Best Nikon SLR: 11 cameras compared

13th Mar 2014 | 15:07

Best Nikon SLR: 11 cameras compared

Find the best Nikon DSLR for you

Introduction

Like Canon SLRs, Nikon SLRs are divided into two camps depending upon their sensor size, full-frame or APS-C format.

Full-frame cameras, referred to as FX models by Nikon, have sensors that are the same size as a 35mm film frame (36x24mm). Meanwhile, whereas APS-C format or DX cameras have a sensor that at 23.5x15.6mm is a little smaller.

Full-frame cameras bring the advantage of allowing the photo receptors (AKA pixels) to be larger than on APS-C format sensors and this means that they have greater light-gathering power, which is good news for image quality. The larger sensors also make it easier to control depth of field for creative effects and background blur.

While full-frame D-SLRs used to be the preserve of professional photographers, there are now models such as the Nikon D610 which are aimed at enthusiast photographers.

In the past Nikon has produced pro-grade DX format cameras, but it hasn't launched a high-end model since the D300s, nearly five years ago. More recent DX format camera introductions have been aimed at novice and enthusiast photographers.

DX camera bodies are less expensive to buy than FX cameras, yet Nikon still manages to shoehorn a wealth of advanced features into their typically compact build. And, because the image circle required by an APS-C format sensor is smaller than that of a full-frame camera, wide-angle and standard zoom lenses also tend to be physically smaller and more travel-friendly.

Enthusiast sport and wildlife photographers often favour DX format cameras because a relatively compact 70-300mm zoom lens gives nearly as much 'effective' reach as a much bigger and heavier super-telephoto lens, like a 150-500mm optic on a full-frame body.

From entry-level, beginner-friendly bodies to exotic, powerful cameras aimed at professional photographers, there are some great models to choose from in the current Nikon DSLR range. This article is designed to help you find the best one for you.

To read full reviews of the Nikon SLRs currently on sale follow the links below:

Nikon D3100 review
Nikon D3200 review
Nikon D3300 review
Nikon D5200 review
Nikon D5300 review
Nikon D7100 review
Nikon D300s review
Nikon D610 review
Nikon D800 review
Nikon D3x review
Nikon D4 review

Nikon D3100, D3200 and D3300

Nikon D3100

Nikon D3100

Price: £299/US$389/Aus$498 with 18-55mm VR kit lens

Key spec: 14.2Mp APS-C (DX) format CMOS sensor, 1080 video, 11 AF points (1 cross-type), max shooting rate 3fps, 3-inch 230,000-dot LCD

The D3100 set minds racing and hearts aflutter when it was originally launched back in 2010. Breakthrough features like Live View and full HD video recording, on an entry-level camera no less, made it an instant hit.

At the time, the camera's 14.2MP image resolution also put some of Nikon's fully professional bodies in the shade. Best of all, the D3100 was, and still is, incredibly beginner-friendly. Its interactive, illustrated Guide mode really helps in the transition from fully automatic shooting to making effective use of creative settings.

It's a testament to the D3100's quality that many of its features, like its autofocus and metering systems, have continued on into the D3200 and even the D3300 cameras. In other respects, however, it's starting to show its age.

The 14.2MP image sensor looks a little low-res in the current market, the maximum drive rate of 3fps is a bit sluggish and the 230k-dot LCD screen is also relatively low in resolution and lacking in clarity.

Similarly, the standard sensitivity range tops out at ISO 3200 but it's worth bearing in mind that it still matches the older D90 and D300s here, while offering a higher sensitivity of ISO 12800 in expanded mode.

Apart from the relatively sluggish continuous drive rate, performance is very respectable considering the rock-bottom price. Automatic scene analysis works well in live view shooting mode and, in keeping with its beginner-friendly design philosophy, the D3100 delivers consistently good results in fully automatic and scene modes.

The D3100 delivers vibrant image quality but, despite featuring Active D-Lighting, loses a little detail in bright highlights and dark shadows, while shots at high ISO settings can be a bit on the noisy side.

Pros

Inexpensive to buy, good automatic and guided shooting modes, compact lightweight build.

Cons

It's been largely overtaken by the newer D3200 and D3300 as an entry-level SLR.

