Nikon Coolpix P7700 ($499.95 direct)($333.33 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window) is a follow-up to last year’s P7100 ($333.33 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window). It’s a streamlined version of the camera’s design — it omits the optical viewfinder, so it’s not as tall, and integrates the front control wheel into the grip. The lens covers the same 28-200mm field of view — but it starts at f/2 and only closes to f/4 at the telephoto extreme, stopping faster at both ends of the spectrum. The 12-megapixel camera maintains the excellent control layout of its predecessors, though images aren’t quite as sharp with the lens wide open at f/2. The P7700 is a very good camera, but right away. Both with its fast lens and larger-than-average 1/1.7-inch image sensor, it can’t compete with our Editors’ Choice premium compact — the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 ($ 448.00 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window)—Which has a 1-inch sensor and sharper lens.
Design and Features
The P7700 measures 2.9 x 4.7 x 2 inches (HWD) and weighs a little about 13.9 ounces. Its dimensions aren’t too far from the Olympus XZ-2 ($469.95 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window)—That camera has a similar image sensor but a shorter zoom range and measures 2.6 x 4.4 x 1.9 inches and weighs 12.2 ounces. It also has a heated base, though one can accommodate an optional electronic viewfinder accessory — you’re limited to using the rear LCD to frame photos taken with the P7700.
Most 1/1.7-inch cameras offer a rather limited zoom range; starting at 24mm or 28mm and only extending to about 100mm is the norm for this type of camera. The P7700 has a zoom lens from 28-200mm with an aperture range of f/2-4. The only close analog camera capable of covering this field of view is the Canon PowerShot G15has a 28-140mm f/1.8-2.8 lens.
The rear LCD monitor is a design that can be rotated from the camera body to tilt up or down and can be folded flat against the camera to face outwards or inwards. It measures 3 inches and is incredibly sharp with 921k dots. There’s obviously no built-in viewfinder and no EVF, so folding it flat into the camera body won’t give you any way to frame the image correctly — that’s better than preserving Protect the LCD screen during transportation. The P7700 won’t even turn on for shooting when the LCD is closed to the camera body. The only other cameras in this class with an optical viewfinder are the G15, Canon PowerShot G1 Xand Fujifilm X10″. The second camera will be replaced by the just-announced Fujifilm X20, but will still be available at retail.
The P7700 has a control layout that will be familiar to anyone who’s shot with a P7000 or P7100 before, but there’s a crease that can upset you if you’re new to the series. Standard controls include front and rear control dials, just like the SLR, as well as a Mode dial, EV Compensation dial, Exposure Lock, and controls for adjusting Flash output, Self-timer, Focus area and Macro focus. There are also two programmable Function buttons — one on the top and one on the front of the camera.
The quirky control is a top-mounted wheel that lets you adjust certain settings by tapping its built-in trigger—it has a function that suppresses Image Quality, ISO, White Balance, Bracketing Exposure, My Shooting Menu, and Color Adjustment. The My Shooting menu gives you quick access to Metering, Drive, and AF settings. If you’re not familiar with the camera, you can look for these controls in other locations, but as you train your mind to use this dial, you’ll find it a bit quicker than scrolling through the screen on the normal screen to control these functions on other cameras.
Despite the rather high asking price, there are not many photographic functions that are not built into the camera. Samsung EX2F (at Amazon)(Opens in a new window) there’s built-in Wi-Fi, which isn’t even an extra feature for the P7700. You can use Eye-Fi memory card with the camera, and there’s also an additional module for GPS available for Nikon to meet the needs of the geotagger—but it costs $265.
Performance and Conclusion
Performance and Conclusion
The P7700 starts up and takes pictures in about 1.8 seconds, continuously records 6 shots per second, and records a shutter lag of 0.3 seconds. These aren’t the best in the world — a row of 6 Raw + JPG images requires 14.6 seconds to wait for all photos to be written to the memory card, a number that drops to 5.5 seconds when just taken in JPG . If you’re shooting in single shot mode, wait 3.4 seconds for Raw + JPG to write to the SanDisk 95MBps memory card and 1.8 seconds for the JPG file to write to the card — you won’t be able to use the camera photos during this period. The Olympus XZ-2 is faster — it boots up and shoots in 1.6 seconds, shoots continuously at 3 fps, and has a shutter lag of just 0.2 seconds.
I tested the sharpness of the new 28-200mm f/2-4 with Imatest(Opens in a new window). The P7100 is incredibly sharp at its widest aperture and focal length, 28mm f/2.8. The P7700 lags behind a bit, recording just 1,755 lines per image height at 28mm f/2 — just a bit short of the 1,800 lines needed for a sharp photo. This is largely due to edge performance, as the score is good in the middle of the frame — we use the center of gravity algorithm. If outstanding performance is important, you can drop down to f/2.8 when light allows — the lens produces a more impressive 1,935 lines at that setting. The Canon PowerShot G15 also has a fast lens — f/1.8 at 28mm — but doesn’t suffer from the same problems. It manages 1,918 lines at that setting. There is a noticeable 2.9 percent barrel distortion at the widest zoom setting, but this can be corrected through software or in-camera by enabling Distortion Control in the Shooting Menu.
Image noise is also measured using Imatest. Noise can harm image quality by making photos grainy and reducing the amount of fine details captured — it increases as you increase the camera’s light sensitivity, as measured by ISO. The P7700 keeps noise below 1.5 percent through ISO 3200, but image detail suffers at that setting when shooting JPGs. At ISO 1600, JPG files excel in noise control and detail. Shooting in Raw mode at ISO 3200 does a better job of capturing details, but introduces a surprising amount of noise. No matter what format you shoot in, the P7700 is best kept at ISO 1600 or below. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 has a physically larger sensor and better noise checking — that camera is significantly better than the P7700 in terms of noise and detail at ISO 1600 and 3200, but they work same at ISO 800 and below.
Video is recorded in 1080p30 quality in QuickTime format. By default, the camera does not autofocus while recording without manual intervention, but you can change this behavior through the menu system. Refocus is very fast and the video quality is generally excellent; it’s sharp, smooth and color accurate. The audio leaves a bit to be desired, as you can hear the lens move in and out as you zoom in on the background music — but there’s a standard microphone input port, allowing you to connect an external microphone if desired.
The P7700 is a very good camera with a few flaws. Its control layout is excellent, its image sensor works well through ISO 1600, and it has the longest zoom lens in its class. It’s not as fast as similar cameras — the timeout between taking a single shot is a bit annoying — and it doesn’t have an optical viewfinder like the Fujifilm X10. Its lens is fast, but not the sharpest wide-open, making the Canon PowerShot G15 — which has a slightly less ambitious 28-140mm f/1.8-2.8 zoom lens — a more appealing option for who don’t need a 200mm lens. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100, which has a larger 1-inch image sensor, remains the Editors’ Choice for compact camera enthusiasts, but it lacks a heatsink and articulating LCD and 28-100mm f/1.8-4.9 lens. does not match the P7700 in terms of range or speed at the telephoto end.
More reviews of digital cameras:
The Nikon Coolpix P7700 has the longest zoom lens of any point-and-shoot camera in its class, but it’s recommended to stop the lens down to increase sharpness.
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