Nikon D300s or D7100 ???

Have been living happily with a D300s for a couple of years now. It is undoubtedly the best Dx body Nikon has produced till date. I call it a machine gun and so do many others who use it. Then the megapixel race began. Rumours started cooking up about a camera body with all the goodness of a D300s and more megapixels. They said it’s gonna be called a D400 but Nikon had something else in store and the D7100 was rolled out. It surely isn’t an upgrade to the trusty D300s and it is definitely not close to what the rumours say about the conceptual D400. They still say its round the corner.
Well, lets not get into the hierarchy of the Nikon Dx body lineup. The reason why I’m writing this blog is because lots of friends have asked me this question, “D300s or D7100??” and why I switched back to using the D300s as my primary camera body. There’s a small story about why I did that. Here’s what happened. I was in Goa to get some shots of the Osprey. We set out in a boat and my Sigma 150-500mm was mounted on my new D7100 which I was using as my prime camera body. The boatman spotted an Osprey perched on a fishing net pole and we started our approach. I did a final check of camera settings and took my position. I started taking some shorts as we closed in on it. The Osprey was now aware of our presence and I knew it would take off any moment and I wanted to freeze the take off along with some eye-level flight shots. It was all set. The Osprey slowly lifted it’s wings and I opened fire with the rated 6 frames per second. The Osprey aborted the take off and lowered back it’s wings, paused for a moment and then took off. I released the shutter again but this time the camera was firing rather sluggishly. The buffer was busy writing the previous six shots slowing the frame advance rate to less than 2 frames per sec. I missed the actual take off and most of the head-on eye level flight shots of the Osprey. Phew, that was frustrating!!!
Here’s what technically happened :
The Nikon D7100 shoots at 6 frames per second. Thats pretty good speed right ?? Right!!!,  but the problem starts after it has taken those 6 continuous shots per second. The buffer gets exhausted and takes a good 2 seconds to clear up completely before it gives you another round of 6 continuous shots. If action is still going and you want more shots, you’ll get them but at less than 2 frames per second. No matter how hard you press the click button. You will have to stop shooting for two full seconds before the camera resumes it’s rated capacity of 6 fps. TWO FULL SECONDS !!! that’s too much time when you’re shooting birds & wildlife in action.
On the contrary, The D300s, the war horse, shoots at 8 frames per second and doesn’t stop after taking those eight shots. It fires a total of 17 shots before it’s buffer exhausts. In simpler words, the D300s shoots almost three times faster than the D7100.  It might not matter to many and most will not even notice this, especially those who haven’t used the D300s. But for me, it’s a game changer.Well, that’s me. Birds in action is my favourite genre.
I certainly don’t mean to say that the D7100 is not a good camera. Other than the issue I have mentioned above, D7100 is almost at par with the D300s. The 24 megapixels of D7100 are of great use if you intend to make large prints of your images. During my recent exhibition, I made 2 ft x 3 ft prints from heavily cropped images shot with my D7100. All the other specs are more or less similar to the D300s. Also, Nikon has managed to maintain the high ISO performance in spite of doubling the pixel count. Have taken some high ISO test shots with it, those who are interested can find the results on my Facebook profile.
Bottom Line : The Nikon D7100 is very good for shooting landscapes, static or slow moving birds & wildlife and all other kinds of general photography. It is a perfect upgrade for people using the D7000. If you are a D300s user, you are not going to like the D7100 unless you are megapixel hungry. So I suggest you to keep waiting for the D400.  The ergonomics, size & feel of the D300s is incomparable.  My D300s has regained it’s position as my prime camera body and will remain there. The D7100 will now be my secondary camera body until Nikon releases it’s much awaited D400.