Read our full Nikon D3100 review

Nikon D3200

Nikon D3200

Price: £369/US$497/Aus$614 with 18-55mm VR kit lens

Key spec: 24.2Mp APS-C (DX) format CMOS sensor, 1080 video, 11 AF points (1 cross-type), max shooting rate 4fps, 3-inch 921,000-dot LCD

Having been on sale for about two years, the post-launch price of the D3200 has now dropped to make it more competitive with the older D3100.

Key upgrades include a big boost in pixel count from 14.2Mp to a lofty 24.2Mp, essentially matching the D5200, D5300 and D7100 and outstripping the D7000. Around the back, the LCD screen also jumps in resolution to 921,000-dots compared with the D3100's relatively lacklustre 230k. The image processor is also upgraded from EXPEED 2 to a later generation EXPEED 3, again matching the D5200.

The continuous drive rate isn't exactly fast at 4fps (frames per second) but again, it beats the 3fps of the older D3100.

Similarly, the standard sensitivity range is also enhanced, at ISO 100-6400 instead of ISO 100-3200, although both cameras offer the same maximum extended sensitivity of ISO 12800.

The D3200 has a bigger memory buffer as well, with enough space for 18 raw quality images instead of the D3100's 13 shots, both bodies being limited to 12-bit colour depth for raw files.

Some of the specifications that helped to make the D3100 such a winner are retained, most notably the highly accurate autofocus and metering systems. It's only an 11-point autofocus module with one cross-type point at the centre, as also featured on the older D90, but it works well nonetheless. The same is true of the 420-pixel 3D Colour Matrix II metering system.

Pros

High-quality stills capture, video benefits from an external mic socket, intuitive Guide mode for beginners.

Cons

Loses out to more advanced cameras in Nikon's SLR range with its fairly limited selection of custom functions.

Read our full Nikon D3200 review

Nikon D3300

Nikon D3300

Price: £599/US$647/Aus$727 with 18-55mm VR kit lens

Key spec: 24.2Mp APS-C (DX) format CMOS sensor, 1080 video, 11 AF points (1 cross-type), max shooting rate 5fps, 3-inch 921,000-dot LCD

While at first glance the D3300 may not seem much of an upgrade on the D3200 it's 24.2Mp sensor has no anti-aliasing filter which means that the newer camera is able to capture a little more detail.

Nikon has also given the D3300 its latest generation of processing engine, Expeed 4 and improved both the Guide mode and Graphic User Interface to make them a little cleaner in appearance.

Furthermore, the D3300's native sensitivity range runs from ISO 100 to 12,800 and there's an expansion setting equivalent to ISO 25,600.

As we would expect, the D3300's metering, automatic white balance and autofocus systems perform well, enabling the camera to produce sharp, well exposed images with natural, yet vibrant colours in most situations.

In addition the D3300's monocoque construction means it is a little lighter and stronger than the D3200 – as well as being slightly smaller.

Pros

Improved interface make settings changes clearer and the lack of an anti-alaising filter enables greater detail capture than the D3100 and D3200.

Cons

The D3300 lacks the vari-angle screen of the D5200 and D5300 and experienced photographers are likely to want a few more direct control buttons and dials.

Read our full Nikon D3300 review

Nikon D5200 and D5300

Nikon D5200

Nikon D5200

Price: £508/US$647/Aus$492 body only

Key spec: 24.1Mp APS-C (DX) format CMOS sensor, 1080 video, 39 AF points (9 cross-type), max shooting rate 5fps, 3-inch 921,000-dot LCD

This mid-range camera, launched towards the end for 2012, boasts some clever technical wizardry packed into a body that's still fairly compact and lightweight. Ascending the price scale of the cameras we've come to so far, it's the first to include a relatively high-end 39-point autofocus system, complete with nine cross-type points that can resolve detail in both horizontal and vertical planes, for extra accuracy.

Similarly, the 3D Colour Matrix II metering system has a 2016-pixel sensor, instead of the 420-pixel module fitted to the D3100, D3200 and D90.

Around the back, there's a 3.0-inch, 921k resolution LCD screen with the added bonus of full articulation. In live view mode, It's great for shooting from very high or low angles, around corners, and even for taking self-portraits.

