We shot with the Coolpix P7000 at a high school reunion (great for people pictures) as well as indoors and out, capturing stills for the most part, and some videos.
Using the P7000 is as easy or complex as you’d like. We started off in Auto with resolution set at 3648 x 2736 pixels (Fine) JPEG (RAW is also available). As usual, we moved through the dial using manual options where appropriate. One thing bothered us right off the bat: There is no burst mode in Auto. You have to take single shots. Granted, you can move into P or any other manual mode, hit menu, scroll through it to Continuous, and click away. Unfortunately, it’s not worth the bother as this camera tends to move like molasses in Vermont during January. It’s not glacially slow, but at 1.3 fps don’t expect to catch speedy subjects with any sort of sharpness. Even a cat sauntering by was blurry. Not to say the PowerShot G12 is any sort of speed demon at 2 frames per second. Simply stated, compact digicams like this one, the G12, Panasonic LX5, Samsung TL500 and Olympus XZ-1 do not have enough processing power to crank off the 3 fps of even the cheapest DSLR or a compact interchangeable lens camera. We had our issues with the PEN E-PL1, but it was good for 3 fps. The Sony NEX-3 hit 7 fps. Such is life. Back to the P7000.
Photos taken at the reunion were primarily with flash, and the camera handled faces well. A large group shot taken in a fluorescent-lit library had the classic green cast in Auto, but a quick change of the white balance handled that. It’s no surprise the P7000 takes solid images of anything with a reasonable amount of available light. Macro close-ups of flowers taken in a sunny room were excellent. Overall, the results looked good and natural. It’s hard to state whether they’re “better” than the G12, since PowerShots are more vivid (which we prefer but that’s strictly a matter of personal taste). Another plus for the P7000 is its 5-way VR (Vibration Reduction) system which does an excellent job of reducing blur at slower shutter speeds.
We put the camera through our usual ISO test in available light, and found the images to be practically noise free up to ISO 400. The next steps to 800 and 1600 were surprisingly good, but quality fell off the cliff at 3200 with 6400 a serious mess. Stepping back and realizing we were shooting a compact digicam, not a DSLR, the results were impressive. We recently used the Nikon S8100 with a 12.1MP CMOS sensor, and the difference at high ISOs was very noticeable with the CMOS chip delivering cleaner files, especially at ISO 3200. That said if you keep the ISO at 800 or below, you’ll like what the P7000 captures. The Low Noise Night mode is another option for capturing images in challenging situations, such as a candlelit scene. We shot a lit candle in a dark room using this setting as well as just adjusting the ISO in Program at higher resolution. The results, as far as we were concerned, leaned heavily against Low Noise. Detail just wasn’t there and the camera had trouble grabbing focus. If you buy this digicam, stick to the main modes.
The Nikon Coolpix P7000 takes 720p videos at 24 frames per second. This is barely high-def, but if you’re not showing them on a 50-inch screen, they’ll suffice. The optical zoom works when you’re in Movie mode, which is a real positive along with the stereo sound.
Just as we wrote in our review of the Canon PowerShot G12, cameras like the P7000 used to be slam-dunk recommendations. But that was before the PEN and NEX models arrived. Granted, you’ll pay more for models like the new E-PL2 and NEX5, but you have the option of interchangeable lenses in relatively small bodies. Plus they deliver very good picture quality and much faster response. It’s hard to take issue with the P7000’s quality 10-megapixel images and a 7.1x wide-angle lens, and yet we’re reticent to go all in. The P7000 goes for around $449 at legit online retailers, but so does the older Olympus PEN E-PL1 with a 3x 28-84mm lens. Nikon’s top-of-the-line point-and-shoot is a great choice for the methodical photographer who loves taking shots of static subjects. If you’re aware of those limitations and go in with your eyes wide open, by all means proceed. But definitely consider a compact interchangeable lens camera if your budget can handle it. Times have changed.
- Very good, accurate photos
- Tweaks galore
- Good zoom range
- Top-notch LCD screen
- Relatively expensive
- Very slow response (1.3 fps)
- Sub-par movie performance