The ad­van­tage of youth

When it comes to choos­ing a DX cam­era, you have three main op­tions

NPhoto - - Test Team -

It’s a sign of true qual­ity that the old­est cam­eras in Nikon’s DX line-up, the D90 and D300s, still have so much to of­fer. Even so, there’s no hold­ing back the tide of progress. With full-frame cam­eras now all but fill­ing the pro­fes­sional sec­tor and creep­ing into the con­sumer mar­ket as well, it’s most sen­si­ble to re­gard DX bod­ies as con­sumer items with ei­ther en­try-level, midrange or en­thu­si­ast as­pi­ra­tions.

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

Mov­ing up to mid-range mod­els, we have a few ques­tion marks over the D5200’s colour ac­cu­racy in tricky light­ing con­di­tions, as well as its over-ex­u­ber­ance in vi­brancy for green hues in land­scapes. The D5300 puts these is­sues to rights while de­liv­er­ing ex­em­plary all-round im­age qual­ity. Bonuses in­clude built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, mak­ing it bet­ter con­nected to the world at large.

It’s a tricky call at the top end of the scale. The D300s, D7000 and D7100 all have a lot to of­fer en­thu­si­ast pho­tog­ra­phers. All have ex­cel­lent han­dling and easy-ac­cess con­trols that lit­er­ally put im­por­tant ad­just­ments un­der your thumb. The D300s loses out when it comes to re­tain­ing low im­age noise and strong dy­namic range at high sen­si­tiv­ity set­tings, but the D7000 holds up well and is very good value. On bal­ance, the D7100 takes the ac­co­lades for an en­thu­si­ast-level cam­era. Our only reser­va­tion is that the buf­fer is a tight squeeze for rapid-fire bursts of shots in RAW qual­ity mode. As a speed mer­chant with pro­fes­sional build qual­ity for sports and wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy, the D300s is ex­cel­lent, even af­ter all these years.

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