While on the trip to Palm Springs, California it became apparent to me that I just was not happy with the controls layout on my D5100. Now don’t get me wrong, the D5100 is a solid camera and takes good pictures. The problem was that every time I wanted to change the settings on the camera, I found myself digging through the menus rather than just doing a simple button poke. If only I could get my buttons back.
Well, there is a solution and that solution essentially gives me the same layout and features as my D600, which I adore. That is the D7100.
Here’s the deal. I hate swapping lenses in the field so I’ve always leave the house with two bodies in a sling bag. When I want to shoot wide angle, out comes the D600 with the 24-85. And if a bird pops up, no big deal, throw the D600 back in the sling bag and pull out the D7100 + 300mm. That’s the way I shoot. It’s like having a shotgun and a rifle.
The D7100 has a cropped sensor so it gives me a little extra focal length from my lenses. It also has that kick-ass EXPEED3 processor that the D600 has. That alone makes is worth the price of admission!
Here is my first real life, “Hey, there’s a bird” shot. I was driving down Rt133 from Ipswich through Essex, Massachusetts and I saw a Red-tail out of the corner of my eye. I did a Bat-turn and shot it. I’m guesstimating that I was about 75 yards on this. First up is a full frame shot.
Now this is where I would push the envelope the get an image. I shot these in a car with the motor running. I was on the side of the road (Mom didn’t raise no fool) and pulled the D7100 + 300mm out of the sling bag. I was sitting in the driver’s seat and shot across the passenger’s seat so I didn’t have a real steady platform.
The first shot was a little shaky at ISO250 and wide open lens. “All right, Steve. You justified buying this so you could crank up the ISO and still get good images. It’s the moment of truth!” So I punched up the ISO to 500 and took this shot. What you see below is highly cropped.
Oh happy, happy, happy…joy, joy, joy. I took this at 1/500th of a second, f/5.6 and ISO 500 in Aperture Priority mode with no exposure compensation. This bird was primarily back-lit as you can see in the photo above. I dropped the RAW file into Lightroom 4 and performed my standard minimal-process work flow. Badaboom-badabing.
Continuing into Gloucester, I found myself over by State Fish Pier. There were a few Red-breasted Mergansers paddling around. Normally I would bother with a shot like this. But I’m working on determining what this camera is capable of doing.
This is the same photo cropped down and minimally processed, no exposure adjustments were made. It was shot 1/1000 sec, f/4, ISO 400, handheld. The Nikkor 300mm f/4 does not have image stabilizing. This is a pretty demanding shot. Note that there is lots of details in the feathers, on my monitors (I have them calibrated) I can see a bit of dark green in the face and of course that red eye.
Oh happy day! Now let’s add a little extra “sharpness” and we have a fairly decent portrait.