Nikon Coolpix P7000
• Excellent image quality
• HD video
• Good design
• 10Mp resolution sensor
• Slow RAW picture processing
• High cost
With the Coolpix P7000, Nikon introduce a more serious compact camera to compete with the Canon Powershot series. Image quality is high on this new model, but the sluggish performance was a disappointment.
The Nikon Coolpix P7000 is the latest model from the photography giant, that serves as a bridge between compact digital cameras and DSLRs . Following the popular P6000, The Coolpix P7000 boasts a wealth of features and a new design, which make this a very different prospect to the previous model. We look below to see if this latest offering can compete with the best in its field.
Features & specifications
The specifications on the Nikon Coolpix P7000 show that this is a camera aimed at the more serious user, rather than a casual ‘snapper’, as it offers a 7.1x 28-200mm zoom lens, an aspect ratio range of f/2.8 – f/5.6, a 10 megapixel CCD sensor,) and a 7.5cm LCD monitor that has a resolution of 921k dot.
In addition to the quality spec, the P7000 offers optical image stabilization, an optical viewfinder, Intelligent Exposure, 720p HD video recording and a 2cm Macro mode. It also has a JPEG mode and RAW functionality (more about this below)
Design & build
The first thing that is apparent when handling the Coolpix P7000 is that this new model in the series is considerably larger and heavier than the previous model. However, it is still considerably lighter than a DSLR and is very solid in its construction. Also, with the extra size and weight comes a 7.1x zoom lens, that has a focal range of 28 – 200mm, so this is quickly overlooked due to the increased versatility.
On top of the P7000 there are three dials. The left hand side dial is for quick access to functions that are commonly used on this camera (ISO, Quality, My Menu, Bracketing, Intelligent Exposure and White Balance.
The shooting mode dial is similar to that which you would find on a DSLR. On the dial are the usual modes familiar to anyone with some photography experience; Auto, Program Auto, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, Movie mode and Scene mode. There is also the option to customize three user settings, so that you can configure the camera in a certain way and the camera will store this setting to be accessed from this dial.
The Coolpix P7000 is very quick to start up, as it powers up with a press of a button in about a second. As the LCD flashes on, the lens barrel will extend to the maximum wide-angle setting, meaning you will be ready to shoot almost instantly should something catch your eye. However, one of the main problems is that it doesn’t demonstrate the same speed when taking pictures, especially in RAW mode.
The P7000 takes 5 seconds to process a single RAW file, and whilst this is processing, the camera locks-up so it cannot be used for anything else. If you do try to take a second shot it freezes for even longer. This is very sluggish and seriously diminishes the P7000’s ambitions of competing with DSLRs, or its main rivals. Thankfully, Nikon have changed the RAW format since the P6000, and the new NRW+ is now at least MAC compatible, although it is currently only supported by Nikon's own software.
As well as the Coolpix P7000’s excellent features and ergonomics, the other huge plus point for this camera is the fantastic image quality it offers. The large 10 megapixel sensor is a welcome addition to the P7000, and produced excellent results. There is a range of 7 sensitivity settings, from ISO 100 to ISO 6400 at full resolution, and there were very low noise levels on the images we took. The P7000 displayed no unwanted noise between ISO 100-400, with only slight noise visible at ISO 800. When we shot at ISO 1600, there was a bit more noise still, but the images were definitely usable. We found similar results when using the Canon Powershot G12, which is not too surprising as they use a similar CCD sensor. In addition, the Nikon Coolpix P7000 has a Low Light mode which can boost the ISO sensitivity up to 12,800. Whilst this means a reduction in image size to 3 megapixels, images are still very useable in this mode.
We found that the Coolpix P7000 handles chromatic aberrations very well, as we only experienced slight purple fringing around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as is to be expected.
Video & sound
The P7000 is capable of crisp HD (720p) video recording, and has a built-in stereo microphone to record stereo sound at an impressive 30 frames per second. Unlike the Canon Powershot G12, optical zoom and autofocus are available during recording, which is a big advantage the Nikon has over its rival. An external microphone can also be used and connects with a standard microphone jack.
The Coolpix P7000 contains a compact rechargeable 7.4v lithium ion battery, which will provide operating life for approximately 350 shots.
Overall, the Nikon Coolpix P7000 is a very solid, feature packed bridge camera that provides excellent results in terms of images and video. While the design can be a bit daunting at first due to the multitude of dials and buttons, it soon becomes second nature and Nikon can be applauded for the ergonomics. However, the camera is disappointing when it comes to the sluggish performance with the RAW file processing. This is a real issue for a camera with such ambitions and it lets down what is otherwise a very fine compact camera.
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