The image sensor has a high 24.1Mp resolution, and is combined with a recent-generation EXPEED 3 processor. The continuous drive rate is also a little faster than in any of the less expensive cameras already reviewed, at 5fps. However, unlike the D7100, there's no top-plate info LCD, nor an extended collection of direct access buttons for creative shooting adjustments.

The D5200's EN-EL 14 battery also has a relatively limited life of around 500 shots before needing to be recharged. The same battery is actually fitted to the D3200 and D3100 cameras, where it gives a longer life of about 540 and 550 shots respectively.

Performance is good overall but we've sometimes experienced the D5200 giving slightly cool colour rendition. It can also have a tendency to make green hues in landscapes look a little lurid, especially when using the vivid or landscape picture control settings. High sensitivity images can also suffer from banding in the shadows which limits the size at which images can be used.

Pros

Fully articulated screen, 14-bit raw colour depth, 39-point autofocus system and an enhanced metering module.

Cons

Colour accuracy can be questionable, especially in landscape and vivid modes. Fairly limited 8-shot buffer capacity in raw mode.

Read our full Nikon D5200 review

Nikon D5300

Nikon D5300

Price: £669/US$797/Aus$929 body only

Key spec: 24.2Mp APS-C (DX) format CMOS sensor, 1080 video, 39 AF points (9 cross-type), max shooting rate 5fps, 3-inch 1,037,000-dot LCD

Following in the footsteps of the D800E and D7100, the D5300's design sees the omission of an optical low-pass filter. This brings the potential for even greater levels of sharpness, along with only a minimal increased risk of moire patterning.

Moreover, the D5300 also boasts a brand new image sensor, complete with next-generation EXPEED 4 processor. The combination aims for improved image quality, especially towards the higher end of the sensitivity range. The standard sensitivity range itself stretches further than in any other Nikon DX camera, all the way up to ISO 12800, with ISO 25600 being available in expanded trim.

High-tech enhancements include built-in Wi-Fi and GPS technology, enabling easy remote triggering and sharing of images as well as geo-tagging, so you can keep track of your travels. There's naturally a hit on battery consumption but Nikon has also developed and fitted a new EN-EL14a battery. Compared with the D5200, the D5300 actually boosts life from 500 shots to 600 shots.

Adding further to the D5300's travel credentials, it's slightly smaller and lighter in weight than the D5200, thanks to a revolutionary one-piece chassis.

Live view shooting from tricky angles retains the D5200's bonus of a fully articulated LCD, and the screen itself has been upsized a little to 3.2 inches, with a greater 1037k resolution.

The biggest performance increases are that auto white balance tends to be more accurate and colour accuracy is better than in the D5200, along with excellent levels of sharpness.

However, in the pursuit to bring greater retention of fine detail to images, noise can be a little more noticeable, especially at high ISO settings. Thankfully, however, the banding seen in high ISO images from the D5200 are not an issue.

Pros

Excellent sharpness, good colour accuracy, built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, fully articulated LCD screen.

Cons

Direct access controls are a little limited for enthusiast photographers, with heavy reliance on screen-based menus.

Read our full Nikon D5300 review

Nikon D7100, D300s and D610

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

Nikon D800 and D800E

Nikon D800

Nikon D800

Price: £1999/US$2,797/Aus$2,995 body only

Key spec: 36.3Mp full-frame (FX) format CMOS sensor, 1080 video, 51 AF points (15 cross-type), max shooting rate 4fps, 3.2-inch 921,000-dot LCD

Tipping the resolution scales at 36.3Mp, the D800 has the highest pixel count of any Nikon D-SLR ever made. This brings the possibility of enormously detailed images, but also puts lenses to the ultimate test in terms of resolution.

The D800 also munches memory cards, especially if you're shooting in top quality raw modes, but at least you can double up on cards, as it has dual slots to accommodate CompactFlash and SD/HC/XC.

When it comes to size and weight, the D800 is more modest about tipping the scales. It weighs a very manageable 1kg exactly, which is only about two-thirds the weight of the D4, and it's not much bigger than the D610. It feels consummately professional however, with a magnesium alloy body and a more pro-like top plate. Even so, it still retains the pop-up flash that's discarded on big-bodied cameras like the D4.

The image sensor and Expeed 3 processor team up to deliver spectacular levels of detail. Even more impressively, given the ultra-high high pixel count, image noise is very restrained even at extremely high ISO settings.

