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Nikon CoolPix P7100 Review

February 2012 | By Kelcey Smith, Barney Britton


Review based on a production CoolPix P7100 running firmware V1.0

When Nikon released the CoolPix P7000 in 2010, several commentators, including ourselves, remarked on its uncanny resemblance to the Canon Powershot G-series. Clearly intended to compete with Canon's G-series in the high-end compact camera market, the raw-enabled P7000 offered very similar ergonomics, as well as near-identical top-level specifications to the Powershot G12. Sadly, although it was capable of producing excellent image quality, the P7000 was plagued with poor operational speed and frustratingly glitchy on-screen menus. The overall impression was of a camera which was almost, but not quite finished for public release. It was a camera that we wanted to love, but just couldn't.

The P7100 isn't hugely different to the P7000 in terms of specification - it utilizes the same 10MP CCD as its predecessor (and is thus limited to the same 720p video specification) and the same lens. The LCD screen might be articulated, but it is the same excellent 3in, 921k-dot display as before. The P7100's form factor is almost exactly the same as the P7000, and is partly defined by the same optical viewfinder.

Meaningful changes have been made though to both its ergonomics and operational speed compared to the P7000. The most obvious physical additions are a command dial on the front of the camera, and of course that flip-out LCD screen on the rear. Operationally, Nikon claims to have greatly increased the P7100's responsiveness compared to the P7000, in everything from image processing time to menu activation/dismissal - areas in which the P7000 badly lagged behind its competitors.

Not all of the cameras in its class are quite so large though. In fact, the P7100, like its predecessor and like the Canon Powershot G12, are remarkable amongst their peers for their bulk. Direct competitors like Panasonic's Lumix DMC-LX5, and Samsung's TL500 / EX1 (which shares the same 10MP CCD sensor), are relatively small cameras but the P7100, by comparison, is something of a beast, thanks mostly to its height.

Certainly not small enough to fit in a shirt or trouser pocket, the P7100 isn't much smaller than some interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras. What the P7100 has which these cameras do not though is a versatile built-in lens, covering a range of 28-200mm (equivalent).

Compared to CoolPix P7000 - key differences

The differences between the P7100 and its predecessor are relatively few, and quite subtle. Here's a list:
  • Rear LCD now articulated (fold out design)
  • New front control dial
  • AE lock in movie mode
  • New effects modes (including cross-process, optical zoom burst effect and mono filters)
  • Claimed increase in AF response and accuracy
  • Decreased raw (.NRW) write times
  • Claimed improvements to operation speed (menu activation/dismissal etc).
  • Claimed improvements to noise-reduction using Expeed C2 'ultraimaging' processing

P7000, G12 and P7100 compared (key differences)

 

Canon Powershot G12

Nikon CoolPix P7000

Nikon CoolPix P7100
Sensor • 1/1.7" Type CCD
• 10.1 million effective pixels
• Primary color filter array
• 1/1.7" Type CCD
• 10.1 million effective pixels
• Primary color filter array
• 1/1.7" Type CCD
• 10.1 million effective pixels
• Primary color filter array
Optical zoom • 28-140mm (equivalent)
• f/2.8-4.5
• 28-200mm (equivalent)
• f/2.8-5.6
• 28-200mm (equivalent)
• f/2.8-5.6
Video mode • MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (stereo)]:
1280 x 720 @ 24 fps
640 x 480 @ 30fps
320 x 240 @ 30fps
• MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (stereo)]:
1280 x 720 @ 24 fps
640 x 480 @ 30fps
320 x 240 @ 30fps
• MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (stereo)]:
1280 x 720 @ 24 fps
640 x 480 @ 30fps
320 x 240 @ 30fps
LCD screen • 2.8" Vari-angle TFT LCD monitor
• 460,000 dots
• Approx 100% coverage
• 3.0 inch LCD
• 921k dots
• 100% coverage in playback mode (97% in live view)
• 3.0 inch flip-out LCD
• 921k dots
• 100% coverage in playback mode (97% in live view)
Viewfinder Real-image zoom, optical viewfinder Real-image zoom, optical viewfinder Real-image zoom, optical viewfinder
Dimensions 112 x 76 x 48 mm 114 x 77 x 45 mm 116 x 77 x 48mm
Weight (including battery and card) Approx. 355g Approx. 360g Approx. 395g

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.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2012 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

WillieG

"several commentators, including ourselves, remarked on its uncanny resemblance to the Canon Powershot G-series."

I've heard this before. All these reviewers must be very young. This camera looks like a rangefinder. It has the distinctive shape of rangefinders since the 50's. The Canon, also, looks like a rangefinder. It could be said the Canon G-Series looks like the Nikon SP from '57. There is little difference in them all.

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