Nikon Coolpix P7700 - The Ultimate Enthusiast Compact?

12/8/2012 9:18:16 AM

The explosion of Compact System Cameras over the past few years led many to believe the days of enthusiast compacts were drawing to a close. If anything, the emergence of such systems has only reignited interest in high performance, pocket-friendly cameras, with revised sensors, brighter optics and evolutionary increases in functionality helping to keep the format alive.

The CoolPix P7700 is one of the most recent additions to the pool, and its key changes are likely to please and displease the target market in equal measure. Next to the P7100 it replaces, the camera’s resolution has jumped from 10.1MP to 12.4MP (with a switch from CCD to CMOS too), while the 720p video mode seen previously has now been upgraded to the full HD 1080p standard. The camera also takes a significant leap with its burst shooting, from a paltry 1.3fps on the P7100 to a far more capable 8fps here.

Nikon Coolpix P7700

The 28-200mm lens has also seen its maximum aperture broadened, from f/2.8-5.6 before to f/2-4 here, although, presumably in order to make the lens brighter, the camera has lost its viewfinder, leaving the 3in LCD which now offers greater flexibility through a side pivot as the only means of composing and reviewing images.

Nikon hasn’t deviated too greatly from the P7100 feature set for the remainder of the camera’s functionality, with the same combination of Raw capture and full manual exposure control, as well as a neutral density filter integrated into the optic, together with options for controlling lens distortion and noise reduction available through the menu. An exposure compensation dial is also joined by two customizable Fn buttons, with three spaces on the mode dial reserved for User Definable settings.


The camera is considerably more lightweight than its magnesium alloy shell may suggest, with a liberally rubbered grip topped with a small but freely rotating command dial, and metal dials on the top plate lending it an air of solidity. The abundance of physical controls (particularly on the rear) is no doubt preferable to the menu-based system of selecting functions, and it’s welcome to see the exposure compensation dial being stiff enough for accidental turning to be minimized. The menu pad, however, on which the thumb naturally rests when the camera is held, presses easily enough into the body for it to be accidentally keyed.


With the viewfinder gone, it comes as some comfort that the LCD screen is as excellent a performer as it is. Clear, bright and fluid in its reproduction, its only failing of being marginally more difficult to view in harsher light is mitigated by its articulation. Its pleasing performance is helped by a clear and fresh menu system, which does away with abbreviations and instead concentrates on providing a well-rounded set of options befitting the enthusiast user.

The average start-up time is bearable, but the less than average write times are considerably less tolerable. Even with a relatively fast memory card loaded, the camera can take a good four seconds to return to being fully operational once a Raw image, or simultaneous combination of Raw and JPEG, has been captured. While it’s certainly true that the P7100 is hardly alone in having processing speeds that can’t keep up with processing images captured at their finest setting, for the Raw-shooting target market this is likely to be nevertheless disappointing.

The focusing system is perfectly fine for a contrast-detect system, although it’s noticeably slower than those on recent Compact System Cameras. What’s perhaps more of an issue is the Auto focusing pattern’s lack of intuition when asked to find the key element in a scene, making intervention with one of the other options often necessary.

Colors could do with a push but sharpness is very good in JPEGs

Colors could do with a push but sharpness is very good in JPEGs

Image quality

Despite its performance related complications, the P7700’s image quality is high. The metering system seems unwilling to stray too far from accuracy, and situations in which many other cameras would naturally underexposure are no bother, although occasional overexposure can lower contrast.

The Auto White Balance system is excellent in natural light, but it is its ability to render scenes lit with artificial sources without any unsightly color casts that impresses the most. In fact, it’s a little too good here, as it often chooses to remove some of the natural character of the light to retain a neutrality, with colors in general leaning towards natural rather than optimized tones.

Barrel and pincushion distortion exist respectively at the wide and telephoto ends of the lens, which is barely surprising given its focal range, although this is very low (and the Distortion Control feature visibly reduces this). Texture from noise is visible on all sensitivities, but it’s lower than expected at the higher tiers of the ISO scale, while JPEG sharpness is appropriate enough to bring out fine details without creating any artefacts.

The camera’s ability to retain detail over the sensitivity range is impressive, with a steady reduction as the sensitivity is raised to ISO 800. ISO 1600 appears to be the point at which details visibly break down, and by ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 this is compromised further still

The camera’s ability to retain detail over the sensitivity range is impressive, with a steady reduction as the sensitivity is raised to ISO 800. ISO 1600 appears to be the point at which details visibly break down, and by ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 this is compromised further still


The P7700 is a superb compact, one that’s only really compromised by slow Raw write times and minor handling issues. While its image quality cannot match that of larger-sensor Compact System Cameras, it’s not far behind. Indeed, a slight trade-off with image quality may be a worthwhile sacrifice when the benefits of a packetable camera with a 7.1x zoom range are considered.


Price: $737.5

Key specs

·         Sensor: 12.2MP 1/1.7in CMOS type

·         Lens: 28-200mm f/2.4

·         File formats; JPEG, RAW (NRW Format), RAW + JPEG, MOV

·         ISO: 80-1600 (expandable to ISO 6400 equivalent)

·         Exposure modes: PASM, Auto, 19 scene

·         Movie mode: 1920 x 1080 (30FPS)

·         Screen: 3in TFT LCD, 921K Dots, side articulation

·         Weight: 392g

·         Dimensions: 118.5 x 72.5 x 50.4mm

Pros – Overall image quality

·         Light yet sturdy

·         Excellent LCD screen

·         Effective Distortion Control feature

Cons – Raw write times which slow down operation

·         Auto AF area not always as intuitive as required

Features: 19

Performance: 17

Design: 19

Image quality: 18

Value: 17

WDC test score: 90%


Top 10
SG50 Ferrari F12berlinetta : Prancing Horse for Lion City's 50th
The latest Audi TT : New angles for TT
Era of million-dollar luxury cars
Game Review : Hearthstone - Blackrock Mountain
Game Review : Battlefield Hardline
Google Chromecast
Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 3) - Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air 2
Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 2) - Zagg Slim Book for iPad Air 2
Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 1) - Belkin Qode Ultimate Pro Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2
Michael Kors Designs Stylish Tech Products for Women
- First look: Apple Watch

- 3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cell Phone Battery (part 1)

- 3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cell Phone Battery (part 2)
Popular Tags
Video Tutorail Microsoft Access Microsoft Excel Microsoft OneNote Microsoft PowerPoint Microsoft Project Microsoft Visio Microsoft Word Active Directory Exchange Server Sharepoint Sql Server Windows Server 2008 Windows Server 2012 Windows 7 Windows 8 Adobe Flash Professional Dreamweaver Adobe Illustrator Adobe Photoshop CorelDRAW X5 CorelDraw 10 windows Phone 7 windows Phone 8 Iphone