With the introduction of the Nikon D7100, there has been both excitement and frustration from Nikon fans. Those who wanted to move up to a higher-end DX camera greeted the D7100 with fanfare, while many existing D300/D300s owners were disappointed with this update. Why? Well, for anyone moving up from an older generation or an entry-level DSLR, the D7100 is a significant upgrade, thanks to its high resolution sensor and top of the line autofocus system. However, for those that shoot sports and action with a D300/D300s, the small buffer of the D7100, lack of a dedicated AF-ON button, slower fps speed and a few other factors left them puzzled about the future of a high-end DX camera. As I initially stated in the Nikon D7100 announcement article, I feel like Nikon has merged the professional DX line (D300s) with the semi-professional (D7000) line into the D7100. A number of factors led me to make that conclusion. With the high-end autofocus system making it into the D7100, lack of an optical low-pass filter, full weather sealing and Nikon’s usage of words “flagship” and “high-end” in their press releases, it just felt like the D7100 killed the possibility of the D400 ever making it to the market. On top of that, both the D7000 and the D7100 were announced after the D300s, making the D300s over three years old and breaking it out of its typical 2 year update cycle (the D200 was released in 2005, D300 was released in 2007 and D300s was released in 2009). Will we ever see a D400 DX, or has the D7100 become the high-end DX?
As I was compiling the data for my Nikon D7000 vs D7100 article, I realized that the D7100 has one major drawback that will immediately draw criticism from current D300/D300s owners – the small buffer size. Even compared to the existing Nikon D7000, the D7100 can only handle up to 9 images in compressed 12-bit RAW format (which is the smallest RAW file size) at full resolution and up to 14 images in the same format at 1.3x crop size, whereas the D7000 can handle 15 RAW files without the crop. Compare that to the D300s, which can take 45 compressed RAW images before the buffer gets full – that’s quite a difference.