Nikon D7100 Review

 
Camera Reviews > Nikon Cameras > Nikon D i Review

Nikon D7100 Video Recording

Nikon D7100 with ME-1 external microphone

Most DSLRs nowadays offer some form of HD video recording, and the Nikon D7100 is no exception. The Nikon D7100 serves as Nikon's flagship enthusiast-level APS-C camera, and as such, features a healthy array of HD video recording capabilities (and interestingly, -- perhaps a sign of the times -- no standard-definition video recording resolution), featuring full-time autofocus, manual exposure controls, manual audio recording levels, an external microphone jack, and a headphone jack. The D7100 offers an interesting feature that many advanced and professional users yearn for with video-capable interchangeable lens cameras: Clean, uncompressed HDMI output. The D7100 provides a full 1,920 x 1,080 resolution live view signal via HDMI allowing for monitoring video with an external HD monitor or better yet, recording uncompressed video data to an external storage device.

Here's the full rundown of the D7100's video capabilities, along with our usual selection of sample videos.

Nikon D7100 Basic Video Specs

  • 1,920 x 1,080 (Full HD / 1080p) at 60i (59.94 fields/second), 50i, 30p (29.97 fps), 25p, 24p (23.976 fps)
  • 1,280 x 720 (720p) at 60p (59.94 fps), 50p
  • No Standard Definition recording resolution
  • Choice of two compression levels; High or Normal quality
  • TTL (through the lens) matrix metering using the main image sensor
  • MOV file format, with H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) encoding
  • Linear PCM stereo audio recording
  • Uncompressed, clean HDMI output at 1,920 x 1,080 resolution for monitoring video on external HD monitor or recording uncompressed video data directly to an external storage device for higher quality footage
  • Autofocus can be triggered during movie recording by half-pressing the shutter button, or continuous AF (AF-F) can be enabled
  • Manual focus also available in movie mode
  • Aperture can be controlled in Aperture-priority or Manual exposure modes, but only before recording begins*
  • Shutter speed and ISO can be controlled in Manual exposure mode
  • EV adjustment (exposure compensation) can be selected prior to or during recording
  • 1.3x crop mode increases the apparent focal length of the lens by ~30% compared to APS-C (~2x compared to full frame)
  • Built-in stereo microphone, sensitivity adjustable
  • External stereo microphone jack
  • Stereo headphone jack for monitoring audio
  • Still image can be captured while in video recording mode, but doing so stops the recording
  • Flicker-reduction mode for both 60Hz and 50Hz light sources
  • Movies can be "trimmed" in-camera, selecting just the portion you want and saving it as a new file
  • Single frames can be selected from movie files and saved as separate JPEG files
  • Video duration limited to 20 minutes maximum in High quality; 29 minutes 59 seconds at normal quality
  • File size restricted to 4 GB maximum
  • Class 6 or faster SD memory cards recommended
  • Can select which card slot is destination for movies

*Note: Due to the design of the aperture mechanism in the D7100 and other non-pro Nikon DSLR bodies (i.e. "pro" meaning D800, D4), when in Movie Live View, the aperture can only be changed while Live View is disabled.

Nikon D7100 Video: Image size, frame rate, and file format

The Nikon D7100 offers two different video resolutions, five frame rates, and two quality settings in combinations as shown below:

Nikon D7100 Video Options
MOV files, H.264/MPEG-4 encoding
Resolution
Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate
Quality

1,920 x 1,080

16:9

60i / 50i *
(60i = 59.94 fields per second, interlaced)

High/Normal
24/12 Mbps

1,920 x 1,080

16:9

30p
(29.97 frames per second, progressive)

1,920 x 1,080

16:9

24p / 25p
(24p = 23.976 frames per second, progressive)

1,280 x 720

16:9

60p / 50p
(60p = 59.94 frames per second, progressive)


*60i/50i recording mode is only available when using the 1.3x crop mode image area.
Nikon D7100 crop mode menu

Crop Mode. The D7100's 1.3x crop mode can be used in video mode, and is required to enable 60i/50i frame rates.

Most of the D7100's video modes are progressive scan, meaning that every video line is scanned, one after the other, for every frame. Compared to interlaced scanning, progressive scan video is generally better for viewing videos on a computer screen. (Interlaced works fine for HD TVs, but some computer video players that de-interlace poorly will produce bad tearing of moving objects.) The D7100 does feature a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution with a 60i or 50i interlaced scan video format, but it is only available when the D7100's new 1.3x Crop Mode is enabled.

