Buying a new camera is made more difficult when comparing the Nikon D5300/Nikon D7100 because they’re so similar in many aspects.
Of course, you want the best that your money can get. At the same time, you want a camera that is the most suitable for your needs, whether it be photography or videography.
You’ll find that it’s much easier to make a great camera decision after reading through our guide!
At A Glance: Nikon D5300 and D7100
Any average photographer will be ecstatic with the Nikon D5300 camera. Its overall performance is an absolute steal considering its [relatively] low price tag.
Plus, its image quality is just as good as some of the more expensive cameras out there.
- Optics: Digital Single Lens Reflex
- Sensor: 24.2 MP – APS-C CMOS (23.5 x 15.6 mm sensor)
- Compatible Lenses: Nikon F Mount
- Image Processor: EXPEED 4
- ISO: 100 – 12800 ( expands to 25600)
- Shutter Speed: 1/4000s
- Lens mount: Nikon F mount lenses (AF contacts)
- Video: Full HD, 1920 x 1080 video resolution
- Weather-Sealed: No
- Battery Life: 600 shots CIPA Standards
- Continuous Shooting: 5.0fps
- Dimensions: 480g. 125 x 98 x 76 mm
- Weight: 480g (no battery)
- Body Material: Sereebo (carbon fiber reinforced plastic)
- Target market: Advanced beginners or intermediate users
For photographers who have the budget to spend a bit more, you’ll get some added features that its cheaper brother doesn’t have.
These extra “pro” features and lens options set this camera apart from the cheaper options. This is why the D7100 is one of the best DX cameras around today!
- Optics: Digital Single Lens Reflex
- Sensor: 24.1 MP – APS-C CMOS (23.5 x 15.6 mm sensor)
- Compatible Lenses: Nikon F Mount
- Image Processor: EXPEED 3
- ISO: 100 – 6400 ( expands to 50-25600)
- Shutter Speed: 1/8000s
- Lens mount: Nikon F mount lenses (AF coupling / AF contacts)
- Video: Full HD, 1920 x 1080 video resolution
- Weather-Sealed: Yes
- Battery Life: 950 shots CIPA Standards
- Continuous Shooting: 6.0 fps
- Dimensions: 136 x 107 x 76 mm
- Weight:765g (no battery)
- Body Material: Partial Magnesium Alloy Frame, Plastic
- Target market: Prosumer & enthusiast crowd
- Headphone jack
- Wireless Flash (Built-in Commander)
- Auto FP Flash Mode (High-Speed Sync)
A Side-by-Side Comparison of the Two Cameras
Build Quality and Ergonomics
This is the category where you’ll notice a pretty big difference between these 2 cameras.
The Nikon D5300 is noticeably smaller and lighter than the D7100.
Coming in at 480 g (without a battery) or 530 g (with a battery), the D5300 is light and compact.
It measures 480 g. 125 x 98 x 76 mm, so it’s easy to carry around with you on your adventures. This is an excellent option for travel photographers.
The Nikon D7100, on the other hand, comes in at 765g (without the battery) or 825g (with a battery). Its dimensions are just a little bit bigger than the D5300 at 136 x 107 x 76 mm.
This difference makes sense considering the materials they used.
285g may not seem like a big difference, but if you typically shoot a lot while holding your camera, you’ll soon feel more tired carrying the D7100 around with you.
The size isn’t much of an issue here, though. You’ll find that this makes no difference if you use a tripod regularly.
We’ll give this to the Nikon D5300. A compact and light camera can make a huge difference, depending on your photography style.
If you typically do handheld photography and need your camera to be as light as possible, get the Nikon D5300.
Now, we know what you’re thinking. Isn’t lighter always better?
That isn’t always the case!
While the smaller and lighter body of the Nikon D5300 may be fantastic for any kind of on-the-go photography (like sports photography), some people may not like it so much.
If you have bigger hands or want more steady shots, the Nikon D7100’s extra heft will be advantageous.
We’d recommend having a great tripod with you so you can easily set your camera down whenever your hand starts feeling tired.
IT’S A TIE!
