Nikon CoolPix P7100 Review
The P7100 is primarily a stills shooting camera, but still offers HD video recording - albeit limited to 720p @ 24fps. Video is recorded in AVC with a MOV container format, which can be easily written to DVD or Blu-Ray. Unfortunately the level of manual control available for photography is not reflected in its video mode. In fact the only manual control available is AE-L, AF-L, and exposure compensation. This is quite normal for a compact camera, but it is somewhat surprising for a camera that offers an external microphone input.
|Sizes||• 1280 x 720 @ 24fps
• 640 x 480 @ 30fps
• 320 x 240 @ 30fps
|Audio Recording||• Built-in mono microphone
• External microphone connector
• MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (Stereo)]
|Max recording time||• Up to 29 min.|
Video quality and operation
Because the P7100 uses the same sensor as its predecessor, it too is limited to recording video at a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720. Although Nikon claims a significant boost in video quality in the P7100, the practical evidence of this is quite hard to find. At extremely close inspection, the P7100's videos are slightly more detailed and less prone to the heavy compression artifacting (especially in areas of high detail and fast movement) that could be seen on the P7000. The subtle difference in video quality is largely subjective though, as both the P7100 and the P7000 encode videos using an AVC codec with variable bit rates hovering around 10mbps.
With the P7100's 1/1.7" sensor, recording in low light can produce better results with less visible noise than you might normally find on smaller compacts with a 1/2.3" sensor. The video quality captured by the P7100 is good but lags a bit behind the now fairly standard 1080P video recording seen on many other compact cameras in this price range.
The P7100 does have the ability to zoom while recording (at a reduced speed to limit noise), which can be quite useful when recording sporting events. Autofocus can be set to Single AF, which picks a point of focus at the moment you begin recording, or Full-time AF which continuously adjusts focus while you are recording. The Full-time AF does quite a good job at keeping the main subject in focus but can have issues with close subject distances.
Sample video 1
This video was shot on a tripod at the longest end of the zoom with 'Vibration Reduction' enabled (as the tripod was on a floating dock) keeping the frame fairly stable while allowing for a smooth panning motion. The P7100 does a fairly good job metering this fairly complex scene, however the bright white of the boat and houses in the background appear clipped.
|1280 x 720 24fps, 19.49MB, MOV, 17 sec. Click here to download original file|
Sample video 2
Color rendition and saturation on the P7100 are quite pleasing and natural. Low contrast detail is well represented and as you can see in the video, motion artifacting is not overly obvious.
|1280 x 720 24fps, 19.47MB, MOV, 17 sec. Click here to download original file|
Sample video 3
If you compare the video below to a similar video of a waterfall from the P7000 you can see that compression artifacting is not as severe in the P7100. However, it is still possible to find fairly significant artifacts in the videos from both cameras if you look hard enough. Because Vimeo applies compression to videos you will need to download the original video to make the comparison.
|1280 x 720 24fps, 22.22 MB, MOV, 21 sec. Click here to download original file|