Nikon Coolpix P7100 Review
The Nikon Coolpix P7100 is a compact digital camera filled with features to satisfy advanced users. It is built around a 10 megapixels CCD sensor behind a 7X wide-angle optical zoom lens with built-in image stabilization. This camera has a full-set of manual-controls, including manual-focusing, custom white-balance, bracketing and image parameters. It has a number of positively high-end features like a hot-shoe, a digital-level, an optical-tunnel viewfinder, an ND filter and RAW capabilities. Its captures 720p HD video recording with stereo sound either from the built-in microphone or an external one audio source.
This model is designed with efficient photographic controls, including triple control-dials, a true mode-dial, a modal exposure-compensation dial and an exposure-lock button. It has customizable controls as well, including one that steps the zoom according to standard prime lens focal-lengths.
- 10 Megapixels CCD sensor
- 7X stabilized wide-angle optical zoom, equivalent to 28-200mm, F2.8/5.6 - 8
- ISO Sensitivity from 100 to 3200, expandable to 6400 at full-resolution or 12800 at 3 megapixels
- Shutter-speeds from 1/4000s to 60s
- Matrix, center-weighed and spot metering
- Program, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority and Manual exposure modes
- Exposure compensation, -3..+3 EV, 1/3 EV steps
- Flash compensation, -2..+2 EV, 1/3 EV steps
- Built-in 3-stop ND filter, manual or automatic
- White-balance: AutomaticStandard or Warm, 7 presetsDaylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, Cloudy, Flash, Kelvin & Custom3 Memories
- White-balance fine-tuning along 2 axis in 13 steps
- Standard, Vivid, Neutral or B&W color modes
- Adjustable Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, all in 7 steps
- AE Bracketing, max 5 frames, up to 1 EV steps of Shutter-Speed or ISO
- WB Bracketing, max 5 frames, 3 step sizes
- Focus-Drive: Auto, Manual or Infinity
- Focus-Point: Automatic, Manual, Tracking or Face-Detect
- 2 and 10s self-timer, with or without optional IR remote
- Interval Timer: 30s, 1m, 5m or 10m
- 1.2 FPS Continuous drive, 90 JPEG max
- JPEG, RAW & RAW+JPEG mode
- 1280x720 30 FPS 16:9 HD Movie mode
- Stereo microphone and stereo input jack
- Tiltable 3" LCD 920K Pixels, 96% coverage
- 1-Axis Digital-level
- Standard Hot-Shoe
- Triple Control-Dials
- Combined AE-L/AF-L button
- 2 Customizable function buttons
- Optical tunnel viewfinder, 64% coverage
- Optional Adaptive D-Lighting
- SDXC memory support
- Lithium-Ion battery
NOTE The Nikon Coolpix P7100 is nearly identical externally to the P7100 other than the third control-dial, so the first two pages of this review are largely taken from the P7000 review.
Suitability - What is it good for?
The Nikon P7100 is defined by a combination of size and flexibility. It is an advanced camera, yet it is much smaller than a DSLR or bridge-camera. It is therefore more likely to be taken places where the weight and visibility of a larger camera is problem. This not an ultra-compact though, so it can only be carried in the largest pockets, like those of a winter jacket. A small bag, waist-pouch or purse will easily do as well. Nikon supplies a neck-strap with this digital camera but its form-factor can be used equally well with a wrist-strap.
The 7X optical zoom lens has a range from 28mm to 200mm in 35mm-equivalent terms. The wide-end is suitable for landscape, typical interiors and not-too-large architecture. The telephoto-end affords enough working distance for street-photography and picking out details. Needless to say, portraits and general photography is well covered. The stabilization feature helps make the long-end usable, particularly with its limted maximum aperture of F/5.6, compared to F/2.8 at the wide-end. The 10 megapixels sensor permits sharp prints up to 13 x 19", at least at ISO sensitivities where noise is low. Smaller prints look even better with 12 x 9" prints possible at 300 DPI resolution.
This Coolpix is very well suited for creative photography and, although it does not support interchangeable lenses, accessory optics are available. The large shutter-speed range, which goes down to 60s at ISO 400 and below, can be used to photography light-trails or freeze action. At ISO 800, the minimum shutter-speed drops to 15s and it drops by 2 stops of shutter-speed for each stop of ISO above that. A built-in 3-stop ND filter allows the use of long shutter-speeds even when light is not that low. This way, you can capture longer light-trails of passing cars and blur-out people moving about.
Despite having a continuous mode, this digital camera is not suitable for action photography. There is an very poor optical tunnel viewfinder which makes it possible to keep up with action but this model shoots quite slowly in continuous mode, 1.2 FPS at best, and only if noise-reduction is not required by the ISO. Low light by itself though is not much a problem since the P7100 can use up to ISO 6400 at full-resolution.
