Nikon D3 vs D7100
The Nikon D3 and the Nikon D7100 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and February 2013. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (D3) and an APS-C (D7100) sensor. The D3 has a resolution of 12.1 megapixels, whereas the D7100 provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Nikon D3||Nikon D7100|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|12.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor||24 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO 200-6400 (100-25600)||ISO 100-6400 (50-25600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 922k dots||3.2" LCD, 1229k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|11 shutter flaps per second||6 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|4300 shots per battery charge||950 shots per battery charge|
|160 x 157 x 88 mm, 1300 g||136 x 107 x 76 mm, 765 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3 and the Nikon D7100? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3 and the Nikon D7100. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D7100 is considerably smaller (42 percent) than the Nikon D3. Moreover, the D7100 is substantially lighter (41 percent) than the D3. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor (as in the D3) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (D7100). You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D3 gets 4300 shots out of its EN-EL4a battery, while the D7100 can take 950 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D3 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the D7100, Nikon provides the MB-D15 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Nikon D3»||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||45.9 oz||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D7100«||5.4 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199||Nikon D7100|
|Canon 70D« »||5.5 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199||Canon 70D|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||40.7 oz||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Nikon D7500« »||5.4 in||4.1 in||2.9 in||25.4 oz||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299||Nikon D7500|
|Nikon D5« »||6.3 in||6.3 in||3.6 in||49.9 oz||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D7200« »||5.4 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199||Nikon D7200|
|Nikon D4S« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.6 oz||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon D3300« »||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||15.2 oz||700||n||Jan 2014||499||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D4« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.3 oz||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D7000« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||27.5 oz||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D3S« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||43.7 oz||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199||Nikon D3S|
|Nikon D3X« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||44.4 oz||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700« »||5.8 in||4.8 in||3.0 in||37.9 oz||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D300« »||5.8 in||4.5 in||2.9 in||32.6 oz||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D2Xs« »||6.2 in||5.9 in||3.4 in||44.2 oz||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699||Nikon D2Xs|
|Nikon D2X« »||6.2 in||5.9 in||3.4 in||44.2 oz||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999||Nikon D2X|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D7100 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 76 percent) than the D3, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D3 features a full frame sensor and the Nikon D7100 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D7100 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, the D7100 uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 4) than the D3 (EXPEED), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the D7100 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 12.1 MP of the D3. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 8.43μm for the D3). However, it should be noted that the D7100 is much more recent (by 5 years and 6 months) than the D3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D7100 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D7100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D7100 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inch or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inch or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inch or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3 are 21.3 x 14.2 inch or 54.1 x 36 cm for good quality, 17 x 11.3 inch or 43.2 x 28.8 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.4 inch or 36 x 24 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D7100 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D7100||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.2||13.7||1256||83||Nikon D7100|
|Canon 70D||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||22.5||11.6||926||68||Canon 70D|
|Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Nikon D7500||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.3||14.0||1483||86||Nikon D7500|
|Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D7200||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.5||14.6||1333||87||Nikon D7200|
|Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon D3300||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.8||1385||82||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D7000||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||10800/24p||23.5||13.9||1167||80||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82||Nikon D3S|
|Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D300||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||none||22.1||12.0||679||67||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D2Xs||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||none||22.2||10.9||489||59||Nikon D2Xs|
|Nikon D2X||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||none||22.1||10.9||476||59||Nikon D2X|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D7100 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D3 does not. The highest resolution format that the D7100 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D3 and the D7100 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D3 has a higher magnification than the one of the D7100 (0.70x vs 0.63x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D3 and Nikon D7100 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D7100||optical||Y||3.2||1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D7100|
|Canon 70D||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n||Canon 70D|
|Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Nikon D7500||optical||Y||3.2||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n||Nikon D7500|
|Nikon D5||optical||Y||3.2||2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||n||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D7200||optical||Y||3.2||1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D7200|
|Nikon D4S||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon D3300||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D3S|
|Nikon D3X||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Nikon D2Xs|
|Nikon D2X||optical||Y||2.5||235||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Nikon D2X|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D7100 has one, while the D3 does not. While the built-in flash of the D7100 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D3 and the Nikon D7100 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D3 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D7100 uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D3 and Nikon D7100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Nikon D3||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D7100||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D7100|
|Canon 70D||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Canon 70D|
|Canon 1D Mark III||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Nikon D7500||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||Y||Nikon D7500|
|Nikon D5||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D7200||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Nikon D7200|
|Nikon D4S||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D4S|
|Nikon D3300||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D4||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D7000||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D3S||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3S|
|Nikon D3X||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D300||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D2Xs||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D2Xs|
|Nikon D2X||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D2X|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D3 (unlike the D7100) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D3 and the D7100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3 was replaced by the Nikon D4, while the D7100 was followed by the Nikon D7200. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D3 or the Nikon D7100 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Nikon D3:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.63x).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (4300 versus 950) on a single battery charge.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2007).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D7100:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 41%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.5 EV of extra DR).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 4 vs EXPEED).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 922k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (136x107mm vs 160x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 535g or 41 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (76 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 6 months of technical progress since the D3 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D7100 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 8 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D3 and the Nikon D7100 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D3 or the D7100 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1D Mark II N vs Nikon D7100
- Canon M5 vs Nikon D3
- Fujifilm X-T20 vs Nikon D3
- Leica V-LUX 2 vs Nikon D3
- Leica X-U Typ 113 vs Nikon D3
- Nikon D3 vs Nikon D300
- Nikon D3 vs Olympus E-P1
- Nikon D3 vs Olympus TG-6
- Nikon D3 vs Sony NEX-C3
- Nikon D7100 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Nikon D7100 vs Sony HX350
- Nikon D7100 vs Sony HX95
Specifications: Nikon D3 vs Nikon D7100
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D3||Nikon D7100|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2007||February 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 4999||USD 1199|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D7100|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 23.9 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||860.4 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.1 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4256 x 2832 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.43 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.40 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200-6400 ISO||100-6400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-25600 ISO||50-25600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED||EXPEED 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||81||83|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.5||24.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.2||13.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2290||1256|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D7100|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.2 inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D7100|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||300 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D7100|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D7100|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||4300 shots per charge||950 shots per charge|
160 x 157 x 88 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
136 x 107 x 76 mm
(5.4 x 4.2 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||1300 g (45.9 oz)||765 g (27.0 oz)|
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