The 51-point autofocus system works a treat, as does the super-high resolution 3D Colour Matrix III, 91k resolution metering module. Both the autofocus and metering systems are identical to those featured in the mighty D4. The only real drawback is that the D800's very high image resolution comes at the price of a very pedestrian maximum continuous drive rate, which limps along at a mere 4fps.

Pros

Rugged build quality with a convenient size and weight, monster 36.3Mp resolution, pro-level autofocus and metering.

Cons

Lacks a built-in vertical grip for portrait-orientation shooting, and the separate MB-D12 battery grip costs nearly £300.

Read our full Nikon D800 review

Nikon D800E

Nikon D800E

Price: £2,349/US$3,297/Aus$3349 body only

Key spec: 36.3Mp full-frame (FX) format CMOS sensor, 1080 video, 51 AF points (15 cross-type), max shooting rate 4fps, 3.2-inch 921,000-dot LCD

Take the need for a fast continuous drive rate for action sports and wildlife photography out of the equation, and we'd have to say that the D800 is one of our favourite cameras of all time.

So what's the deal with the D800E? In a bid to produce even greater retention of fine detail in images, the D800E has a specially modified low-pass or anti-aliasing filter over the sensor that omits the anti-aliasing element.

In most cameras the anti-aliasing filter causes a slight softening effect, where images are intentionally blurred to avoid moire patterning when shooting objects that have fine grids or regularly repeating textures. You may have noticed this type of interference pattern when watching somebody on television who's wearing a tightly checked shirt.

Omitting the anti-aliasing element of the D800E's filter enables the camera to deliver detail and texture that rivals medium format cameras, which will be enough to sell it to many a professional photographer. The downside is that there's an increased risk of moire patterning but, even then, Nikon Capture NX2 and the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in for the latest versions of Photoshop and Lightroom have tools for removing moire patterning.

The D800E delivers even greater sharpness than the D800, making the very most of its 36.3Mp image sensor. In all other respects, performance is practically identical. If you can afford the extra outlay, and that last bit of sharpness is high on your agenda, the D800E is well worth the additional cost.

Pros

It reigns supreme in capturing fine detail and texture when shooting stills. High resolution enables plenty of creative cropping.

Cons

Added risk of moire patterning. No increase in video sharpness, which is based on a lower 1920x1080 resolution.

Nikon D3x and D4

Nikon D3x

Nikon D3x

Price: £4,600/US$6,999/Aus$9169 body only

Key spec: 36.3Mp full-frame (FX) format CMOS sensor, 1080 video, 51 AF points (15 cross-type), max shooting rate 4fps, 3.2-inch 921,000-dot LCD

Launched about a year after the D3, and a year before the D3s, this wasn't so much a halfway house as a radical departure. Whereas the other two cameras had 12.1Mp image sensors, the D3x boasts just over double the resolution at 24.5Mp. Back in 2008 when the camera was announced, that was really quite something.

The high-res attraction has been enough to make the D3x still available to buy new today, although it looks like its days are numbered. The much cheaper D610 delivers practically the same resolution, and it's been overtaken by the D800 and D800E.

In other respects, the D3x is closer to the D3 than it is to the newer D3s. There's no video shooting facility, Live View mode is similarly rudimentary, and the layout of control buttons and dials is identical.

One drawback of the D3x is that the maximum drive rate of the D3 and D3s drops from 9fps to 5fps. It's really a camera that's designed for high-end landscape, portraiture and studio-based fashion photography, which place a premium on high-resolution, whereas drive speed is less important.

A price you often pay for very high image resolution is an increase in noise at high sensitivity settings. As such, the standard ISO range is reduced to ISO 100-1600, with a maximum of just ISO 6400 in expanded mode. Image quality holds up well throughout the standard range but, at ISO 3200-6400, there's significantly more noise than with the D610 or D800 cameras. Stick to low sensitivity settings, however, and the D3x delivers excellent results.

Pros

Despite its age, the D3x still has the highest resolution of any Nikon top-flight pro camera.

Cons

Limited sensitivity range. Noise becomes quite noticeable at higher, expanded ISO settings.

