Nikon Coolpix P7700 Hands-on Preview
Another August rolls around, and with it another new high-end Coolpix from Nikon. After years of relative stagnation, Nikon's high-end compact camera lineup was relaunched with the release of the P7000 in 2010. Externally a near-clone of the Canon PowerShot G12, the P7000 offered the sort of manual control and 'hands-on' ergonomics that we've come to expect from high-end compacts, and delivered excellent image quality from its 10MP CCD sensor, but was badly let down by a glitchy UI and glacially slow performance.
The only feature that really helped the P7000 stand-out, in a very competitive class, was its lens. Until that point the G12 had offered the largest lens range in the class - 28-140mm equivalent, while the rest of its rivals made-do with shorter, brighter lenses. The P7000 offered an impressive 28-200mm range, making it the most flexible in its class, but a maximum aperture range of F2.8-5.6 handed the advantage back to its rivals when the light levels started to fall.
The P7700 addresses this weakness - letting it compete much more directly with its peers. It retains the 28-200mm range but features a lens that's a stop brighter, throughout its range. An F2.0-4.0 lens means the P7700 comes closer to competing with the likes of Panasonic's LX7 and Samsung's EX2F in low light, while offering significantly longer zoom range. A built-in ND filter is good news, too, and means that it should be possible to shoot at long shutter speeds without reaching for diffraction-inducing apertures.
The P7700 also builds on the improvements made by the P7100, which, thanks to a front-mounted control dial and vastly improved, sped-up operation, was a big step forwards over the P7000. The P7100, in other words, felt somewhat like a PowerShot G12 competitor, whereas the P7000 just looked like one. The P7700 steps even further out of the Canon's shadow.
Nikon Coolpix P7700: Key Specifications
- 12.2MP BSI-CMOS sensor
- Raw Mode (.NRW)
- 28-200mm (equivalent) F2-4 zoom lens with 'Second Generation' VR
- ISO 80-1600
- Fully articulating, 3in 921k-dot rear LCD screen
- Full HD, 1080p movie recording with stereo sound
- 330 shot battery life (CIPA)
The P7700 shares a lot of its DNA with the P7100, as we'd expect, but it's a very different camera in some ways. At the heart of the new model is a 12MP BSI CMOS sensor, for one thing (almost certainly this one) which brings with it the now-expected speed increase (the P7700 can shoot at 8fps, as opposed to 1.2fps from the P7100) and the ability to record full HD video.
|The P7700's rear LCD screen hinges along the camera's leftmost edge, and is fully articulated, unlike the tilt-only display on the P7100. This makes it more useful for high and low-angle shooting, and for video composition.|
Externally, the most obvious difference compared to the P7100 is the P7700's lack of an optical viewfinder. The P7000 and P7100 both featured an OVF in addition to their rear LCD screens, which zoomed with their lenses, and provided an approximate reference for framing. This is absent in the P7700 and as a consequence the camera looks rather more streamlined than its distinctly utilitarian-looking forebears. Some users will mourn the passing of the OVF, but their pain might be eased slightly by the fact that the P7700's rear LCD s now fully articulating rather than just tilting, as it was in the P7100. This should make the P7700 more capable when it comes to shooting from awkward angles, and also when recording movies, which is possible in manual, auto, and aperture priority modes.
On a 1/1.7" sensor, this aperture range is equivalent in depth of field terms to F9.3-18.5 on a full-frame camera, so we're not expecting miracles when it comes to depth of field control. The bigger benefit of that larger maximum aperture is that in poor light, you shouldn't have to select the P7700's highest ISO settings as often as you would with the P7100. The combination of this kind of reach with a fast maximum aperture is very appealing. Likewise a 7-bladed aperture for smooth rendition of out of focus areas and two extra-low dispersion elements - good to see in a compact camera, and indicative of Nikon's desire that the P7700 be taken seriously by photographers.
Other features are pretty standard, and include 19 'Scene' modes, plus Auto Scene Selector and a range of in-camera filter effects.
Compared to Coolpix P7100 - key differences
- 6.0-42.8mm (28-200mm equivalent) F2-4 lens (compared to F2.8-5.6)
- 12MP 1/1.7"-type CMOS sensor (compared to 10MP CCD)
- Fully-articulated 3" LCD screen (compared to tilt-only LCD)
- Lens accepts 40.5mm screw-in filters without adapter (P7100 requires optional UR-E22 adapter)
- No optical viewfinder
- 8fps continuous shooting (compared to ~1.2fps)
- Full HD movie mode with full manual control (compared to 720p and limited control)
- Built-in flash facilitates wireless off-camera flash control
- Compatible with GP-1 GPS unit
Foreword / notes
If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).
Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.
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