me the D7100 will probably not be quite as sharp as cameras like the GH2 and D800 -- but I won't pass final judgment until I see more footage.

Even though these cameras are basically only compatible with Nikon lenses (some others like Leica R that work with adapters), there is so much good and cheap Nikon glass floating around that you could put together a package of a couple decent lenses for only a few hundred dollars. If you've already got Nikon lenses, you'll be in business, though you will still have the APS-C crop factor to deal with, and a 2X crop factor if you choose to use the camera in the new 1.3x mode.

There is one big issue with most of these Nikon cameras, however. If you use all manual aperture lenses, you're set, but every Nikon camera except the D800 requires you to leave live view mode to change the aperture. If you're shooting an event, this is a serious issue, but obviously it can be overcome with manual aperture lenses like AI or AIS Nikkors.

We also don't know yet if the HDMI will fill the entire screen. The D600, which was also claimed to have uncompressed HDMI, only fills 95% of the screen on the output, so you must zoom in post to fill the screen. A rumor was circulating that a firmware update might be coming to fix that, but nothing has surfaced just yet. The D5200 does not have this problem, and it's possible the D7100 will not either.

So in my opinion, as long as 23.98 HDMI output can be worked out, it's likely this could be one of the better values in the sub-$1,500 DSLR market. While it won't be the sharpest (the GH2 still seems to resolve the most in this under-$1,500 price range), it should be relatively moire and aliasing free, and you'll be able to record the HDMI output for higher quality video or green screen work, and also keep an external monitor and the on-board LCD running at the same time (something many Canon DSLRs cannot do). Either way, we'll try to post more D7100 videos as they become available.

What do you guys think? Does the D7100 add enough over the D5200 in video mode? For anyone who owns the D5200, what do you think so far?

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40 Comments

Hi Joe, thanks for the article. The Nikon d5200 has pass under the radar as yet another Nikon camera. But it has been a revelation the last two week when people have been investigating it well. The resolution seems to be near the gh2. Many people tend to put the sharpness at lowest because they are use to that on the gh2 but it seems from some test that the middle is much better. Andrew from eoshd has been doing a lot of test and the $700 d5200 is very very close to the 5dmark3 in low light with perhaps better DR. There is a fix for the 24p hdmi output here http://www.eoshd.com/comments/topic/2125-exploring-nikon-d5200-hdmi-outp...

So if we extrapolate all that to the D7100, with its better body (No flip screen will be a bummer for some), DR near the 12 stop of the D800, we would be close to the image of a C100/c300 for example. The only thing really lacking for me is 60fps 1080p.

February 21, 2013

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Danyyyel

I also hope that nofilmschool does a good review of those cameras, because between the D5200 and D7100, these could be the best value for money video DSLR, far better for the price than anything Canon for example. When you can get clean uncompressed hdmi out of S700 and $1200 camera, while the $ 3500 camera is still awaiting for one, there are good reason to show at least the manufacturers that are bringing some real advancement to the video/dslr user market.

February 21, 2013

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Danyyyel

The D800 gets over 14 EV DR in still mode (see DxOMark). Has it been measured at 12 EV in video mode?

February 21, 2013

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Markus

This test which is commonly reffered to the bbc test. http://tech.ebu.ch/docs/tech/tech3335_s02.pdf

February 22, 2013

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Danyyyel

The D5200 resolves less than the 5dmarkIII so how can it come close to the GH3?

February 25, 2013

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mikko löppönen

I'm a D800 stills shooter and love the camera for video but until nikon wake the f@ck up and implement their video features with half a clue I wouldn't touch them with a 50 foot pole.

The lack of aperture control in live view is simply unforgivable as is the pathetic limiting 720p for slow motion.

Nikon need to pull their finger out if they want a slice of the video pie!

February 21, 2013

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Peter

The 60p is a true bummer for me. With the fashionable slow motion, it is really silly not to include it even in some burst mode for 10, 20, 30 sec etc. They could also have implemented some higher bitrate codec like Panasonic ghe3 of Canon 5dmark3. The last one can be redeemed with an external recorder but it would have been nice for an internal version. Somehow from all account the 24mbit codec in the d5200 is very very good.

