Nikon Coolpix P7000 Review
Originally Posted: January 13, 2011
Last Updated: March 18, 2011
The Coolpix P7000 ($499 MSRP) is Nikon's flagship compact camera. It features a larger-than-average 10 Megapixel CCD, a 7.1X (28 - 200 mm) lens with image stabilization, a large and sharp 3-inch LCD, full manual controls, plenty of optional accessories, and HD movie recording.
If you keep up with this category, then you'll instantly recognize what camera they're going after with the P7000. Yes, it's none other than the Canon PowerShot G12. The P7000 is a near-copy of Canon's popular PowerShot, with the most significant differences being the more powerful lens on the P7000 and the rotating LCD on the G12. Since many people will be comparing these two models, I figured that I should put together a little chart for you, so here you go:
As you can see, each camera has its own advantages. The G12 has the rotating LCD, closer macro distance, underwater case support, and slightly better battery life. The P7000 has a more powerful lens, a sharper LCD, wider ISO and shutter speed ranges, and support for an external mic. We'll see how the photo quality matches up later in this article.
And with that, it's time to get started with our review of the Nikon Coolpix P7000!
What's in the Box?
The Coolpix P7000 has a bundle which is slightly better than average. Here's what you'll find when you open the box:
- The 10.1 effective Megapixel Coolpix P7000 digital camera
- EN-EL14 lithium-ion rechargeable battery
- Battery charger
- Shoulder strap
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- CD-ROM featuring Coolpix Software Suite
- 225 page camera manual (printed)
The Coolpix P7000 has 79 MB of memory built right into it, which is quite a bit for a compact camera. Don't get too excited, though, as that will only hold 16 high quality JPEGs (and just a handful of RAM images), so you'll want to buy a memory card right away. The P7000 can use SD, SDHC, or SDXC cards, and I'd recommend picking up a 2GB or 4GB card. If you'll be taking a lot of HD videos, then a high speed (Class 6 or higher) card is recommended.
The P7000 uses the new EN-EL14 lithium-ion battery, which is also used by the D3100 digital SLR. This battery holds 7.4 Wh of energy, which is quite a bit for a compact camera. Let's see how that translates into battery life:
The Coolpix P7000 is one of a very select group of cameras, all of which have wide-angle lenses, high sensitivity sensors, and manual controls. In this group, the P7000's battery life is just a bit above average.
As with every other camera in the table above, the Coolpix P7000's battery is proprietary. That mean that spares will be expensive, with an extra EN-EL14 setting you back around $28. In addition, should that battery run dry, you can't pick up something "off the shelf" to get you through the rest of the day. That's just how it is with most cameras these days!
When it's time to charge the battery, just pop it into the included charger. It takes the charger roughly 90 minutes to fully charge the EN-EL14 battery. This is my favorite type of charger, as it plugs directly into the wall socket -- at least in the U.S.
The P7000's optional wide-angle lens
Photo courtesy of Nikon USA
The Coolpix P7000 has a pretty nice set of accessories for a fixed-lens camera. Here's the full list:
Nothing's really inexpensive, but the P7000 does have a good selection of add-ons available!
Let's move onto software now.
There are three main software products included with the Coolpix P7000. The first you'll probably encounter is Nikon Transfer 2, which is used to copy photos from the camera to your Mac or PC. In addition to copying images to a set location, you can also have it send them to a backup folder or uploaded to Nikon's myPicturetown online service.
Nikon ViewNX 2
Once that's done, you'll find yourself in Nikon ViewNX 2, which has finally received some real editing tools. The main screen should look familiar -- it's like every other photo browser these days. Here you can e-mail, print, geo-tag, or view a slideshow of your photos. You can also upload them to the aforementioned My Picturetown service.
Editing in ViewNX 2
On the editing screen you can manipulate both JPEG and (finally) RAW images. You can adjust things like sharpness/contrast/brightness/and color, brighten shadows, straighten a crooked photo, remove redeye, or reduce chromatic aberrations. If it's a RAW file you're working with, you can also adjust the exposure and white balance. The only real complaint I have is that it takes forever for RAW adjustments to take effect, and I have a very fast computer. ViewNX 2 also has a movie editor built in. You can put clips into a timeline, remove unwanted footage, add transitions, and then save the results as a new video.
Something else you can use for RAW editing (and more) is Nikon Capture NX2 (priced from $137). This software lets you edit many common RAW properties, and it's unique "U Point" controls take a different approach toward image retouching than what you might be used to. You can select a spot in the image that you want to retouch, select the radius of the area that will be affected, and then adjust things like brightness, contrast, and saturation for that area. You can do the same for things like D-Lighting, noise reduction, and unsharp mask. You can learn more about this software at Nikon's website.
If you own Adobe Photoshop CS5, you can also use its Camera Raw plug-in (version 6.3 or newer) to edit the P7000's RAW images.
So what is RAW, anyway? The RAW image format stores unprocessed data from the camera's sensor. Thanks to this, you can adjust all kinds of image properties without degrading the quality of the image. The downsides of the RAW format are that 1) the file sizes are significantly larger than JPEGs, 2) camera performance is slower, and 3) you must post-process each image on your computer in order to convert it to a standard image format (though the camera does have a built-in RAW editor). A fourth caveat is that Nikon uses a Microsoft-developed format called NRW that may not be supported by some third party RAW editors.
The P7000 borrows a lot from the PowerShot G12, but one thing Nikon did differently was include a full, printed manual in the box. While the manual does have more than its share of "notes" on each page, it's still easier to read than most camera manuals. If you've got a question about the P7000, it'll probably be answered somewhere within the 225 pages of this book. Documentation for the software bundle is installed onto your Mac or PC.