Nikon Coolpix P7800 Review - Digital Photography School

Nikon Coolpix P7800 Review

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review

It helps now and then to look around the market and see what’s out there. Occasionally, a downscale camera that has escaped your notice can precisely answer your needs. Successor to the COOLPIX P7700, reviewed only six months ago, the P7800 delivers full-scale manual shooting, with some functions normally available only in DSLRs.

Features of the Nikon Coolpix P7800

Zoom lens

It has a 7.1x optical zoom that runs a 35 SLR equivalent range of 28-200mm. Sure, it’s not in the same territory as Sony’s 30x zoom model, the DSC-HX50V, nor Canon’s SX50 HS with a 50x zoom lens. But, as many have found out, these maxi zoomers need a considerable amount of TLC to bring home the picture bacon: steady hands, a firm support for the camera and a shooting environment that does not cloud distant views with atmospheric haze.

Personally, I’ve found compact digital cameras with zooms up to 10x to be practical picture takers so, with a 7.1x zoom like the P7800, you’re well within handheld territory. Along with this is a pocketable size and manageable weight.

Maximum aperture

Another bonus is the lens’ fast maximum aperture at f/2.0. This drops to f/4 as you head towards maximum telephoto but becomes no smaller.

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review

Eye level viewfinder

Another plus is an eye level viewfinder, so you can aim at the view in full sunlight and not have to battle with a washed out LCD screen. You may not have noticed it, but there are fewer and fewer digital cameras coming to market with such a viewfinder. This situation, I figure, is one that tips many photographers into the arms of the DSLR type of camera and ensnares people who are bereft of the skills to drive such a complex camera. Sure, the view in daylight is much better but if the technology is above your talent … well!

Image size

The maximum image size is 4000×3000 pixels or 34×25.4cm (13×10″)as a print at roughly 300 dpi.

Video

The Nikon Coolpix P7800 can capture Full HD video at 1902×1080 pixel resolution. Here is a sample video taken with the P7800:

If you’re looking for the red button to record video … stop! There isn’t one. You must engage the video position on the mode dial and press the shutter button. This means you can’t shoot stills mid video recording. This absence of a red button to record, is rare amidst digital cameras.

Burst rate (frames per second)

For what it’s worth, the camera can fire off a burst of six full size images at a maximum rate of 8 fps.

Handling

As I said, the P7800 is an agreeable size and weight, made even more comfortable thanks to a prominent speed grip and good balance. The viewfinder is useable, although a little murky and lacking in definition – but it does frame your shot and confirm focus and level, plus such matters as; selected aperture, shutter speed, ISO setting, camera level, white balance etc.

For more precise viewing (in ambient light less challenging than broad sunlight), you must use the rear LCD screen, which is variable in angle vertically and horizontally.

Top deck controls

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review

Top deck controls: at extreme left is the pop up flash and across to the right is the mode dial with settings for auto, P,A,S,M, scene mode (portrait, beach, sunset, panorama etc), special effects (mono, painting appearance, cross processing etc), three user settings, movie and movie custom setting modes.

Farther to the right are the power and shutter buttons, zoom lever, exposure compensation and the Function 1 button that switches the screen display options. Oh and I nearly missed this one: the Function 1 button is tucked away on the front panel, next to the lens. A bit puzzling and poorly explained in the manual, but I figured out that it can directly adjust the ISO setting, RAW, AWB amongst other matters.

But there’s a trap with this button: press it with your forefinger and your thumb naturally applies a back pressure that unfortunately may well cause you to accidentally press one of the rear panel buttons.

There are two command dials (one at front and rear) that can spin you through aperture and shutter speed options or roll through menu options.

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review

Rear controls

On the top level of the rear are two buttons: one triggers the turret finder or LCD screen; the other takes you into a quick menu situation. Beneath these is the replay button. Lower still is the four position jog wheel that takes you to flash options, macro shooting, self timer and AF area choices. Beneath this are the menu and trash buttons. At the right edge are the access terminals for USB, HDMI mini and AV outputs.

Card slot and battery compartment are in the camera’s base.

By using the WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter, you can transmit images from the P7800 to a WiFi equipped device such as a smartphone or tablet. You can also shoot through your mobile device using the Live view function.

