P7700 Update - The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Started Jan 7, 2013 | Discussions thread
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P7700 Update - The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
Jan 7, 2013

After a couple of weeks with the P7700 (and a second one ordered for a business) I've had ample time to work through the camera and examine what it does well...and not so well. My findings are accurate, but how they effect your shooting style is up to you to decide. I'll start off with the Ugly and conclude with the Good! Sample snaps appear at the bottom!

So let's start with...
The Ugly!1) ISO range - whether you wish to excuse the limited ISO range of the P7700 is entirely up to you. Is it horrible? No, not at all. But the main issue is that even at ISO 400 we can see considerable noise and some loss of detail. ISO 800 is perhaps the weakest setting, which high grain structure and detail loss visible. Oddly, at ISO 1600 and 3200 we get somewhat "better" results. Now understand, they're still showing a LOT of noise, but for these higher settings I feel the P7700 does better than expected, or rather does not show the steep decline that I've seen with other cameras at the same settings.
2) AF Speed - This camera has fairly good focusing, even in poor light. BUT it is SLOW. How slow? My little Canon SD1400 IS focuses faster for $129.00 and so does the G12, Sony RX100 and most others I've tried. Since none of these cameras are really fast to start with, it's easy to look the other way to some degree. Still, the P7700 is clearly lagging behind many others here.
3) Processing - Using a Sandisk Extreme pro 16 gb card I'm just not seeing the 4 second RAW write times reported by others. I'm seeing closer to 2 seconds. But compared to a Canon G15 this is not fun times. And if you fire off 6-8 shots on the P7700 in burst mode you can go make a sandwich as it can take over 10 seconds before it will let you shoot again. The Canon just lets you shoot and shoot. Nikon fell short in a BIG way on this and the next version of this cam needs to catch up. Combined with the slow AF this can lead to a very frustrating shooting experience in some situations.
4) AF accuracy at 200mm - At 200mm in poor light the P7700 sometimes has trouble locking focus, especially on faces. I've confirmed this with a second P7700. HOWEVER, we are talking 200mm at F4 in poor light and pulling back on the zoom a bit will usually result in a lock. This focal zone is something other cameras don't have at all, so you could easily put this under the heading of GOOD. In most cases I've had good results at 200mm indoors.
The Bad!vary-angle LCD for framing shots and it works very well. But in very bright light you will wrestle to see it at times and that's an issue for some people. 1) No optical viewfinder. Okay, I might say that this is something like complaining that your motorcycle doesn't have 4 wheels. The P7700 was designed to use it's excellent
2) Poor DOF control. Just like the viewfinder this falls under "intended design" and you simply choose a DSLR if you want full control over depth of field and bokeh. Some cameras do better, but the small sensor is to blame here as it cripples the potential of the 200mm F4 zoom for subject isolation.
The Good!1) Optics - I truly believe that you can't find a better lens than this little wonder on the P7700. It's absolutely sharper and more versatile than the others, even well above this price point. The 200mm end is EXCELLENT. There is correctable distortion and the CA is not all that bad for such a small lens IF you handle exposure carefully. If the P7700 has one selling point that is strong enough to swing people away from other brands The Lens is IT!
2) LCD - Wow! I'm very impressed as this is like my D800 display but it can be moved around. It's something quite near 98% accurate and that's superior to ANY optical viewfinder on the other cams.
3) Handling - Again, I think Nikon has the ergonomics worked out better than ANY other enthusiast camera. The feel and control placement is near ideal for many users. This actually handles better than a D3200 or D5200 as it has TWO command dials.
4) Image Quality - Because of the lens IQ is near top of the class and you'll get shots that others cams in this class can't. In reasonable light and low ISO settings the sensor does not let the lens down. Images are very good, though a bit flat via the JPEG engine. Better results can be found when shooting RAW and doing some tweaks in PP. I found that, once again, NIkon NX2 does the best job with their own RAW files.
5) Flash - As I mentioned before you get EXCELLENT results with an outboard flash, either on the shoe or fired wirelessly. The built in flash works as expected, but the wireless option can bring a level of quality you would not expect.
6) Battery life - I finally charged the battery. It lasted a LONG time with me testing and messing with the menus.
SummaryThis is a solid little camera. I would NOT suggest it to anyone who's seeking to learn photography because it's lack of DOF control will dampen understanding of that area of shooting, which is key to many styles. You can learn more from a old D70. Or for only a small additional sum you can buy a lower-end DSLR and buy into a system. As a family camera I think this is a good choice, assuming you'll take advantage of it's added features and manual modes. But blindly buying this and expecting it to be better than a Canon S110 may not be such a great idea. The S110 does a VERY good job and is much more pocketable. To see clear advantages over a camera like the S110 you'll have to invest some effort in using the P7700 in manual mode. Still, we must keep in mind that the P7700 is SLOW. By the time it focuses that rare "moment" may have passed. It's slow shot to shot performance will also impact grabbing those special moments. If you're looking for a fast camera there are better choices. Users of Nikon DSLRs will certainly like the P7700. In reasonable light it can be a solid 3rd body for snapshots and it taps beautifully into the Nikon flash system, which raises it even higher above most P&S cameras that are unable to use an external flash. As I pointed out above, the P7700 comes into it's own due to the 28-200 lens, but some shooters who do landscape, street and real estate photography may find the 28mm too restricting. 24mm makes a big difference for that type of shooting; you can't always take a step back. On the other side of the coin, the 200mm end produces the best portraits from a camera of this type. Ultimately I like the P7700 a lot. It has flaws, but it's likely many will be fixed in the next model. We can certainly expect to see larger and more capable sensors along with faster processing down the road. In the meantime this is my pick for best compact enthusiast camera for MY needs.
Samples with captions:


Thanks for reading...

More samples will be posted shortly.

ISO 3200 is more impressive than 400 for what it accomplishes.

Portraits are certainly the P7700 strength. ^

B&W is a good way to see how the SB800 is working. ^

ISO 6400 ^ for emergency only!

Macro ^ showing good dynamic range

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