This category depends on how big YOUR hands are. Those with bigger hands may find that the Nikon D5300 is too small. However, others may prefer this. It depends.
Moreover, if you need that added weight for extra stability, you may find that the Nikon D7100 is better for you.
This is particularly useful because neither of these cameras has image stabilization.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to get tired of holding your camera all day, you may prefer the Nikon D5300.
This is the category where you’ll see the biggest difference between these 2 cameras.
The D5300 is so much lighter because it’s made of Sereebo (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) [R].
Now we know that plastic has come a long way, but when we’re dropping hundreds of dollars on something we plan to use for years, we’re a bit uncomfortable with something made of 100% plastic.
The Nikon D7100, on the other hand, is made with a Magnesium Alloy frame and plastic camera body. This is what gives it the extra 285g.
If you’re not on the lookout for a particularly light camera, we’d recommend veering towards the D7100.
Its metal frame and weather-sealed body will give you the extra durability you need, especially if you intend to do street photography or anything outdoors.
The clear winner here is the Nikon D7100.
Its materials and build quality are so much better than its brother. It has a more durable body and better weather protection. This is the better camera if you want yours to last for years.
Build Quality and Ergonomics: Who’s the Winner?
Winner: Nikon D7100
If you haven’t noticed yet, we’re giving this one to the Nikon D7100.
We think the added weight is worth it if it means this camera will last us longer and withstand daily abuse more.
Moreover, the better weather sealing on the D7100 will protect your camera from water or dust. If you’re into wildlife or action photography [R], this factor is crucial for your decision.
However, we understand why someone with smaller hands or different needs will choose the D5300, too. So don’t let this be your sole deciding factor!
Image Quality and Basic Imaging Features
THIS is arguably the most important category that you need to scrutinize. After all, you’re buying a camera to take photos.
Let us break it down to see the important differences between the Nikon D5300 and the Nikon D7100.
When comparing sensors, you just need to remember one rule.
If you can afford the higher price, a larger sensor will give you the following advantages over a sensor with smaller pixel units.
- Larger individual pixels
- Fantastic for low-light sensitivity
- Wider dynamic range
- Richer color-depth
In this case, both the Nikon D5300and the Nikon D7100 have the same sensor (APS-C CMOS sensor) and sensor size.
This APS-C CMOS sensor measures 23.5 x 15.6 mm. It has a format factor (aka crop factor) of 1.5 and a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
When you compare this to other cameras, you’re getting a medium sensor size with the same pixel density and image resolution.
The advantage is that you get a balance between amazing image quality, affordability, and portability.
Moreover, both these cameras have the same 24-megapixel sensor resolution.
Neither of them uses an optical low pass filter or anti-alias filter, so you’ll be able to capture more detail with ease.
However, when you compare this with another camera with the same specs, this will only give you subtle improvements.
If you want proof, DXO Mark has been comparing the sensors of these 2 cameras since 2007. Their DXOMark sensor scores are more or less equal for any kind of photography.
Note that neither of them has image stabilization.
Because they use the same sensor, this category is a TIE.
You’ll only see a difference based on the skill of the photographer handling these DSLR cameras.
They’ll provide the same control over the depth of field when used with the same focal length and aperture.
The D5300 has a better Image processing engine. It uses EXPEED 4, compared to the Nikon D7100’s EXPEED 3.
Theoretically, you’ll get the following benefits of an EXPEED4 over the D7100’s older EXPEED 3.
- Faster operational speeds
- 1080P at 60 FPS (rather than 30 FPS)
- Slightly higher ISO range [R]
- Better detail vs. noise output
- more accurate colors
The Nikon D5300 EXPEED 4 makes the biggest impact for shooting videos (because of the higher FPS) and letting in more light (because of the higher ISO).
Both these DSLRs, in real-world use, are pretty much the same.
Only videographers will see a real benefit of the Nikon D5300 over the Nikon D7100.
We’ll give this to the Nikon D5300 because it edges out the Nikon D7100 by just a little bit. Again, in practical use, most photographers won’t see much of a difference in this category.
Low Light Conditions
The Nikon D5300 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800. You can extend this to ISO 100-25600.
