Nikon's P-range of COOLPIX cameras have long been at the top of the advanced compact market. The latest addition, the P7100, arrives with a new LCD screen, several design alterations and a host of 'under the hood' improvements. The question is, how does the camera perform when put to the WDC test? Read on to find out...

Product Overview

Overall rating:

90%
Overall score:90%
Value:90%
Performance:90%
Image Quality:90%
Features:90%
Design:90%

Pros:

  • Large vari-angle LCD screen, improved Raw capture speeds, great image quality

Cons:

  • High price-tag, lack of ground-breaking improvements

Product:

Nikon COOLPIX P7100 review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£450.00

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Photographers wanting the same advanced functionality and, to a certain extent, image quality as found in their DSLRs but without the bulk now have a host of options from which to choose. This has undoubtedly put pressure on the high end of the compact market, and area in which Nikon had previously excelled with its triple-figure P series of COOLPIX models. The latest incarnation, the P7100, promises to build upon the success of its predecessor and deliver advanced performance and excellent image quality in a relatively compact body – but does it deliver?











 

 

 

Nikon COOLPIX P7100 review – Features


Much of the inner workings of the P7100 remain the same as its P7000 predecessor. It features a 1/1.7in CCD sensor with a resolution of 10.1MP, maintaining the same pixel count as the P7000 (which itself had dropped from the P6000’s 13.5MP). The P7100’s sensor covers an ISO100-3200 range, with a Hi 1 setting equivalent to ISO 6400, and a new ‘Low noise night mode’ which ranges from ISO 400 up to ISO 12,800. The sensor is paired with Nikon’s EXPEED C2 processor that had previously debuted on the P7000 model. HD video capture is also facilitated with videos recorded at a resolution of 720p.



A 7.1x optical zoom comprised of Nikkor optics features, covering a comfortable focal range of 28-200mm with maximum apertures of f/2.8-5.6 at either end of the zoom, while shake reduction for the lens is provided in the form of Nikon’s lens-shift VR system.



One of the main standout features of the P7100 is the model’s LCD screen. The compact features a 3in, 921k-dot LCD screen which pulls away from the camera and pivots around a hinged vertical axis.

Internal changes are otherwise minimal. The camera’s characteristic full PASM controls remain, although these are now complemented with a set of one-click Effects which enhance images in post-production.



Other changes or improvements under the hood between the P7000 and P7100 are minimal. The camera’s characteristic full PASM controls remain, although these are now complimented with a set of special effects  – these include two mechanical shooting effects, namely the defocus during exposure and zoom exposure control, whilst several instant post-production effects also present.



Design and Performance

Nikon COOLPIX P7100 review – Design

While the P7000 represented a strong design change when
compared to the P6000, the latest model in the series simply features
design tweaks on its predecessor. The rear of the camera sees the
largest change with regards to the LCD. The screen’s the same
proportions and resolution as its predecessor, although it can now be
tilted about a horizontal axis around over 180°. While it’s good to be
able to tilt the LCD both up and down, you can’t help but feel that the
best implementation would have involved the hinge being placed on the
side of the camera and thus facilitating both horizontal and vertical
adjustment.

The front of the camera sees an addition in the form
of a new front command dial. The function of this can be alternated with
the command dial located on the rear, and between primary and secondary
functionality. Having the front command dial is useful and, when
combined with the new second ‘fn’ button and various other controls
housed around the P7100, you rarely need to enter any menu interface to
alter shooting settings.

Nikon COOLPIX P7100 Review – Performance

While the P7000
impressed in many departments, the area in which it really fell down was
in its Raw capture process. Despite a firmware update, the P7000 took
an eternity to process Raw files. While this obviously wasn’t an issue
to those who shoot solely JPEGs, the status of the P7000 as an advanced
compact meant that these users were probably in the minority, and as a
result most photographers would find the Raw processing times to be
unbearably long.

The good news is that P7100’s Raw processing
speed is improved thanks to the ‘evolved’ EXPEED C2 processor. It still
takes the camera nearly two seconds to clear the buffer, but the delay
hampers the capture process a lot less than before. The P7100’s LCD
screen is of a high resolution and copes well in difficult lighting
conditions. One of the benefits of having a tiltable LCD screen is that
the photographer can angle it to make it more visible in direct
lighting, as well as being able to shoot at high and low angles. This
LCD screen is accompanied by a viewfinder, complete with dioptre
adjustment, although the viewfinder itself only boasts 80% coverage
which means you’ll be losing a reasonable amount of the preview image
when framing.

With the addition of an extra control wheel on the
front of the camera, as well as several buttons having been shifted
around, the body of the P7100 feels a little crowded. There’s no denying
that having direct access to such a wide array of shooting controls can
be very beneficial at times, although it’s easy to knock buttons during
shooting and make adjustments when not wanted.

Image quality, value and verdict

Nikon COOLPIX P7100 review – Image quality

The Nikon P7100
performs very well with regards to image quality. In keeping the
megapixel count at 10.1MP, Nikon has managed to retain the good ISO
performance of the model’s predecessor. If you’re shooting in low light
conditions then you can feel confident shooting up to ISO 800 without
image noise becoming much of an issue, although any higher than this and
noise becomes more visible and will hinder image quality. If you choose
to shoot Raw, however, then softening caused by the JPEG
noise-reduction process is much less evident and will give you more
detail in your shot.

Nikon COOLPIX P7100 review full image sample gallery


On the whole, Raw capture is definitely the
preferred option, especially now that Nikon has improved the processing
speed. More vibrancy is maintained in colours, while a greater dynamic
range is also captured that offers more room for manoeuvre in
post-production.

Nikon COOLPIX P7100 review – Value

With a current street price of £450, the Nikon P7100 is
certainly not cheap. However, it’s only marginally more expensive than
its direct competitor – the Canon G12 – which has been on the market for
well over a year now, and with improvements to Raw processing the Nikon
looks good value.

Nikon COOLPIX P7100 review – Verdict

The previous P7000 was a great advanced compact, but it fell down with
its slow Raw capture speed. The P7100 manages to cut waiting time right
down and, although it’s still not the fastest on the market, it’s
definitely quicker. Other additions, including the tiltable LCD screen
and front control wheel, are welcome and improve the usability of the
camera, although others, such as the introduction of ‘Special Effects’,
bring little to the party. Overall, Nikon’s latest produces great images
and is an improvement over its predecessor but is far from
revolutionary.

Full Specification

Video:
720p HD
White Balance:
Auto, 8 preset, custom

Memory Card:
SD, SDHC, SDXC
LCD:
3in, 921k-dot vari-angle LCD

Sensor:
1/1.7in 10.1MP
Flash Modes:
Auto, red-eye, fill flash, manual, slow sync, rear curtain

Weight:
395g
Connectivity:
USB 2, HDMI mini, AV out

Exposure Modes:
PASM, Scene
Metering System:
Martic, center-weighted, spot

Power:
Li-ion EN-EL14
ISO Range:
100-6400 (400 – 12800 in low noise mode)

Lens:
28-200mm, f/2.8-5.6
Dimensions:
116 x 77 x 48mm

Shutter Speeds:
60 – 1/4000 sec
File Formats:
Raw, JPEG, MOV

  1. 1. Nikon COOLPIX P7100 review - Features
  2. 2. Design and Performance
  3. 3. Image quality, value and verdict
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