Nikon Coolpix P7700 review

Features

Like most of its competitors, the Coolpix P7700 uses a 1/1.7in (7.6x5.7mm), 12.2-million-pixel CMOS sensor. However, while competing cameras use what is, on paper at least, a similar sensor, there can still be big differences in how images are processed, and don't forget that the lens is a huge factor when it comes to image quality.

Although the 6-42.8mm (28-200mm equivalent) focal length remains from the P7100, the maximum aperture range of the lens has been increased from f/2.8-5.6 in the earlier model to f/2-4 in the P7700. The lens is therefore 1EV brighter when using the 200mm equivalent setting, which should help to reduce camera shake when shooting telephoto images. The f/2 setting at the widest focal lengths should also prove beneficial when shooting in low light.

Another new improvement to the lens is the adoption of a filter thread. This 40.5mm thread allows optical filters to be screwed directly onto the end of the lens without the need for additional adapters or tubes. There is also a screw thread with a removable cover set around the base of the lens barrel, but Nikon does not list any optional adapter rings to use with this, so there are no conversion lenses either. It would seem this protective cover simply unscrews to ensure the lens is able to retract completely into the camera body when certain 40.5mm filters or step-up rings are attached. There is also no option in the camera menu to select the use of any adapter lenses, so it would seem that Nikon is giving with one hand and taking away with the other. That said, I think that most photographers in the market for this camera would prefer the 40.5mm filter thread to the adapter tube system.

Despite the change in sensor, and unlike some of its competitors, the maximum sensitivity of the P7700 remains at IS0 6400, although the minimum setting has been slightly improved to ISO 80 rather than ISO 100. The decision not to make dramatic changes to the resolution and sensitivity in compact cameras is a sensible one. Smaller, incremental changes are far less likely to affect image quality, which is easy to compromise on cameras with smaller imaging sensors.

Other new features include an 8fps shooting rate, although the processing power could still do with an increase. It takes around 4secs from shooting a raw+JPEG image to being able to take another. That said, the P7700 is still a big improvement over the original P7000, which we found to be extremely sluggish.

Wireless flash control is now possible using the P7700's built-in, pop-up flash as a commander, and the camera is now compatible with Nikon's GP-1 GPS unit, which should only add to its popularity as a travel camera.

One feature that is missing, though, is built-in Wi-Fi capability. However, the P7700 is compatible with Eye-Fi cards, and the use of one will make it possible to send images from the camera to a computer or smart device.

A big change that is bound to divide opinion is the removal of the optical viewfinder. Although occasionally useful, the viewfinder on the previous models was so small that I really don't see it as much of a loss. It is surprising, though, that its removal has not really had much of an impact on the camera's size and weight, as the Coolpix P7700 is the largest advanced compact camera currently available on the market.