Nikon Coolpix P7000 Review

by on March 7, 2011

in Nikon

The Nikon Coolpix P7000 is a powerhouse of a point and shoot camera.  It sports a 10.1MP image sensor and a 7.1x optical zoom.  Along with a hot shoe for external flashes and the ability to capture 720p HD video, the P7000 offers a lot for the serious photographer who wants to travel light.

To see whether it’s the right serious compact camera for your serious camera bag, read on.

Nikon P7000 Key Features

  • 10.1MP 1/1.7-inch CCD image sensor
  • 720p HD video
  • 7.1x optical zoom (28-200mm equivalent)
  • Optical Vibration Reduction
  • ISO 100-6400 at full resolution (ISO 12800 at 3MP)
  • 3-inch 921k-dot resolution display
  • Optical viewfinder
  • RAW file capture
  • Hot shoe
  • External mic port

Handling, Ergonomics and Control

Like the Canon G12, the Nikon P7000 is a more substantial of a camera to handle than your typical point and shoot.  However, if you are looking for a typical point and shoot, then the P7000 really doesn’t enter into the equation for you anyway.

This is not a pocket camera – unless you are throwing it into a heavy coat pocket or large cargo shorts pockets.  That said, it’s still much smaller and convenient for all-day carry than a DSLR.  Additionally, the built-in lens, which retracts fully into the body, gives the P7000 a size advantage over the ever-shrinking “mirrorless” cameras out there (e.g., Olympus E-PL2, Sony NEX-5, etc.).

Unlike a lot of point and shoot cameras, the P7000 sports a proper rubberized grip along the right edge to give your “shooting hand” something to hold onto while working your magic.

Put your hands on the camera and you have a plethora of controls at your fingertips without the need to go menu diving.  On top of the camera, you get easy access to PASM shooting modes via a DSLR-like mode dial, which also offers user-customized modes and video capture mode.  Another handy dial is the dedicated exposure compensation dial, which lets you adjust +/- 3EV in one-third increments (a very handy and efficient dial).

Nikon incorporates a number of customizable settings into button/dial combo to the left of the camera’s hot shoe.  While this control took a bit to warm up to, I like the concept.  Need to adjust ISO?  Rotate dial to ISO, push center button and then choose your poison.  White balance, image quality and bracketing options, among others, can also be found in this hybrid dial.

Next to the large (and very nice) viewfinder on the back of the camera, you will find your typical array of menu, preview and info buttons, along with a 4-way controller button with an integrated scroll wheel.

The large scroll wheel is easily accessible via the right thumb and is the counterpart to a scroll wheel about an inch above it near the thumb pad.  I found this combo to be rather awkward for controlling some settings, and would have preferred to see the top scroll wheel located on the front grip in reach of the right forefinger (akin to Nikon’s DSLR scroll wheel placement).

A big downer with the P7000 is that it’s just a little slow.  Moving through the settings and shot-to-shot readiness in RAW capture mode just takes too long (no matter what SD card was used).  I really wanted to love this camera – because it has a lot going for it; however, the operation of the camera is just too sluggish to forgive.  This is particularly evident having grown accustomed to the speed at which the Canon G12 operates.  And the sluggish operation just became more irritating the longer I used it.  Hoping that perhaps there was a problem with my review unit, a brief search of other reviews for the P7000 confirms that this is a real problem.  Upgrading to firmware version 1.1 helped the RAW file shot-to-shot speed somewhat; however, the slow pace of changing the camera’s settings persisted.

Image Quality

As you would expect from a camera with a feature set like the P7000, images turn out quite well.  Even at higher ISOs, the P7000 delivers plenty of usable shots.  In fact, if you shoot in RAW format, you can get quite a bit of mileage out of the P7000′s high ISO files.

For a camera this size, I don’t really have any complaints about the images that come out of it.  If image quality were the sole measure, I’d be as happy to pack the P7000 as any other point and shoot model.  The ability to work in Nikon’s i-TTL system and make easy adjustments to exposure compensation adds to the creative control for your images.

Below you’ll find a few images that I captured with P7000.  I processed these as RAW files in Adobe Lightroom 3 and took the liberty to edit them as I saw fit based on my personal taste.