Read our full Nikon D3X review

Nikon D4s

Nikon D4S

Price: £5,199/US$6,497/Aus$6972 body only

Key spec: 16.2Mp full-frame (FX) format CMOS sensor, 1080 video, 51 AF points (15 cross-type), max shooting rate 11fps, 3.2-inch 921,000-dot LCD

Instead of going all out for image resolution, the D4S like the D4 it replaced has a relatively modest pixel count of 16.2M. This is combined with a new Expeed 4 image processor, also featured in the D5300. The net result is a blisteringly fast continuous shooting rate of up to 11fps with autofocusing.

The D4S breaks new ground for sensitivity with a maximum expansion setting equivalent to ISO 409,600 and a native range of ISO 100-25,600.

There's also an oversized memory buffer, so that you can take long sequences of shots in very quick succession. Thankfully, a class-leading shutter unit takes the strain, with a life expectancy of 400,000 cycles.

As Nikon's latest flagship camera, the D4s boasts all the advanced features and top-notch build quality you'd expect, yet is only marginally more expensive than the ageing D3x. Then again, many of its high-level features aren't unique. The D4S has the same autofocus system and newly designed metering module as the much less expensive D800, which offers more than twice the image resolution. It's only natural to think that a 'D4x' might be coming soon.

As the D4S has only been announced recently we haven't been able to test it yet. However, we anticipate the image quality to be at least in the same league as the D4's.

Pros

Fast 11fps continuous drive rate, massive ISO range, superb build and image quality.

Cons

Sacrifices image resolution to achieve its fast drive rate and high ISO performance.

Until the D4s is released, read our D4 review here.

Conclusion: Picking the right Nikon SLR

Nikon is among the best known camera manufacturers for good reason. Its range of SLRs includes some cameras that deliver performance and imaging clout where it matters. There are also models suitable for every level of user.

Prospective Nikon SLR buyers need to consider their photographic understanding as well as their current and future requirements.

The D4s, for example, is a very highly specified camera, but it's also littered with controls that could intimidate some potential users. It's also bulky and heavy making it less attractive as a camera to carry everywhere.

However, the D610, which is also a full-frame camera is significantly smaller. It also has a similar control system to the D7100, which is aimed at enthusiast photographers.

Let's take a look at the best options for each level of user.

Beginners

Starting with entry-level cameras, the D3100 and D3200 are both wonderfully beginner-friendly, but the D3300 offers a significant upgrade in terms of features, specifications and image quality, making it a better value buy and well worth the extra money.

Moving up to mid-range models, those who want a little bit more from their camera will find the D5300 a great option.

We have a few question marks over the D5200's colour accuracy under tricky lighting conditions, as well as its over-exuberance in vibrancy for green hues in landscape images. There's also an issue with banding in the shadows of high sensitivity images.

The D5300 puts these issues to rights, while also delivering exemplary all-round image quality, especially in terms of sharpness. Extra bonuses include built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, making it better connected to the world at large.

Enthusiasts

It's a trickier call in this area, with the D300s, D7100 and D610 all having a lot to offer enthusiast photographers.

All have excellent handling and easy-access controls that put important, creative shooting adjustments under your thumb.

Despite being a good option for sport and wildlife photographers, the D300s loses out when it comes to retaining low image noise and strong dynamic range at high sensitivity settings. On balance, the D7100 takes the accolades for an enthusiast-level DX camera. Our only reservation is that the memory buffer is a tight squeeze for rapid-fire bursts of shots in raw quality mode.

The D610, is also a great option and a superb route into full-frame photography. While it is compatible with Nikon DX lenses, you'll need a collection of FX lenses to get the real benefit of the larger sensor.

Professionals

If, as we expect, the D4S follows the lead of the D4 then it will prove itself to be a professional workhorse that offers the best compromise for the widest range of shooting scenarios.

The D3x is almost as expensive and has a rather more dated design. Also, although it still produces excellent, high-resolution images at low sensitivity settings many photographers are likely to favour the D800 or D800E for their even higher pixel count.

The D800 and D800E offer the highest resolution of any Nikon camera to date, yet still manage very good high-ISO image quality. The 'E' version is worth buying if you want the greatest possible sharpness from the high-res sensor, and are willing to risk a very occasional moirÈ effect in your images.

The only real downside of both the D800 and D800E is that the maximum drive rate of 4fps can be a bit on the slow side for sports and wildlife photography.

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