February 21, 2013

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Danyyyel

Peter,
I have owned a D800 and a D800E since they were first available, and shoot both stills and video using them.

Occasionally, I will record video to the internal memory cards, but more commonly to a Ninja2, obviously using the camera's uncompressed HDMI output. I always shoot with all manual settings and can modify all of the four main in-camera variables while recording either internally or externally. i.e., WB, ISO, Shutter speed and aperture can ALL be changed on-the-fly.

Nikon video is very good indeed - provided that no attempt is made to invoke auto-focus, but who cares about that anyway?

Pete (the other one)

February 21, 2013

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Peter Beckett

I'm guessing when canon releases their uncompressed update for the mark3, video will still be soft and low res?

February 21, 2013

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vinceGortho

vince, have you seen bloom's tutorial on shooting with the mk iii ? tweak the on-board settings, add some sharpening in post .... works pretty well.

i will say i still think canon is snoozing while nikon slowly eats their lunch on the video front. i thought this april firmware release was a joke; that when they announced it in OCTOBER it would just be a matter of weeks before it rolled out. looks like they really did mean april. that probably gave the more nimble nikon time to actually develop the d7100 while canon is futzing around with their firmware upgrade.

February 21, 2013

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sjk

True.

Has it been confirmed that the LCD will be on whilst taking a uncompressed out to a recorder?

February 21, 2013

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Jimmy

Well for 3.5k USD it should be sharp enough out of the box - PB's 'sharpening fix' doesn't make the softness issue acceptable.

February 21, 2013

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burt

Thank you. So very true.
Sharpen a little, its not enough. Sharpen a lot and your video has this high frequency look to it.
On a 27-40" monitor, it may look good. On a big screen it looks like sharp detail-less garbage.

February 21, 2013

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vinceGortho

yes. I went through all the tutorials from bloom and Shane hurlbut. I owned two mark3 and was still disappointed. The sharpness was there but detail was not. Something felt very artificial.
My 60"led is my computer monitor and the mark3 doesn't hold up, especially on wide shots.
I have a d800 now and am very satisfied till blackmagic gets their stuff in order.

February 21, 2013

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vinceGortho

With you on all of that. When BMDCC starts shipping that M43 version I'll also move on from my D800.

February 21, 2013

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marklondon

Amen, they just need to iron out a few kinks, improve and add to the firmware a tad and I'm all over the BMCC. I'll still keep my D800 as a b cam for wides etc.

February 21, 2013

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Peter

+1

February 21, 2013

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Peter

If this camera doesn't have any moire on video, it's going to blow everything else to kingdom come.

February 21, 2013

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So many new cameras! So much fun!

February 21, 2013

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I can tell you the 5200 is a beast for video. With the flip out screen its perfect as the handheld rig (in a cheap P&C cage - also great) to complement a D800 on sticks/jib. I have mostly Zeiss, old Nikon glass or Rokinons so the Aperture issue isn't a problem for me.
I've used that setup this week to shoot a music video for a UK artist with a rented FS700 for super slowmo. I use the 720 slowmo for lip synch no problem. All shot internal codec.
Would I have preferred to shoot on Alexa or RED? Sure. But when you only have 3 days and you want to shoot undercover/low impact in Vegas, can't beat DSLRs.
And the 5200 is awesome for the price. Takes decent pics too :-) This has become my current recommendation to shooters starting out.
FINALLY, if you can't see the difference above between the 5200 and T2i (great cam, owned two of them) then you're blind.

February 21, 2013

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marklondon

How is the rolling shutter on the d5200 working out when used handheld, with non-IS lenses? Thanks!

February 21, 2013

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Shenan

There is a low-light comparison between the GH3 and D5200 at ESOHD and there is a small section about rolling shutter (see link below)

https://vimeo.com/59832019

February 21, 2013

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Markus

Pretty much the same as every other DSLR. No noticeable difference. Wasn't an issue. We weren't shooting any whip pans :-)

February 21, 2013

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marklondon

Also why do reviewers keep insisting on using the Flaat styles on every Nikon camera they test. The style was made for the d800 and optimised for the dynamic range it delivers. Using it on anything else defeats the purpose.

February 21, 2013

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Peter

Agreed.

