Nikon Coolpix P7100 compact camera
All at your fingertips
Review Just over a year ago Nikon released the Coolpix P7000 to slug it out with Canon’s PowerShot G12. Both cameras appeal to the high-end consumer who wants most of the controls and features of a DSLR in the body of a compact. With the Coolpix P7100, Nikon introduces some welcome new features and tweaks including a tilting screen and an improved user interface, yet like the aging G12, it remains a 10Mp snapper.
PowerShot punisher: Nikon's Coolpix P7100
The P7100 has a solid metal build and a retro, if stocky, charm. When holding it, with its firm and secure grips, it feels very much like having a compact, lightweight DSLR in your hands. This Coolpix goes against the current trend in the compact market, as the P7100 showcases as many physical controls as it can possibly fit on its relatively small body, giving the user direct access to virtually all useful shooting settings.
There are plenty of dials and buttons but they are all so ergonomically and logically placed that, once you learn where they are, you can use them without taking your eye off the viewfinder. From the handling and shooting point of view this is certainly one of the most comfortable compact cameras I have used.
Some days, you can't beat an eye-level viewfinder
The top plate alone accommodates three dials. A left dial providing immediate access to some of the most frequent functions such as ISO, White Balance, Bracketing, Image Quality, as well as My Menu and Picture Controls. This dial was cleverly designed to offer not only access to the above-mentioned settings but also to select option within each setting at the same time. In fact, the dial has a small button in its middle that allows you to easy change the parameters of each setting.
Then there is the usual DSLR-like mode dial, which apart from the obvious Auto, Program Auto, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, Movie and Scene modes now also includes an Effects mode, comprising 10 different options, three User Defined modes and a Low Light mode, which expands ISO sensitivity up to 12800 at the reduced resolution of 3Mp. The last of the three top dials is an old-fashioned exposure compensation disc, a great tool for controlled manual exposure.
Fast access to functions puts an end to endless menu musing
Although there’s a built-in flash the top plate hotshoe broadens the creative horizons of this compact. Additionally, to offer the same level of manual control of a DSLR the P7100 is now equipped with a twin dial system, with a command dial on the front and one on the back, to have full and quick command of the shutter/aperture operation.
Next page: Performance boost
It's not £500 quid anywhere.
"That said, the price tag on this camera will by itself exclude most happy snappers"
Why is this even mentioned when the link to amazon.co.uk shows their price as £359 and others as low as £333?
mmm, Nokia N8
maynot have as big a lens but has better performance in many respects, acts as a phone, mobile office and kid amuser (games) while costing a lot less.
I too was interested in this camera for it's wide aperture until I found the following comparison...
"A camera's overall image quality score takes into account: color depth, dynamic range and low light performance.
Snapsort uses metrics from DXOMark to determine how good a camera's overall image quality is."
That kind of did it for me. Not that I'll get a G12 as I have a G9 already and know the limitations. I think my most likely pick up is from one or more of: Canon S100 for a take everywhere; Micro 4/3rds or LX5 for when I don't want to carry the big DSLR.
How's the lens?
I'm not sure I can afford a new camera at all yet, but my camera ogling is currently split between the Olympus XZ-1, the Fuji X10 and this camera.
It seems that this camera with it's 28-200mm equivalent f/2.8-5.6 lens can actually give you at most f/2.8 at 28mm, f/3.2 at 35mm, f/3.5 at 50mm, f/4 at 85mm, f/4.5 at 105mm and f/5.6 at full telephoto (200mm equiv).
The XZ-1 has a f/1.8-2.8 lens running from 28mm to 112mm equivalent, giving you f/1.8 at 28mm, f/2 at 35mm and 50mm, f/2.2 at 85mm, f2.5 at 105mm and beyond.
I've not found any such detailed information for the X10, but it runs from f/2.0 at 28mm and f/2.8 at 112mm.
In terms of sensors both the X10 and XZ-1 seem to have 1/1.7" sensors while this has a slightly smaller 1/1.8" sensor. Additionally the X10 is based on a CMOS sensor wheras the other two use CCDs. And the X10 has a lovely mag alloy body. On the other hand it is significantly more expensive.
On paper the XZ-1 still wins in terms of selective depth of (in-focus) field, and is just about the cheapest (although the P7100 is not much more currently and may drop lower). The X-10 may be better for low light photography with it's CMOS sensor, but it's slightly slower lens may offset that. I think the XZ1 the slowest of the three in terms of shot-to-shot time (though I've not seen the P7100 and X10 compared in that respect). And it has the worst handgrip and no viewfinder (though that doesn't matter much to me personally).
But I think the XZ-1 has the sharpest lens, though certainly the latter two have acceptably sharp lenses. The XZ-1 lens is a pocket rocket though, only let down by a tendency towards barrel distortion out wide.
I haven't seen proper comparisons in terms of handling yet. I suspect the P7100 and X10 are neck and neck. Oh, I don't know, but then I don't actually think I can afford the outlay at the moment anyway.
The review for the V1 a few days back put a price tag on the device that was enormous. If you did a quick google you could get it for nearly £300 cheaper.
I dont think you need to take the pricetag on the review as gospel.