Nikon D7100 vs D90
The Nikon D7100 and the Nikon D90 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2013 and August 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The D7100 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the D90 provides 12.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D7100 and the Nikon D90? 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 physical size and weight of the Nikon D7100 and the Nikon D90 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 measures 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 D90 is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Nikon D7100. Moreover, the D90 is markedly lighter (8 percent) than the D7100. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D7100 is splash and dust resistant, while the D90 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Nikon D7500||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299|
|Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Nikon D7200||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199|
|Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|Sony RX10||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D7100 was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the D90 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D90 is 2 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of chip-set technology, the D7100 uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 4) than the D90 (EXPEED), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Nikon D7100 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the Nikon D90. 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 5.53μm for the D90). However, it should be noted that the D7100 is much more recent (by 4 years and 5 months) than the D90, 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 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D90 are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D7100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D90 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-6400.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the D7100 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the D90 (overall score 10 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D7100 provides a higher video resolution than the D90. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the D90 is limited to 720/24p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D7100 and the D90 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 viewfinder in the D7100 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D90 (96%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D7100, the Nikon D90, and comparable cameras.
The Nikon D7100 has 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 D7100 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D90 uses SDHC cards. The D7100 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D90 only has one slot. The D7100 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D90 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 D7100 and Nikon D90 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the D7100 has a microphone port, which is missing on the D90. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Both the D7100 and the D90 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D90 was replaced by the Nikon D7000, 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? Is the Nikon D7100 better than the Nikon D90 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D7100:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 12.2MP) with a 40% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 4 vs EXPEED).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/24p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 96%).
- 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 920k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 4.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (950 versus 850) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 5 months of technical progress since the D90 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D90:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2008).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D7100 is the clear winner of the match-up (21 : 2 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 D7100 and the Nikon D90 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 comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D7100 and the D90 in practical situations. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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.
|Nikon D7100||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|Nikon D90||+ +||+ +||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Canon 70D||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|Canon 40D||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Nikon D7500||+ +||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299|
|Nikon D500||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Nikon D7200||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199|
|Nikon D750||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon D3300||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|Nikon D610||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D600||+ +||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Nikon D7000||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|Nikon D300S||+ +||82/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|Nikon D5000||+ +||75/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D80||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|Sony RX10||+||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Nikon D7100 vs Nikon D90
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 D7100||Nikon D90|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2013||August 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 1,199||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D7100||Nikon D90|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||23.6 x 15.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||372.88 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4288 x 2848 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||5.53 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||720/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||EXPEED|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||83||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.2||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.7||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1256||977|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D7100||Nikon D90|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1229k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D7100||Nikon D90|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||4.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D7100||Nikon D90|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D7100||Nikon D90|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||950 shots per charge||850 shots per charge|
136 x 107 x 76 mm
(5.4 x 4.2 x 3.0 in)
132 x 103 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||765 g (27.0 oz)||703 g (24.8 oz)|
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