There is a small built-in pop-up flash and a hot-shoe for using full-sized flashes. This allows the camera to be used for indoor photography when light is low and large prints are needed. Keep in mind that most flashes are heavier than the P7100, so the whole setup can get severely unbalanced. It would be more practical to use the hot-shoe for a wireless flash-trigger instead of an actual flash. This can result in better images as well at the expense of a slightly more complex setup.
Capability - What can it do?
Beyond the 10 megapixels sensor and 7X stabilized optical zoom, the Nikon Coolpix P7100 packs even more features than some entry-level DSLRs. Below is a list of its most useful features, followed by explanations, when required:
- PASM exposure modes
- Program-shift and 3 user-defined modes
- Ultra-low-light mode shoots up to ISO 12800 at 3 megapixels
- Auto and 17 selectablePortrait, Landscape, Sports, Night portrait, Party/Indoor, Beach, Snow, Sunset, Dusk/Dawn, Night Landscape, Close-Up, Food, Museum, Fireworkds, Copy, Backlighting and Panorama Assist scene-modes, including Panorama-Assist mode
- Exposure-compensation dial, -3..+3 stops in 1/3 EV increments
- Flash-compensation via menu, -2.+2 stops in 1/3 EV increments
- ConfigurableAE & AF Lock, AE Lock or AF Lock AE-L/AF-L button
- Triple control-dials, one in front, one under the thumb and one around the 4-way controller
- Single-shot, Continuous, BSS, Continuous-flash, Multi-shot 16 and Interval timer drive modes
- Single (AF-S) or continuous (AF-C) autofocus modes, available for images and video
- Self-timers, 2 & 10s with or without optional remote
- Front & back IR remote receivers
- Two level of normal noise-reduction
- Auto or forced long-exposure noise-reduction
- Quick or quiet zoom speed
- Optional Built-in AF-assist lamp
- Optional Pre-flash red-eye reduction
- Optional Active D-Lighting, 3 levels
- Optional compensation for barrel and pincushion distortion
- Optional 0.75X wide-angle converter, sold separately
- Optional built-in flash control
- Optional motion-detection
- Optional wind-noise reduction for video sound
- 2 Display modes with configurable display options: Histogram, Level or Grid
- Configurable stepped-zoom, jumps between standard prime focal-lengths
- Customizable menu for quicker access to some functions
The Program mode can be shifted via one of the control-dials to give the same exposure with different combinations of apertures and shutter-speeds. All 3 user modes can be independently set to various settings which include the exposure-mode (PASM), the display status (Info, Hide-Info, Off), the flash mode, the AF-area mode, the AF-assist status and, optionally, one of the standard prime focal-lengths. These settings remain when the camera is powered off. The strictly point-and-shoot Low-light mode, which is given its own position on the mode-dial shoots automatically between ISO 400 and 12800 but at a resolution of 3 megapixels.
Panorama-assist is the most genuinely useful scene mode. It helps line-up images of a panorama made of images taken in any direction. The images are taken with the same exposure settings and stored sequentially in their own folders, making identification of panorama shots immediately obvious. Nikon provides Arcsoft's Panorama Maker 5 to assemble the resulting images but it is particularly poor and does not seem to recognize multi-row panoramas.
The available drives modes are mostly standard for compact Nikon cameras. For those not familiar, BSS mode shoots a burst of up to 10 images continuously and saves the sharpest one. Multi-Shot 16 mode combines 16 ultra-low resolution images into a low-resolution one. The Interval Timer takes pictures at a set interval which can be set to 30 seconds, 1, 5 or 10 minutes. Shooting starts when the shutter is pressed once and stops when it is pressed again, unless the camera runs out of power or memory before that. Between shots the LCD is turned off to conserve power.
The zoom has two speeds, mostly to make it usable during video recording with the built-in microphone. The normal mode is fast while the quiet mode moves slower and therefore makes less noise. Otherwise, the built-in microphone records the sound of the lens zooming. There is also a wind-noise filter which can be enabled from the setup menu to help reduce the wind-noise recorded along with video. Motion-detection monitors movement and raises the ISO to freeze action if necessary.
Stepped-zoom works in conjunction with the Fn1 button on the front of the camera. It basically makes the zoom jumps between some preset focal-lengths which are taken from traditional 35mm prime lenses. There is really little reason to use this, as it does not make the lens prime-quality just because it is stopped at a particular focal-length. It is there mostly for nostalgia, we would guess.
Nikon P7100 Facts
|10 Megapixels Fixed Lens||ISO 100-6400|
|7.1X Wide Optical Zoom||Shutter 1/4000-60s|
|Built-in Stabilization||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|1 Axis Digital Level||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|1.2 FPS Drive, 90 Images||Spot-Metering|
|1280x720 @ 24 FPS Video Recording||Hot-Shoe|
|3" LCD 920K Pixels||Stereo audio input|
|Secure Digital Extended Capacity|
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