Another year, another upgrade. Nikon have decided enough time has elapsed to look seriously at last year’s flagship model in the COOLPIX digital compact series, the P7000, and make a few significant alterations and additions to meet the needs of today’s serious pro-am photographers.
If you gave a cursory glance at the exterior you would be forgiven for thinking that not much has changed in the overall design. Unlike the major redesign from the P6000 to the P7000, Nikon obviously felt that there wasn’t too much basically wrong with the P7000′s essential features. At 395g, the P7100 is slightly heavier than its predecessor and it certainly feels a weighty, solid build that fits comfortably and firmly in the hand.
Scanning the front, you’ll notice exactly the same NIKKOR wide-angle 7.1x zoom lens which uses the identical 1/1.7-inch, 10 megapixel CCD image sensor as the P7000. The function button is also in the same place at bottom left but the new element is an extra command dial at the top of the hand grip. The layout across the top is virtually unchanged, too, with a six-operation dial (which includes bracketing, ISO and white balance), hot shoe, shooting mode dial, shutter and EV compensation. Unfortunately the power button remains tiny and recessed but the programmable Av/Tv button has now been substituted with a second function button to allow you to create even more presets.
Round the back it’s a similar picture, with all the controls preserved from the P7000 but with a slight reshuffle. The command dial has been moved close to the thumb rest and the AE-L / AF-L lock has been shifted sensibly away from the edge and closer to the display – otherwise, the AF adjust, the rotary multi-selector, review and menu buttons, etc., remain unaltered. The 3-inch 921k-dot LCD monitor, on the other hand, is now a tilting display to enable you to take photos from less accessible angles.
New effects mode
You can still shoot 720p HD movies (although the frame rate has reduced from 30fps to 24fps) and play them back on your HDTV using the HDMI port. RAW images can still be captured and all of the highlights from the last model (Low Noise Night Mode, the Virtual Horizon, neutral density filter, zoom memory and optical viewfinder) are in place. A new Effects mode has been added so you can now create moody shots using Cross Processing, Selective Colour, Painting and Defocus during exposure.
Performance in low light conditions was always impressive with the P7000 and results are equally as good with its successor. The one major improvement has been in the processing time when taking RAW pictures – previously you could wait up to 7 seconds before the operation was complete and that time has been chopped to a mere 1.5 seconds now.
With some online retailers offering the P7100 for just £359 (as opposed to the RRP of £499.99), this high performance digital compact would be hard to resist for both serious amateurs and DSLR pros wanting a decent back-up.
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- RAW processing speeds much faster
- Optical viewfinder still only gives 80% coverage
Nikon have sensibly retained all the best features of the P7000 and made sensible improvements to processing times, added a more flexible monitor and some extra effects, plus increased customised settings and rapid change options.