Nikon D7100

Nikon D7100

Price: £839/US$1,477/Aus$1,279 body only

Key spec: 24.1Mp APS-C (DX) format CMOS sensor, 1080 video, 51 AF points (15 cross-type), max shooting rate 6fps, 3.2-inch 1,229,000-dot LCD

Compared with the D7000 that was launched some two and a half years earlier, the D7100 brought a raft of significant updates, plus a few minor enhancements. The biggest news at the time was the omission of the low-pass filter and that, whereas the full-frame D800 and D800E cameras were available with or without the filter, the D7100 simply ditched it.

Considering that the D7000 has been criticised for a lack of outright sharpness, it's perhaps not surprising that the low-pass filter went, along with a hike in image resolution from 16.2Mp to 24.1Mp.

Other improvements over the D7000 include a step up in autofocus from a 39-point system to 51-point AF, along with a newer generation EXPEED 3 image processor and a slightly larger, higher-res LCD screen. However, the D5300 also omits the low-pass filter, has an even newer EXPEED 4 processor, an articulated rather than fixed LCD and even boasts built-in Wi-Fi and GPS technology.

Even so, the D7100 has more refined handling aimed at the enthusiast market. Refinements in this respect, compared with the D7000, include a locking button on the shooting mode dial to avoid accidental changes, and the option to configure the rear 'OK' button for one-touch magnification when reviewing images, similar to the D300s.

Overall performance is very impressive and, true to its claims, the D7100 boosts fine detail recorded in images. However, along with the rise in resolution compared with the D7000 comes a reduced buffer capability. Whereas the D7000's memory buffer can hold between 10 and 15 raw quality shots, depending on colour depth and compression settings, the D7100 runs out of space in only six to nine shots.

Pros

Refined handling, improved sharpness, uprated 51-point autofocus, high-quality pentaprism viewfinder and secondary LCD info panel.

Cons

Limited buffer space for raw quality shooting in continuous drive mode, lacks Wi-Fi, GPS or an articulated screen.

Read our full Nikon D7100 review

Nikon D300s

Nikon D300s

Price: £879/US$1,697/Aus$1,509 body only

Key spec: 12.3Mp APS-C (DX) format CMOS sensor, 720 video, 51 AF points (11 cross-type), max shooting rate 7fps, 3-inch 920,000-dot LCD

Nearly as old as the D90, the D300s remains the only professional class DX body in Nikon's line-up. Signs of ageing include a humble 12.3Mp sensor, 720p video capture and first-generation EXPEED processor.

On the plus side, build quality is more robust than in any other current DX camera, with a full-metal magnesium alloy body designed to withstand the rigors of a hard-working life.

Handling is sublime, with many of the pro elements that are featured on the D800 and other pro cameras.

It's not all bad news when it comes to specifications, some of which certainly aren't old-fashioned. There's the same 51-point autofocus system as in the new D7100, and a class-leading continuous drive rate of 7fps. Better still, the memory buffer is able to hold between 17 and 45 shots in raw quality mode, depending on which 12-bit or 14-bit colour depth and compressions settings you opt for.

There's no shortage of resolution in the rear LCD either, which is a 3.0-inch 921,000 device. The maximum shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second is matched in the DX line-up by only the D7000 and D7100 cameras.

Under decent lighting conditions, image quality is gorgeous although the D300s struggles with image noise when the going gets dark and you push ISO settings. All in all, the D300s remains something of a classic, although it's starting to lose out to the very latest cameras.

Pros

Superb build quality and handling, pro-level refinements, delivers excellent image quality at low to medium sensitivity settings.

Cons

Relatively low stills and video resolution, image quality is quite noisy at high ISO settings in very dull lighting conditions.

Read our full Nikon D300S review

Nikon D610

Nikon D610

Price: £1399/US$1,997/Aus$2,127 body only

Key spec: 24.3Mp full-frame (FX) format CMOS sensor, 1080 video, 39 AF points (9 cross-type), max shooting rate 6fps, 3-inch 920,000-dot LCD

The D610 is almost exactly the same as the D600 that it replaces having a different shutter mechanism which is widely thought to address the problem of dirt reaching the D600's sensor.

This new shutter also allows a faster continuous shooting rate, 6fps instead of 5.5fps, and a new Continuous Quiet mode (also known as Quiet Release burst) mode.

Nikon used a similar design and control layout for the D600 and D610 as did for the D700 and D7100 APS-C body. As such, the D610 is particularly compact and light in weight for a full-frame camera and, again, the similarities vastly outweigh the differences.

Also like the D7100, the D610 features a 39-point autofocus system with nine cross-type points. It's called an FX rather than DX autofocus module but, even so, the AF points are all fairly close to the centre of the frame.

One nice touch is that, like the D800, D800E and D4, the AF system works with f/8 lens apertures, enabling autofocus in a greater range of telephoto lenses when used with teleconverters. Build quality is pretty good, based on a polycarbonate body shell with magnesium alloy top and rear sections.

The 6fps maximum drive rate is faster than the D800 and marginally quicker than the D3x. Metering is excellent, based on a 3D Colour Matrix II module, while the reduction in autofocus points shouldn't be a major issue for most photographers. The relatively high resolution of the 24.3Mp sensor doesn't impact on high-ISO image quality, the Expeed 3 processor helping to keep noise down to very acceptable levels.

Pros

Small and lightweight for a full-frame camera, high-resolution image sensor, good build quality for a consumer-class body.

Cons

Feels a bit down-market compared with the pro-level D800, AF points are bunched fairly tightly in the central region of the frame.

Read our full Nikon D610 review