The D7100 expands on the frame rate options of its predecessor, the D7000, now offering 60p/50p frame rates in 1,280 x 720 mode, as well as the aforementioned 60i/50i frame rates available in 1.3x crop mode, but it loses the VGA 640 x 424 standard definition recording resolution. The new formats are great for capturing smooth-looking action, but won't be as good in low-light situations, because the camera can't use a shutter speed slower than 1/60 second. The faster frame rate will help those looking to record fast action and then edit and display at a slower frame rate for a slow-motion motion look. Sadly, the D7100 like many competing video-capable DSLRs, does not offer 60p video at the 1080p resolution that some mirrorless models offer.

Nikon D7100 movie settings menu

The inclusion of the 24p mode has pretty much become a standard feature for video-capable interchangeable lens cameras. This is the de facto standard frame rate for cinema, and the 24p frame rate gives videos the "film look and feel" that many filmmakers and video shooters want. It can be tricky to shoot in 24p however, as the lower frame rate can look choppy, particularly when shooting with fast shutter speeds or when panning quickly.

Note that the Nikon D7100 has no separate PAL or NTSC video timing modes, perhaps as a consequence of its HD-only recording: Both traditionally NTSC (60/30/24 fps) and PAL (50/25 fps) frame rates are available via the movie settings menu at all times. The D7100 also doesn't offer a composite video output, only providing a Mini (Type-C) HDMI output.

The Nikon D7100 saves its video files in the MOV format, using MPEG-4 encoding, following the Advanced Video Coding standard, with bitrate options of 24 Mbps for High quality and 12 Mbps for Normal quality. Pretty much any computer or editing program made within the last 5 years should be able to play its files with little problem, although the full 1,920 x 1,080 resolution files may strain older systems.

Nikon D7100 HDMI  menu

The D7100 also includes a highly sought-after feature that makes the D7100 quite a professional-level video camera: uncompressed, clean HDMI output. This feature is not found on many video-capable still cameras, and is typically seen on high-end video and cinema cameras. This feature allows for a full 1,920 x 1,080 live view video signal without all the graphical overlays typically shown on the rear LCD -- hence the term "clean HDMI" -- to be displayed on an HD monitor (great for directors, DPs, etc., to get a larger view of the scene) or for use with an external video capture device, while simultaneously recording to the memory card. This lets users capture and record a much higher quality HD video feed, making post production much easier with video files that are more flexible for editing, color correction and grading. Note that the user manual warns that for 1080 60i/50i and 720 60p/50p video modes, the camera's LCD monitor will be disabled when the HDMI output is active.

Nikon D7100 Video: Image Quality

The Nikon D7100 produces high-quality HD video, with good detail, modest motion artifacts, and pleasing, accurate color. In our daytime videos, under bright sunlight, colors were accurate and the contrast was pretty well-controlled. The shadow areas weren't crushed down to black, so we could still see lots of detail in the shadow. Also moiré artifacts were very well-controlled in the 1080p resolution videos, even in the usual problem areas of our test videos like roofing shingles, asphalt and window blinds. At 720p resolution, moiré was more noticeable in areas like roofing shingles (see our rolling shutter video below for an example), but overall it wasn't severe.

The D7100 also did really well in our night video shots. Shooting at ISO 3200, image noise was low and the resulting image still had good dynamic range. Shadow detail was present and fine details were still visible.

Below you can see our standard array of sample videos for the D7100:

Nikon D7100: Video Samples
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 24 frames per second
Download Original
1,280 x 720
MOV, Progressive, 60 frames per second
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
Night, ISO 6400, MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
Night, ISO 6400, MOV, Progressive, 24 frames per second
Download Original
1,280 x 720
Night, ISO 6400, MOV, Progressive, 60 frames per second
Download Original


Nikon D7100 Video: Focusing

Beginner video shooters (and plenty of advanced users alike) will welcome the addition of full-time autofocus. Unlike some earlier DSLRs with video recording features, the D7100, as with the D7000 before it, has the ability to autofocus during recording, however, depending on the lens used, the focus motor noise may be picked up by the internal stereo microphone. With the kit lens, it's very audible in the sound track, so it's probably best not to select continuous AF when using it, or plan on using an external mic. Other Nikon lenses with silent focus motors would likely be better. Users also have the option to manually focus.