ISO tests

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review ISO test

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review ISO test

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review ISO test

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review ISO test

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review ISO test

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review ISO test

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review ISO test

ISO 6400 cropped to actual pixel size

Noise rose slightly at ISO 1600. By ISO 3200 noise was up further and definition was suffering. Forget ISO 6400 equivalent.

Startup time

About a second after startup I could shoot the first shot, a little over a second per shot subsequently.

Distortion

No problems at either end of the zoom.

Sample images and settings

ISO 800, f/2, 1/50th of a second

ISO 800, f/2, 1/50th of a second

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review image sample

ISO 800, f/8, 1/4000th of a second, spot metering mode

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review image sample

ISO 800, f/5, 1/250th of a second, Matrix metering mode

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review image sample

ISO 800, f/4.5, 1/1250th of a second, Matrix metering mode

Nikon Coolpix P7800 digital camera review image sample

ISO 800, f/5.0, 1/1600th of a second, Matrix metering mode

Comments

Quality: above average, with accurate colour rendering.

Why you would buy it: you want a ‘proper’ viewfinder (like a DSLR); it’s pocketable.

Why you wouldn’t: buy it you want a maxi zoom.

FWIW I had a ball of fun with the P7800 shooting around the city; the zoom range was perfect for this, with the telephoto end of the 200m equivalent ideal for the longer reach. Mind you, it won’t suit sports photographers … not long enough (or fast enough).

Technical specs

  • Image Sensor: 12.2 million effective pixels
  • Metering: Matrix, centre-weighted and spot
  • Sensor: 15mm CMOS
  • Lens: f2-4/6-42.8mm (28-200mm as 35 SLR equivalent)
  • Exposure Modes: Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual
  • Shutter Speed: 60 to 1/4000 second
  • Continuous Speed: 8 fps
  • Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards plus 86MB internal memory
  • Image Sizes (pixels): 4000×3000 to 640×480
  • Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480
  • Viewfinder: 0.5cm turret plus 7.5cm LCD (both 921,000 pixels)
  • File Formats: JPEG, NRW (RAW), MPO (3D), WAV, MPEG4
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 80 to 6400
  • Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI mini, mic input, accessory, WiFi, DC input
  • Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor
  • Dimensions: 118.5×77.5×50.4 WHDmm
  • Weight: 399g (including battery and SD card (just under 1 pound)

Price: approximately $550 US 

Web: Nikon Coolpix P7800

DPS Rating: 4

 

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Nikon Coolpix P7800
Author Rating
4

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category.

Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • John Ireland

    I have a Nikon P7700 that has become my near constant goto camera. The camera was originally a gift for me to use as an enthusiast camera, but my novice wife loves the controls so much she takes it most of the time… win/win, I then get access to my D5000 without having to fight my wife for it.

  • Mark Hannah

    Don’t you mean the zoom is 28-200?

  • http://www.digital-photography-school.com/ Darren Rowse

    thanks Mark – I’ve fixed up this slip.

  • Darlene Hildebrandt

    Oops what did I miss?

  • shadfield

    I’m looking for a camera to shoot jewelry that I make to upload to website. Any advice regarding the Nikon P7700 with Wifi adaptor versus the Rebel 3ti. As a novice to photography, I’m trying to weigh my options. The Macro lenses are expensive. Thanks.

  • Nhikon

    @shadfield …. I just bought the Nikon P7800 and I must say, it takes really good macro and close up shots. I’ve found that the Manual Focus is a joy to use. I’ve only had the camera for 2 days now and I think it’s perfect for my needs. I too, like to take product pics and have found lugging out my big dslr, a real pain. So the Nikon P7800 is perfect for this. As far as your choices between the Nikon P7700 or Rebel 3ti, I’d have to say, it depends. Do you care about the bulk of a dslr? Are you planning on buying lenses? If so, then go with the dslr. But if you just want a camera you can pull out of your bag to take some quick shots, the P7700 or P7800 is good enough. The EVF on the P7800 is not a must have but it is a great addition if you are used to a dslr. Makes the P7800 feel like a mini dslr without all the fancy smancy stuff. Hahaha. Hope that helps.

  • Paulo

    I have the p7700 and love that camera… When i dont want to go with dslr and lenses the p7700 is the way …

Some older comments

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