As the next iteration of the D7000 I'd say its fairly disappointing. You get more resolution and a better autofocus, but neither of those are an innovation, more just a small step forward. Considering their lack of a D300S replacement I don't think it satisfies the market need at this point.
I don't think there's much disappointing here, except the RAW buffer.
Nikon has stated the same weather sealing as the D800, so that bodes well for the build quality. Probably less metal than the D300 which might have some tactile difference but should not have much functional difference.
They put the top-notch AF system in there, including a fairly sophisticated tracking system, gave it high end resolution - probably even moreso than the specs indicate, since there is no low-pass filter - high quality video capture and output, dual card slots... what did you expect from it?
My disappointment is primarily the lack of a 9-pin connector and that I really like the solid metal build of the D300 - though I recognize that the latter is mostly an emotional rather than functional concern.
Also, they put their top notch CAM3500 autofocus system with 51-point AF, 15 cross type sensors, their highest resolution sensor, dual card slots, and pretty much top of the line specs across the board - except for the buffer - and hit the <$1200 price point. I think that's pretty badass.
Look at what Canon did to the 6D to hit the price point. Totally gimped AF system with a single cross type sensor.
IMO it is a tweener kind of camera. The autofocus upgrade and resolution appeal the more advanced shooters who can take advantage of those features. But in that same note it is handicapped by the lack of FPS and the smaller buffer. It invokes a, "Thats good, but..." kind of reaction.
On the same note it represents a great camera for an enthusiast. Although outside of a dick wagging contest, how crucial is having a 24 mega pixel sensor? I own a D600 and can say that outside of a few instances, the increased file sizes are more of a pain than a necessity.
In my eyes, Nikon mailed it in on this one. It represents a small step forward from the current body. Then again that seems to agree with their general attitude towards DX as of the past few years. They have done a pretty good job of ignoring the users that shy towards the more advanced side of the spectrum trying to push FX.
I don't really get the FPS junkies. 6 FPS. Six frames. Every single second. I flatly refuse to believe that anyone besides a professional sports photographer, who is not the target market, requires more than six frames per second.
Small buffer is the only thing I see on this camera that appears to be a real usability concern.
You're saying Nikon mailed it in. So... A deeper buffer and more FPS would take it from "mailed it in" to "great camera"? Or is there other stuff that you would have liked to have seen?
I'm just curious because my initial impression was kind of "meh" but as I examine that, I think 99% of my feeling is strictly an aesthetic/emotional one because it doesn't match up to the magnesium brick of the D300/D700 body. Functionally, it appears pretty tremendous.
Having had a chance to think about it for a few days, I'll partially backtrack on my stance. The camera isnt as disappointing as I may have made it sound in my initial posts (unless it too is plagued by oil, dust, and focus issues). It is a great camera and offers a hell of a lot at that price point. As a D7000 owner however, it has little to offer me in terms of an upgrade.
Where it confuses me slightly is the upgraded autofocus. That to me seems to indicate that they are attempting to cater to those who need it, namely the sports and wildlife crowd. Yet those same people will also be disappointed in the buffer and frame rate. Not to mention, the collection of DX lenses that will perform admirably on. 24mp sensor is small, forcing an upgrade to FX lenses.
Perhaps I'm over thinking it and they are just migrating technologies as they usually do. Now, get on making some more DX lenses Nikon! Enough with the super zooms.
So, the D7100 (with its 2x crop mode at 15mp), plus the newly announced 80-400mm VRII would appear, at first blush, to be an absolutely tremendous casual wildlife package. I use the term "casual" loosely - obviously, a lens of that price is not a casual purchase. However, for those of us who travel and hike, the exotic telephotos aren't exactly friendly to carry-on or hiking packs. This would allow, essentially, a 120-800 f/4.5-5.6, and if you pack a 1.4x teleconverter, you're carrying a 120-1200 f/4.5-8.0 in a reasonable portable package.
If only Nikon made sure that it's sharp @ 400mm. The old 80-400 was just too soft at the long end.
For Costa Rica I had a compact superzoom, which was adequate but since then I've wondered what I'd use for a substitute when doing activities like hiking through the rainforest. My last couple trips haven't posed this problem. Galapagos wildlife did not require big glass, in the mountains of Peru there isn't a lot of wildlife, and in Africa this summer, again there will not be much wildlife in the mountains, and I will be in a vehicle on safari.
The D7100 has holy-sh*t-that's-fast improved focus speed in low light, compared to my D300.
Movies, no matter how little I will use them, look awfully nice as well.
Body feel and layout is not nearly as good as the D300. Which I expected, but didn't know if I was over-rating that and wouldn't really notice. I notice. A lot. But it's lighter, and feels much better than the D7000, so 'sokay. Will be nice to shed some weight for hiking anyway.
OLED in the viewfinder is much brighter and more usable. Surprisingly so.
The autofocus improvements are really outstanding - that, plus the 1.3x crop mode for an effective 2x reach, means that I can afford to shoot wildlife the way I want to. Since I can't afford and don't want to carry a 600mm f/4, teleconverters, slower apertures and shorter lenses are a necessity.
Samples from the 80-400 are looking really good. The 70-300 is a whole lot lighter and smaller if you don't need the extra reach, but I suspect the D7100 + 80-400 will be my new wildlife kit eventually.
I was going to wait for the D400 - and will consider, when it's released, selling the D7100 and upgrading - but upgrading prior to Africa this summer was weighing on me. I didn't want to keep waiting, and then end up with a new camera and only a couple weeks or a month to lean its intricacies.
Before the D7100 got released, I was sure I was going to go with a D800 and use it in crop mode for wildlife. DX is really a better fit for wildlife, though, and it was going to be a HUGE cost - an extra $1200 for the body, and then I was going to need a new wide angle to the tune of another $1200.
I would have paid another $500 or so for a D400. Just not another $2400 to move to FX.