For the Nikon D7100, its sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility of extending it to an ISO range of 50-25600.
You’ll see that when comparing the Nikon D5300 vs Nikon D7100, the former has a slight advantage because of its higher ISO sensitivity range.
This means it can capture more light, which is crucial to anyone who wants to use natural light.
We noticed that the Nikon D7100 produced sharper images and had a better focus in lower light conditions due to its autofocus system, but more on that later.
Considering this one spec alone, the Nikon D5300 edges out its brother by a bit.
When measuring your camera’s speed, you need to consider 2 factors. Both the shutter speed and autofocus will matter here.
Shutter speed lets your lens take the picture quicker, while autofocus lets a photographer take shots faster.
A faster speed will help you get clearer photos of fast-moving subjects. This will reduce the amount of blur you’ll see.
So, this category is most relevant to sports, street, and action photographers.
When comparing the Nikon D5300 versus Nikon D7100, the former has a speed of 1/4000s, while the latter is at 1/8000s.
You can see here that the Nikon D7100 will be better at taking photos of fast-moving subjects.
The Nikon D7100 takes the cake in this category. Its speed lets you take 6 frames per second, compared to the D5300’s 5 FPS. This means you can get more images.
However, if you typically take burst shots, both cameras shoot at the same rate of 6 14-bit RAW files before the buffer is full.
For JPG though, you’ll see a dramatic difference between these 2 digital cameras.
The D7100 can shoot bursts of at least 33 frames (at 6 FPS), while the D5300 can only shoot 100 or more frames (at 5 FPS).
The Nikon D7100 has a better autofocus system than the Nikon D5300. You can see this difference when shooting in low light and doing action photography.
The Nikon D5300 uses the Multo-CAM 4800DX autofocus system and has 39 focus points (9 cross type).
At this price range, this feature is a steal. However, it’s not as good as the D7100.
The Nikon D7100 has the same AF system (Advanced Multi-CAM 3500DX) as the D4 and D800, also from Nikon.
With 51 focus points (15 cross-type), you can see why this can take better AF shots.
The Nikon D7100 Multi-CAM 3500’s can work with f/8 lenses (center AF points), while the Multi-CAM 4800 only works with lenses up to f/5.6 using the same center AF points.
You see this difference in low light conditions and action photography, where every bit of sharpness matters.
As for the motor, only the Nikon D7100 has an autofocus motor built-in. This will allow you to use the same autofocus functionality even for older lenses.
Without an autofocus motor built into the camera, you’ll have to rely on manual focus if you plan to use older lenses.
The Nikon D7100 is the clear winner here. It has a better autofocus system, more autofocus points, and a built-in AF motor, unlike the Nikon D5300.
In actual use, most photographers won’t need this benefit. Most photos will look the same.
However, if you typically take photos of fast-moving subjects or prefer to work in low light conditions, you’ll do well to invest in the Nikon D7100.
If you don’t have older lenses and only plan on buying newer lenses with the AF built-in, the absence of an AF motor won’t bother you.
But if you have a lens collection or want to spend money by buying older lenses at a bargain, you need the AF motor, so you don’t have to take manual focus shots.
This is one category where you’ll see a big difference between these 2 cameras.
Both of these cameras have to fill flash built-in.
However, the Nikon D5300 does not have high-speed sync (Auto FP Flash or AFP) and external flash control.
If you want to use a large aperture to blur your background, you will need to push your camera beyond its maximum sync speed.
However, the absence of AFP will prevent you from using a flash to soften the shadows or create a catch-light in the eyes of your subject.
Why? Because the built-in flash just won’t sync no matter what you do!
Sports and action photographers who typically use a higher speed will encounter this same problem.
True, you can always get an external command module, remote control, or radio transmitter for off-camera flashes, but you can’t fix the absence of an AFP.
The Nikon D7100 is the CLEAR WINNER because it is the only one with AFP.
Image Quality Winner: Nikon D7100
Then two cameras are equal in aspects such as color depth, aperture priority, and dynamic range.
However, anyone who typically shoots moving subjects or shoots in low-light conditions will benefit from the Nikon D7100.
