I’ve been asked whether the D7100 is a replacement for the Nikon D300s. I say, “Not exactly.” The D7100 has a different layout from the D300s, and lacks the more rugged body. Is feature set roughly parallels that of the D600, but with the 24MP DX sensor, and the control layout is very similar.
On a features/options basis, Nikon has set a very clear progression from the D3200 to D5200, and then on to more advanced cameras. So it’s relatively easy to see where the D7100 falls in the series, in terms of bracketing, multiple exposure options, metering options, autofocus system, built-in AF motor, support for metering with CPU/non-CPU lenses, top shutter speed, top ISO setting, etc. You could almost draw a graph charting the feature sets.
Then, add in a few surprises that Nikon likes to sprinkle in (as it did when it introduced 720p video with the D90.) Our D7100 “surprise” was the lack of the anti-aliasing filter. While the D800E uses a “neutered” AA pack, the D7100 dispenses with it entirely. In both cases, the result is slightly higher resolution along with a measurable (but not especially troublesome) increase in moire effects with certain types of subjects. (Please don’t shoot any window screens with either camera!) An interesting side effect of this approach is that the boosted resolution of the 24MP D7100 should bring it closer to the standard 36MP Nikon D800. I haven’t had a chance to compare the two, yet, but will be interested to see how they stack up not only in terms of resolution, but in higher ISO performance. Is the D7100 truly the poor photographer’s D800 in a DX form factor ? Or is it closer to the D600?
The D7100 won’t be a true replacement for the D300s, and given the scant amount of price differential between the D7100 and the D600, there just might not be any D300s replacement. It might be Nikon’s plan for those who want to upgrade from the D7000/D7100 that the D600 and a migration from DX to FX is the next logical step.