February 21, 2013

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marklondon

Yeah, it would be great if Nikon came out with their own Log Profile or something like the Technicolor one. I think that would help a great deal.

February 21, 2013

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Ken

It would. Most D800 shooters I know just adjust the Neutral profile, which works, but a genuine LOG would be great.

February 21, 2013

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marklondon

You have two flat proflies that are preto good on Nikon - milk and tassinflat - Tassinflat is an absolute joy to use and I expect it to become more well known now if people move more into Nikon videography. There are tons of other profiles as well I think the Nikon picture profile editor is either free or cheap.

February 22, 2013

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Rafael

As a satisfied D800 user in the market for a backup body I've been considering picking up a D5200, especially after I saw the shootout video with the 5D III and the GH3.

http://www.eoshd.com/comments/topic/2147-nikon-d5200-vs-canon-5d-mark-iii/

Some of the comments below the video are interesting as well, with some Canon shooters seemingly pretty unhappy that Andrew dared to compare the lowly D5200 with their 5D III.

Now that the D7100, I will most certainly pick up it instead for VF, LCD, and build quality vs the D5200. For those interested there are full-sized still samples from the D7100 up on Nikon's website and they are impressive.

February 21, 2013

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Markus

Just make sure the video looks as good as the 5200. I heard this was coming, but couldn't wait.

February 21, 2013

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marklondon

And sorry, I always find the build quality argument hilarious. Given the rapid progress in this industry, you seriously think you need a camera body that will last more than 3 years max? And if you drop a D800 on to concrete, or over a cliff, or use it as a crash cam, its as broken as a cheaper cam. Rant over.

February 21, 2013

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marklondon

Yeah build quality is almost a non issue, also for video I would use an external monitor and even if not you are talking DOUBLE the price 5200 vs 7100 so unless the video quality and low light is night and day better... 7100 makes no sense. For video work only that is.

February 21, 2013

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Peter

I agree with you.

February 21, 2013

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marklondon

In one sense I agree with you, but when I say build quality, I'm also talking about the more robust grip, construction, and weather sealing. I use these cameras for photography as well, and I don't know if you've ever used their low or mid tier DSLRs, but there is simply no comparison in handling to a D7000, D700 or D800 level body. If I use the camera for three years, I want the best possible handing and yes, it does feel better to use a more robust camera. The 100% Pentaprism VF alone is worth the added cost when you are using it as a still camera. But you make a valid point.

February 21, 2013

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Markus

Yeah, i really meant as a video camera, but there are definitely times I wish the magnesium shell inside my D800 wasn't so heavy, and that's usually on stills shoots.
On a slightly different point, isn't about time someone rethought stills' camera's ergonomics? There were serious mechanical reasons for its shape originally, but those are long gone. I miss the ergonomics of the Hasselblad H series for example. Now THAT was a meaty grip. Why not offer different sized grips for the same body for example? Just a thought :-)

February 21, 2013

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marklondon

Something people are forgetting is that Nikon is at their best when tweaking sensors for IQ- just look across the board at all DXo lab tests. So it's to no surprise that they are coming around to the same level of outstanding IQ optimizing the sensors for video.

February 21, 2013

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burt

Good point.

February 21, 2013

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marklondon

Nikon have 8 cameras in the top 20 with most of those in the top 11. Canon have only 3 and they are at the very bottom end of 20 with the 5DMk3 at number 20. Amazing what they charge for a 5DMk3 when it scores the same as a D3200.

February 24, 2013

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"...the company didn’t actually remove the filter in that case, they are using an additional filter to cancel out the effect. The end result is a theoretically sharper still image, with the possibility of moire pattern appearing more often. They may be using the same kind of canceling out effect here with the D7100..."

The D7100 didn't get the "canceling" filter. Since it was a complete redesign, as opposed to the D800E which was an "added feature", Nikon designed it completely without the OLPF/AA filter. Presumably there's just an IR cut filter and that's it.

February 22, 2013

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Screw all you guys . Im gettin one of these. Stick it on to a sound devices pix 240i and i can cross convert at will to get my slow mo. My ONLY issue is the lens options.

Would have liked if there was a way to mount PL lenses on there but there is so freaking what. I have a ton of NIKON glass

February 24, 2013

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Nigel