For the average photographer (especially a beginner), the Nikon D5300 is still a fantastic camera. It may not have better image quality, but at its price, it’s an amazing bargain.
Just remember that neither of these has image stabilization!
Video Recording Features
- D7100: Full 1080p at 60i/50i/30/25/24 fps
- D5300: Full 1080p at 60/50/30/25/24 fps
The 60i of the D7100 means that you will be shooting at 30 FPS, so you’ll be using interlaced frames.
The Nikon D5300 lets you shoot at a full 60 FPS, which is fantastic for anyone who plans to mainly use their camera for videography.
Extra Features for Video Recording
Both the Nikon D5300 and the Nikon D7100 have an intervalometer built-in.
This intervalometer will let you capture time-lapse sequences, such as sunsets or shots of a busy intersection, without purchasing an external remote control or software.
However, the D5300 is the only one with a vari-angle LCD (LCD screen that swivels out). This is pretty important when doing a lot of videography or for capturing stills from unique angles.
Video Recording Winner: Nikon D5300
If you plan on doing tons of videos, choose the D5300 over the D7100. You will find that its features are essential when doing video, along with the full 1080p 60 fps.
The Nikon D7100 has a top-level LCD screen. Its control panel displays the essential shooting information you need to know, making it convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
However, the D5300 has one advantage. It has a fully articulated LCD screen that can be turned to face you.
Vloggers and photographers who want to snap fantastic selfies or stunning photos in unorthodox angles will appreciate this swivel screen.
Both these cameras have an optical viewfinder. This is a useful feature when you’re trying to frame your photo, even in brightly lit environments.
However, the Nikon D7100 has a wider field of view (100%) than the D5300 (95%).
This means that you can see a larger portion of the captured image in the optical viewfinder, allowing you to frame your shots more easily and accurately.
Moreover, the viewfinder of the D7100 has a higher magnification (0.63x vs. 0.57x).
This means that the size of the image you see through the viewfinder is more accurate than the size you see with the naked human eye.
Connectivity can make or break your decision. These cameras have a Hotshoe Port, internal mic/speaker, microphone port, mini HDMI, and USB 2.0.
This means you can easily connect it to your set-up, such as using an external microphone for vlogs.
The main difference between these 2 cameras is that only the Nikon D5300 has wifi support and internal geolocalization.
On the flip side, the Nikon D7100 is the only one with a headphone port.
You can see where this can make a huge difference. If you typically shoot video content outdoors, the Nikon D7100’s headphone port will be crucial to you.
On the other hand, if you have built-in wifi in your camera, you don’t have to go through the trouble of uploading your photos manually by transferring files through an SD card slot.
Also, you can use wifi-enabled attachments (like a remote control) with the Nikon D5300.
For all the travel and landscape photographers out there, you will favor the Nikon D5300’s ability to geotag your locations and record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
User Experience Winner: Nikon D5300
For its better accuracy when looking through the optical viewfinder, the Nikon D7100 still deserves a special mention.
However, for the average photographer, the wifi connectivity and flip-out screen of the Nikon D5300 is unbeatable.
Of course, this depends on what you plan to use it for. These two cameras have something to offer to everyone, depending on your needs.
Nikon D5300 vs. Nikon D7100: Which Camera Is Better?
In the battle of D5300 vs. D7100, the winner will depend on what you plan to use your camera for.
Nikon D5300/Nikon D7100 for Photography?
We’d recommend the Nikon D7100.
While the differences are not much for the average photographer, those more serious with their craft will benefit from the added features, AF system, and more.
However, beginners and those on a tight budget will still do well with the D5300.
Nikon D5300/Nikon D7100 for Videography?
For those looking to utilize their camera for video work, the Nikon D5300 is the way to go. You’ll get tons of features, like the swivel screen and better FPS.
We know that a choice between Nikon D5300 and Nikon D7100, it’s a toss-up. These two are almost equally matched, making them GREAT options for almost everyone.
However, each one has an advantage, depending on your photography style and intended use. Either way, you’ll get a fantastic camera!
We’ve done the only head-to-head review you’ll need to know what you should get between the Nikon D5300 and the Nikon D7100.
We leave the final buying decision to you.