Movie Modes Compared
Both cameras are capable of recording 1080p video, with stereo sound and continuous autofocus. The P7700 definitely has the more robust movie mode, with manual exposure controls (aperture priority and manual), support for an external mic, and a faster frame rate. Both cameras allow you to operate the optical zoom while you're recording, with the lens geared to move slowly to avoid the sound being picked up by the cameras' microphones.
|The G15 and P7700 have similar live view screens in movie mode, though you'll note that the aperture is adjustable on the latter (but only before filming is commenced).|
On the PowerShot G15, you can record at 1080/24p and 720/30p for up to 15 and 30 minutes (due to a 4GB file size limit for the former), respectively. The G15 uses a very high 36 Mbps bit rate, which is why you can't record as much continuous video as the P7700 below. You can record movies in any shooting mode, thanks to the dedicated video recording button. By setting the mode dial to the movie position, the LCD will switch to a 16:9 aspect ratio (allowing you to compose the scene), and it minimizes any delays when the red button is pressed.
Manual controls are very limited. The only thing you can adjust is brightness (with a range of -3 to +3 EV, in 1/3 EV increments), which is accomplished by pressing the AE-lock button while in movie mode. If you want to adjust the ISO, aperture, or shutter speed, you're out of luck. The G15 does offer a wind filter for recording video outdoors.
For those seeking something less conventional, the G15 lets you use many of the same Creative Filters and My Colors effects that you can use for still photography. There's also a 'Super Slow Motion' mode that records at 120 or 240 fps (albeit at low resolutions). When these videos are played back at normal speed, everything moves in slow motion.
The Nikon Coolpix P7700 also allows you to record 1080p video, but at the faster frame rate of 30 fps - though some folks will prefer the more cinematic 24p rate used by the G15. You can choose from bit rates of 18.8 or 12.6 Mbps - which affects video quality - using the same H.264/AVC codec as the G15. If you don't need videos that large, a 720/30p option is also available. Recording times are limited to 25 minutes for the 1080p* (high quality) setting, and 30 minutes for everything else.
One of the big movie-related frustrations on the P7700 is its lack of a dedicated button for movie recording. That means that you need to rotate the mode dial to the movie or 'custom' movie spots before you can record anything. Something else that will slow you down is a roughly one second delay between the moment you press the shutter release button and when the movie recording view appears on the LCD.
The P7700 has a nearly complete set of manual controls in movie mode. When in custom (CSM) movie mode, you can adjust the aperture alone, or both the aperture and shutter speed. You can't do this during recording though, only in advance. The ISO can be set to Auto, or the sensitivity of your choice. While the P7700 supports an external microphone, there's no way to adjust its level on the camera. As with the PowerShot G15, a wind filter function is available.
As with the PowerShot, the Coolpix P7700 has numerous special effects available in movie mode. You can also choose from one high speed (15 fps) and two low speed (60 or 120 fps) features.
This short video clip shows one big advantage of the Coolpix P7700: its 30 fps frame rate. The 24p frame rate on the PowerShot G15 is choppy by comparison. That said, the G15 is definitely capturing cleaner and sharper video.
|PowerShot G15, 1920 x 1080, 24p, 36 Mbps, 35.4 MB, 7 secs Click here to download original video|
|Coolpix P7700, 1920 x 1080, 30p, 18 Mbps, 18.5 MB, 7 secs Click here to download original video|
In this video, both cameras are mounted on a tripod. You can see the clear video quality advantage the PowerShot holds over the Coolpix. Both cameras struggle with wind noise - even with their wind-cut filters turned on.
|PowerShot G15, 1920 x 1080, 24p, 36 Mbps, 55.5 MB, 12 secs Click here to download original video|
|Coolpix P7700, 1920 x 1080, 30p, 18 Mbps, 32.9 MB, 13 secs Click here to download original video|
Our final comparison features some lively and colorful Mallard ducks. Here again you can see a slight quality advantage for the G15, but the P7700 is no slouch, either.
|PowerShot G15, 1920 x 1080, 24p, 36 Mbps, 50.8 MB, 12 secs Click here to download original video|
|Coolpix P7700, 1920 x 1080, 30p, 18 Mbps, 22.9 MB, 10 secs Click here to download original video|