P7700 User Review

Started Dec 26, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Shotcents
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P7700 User Review
Dec 26, 2012

Okay, some might question this review on DAY 1 of ownership, but I assure you I'm experienced. I own(ed) D800, D700, D5100 and pretty much all the rest. I've made some good coin shooting.

But until recently I stayed away from any Nikon gear that was not related to the DSLR lineup. To put it bluntly: Coolpix stuff has SUCKED and I used a G12 and the RX100 if I wanted a compact cam instead of the bigger stuff.

But the new P7700 caught my attention and I decided to give it a go due to the longer lens. I could always return the poor thing if I needed.

Handling and Operation - This camera fits nicely in MY hands and I'm a big guy. It can fit in a jacket pocket, but I doubt I'd stuff into my jeans. 98% of the camera feels well made and solid. The exception is the battery door. It's fine to use, but it FEELS light and plasticky compared to the rest of the camera. All of the dials will be excellent for DSLR users making manual operation easy enough, not quite as nice as my D800, but BETTER than my D5100. The flip out screen is just about perfect and the high resolution means you can check your shots, just like on the D800!

Stolen Viewfinder - Yup, it's gone. More than a few times I've lifted the P7700 to my eye only to be greeted by solid metal. There's no optical viewfinder and there's no nice way to spin this. I can live without it. It would be of occasional use only, but hey, it's nice to have in bright light and it certainly can save battery power on a long day. It's not a deal breaker, but I'd like to see it back on the P7800. If you can't get past this, then buy a different cam!

Auto Focus - Always a weak spot for many cameras of this type, yet it's hard to get a handle on what the real story is without testing for yourself and learning the details. A youtube video shows dodgy performance. A respected reviewer also had some trouble at a comic convention. Working in WORSE lighting conditions with AF illumination OFF I had a tough time making the P7700 miss focus. It usually got a lock. BUT....at 100mm + the Canon G12 feels 1/4 second faster in challenging lighting. In better light and wider zoom settings the P7700 was about the same as the Canon. The really big news is that I found that the Nikon could acquire focus in VERY poor lighting. See the lego shot below. There's a 40 watt bulb going and it's quite dark! The Nikon hunted, but did nail the focus and this was repeatable. So this proves we should be VERY careful when watching/reading reviews. I have no doubt that the people who had trouble lacked the knowledge/skills to operate the camera properly. There's no other explanation as I can rarely produce a AF error.

Flash - Man, I don't dig onboard flash, but sometimes it's all you have. The pop up flash does an okay job. Still, clamp a real flash on the shoe and you'll do much better. Once again I read comments from frustrated users who could not get the flash to work. It BLEW out the scenes! Sheesh, so did mine until I actually set the camera for a an external flash. Results are EXCELLENT, but you must remember to switch back and forth. This is the way it worked with my SB800. I have yet to try the SB400. The camera did not seem to detect the SB800 on it's own. Simply switching it to external works perfectly. The shot of the child below is with the SB800, which is bigger than the camera! I'll try the SB400 shortly.

Macro, Lackro? - I think this is what caused the AF errors in at least one youtube video. Nikon's versatile 28-200mm lens requires a change of settings for macro and NEAR macro distances. If you get in the middle of these zones you might get some dodgy results. I created the error a few times, but never when actually knocking off real shots. So you have Normal AF, Close range and Macro settings. Easy enough but kinda of goofy! I can see how people might mess this up and the Nikon manual is not wonderfully clear on this. Once you understand it the sky turns blue and birds sing.

Zoom on baby - I'm not going to tell anyone that they don't need wider than 28mm because that's just not the case. Some really want 20mm or at least 24mm. Nikon went for the longer end and that suits me better. Move on to a different cam if it's not what you need! With that behind us let me say that the 28-200 lens is insanely good on a camera under 500.00 USD. It's better than the RX100 or G12 lenses. VERY sharp, good micro contrast and excellent color rendition. Bokeh is a 3 out of 10, but that's the way things are with these small sensors. 200mm or not, it's nothing remotely close to my 70-200 VRII. Still, the P7700 is a superior portrait/people camera as the zoom really does give you subject isolation.

Speed - Zippy the P7700 aint! The camera is not dog slow, but it's a generation behind in speed. JPEG is okay, but in RAWb it's about 1.5 seconds between shots with a 16gb Sandisk Extreme Pro card. It's not terrible, but not wonderful either. Knock out 6 shots continuous and go make a sandwich...about a 7-8 seconds wait if you're shooting RAW/Fine.

So Far - I like this camera better than the G12, G15 and RX100 primarily because of the longer lens. It's useful to my style of shooting. I've heard the weak spot of the P7700 cam is the ISO above mid range. I'll be testing that and seeing how it responds to proper post cleanup. I'm not expecting miracles. More coming up! Thanks for reading.

Robert



 Shotcents's gear list:Shotcents's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P7700 Nikon D800 Nikon D5200 Nikon Df Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II +10 more
Canon PowerShot G12 Canon PowerShot G15 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Nikon D5100 Nikon D700 Nikon D800 Sony RX100
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