Best lenses for the 24M-Pix Nikon D7100: Part I

By Kevin Carter - Wednesday October 02 2013

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Anti-aliasing filter: How useful is it? | Nikon D7100 results: ultra high performance | Best prime lenses for the D7100 | Best Zoom models for the D7100 | A decade of evolution in sensor design and image quality

From analyzing the 126 lenses on the D7100 the results are impressive; they’re simply the best we’ve seen from an APS-C camera to date. We compared the data between the D7100 and the older D7000 and as one might expect, the resultant increase in sharpness in the high-grade lens models was dramatic.

In the best case, sharpness increased by as much as 50-percent over the Nikon D7000. Some moiré was noticed, however, though it can be reduced quite effectively with a good quality Raw converter.


From our tests, a dramatic increase in sharpness (measured in P-Mpix) was observed over the Nikon D7000 with the best performing lenses

Models that had performed well in the past such as the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G see an impressive gain but other, slightly less capable performers have seen more substantial improvements in acutance. 

Models such as the current AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 ED VR II show similar levels of sharpness as do the AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G and the Zeiss Distagon T* 25mm f2 ZF.2.

The sensor of the Nikon D7100 is capable of extracting hitherto unknown levels of detail from a wide variety of lenses.

It’s not just the expensive high–grade lenses that benefit from the high-resolution sensor of the D7100, the results for the more accessibly priced models was also impressively high. We measured improvements in sharpness of over 30-percent with some basic kit zoom models and super-zooms. 


Improvements in sharpness of over 30-percent can be achieved with the D7100 when compared with its predecessor

A number of zooms see an increase of over 30-percent in overall (averaged) sharpness when used with the Nikon D7100 over its forerunner, the 16Mpix D7000.

While there are a number of models such as the popular AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II kit zoom that see a significant increase in sharpness (equating to around a 30-percent increase), the more substantial increases are seen with some higher grade models such as the now discontinued AF-S VR 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED – a lens that wasn’t known as being a good performer.  Sigma’s 18-250mm models and the 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 also perform well on the D7100, all three achieving a similar 60-percent gain in sharpness as the previous Nikkor AF-S VR 24-120mm model. It’s impossible to say whether these models may show improvements with an even higher resolution sensor.