Feel free to download any of these sample images for your personal inspection (not for republication).  You can get the original files by right-clicking on any of the images and choosing “Save link as…”


ISO 100 – f/5.6 – 1/160s


ISO 100 – f/4 – 1/900s


ISO 100 – f/4.5 – 1/180s


ISO 100 – f/4 – 1/850s (28mm equivalent)


ISO 100 – f/5.6 – 1/320 (200mm equivalent)


ISO 100 – f/5.6 – 1/50s


ISO 167 – f/4 – 1/30s


ISO 100 – f/4.5 – 1/230s


ISO 100 – f/3.5 – 1/640s


ISO 100 – f/3.5 – 1/250s


ISO 100 – f/3.5 – 1/750s

ISO 100 – f/3.5 – HDR from 5 exposures


ISO 100 – f/5.6 – 2.3s


ISO 200 – f/5.6 – 1s


ISO 400 – f/5.6 – 0.6s


ISO 800 – f/5.6 – 1/4s


ISO 1600 – f/5.6 – 1/7s


ISO 3200 – f/5.6 – 1/13s


ISO 6400 – f/5.6 – 1/25s

Accessories

Nikon EN-EL14 Battery – The Nikon P7000 comes with one of these rechargeable lithium-ion batteries; however, if you’re going to be away from power for an extended period, you can pick up spares.

Lexar Platinum SDHC Card – Nikon recommends using a Class 6 or higher SD card with the P7000.  While the P7000 will definitely benefit from using a faster card, don’t feel like you need to purchase the fastest of the fast cards.  The Lexar Platinum series is a good mix of speed and price for the Nikon P7000.  Again, any SDHC or SDXC card with a Class 6 or higher rating will allow you to record uninterrupted video.  You can read more about the types and speed classes of memory cards available in my reference article, Demystifying SD Cards.

Nikon SB-400 Speedlight – A basic bounce flash, which is really all you need with the P7000.

Nikon SB-700 Speedlight – If you want more power and features in you flash, then you could step up to this flash.  Note, however, that it will also add some bulk to your setup.

Memory card reader – If you don’t own a memory card reader, they make transferring images to your computer a world faster. I highly recommend picking one up with the P7000. They’re cheap and big time saver.

Fantasea Underwater Housing – If you’re into SCUBA or snorkeling, this is a pretty cool little underwater case from Fantasea that’s rated up to 200′.  It even has a hot shoe adapter for underwater strobes.

Conclusions

There is a lot to like about the Nikon P7000.  However, the overall speed of operation is a pretty big hump to get over.  If you have a bag full of Nikon gear, the P7000 may be easier to justify (particularly so, if you want to make use of your Nikon Speedlights).

When it comes to image quality, the P7000 can hold its own against the best of the advanced point and shoot cameras.  The overall design and feature set of the P7000 is solid, but it’s not quite enough to make up for the sluggish operation.  As a result, I would have to recommend that prospective purchasers look toward the Canon G12 unless you have a specific reason for adding the camera to an existing Nikon system.

Hopefully, Nikon will pack more processing horsepower in the eventual P7000 replacement.  As it stands now, that’s all it really needs to go from good to great.

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{ 4 comments }

1 fgbrault March 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Thanks. This is an excellent and fair review. I have found my P7000 with 1.1, RAW fast enough for my needs. I do wish the info on the screen displayed faster. I don’t own a Nikon DSLR. The reason I chose the P7000 rather than the G12 was the extra focal length on the long end. Also, the retractable lens was a factor. Closed the P7000 fits nto a pocket better than my Panasonic LX3, due to its having less width, when you take into consideration the protruding len of the LX3. I can even ‘squeeze’ it into a jeans pocket.

Regards,
Frank B

2 Tom Franzson March 11, 2011 at 8:12 am

Let’s not overlook the remote,although, limited to just one exposure, it is a nice feature. I totally enjoy, and use my p7000 as much as my D200.
Tom Franzson
Purchased on-line at B&H

3 CARL KOSLOWSKI March 11, 2011 at 9:38 am

Really excellent picture quality even upt to 800 iso usable, but too slow operation. It’s a P&W&S&W-camera ( Point and wait and shoot and wait!) In addition I had some severe problems with the lid in front of the lens, not opening the whole way. Costed a lot ot good snapshots, which I missed, trying to open the lid cautiously. Happened three times and got two times to Nikon for repair- finally with no result! So I returned it to the shop. I heard from some other people with the same experience. A pitty!

4 kelsci March 11, 2011 at 10:57 pm

I downloaded some videos that were made with this camera on youtube. I felt that the video quality was quite good, in fact better than average against other various point and shoot units and even up to snuff with some camcorders. Where it did excell was in the recorded stereo sound. From what I downloaded and in one particular case a steamshovel at work the stereo imaging was precise and the fidelity of the audio was one of the best. The picstures that I saw in this report looked quite good. If I were in the mood to buy a camera, I would defintely go for this unit since I do like to shoot videos and I am an audio advocate for good stereo sound. I also like the fact that this camera has a jack for an external mic for the simple reason that I have an external stereo mike of excellent quality that I purchased from Radio Shack during the mid 1980s that has giving me wonderful stereo sound and fielity when I used it with vhs linear stereo and hi-fi portables out in the field.

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