Today’s review compares the Nikon D7100 vs Nikon D5300, two heavyweights in the entry-level DSLR range. As the successor to the D5300, it makes perfect sense to compare these two. If you’re debating whether to buy the D7100 or D5300 you may be wondering, is it worth spending the extra money to buy the D7100? Are there other features which the D5300 has which the D7100 doesn’t?
To be fair, both are great cameras and most photographers would be thrilled to have either one, depending on your needs. Though, you may be swayed to one or the other. Let’s take a closer look at each camera and see how they measure up against each other.
Nikon D7100: Advantages
- 12 more focus points
- Higher LCD screen resolution
- More accurate viewfinder
- Faster shutter speed
- Comes with headphone port
- Environmental Sealing
- Comes with auto-focus motor
- Extra storage card slot
Both cameras have almost identical sensors which deliver fantastic results. Not exactly the same but they have similar specs. The D7100 has a 24.1MP sensor while the D5300 has a 24.2MP sensor. Both sensors are CMOS and the format is APS-C (DX format).
Both cameras have gone without the optical low-pass filter which the earlier Nikon cameras had, resulting in sharper photos when using high-end Nikon lenses. However, the D5300 wins in sensor comparison because of its Expeed 4 image processing engine. The D7100 uses an Expeed 3 engine.
One big advantage for the D7100 is a better autofocus system. Its 12 extra focusing points bring it up to 51 vs the D5300’s 39. The D7100’s AF system uses the Multi-CAM 3500DX, which along with providing these extra focusing points gives it a better distribution. This allows the D7100 camera to work with F8 lenses, while the D5300’s Multi-CAM 4800 only works with lenses up to F5.6.
However, despite these higher numbers, the difference is only marginal in testing and only really shows in low light conditions or with fast-moving subjects. If you tend to shoot in low light, or with fast objects like in sports photography, then the D7100 is the better choice.
Another advantage of the D7100 is its built-in auto-focus motor. Why is this important? Well, it allows you to have AF functionality with older lenses. Older lenses don’t have AF built into them like modern lenses. Not an issue if this is your first camera, but it’s something to consider if you have any older lenses.
The D7100 also packs a better viewfinder. 100% coverage and 0.94x magnification versus the D5300’s 95% coverage and 0.82 magnification. A better viewfinder makes it much easier and more comfortable to compose your shots.
Lastly, the D7100 has a stronger build with environmental sealing to protect it against rough conditions, and increased functionality from its extra SD card slot.
Nikon D7100: Disadvantages
- Heavier weight
- Slower processing engine
- Weaker ISO sensitivity and range
- No rotatable LCD screen
- No built-in Wi-Fi or GPS
As mentioned, the D7100 has a slower image processing engine (Expeed 3 compared to Expeed 4 on the D5300). A stronger processing engine means less time to wait between shots, something that becomes more important as pixel count rises. Expeed 4 allows 1080P at 60fps while Expeed 3 only allows 1080P at 30fps.
A better processing engine also effects ISO range and sensitivity. With the D5300’s Expeed 4 engine you get less noise, a higher dynamic range, and a higher ISO range (12,800 vs 6,400). Twice what the D7100 can do!
All these are important factors for any photographer and the main reason why some will choose the D5300 over the D7100.
Another issue people will have with the D7100 is the fixed LCD screen. It is now common and practically expected that the LCD screen should be rotatable to allow easier low angle shooting or selfie shots. Something like this is almost essential when shooting video. So, if you’ll be practicing videography, he D5300 looks like the better choice for you.
Nikon D5300: Advantages
- Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS
- Rotatable LCD screen
- Higher ISO
- Stronger processing engine
- Lighter weight
- Better video shooting capabilities
As was already covered, both cameras have very similar sensors. In good light with a quality lens, both cameras may perform the same by most measures. Although, the D5300 has a slightly higher pixel count, it’s hardly enough to count as an advantage.
What really puts the D5300 ahead of its rival is it’s Expeed 4 image processing engine. With a stronger processing engine comes faster performance when shooting continuously. You also get: a higher ISO range, a higher dynamic range, better video shooting and greater noise reduction in images. If you tend to shoot a lot of photos continuously as well as video, as anyone in sports photography certainly would, the D5300 is the way to go.
However, it’s worth noting that the real-world benefits of all this may not be so apparent. In testing, both cameras seem very comparable, so it really depends on how often you push things to the extreme with low light and fast shooting.
For ISO, the D5300 is well above the D7100: 12,800 compared to 6,400. When set to ISO 100, both cameras are nearly identical in image quality. Although the higher range of the D5300 seems like the better choice, don’t discount the D7100’s better AF system which will influence how your final shot looks.
The rotating LCD screen is a big plus for the D5300. This makes it far easier to shoot at low or awkward angles. It’s a small feature, but one that can be almost indispensable once you get used to it.
Nikon D5300: Disadvantages
- Smaller, less comfortable viewfinder
- No auto-focus motor
- No environmental sealing
- No headphone port
- Lower LCD resolution
The D5300 may have a higher ISO range than the D7100 and the Expeed. However, the LCD screen, while at least having the advantage of being rotatable, has a lower resolution compared with the D7100. 1,037K dots vs the D7100’s 1,229K dots (18% lower). There’s also the fact that the viewfinder is a bit smaller and more uncomfortable than the D7100. Better coverage and magnification on the D7100’s viewfinder make the camera much easier and more comfortable to use in the field.
The lack of an auto-focus motor will also be an issue if you have (or, ever buy) older lenses. You’ll still be able to use lenses without built-in AF, but you’ll be restricted to manual focus – something to consider if you already have a collection of older lenses.
Finally, the lack of environmental sealing on the D5300 makes it more prone to weather damage in adverse conditions. With care, the D5300 should be fine, but you’ll just have to be more careful if the weather ever takes a turn for the worse.
So, which DSLR should you choose? The answer depends on your shooting style. The D5300 is the better choice if you’ll be shooting a lot of video or continuous still shots. It’s also generally cheaper, making the camera easier on your budget.
The D7100 is the model to buy if lens options are important to you. The more advanced AF system will make it easier to get clearer shots, even in low light conditions. While the lower ISO count may seem a detractor, the improved AF system makes up for it.
In summary, both cameras are superb and would be great additions to any photographer’s kit. Which you choose or prefer will depend entirely on your needs.Back to Top