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Having survived a recent avalanche of maxi-zoom compact digicams, it comes as something of a relief to engage with this more modest but still well-featured camera.
The Nikon Coolpix P7000 wins on a number of points: its moderate dimensions, with a pocketable thickness of about 45mm; another is the 15mm CCD, capturing 10.1 million effective pixels; light weight; optical viewfinder; and there is a built in ND filter to aid longer exposures or to deal with excessively bright conditions by a factor of three f stops.
Maximum image size is 3684×2736 pixels or enough to make a 31x23cm print. Movies? Maximum resolution is 1280x720p at 24 fps.
In many ways the P7000 could act as a quick-to-use companion to a high level DSLR kit. The larger pitch of the CCD’s pixels points to a higher image quality for starters and the RAW capture will please many.
Capture using auto as well as Program AE, shutter or aperture priority as well as manual will have great appeal.
However, its startup time is not brilliant: about two seconds from power on; then about two seconds between shots.
In terms of distortion, the lens performs well if not brilliantly: there is a small amount of barrel distortion at the zoom’s wide end, with a very small amount of pincushion distortion at the tele end.
With pro aspirations, the camera has an unusually large number of external control points that may confound the timid. Believe me.
The secret to fully understanding the camera lies in a deep familiarity with all of these controls; I spent two hours trying to set the image size and quality! The PDF manual (which I downloaded from www.nikonusa.com/pdf/manuals/noprint/P7000_ENnoprint.pdf) also led me astray, with wildly out of whack page numbers given by the index. I eventually found succour in the printed manual.
More: next to the mode dial is the exposure compensation dial, giving control of three f stops under or over.
When it comes to setting the ISO, image size and quality, white balance and auto exposure bracketing etc you move your fingers to the left of the top control surface and deal with the tiny quick menu dial and button. It’s a bit of a challenge at first, but familiarity breeds an understanding of its role.
The rear of the camera has more: the usual jog wheel, menu button, screen display options, focus lock button and the command dial.
I’m not quite sure how you would use this, but Zoom Memory is another novel feature: hold down the Function button while zooming and the lens jumps to presets, like 28mm, 35mm etc.
My test shots run from top to bottom: ISO 100, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400.
Frankly, ISO 100, 400 and 800 are level pegging, with little noise at the higher setting.
At ISO 1600 noise is still not a problem, but definition is down a touch.
ISO 3200 shows some noise and loss of definition but IMHO this is still a useable setting.
At ISO 6400 we’ve pretty well lost the plot, with noise at an objectionable level and definition well down. Not useable.
Quality: with care, you can get razor sharp pics with this baby; colour is accurate.
Why you would buy it: optical viewfinder; compact shape.
Why you wouldn’t: no swing out LCD screen; not Full HD movie resolution.
This is for the experienced photographer, able to utilize the advanced features on offer. Whilst it could be used as a day-to-day snapshot camera by raw talent, they would be better off with a $200 point-and-shoot.
Loved the enormous and helpful 220+ page manual.
Image Sensor: 10.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: 256 segment matrix, centre-weighted average, spot, spot AF.
Sensor Size: 14.9mm CCD.
Lens: Nikkor f2.8-5.6/6.0-42.6mm (28-200mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Shutter Speed: 60 to 1/4000 second.
Continuous Shooting: 1.3 images/second (total 45 shots).
Memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC cards plus 79MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 3684×2736 to 640×480. Movies: 1280x720p, 640×480, 320×240 at 24/30 fps.
Viewfinders: Optical and LCD screen: 7.5cm LCD (921,000 pixels).
File Formats: RAW, JPEG, RAW+JPEG, AVCHD, Motion JPEG, WAV.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 12,800.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, mic input, AV.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 114.2x77x44.8 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 360 g (inc battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Nikon Coolpix P7000 at Amazon.