  • Single-shot or full-time servo AF (AF-F) for continuous AF during recording
  • By default, the D7100 doesn't AF during recording, but you can always trigger an AF cycle by half-pressing the shutter button
  • AF area mode options:
    • Face-priority AF
    • Wide-area AF
    • Normal-area AF
    • Subject-tracking AF (Half-press shutter button to AF before recording or use servo AF with AF-F mode, then hit OK button with subject centered in little green square. The square will follow the subject around the frame, maintaining focus on it.)
  • Manual focus is also available during movie recording
  • The magnified focus-assist display is available prior to starting recording, but not during

Nikon D7100 Video: Exposure Control

Like many advanced DSLR cameras with video recording features, the D7100 offers users a full range of manual exposure settings depending on the shooting mode used, as well as simple auto-exposure settings for quick point-and-shoot video recording.

  • Defaults to fully automatic exposure, but exposure compensation adjustment is available in P, S and A modes.
  • Auto-ISO limit in still capture mode doesn't appear to apply to video recording.
  • Aperture can be set in Aperture-priority or Manual exposure mode.
    • Desired aperture must be set before entering movie live view mode; the aperture dial does nothing in Aperture-priority or Manual exposure mode.
  • In Manual exposure mode, shutter speed and ISO can be set in addition to aperture.
    • You can change shutter speed either before or during recording, but changing it during will produce very loud clicks in the audio track, as you rotate the control dial.
    • Available shutter speeds range from 1/8,000s down to 1/60s for 60p, and down to 1/30s for 30p and 1/25s for 24p.
    • Sensitivity can be set from ISO 100 to 25,600, however ISO can only be changed before recording begins.
  • Full range of Picture Control settings apply to movie recording. (Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, and Landscape, and adjustments for contrast, brightness, saturation, and hue for each of the main settings.)
  • Creative Effects are also available during video recording, but some severely reduce the frame rate of the video being recorded, though Miniature Effect works well.
  • AE (auto-exposure) lock is supported in video mode.
  • Matrix metering is always used for video recording, regardless of metering mode selected.

Nikon D7100 Video: Audio Recording

Nikon D7100 ports

The D7100 features fairly advanced audio recording capabilities including the ability to use a standard external microphone via the 3.5mm stereo mic jack, as well as manual audio level controls and an audio meter on screen that is displayed both before and during recording. Unlike the D5200 and D7000, the D7100 now also includes a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack for monitoring audio, which has been a much sought-after feature for many advanced video shooters. While the D7100 does include a built-in stereo microphone (located right in front of the hot shoe), the use of an external mic is highly recommended for critical audio when using autofocus, as we noticed quite a significant amount of autofocus noise on the sound track when using the built-in stereo mic. Also, handling noises and button noises from adjusting exposure are easily picked up with the built-in mic.

Nikon offers a nice-looking external stereo microphone, the ME-1, with a design claimed to significantly reduce autofocus noise. We haven't tested this mic yet, but given that it specifically claims to reduce AF noise, it sounds like a good bet.

  • Internal stereo microphone
  • Defaults to automatic level control
  • Manual level control available via Movie Settings menu, with 20 levels available
  • VU (audio level) meter display also available via Movie Settings
  • 3.5mm external stereo microphone jack
  • Audio can be turned off entirely
  • 3.5mm stereo headphone jack for monitoring audio during recording

Nikon D7100 Video: Rolling Shutter Artifacts ("Jello effect")

Pretty much every DSLR on the market distorts moving objects, or the entire scene, if the camera is being panned. The technical term for this is "rolling shutter artifacts," but many users simply call it the "Jello effect," because the image can jiggle and sway like Jello as the camera is moved. This occurs because the image is captured and read out line by line, so the bottom of an object may no longer be underneath the top of it by the time the camera gets around to capturing that part of the frame.

Rolling shutter artifacts can be very annoying if they're severe, and difficult to fix in post-production, but as noted, all digital SLRs show them to some extent, and it's simply a matter of taking precautions when filming. Thankfully, in the case of the D7100, this camera does a very good job of controlling rolling shutter effects. If you pan back and forth quickly, rolling shutter effect is still present, but pretty well controlled compared to other cameras we've tested. As we've seen with other cameras we've tested, shooting at 720p resolution and 60 frames/second greatly reduces rolling shutter artifacts.

There are plug-ins out there to fix rolling shutter when editing your footage on the computer, but software correction is not a surefire solution. It's simply something that you must keep in mind when moving the camera while recording video. If you just pan slowly while filming, you're not likely to notice it much at all.

Nikon D7100: Rolling Shutter Artifacts
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 24 frames per second
Download Original
1,280 x 720
MOV, Progressive, 60 frames per second
Download Original

 

Print the video page for the Nikon D7100 digital camera reviewPrint this Page

Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

Follow Imaging Resource

Purchase memory card for Nikon D7100 digital camera
Top 3 photos this month win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate