Nikon's professional snapper without the big bill
WITH plenty of great point and shoot cameras on the market with huge zooms and good video capability, many may ask the question, why do I need a 'proper' camera.
The answer is that a good digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR) can offer a lot more speed and flexibility than your standard shooter.
So if you're trying to capture your dog jumping into the air, multiple facial expressions as your child breaks into laughter, or the stunning colours of a sunrise or dawn, you're more likely to be successful with a DSLR.
For the past month, we've been playing with one of Nikon's 'enthusiasts' range, the D7100, which offers many of the features that newspaper photographers use for a fraction of the price.
We've put it to the test shooting a wedding - for both stills and video, doing sports photography (wakeboarding jumps and surfing), covering storms, Remembrance Day, as well as doing plenty of shoots on the beach.
We've used it taking photos of baby ducks as well as portraits of children and pets in varying light.
At up to 7 frames per second at 15.4 megapixels, the D7100 misses very little and it has a super fast focus system which rarely lets you down.
For example, during a wakeboarding jump, we were able to get three to four shots off during a flip, even in fading light.
The D7100 has a new 51-point AF system with 15 cross-type points, which is better on paper than the more expensive D600's 39-point system, and matches that found on the professional-grade D4.
The range of scene settings makes it very easy to use.
For example, if you are shooting a sunrise, you can put it on a manual setting and play with the settings until you get the right level of lighting and colour.
Or you can 'cheat' and put it on dawn or dusk, and the colours captured are amazing.
This was particularly trying to capture the beauty of a mountain range against an orange sunset in fading light. Put it to the test when it is 'almost black' outside and you will be amazed at what it can pick up.
For someone who has not used an SLR, the range of dials and buttons may be daunting. But the manual is more than adequate to cover every question - including with diagrams.
For shooting video, there's a stereo mic built in to the camera just near the hotshoe, and there is provision for an external 3.5mm microphone input and headphone jack.
The two SD slots provides for plenty of storage space, which is particularly useful if you are shooting for the whole day, as with a wedding.
The 7100 includes an improvement to the AF-F, or continuous autofocus while filming or in Live View mode which means it doesn't constantly try to find focus once it has been obtained
Optional extra include a wireless remote controller and WIFI adapter so you can send your photos straight to a smart phone and on to friends.
NIKON D7100 AT A GLANCE
24.1 megapixel camera
3.2 inch LCD display
1080 HD video
Shoots both JPG and RAW images. Rechargeable camera does about 950 shots.
Prices online with lens kit range from $1429 up.