The PowerShot G15 and Coolpix P7700 share many features in common. That shouldn't come as a surprise, as these days premium compacts seem to offer virtually every feature you could hope for.

Despite their price and positioning, neither Canon nor Nikon has forgotten the point-and-shoot crowd. Both cameras offer shooting modes that will automatically selected a scene mode for you. For the G15, it's called Smart Auto mode, which selects one of fifty-eight possible scenes - even detecting when you're using a tripod. The Coolpix P7700 has a regular Auto mode, plus a 'Scene Auto Selector' feature (which you access via the 'Scene' spot on the mode dial). This mode works in much the same way as the Canon, though it only has ten scenes to choose from.

Two stand-out features on the P7700 include the ability to attach Nikon's GP-1 GPS receiver, as well as the ME-1 external microphone. No equivalent accessories are available for the PowerShot G15.


Undoubtedly, one of the stand-out features of both the G15 and P7700 are their fast lenses. The PowerShot features a 28-140mm (equivalent) F1.8-2.8 zoom, while the P7700's lens is longer, at 28-200mm, but not quite as fast, offering a maximum aperture range of F2-4. This difference is especially important when light levels drop, as it means that when shooting with the P7700, to achieve a given shutter speed, you'll need to increase ISO sensitivity sooner you would with the G15.

For example, at 140mm, shooting 'wide open' on the PowerShot G15 you might want to use a shutter speed of 1/60 sec at ISO 400. The Coolpix P7700, can't match the G15's bright maximum aperture, which means that to achieve the same exposure and you'll either have to drop the shutter speed to 1/30 sec, perhaps risking camera-shake, or bump up the sensitivity on the P7700 up to 800, risking a reduction in image quality due to noise.

This chart illustrates the equivalent aperture in 35mm terms of several high-end compact cameras when their sensor size is taken into account. The G15's lens is 2/3 to 1-stop faster than the P7700's as the focal length increases. What this means in the real world is that you will be able to use lower ISO sensitivities on the G15 than on the P7700 in poor light, and you'll get more control over depth of field, too.

In terms of macro performance, the G15 has a minimum focus distance of 1 cm, with the P7700 right behind it at 2 cm. Both cameras have optical image stabilization, with Canon boasting an 'Intelligent IS' system that selects the right IS mode for the situation (e.g. panning, dynamic, tripod).

Canon PowerShot G15
Nikon Coolpix P7700
This translates into quite a bit more telephoto power for the P7700 (200 vs 140 mm equivalent)

If you want to give the G15 a little more telephoto power, fear not: Canon sells a 1.4x teleconverter, which brings the telephoto end of the focal range to 196 mm equivalent - essentially up there with the P7700. Optional filters are available for both the PowerShot G15 and Coolpix P7700, though you'll need to make additional purchases - Canon's filter adapter for the G15 or the lens hood for the P7700 - both of which allow you to use 58mm filters. Nikon also offers a 40.5mm neutral color filter which screws onto the P7700's lens, without the need for an adapter. Both cameras have neutral density filters built-in, which can be activated via the menu system.

Behind all that glass are 12 megapixel, 1/1.7" CMOS sensors. These sensors are larger than those you'll find on your typical point-and-shoot compact, but are typical of what you'll find on an enthusiast model. Nikon's 12.2 megapixel CMOS is back-illuminated, and while their bare specifications are similar, we do not believe that this technology is used in the G15's 12.1 megapixel sensor.

Manual Controls

No one will be surprised to find out that these two cameras are chock full of manual controls. The chart below breaks down some of the key options for you:

  PowerShot G15 Coolpix P7700
Shutter speed range 15 - 1/4000 sec 15 - 1/4000 sec
Aperture range (max to min) F1.8 - F8.0 F2.0 - F8.0
ISO range, Auto 80 - 1600 (adjustable) 80 - 800 (adjustable)
ISO range, manual 80 - 12800 80 - 6400
White balance Custom, fine-tuning Custom, color temperature, fine-tuning
Bracketing Exposure, focus Exposure, white balance
Neutral density filter 3 stops 3 stops
Wireless flash control No Yes
Electronic level Dual axis Single axis
Custom spots on mode dial 2 3
In-camera Raw processing No Yes

Which one of these cameras is 'best' here of course depends on what you want. While some folks will appreciate the wireless flash control, Raw processing, and additional white balance options found on the Coolpix P7700, others will be swayed by the PowerShot G15's faster (albeit shorter) lens and superior electronic level.

One annoyance on the G15 is that the ISO is fixed to 80 when shutter speeds are 1 second or slower. This makes sense from an image quality point-of-view, but the restriction seems unnecessary on a high end compact like the G15.

The two cameras have their own methods for adjusting image parameters. On the G15, you must select the Custom Color option from the 'My Colors' feature (found in the Function menu). There you can adjust contrast, sharpness, saturation, RGB, and skin tones. The amount of noise reduction applied at high ISOs can be found in the shooting menu, with your choice of low, standard, or high.

On the P7700, you can adjust sharpening, contrast, and saturation using the Picture Control feature. There are several preset 'controls' to choose from (Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, and Custom), each of which can be fine-tuned. The noise reduction options can be found in the shooting menu, and are the same as on the G15. Unlike on the Canon, Nikon has made distortion correction optional on the Coolpix P7700 (it's off by default).