As you can see the 8700 is virtually identical in appearance to the 5700, the primary differences are the red stripe hand grip, light grey colored button surround on the lens barrel and different silk screen labeling. Otherwise this camera will be immediately very familiar to any 5700 owner. From the front the 8700 is dominated by the large lens barrel and hand grip, the extended flash unit and electronic viewfinder producing a continuous box on the top of the round barrel and running parallel with the top of the hand grip. At the back controls are set on the right side within reach of your thumb, the flip-out and twist LCD monitor.

Side by side

Below you can see the Coolpix 8700 beside the current eight megapixel competition, by a fair margin it's the lightest camera here, almost half the weight of the heaviest, the Sony DSC-F828. The Coolpix 8700 also has the smallest proportions although there isn't a significant difference between it and the Canon PowerShot Pro1.

Camera Specs Dimensions Body weight
(inc. batt & CF)
Nikon Coolpix 8700 8 mp, 8x zoom 113 x 78 x 105 mm (4.4 x 3.1 x 4.1 in) 512 g (1.1 lb)
Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 mp, 7x zoom 118 x 72 x 90 mm (4.6 x 2.8 x 3.5 in) 640 g (1.4 lb)
Minolta DiMAGE A2 8 mp, 7x zoom 117 x 85 x 114 mm (4.6 x 3.4 x 4.5 in) 654 g (1.4 lb)
Olympus C-8080 WZ 8 mp, 5x zoom 124 x 85 x 99 mm (4.9 x 3.3 x 3.9 in) 724 g (1.6 lb)
Sony DSC-F828 8 mp, 7x zoom 134 x 91 x 156 mm (5.3 x 3.6 x 6.1 in) 906 g (2.0 lb)

In your hand

Thanks to its depth and soft rubber coating the Coolpix 8700 has probably one of the best hand grips of all the eight megapixel digital cameras. This spoilt slightly by the location of the strap eyelet which can press into your hand and leave it sore, I found removing the triangular strap attachment helps slightly. The camera feels solid and well balanced while light enough not to leave your hand aching after a long shoot.

Control Panel display

On the top of the 8700 you will find the "Control Panel" display (identical to that used on the Coolpix 5700) which provides a range of information about current exposure mode, quality settings, aperture / shutter speed, remaining frames and other camera functions. The Control Panel has a green backlight which comes on for approximately six seconds after pressing the backlight button.

A breakdown of displayed information can be found on the diagram below.

Diagram reproduced with permission from Coolpix 8700 manual.

LCD Monitor

The Coolpix 8700 has a flip-out and twist LCD monitor, it's larger than the 5700 at 1.8" and has a good anti-reflective coating. In use it proved to be bright and fairly detailed (although we are getting a little spoilt by the 235,000 pixel LCD monitors seen on other cameras).

The LCD case and hinge cover is plastic. By default the LCD would be folded in towards the body (and thus is protected), opening it outwards 180 degrees it can then be rotated through 180 degrees (until its facing forwards) or 90 degrees downwards. If you wish the screen can then be folded back on itself and 'clipped' into place just like a conventional digital camera LCD. Below you can see an example of some of the different positions in which the LCD monitor can be used.

Electronic Viewfinder

The 8700 has the new 0.44" 235,000 pixel LCD in its electronic viewfinder, the same unit used in at least four of the five current eight megapixel cameras. The view is sharp and detailed with good brightness, although like all EVF's (apart from Konica Minolta's) they perform less well in low light situations. The EVF automatically comes on when the LCD is folded closed against the camera body, with the LCD visible you can switch to the EVF by pressing the small display button to the right of the eyepiece.

Battery Compartment

The 8700's battery compartment is in the camera's hand grip, the door fits flush into the base of the hand grip and is held closed by a sliding clip. Just like the 5700 and several other Nikon Coolpix digital cameras the 8700 takes Nikon's Lithium-Ion EN-EL1 battery (7.4 V, 680 mAh = 5.0 Wh) or non-rechargeable 2CR5 Lithium batteries. In addition the 8700 is also compatible with the optional MB-E5700 portrait grip / battery pack which attaches to the bottom of the camera. The MB-E5700 provides a portrait grip, vertical shutter release and zoom control as well as power from six AA type batteries.

Compact Flash Compartment

On the right side of the camera (from the back) in the hand grip you'll find the 8700's Compact Flash compartment door. The door is constructed from a lightweight plastic and has a 'half way' spring mechanism. Inside is a Compact Flash Type I / II slot and a bright yellow sticker warning to insert Type I cards carefully (label to the front).