DCRP

Nikon Coolpix P7700 Review

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor

Originally Posted: December 1, 2012

Last Updated: December 2, 2012

The Coolpix P7700 ($499) is Nikon's flagship compact camera, and the replacement to last year's P7100. In a way, Nikon has done the same thing with the P7700 that Canon did with their PowerShot G15: improved the lens, bumped up the resolution (for both stills and movies), and removed a popular feature (the G15 lost its rotating LCD, while the P7700 no longer has an optical viewfinder). While the Coolpix P7700 has the same 28 - 200 mm range as the P7000 and P7100, its lens is much "faster", with a maximum aperture range of F2.0 - F4.0. This means that more light comes through the lens, letting you use faster shutter speeds, and hopefully a lower ISO sensitivity. Bottom line: better image quality in low light.

Other features include a 12.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor, a boatload of manual controls, 8 frame/second continuous shooting, built-in wireless flash control, Full HD video recording, and support for a wide variety of accessories. Oh, and you like dials, the Coolpix P7700 is your camera, as it has plenty!

The full list of changes between last year's Coolpix P7100 and the new P7700 can be found in the following table:

  Coolpix P7100 Coolpix P7700
Sensor size / type 1/1.7" CCD 1/1.7" CMOS
Sensor resolution (effective) 10.1 MP 12.2 MP
Lens max aperture range F2.8 - F5.6 F2.0 - F4.0
Lens focal range (zoom ratio) 28 - 200 mm (7.1X)
LCD size/resolution 3.0" / 921,000 pixel
LCD resolution Tilting Rotating
Optical viewfinder Yes No
ISO range (full res) 100 - 6400 80 - 6400
Burst rate (full res) 1.2 frames/sec 8.0 frames/sec
Flash working range (Auto ISO) 0.3 - 9.0 m (W)
0.3 - 4.5 m (T)
0.5 - 10.0 m (W)
0.5 - 5.5 m (T)
Max movie resolution (frame rate) 1280 x 720 (30 fps) 1920 x 1080 (30 fps)
Manual controls in movie mode No Yes
High speed movies No Yes
External mic input No Yes
Built-in memory 94 MB 86 MB
Battery used EN-EL14
Battery life (CIPA standard) 350 shots 330 shots
Dimensions 4.6 X 3.1 X 1.9 in. 4.7 x 2.9 x 2.0 in.
Weight (loaded) 395 g 392 g

If you don't mind the loss of the optical viewfinder, then the Coolpix P7700 is a very nice upgrade over the P7100 that came before it. We'll see if performance -- something that has plagued past P6000/7000 series models -- has improved later in the review.

And on that note, let's get started with our review of the Nikon Coolpix P7700!

What's in the Box?

The Coolpix P7700 has a pretty standard bundle for a camera in the year 2012. Here's what you'll find when you open the box:

  • The 12.2 effective Megapixel Coolpix P7700 digital camera
  • EN-EL14 lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Lens cap
  • Shoulder strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Nikon ViewNX 2
  • 32 page Quick Start Guide (printed) + Reference Manual (on CD-ROM)

Nikon has built 86MB of memory into the Coolpix P7700. That won't hold very many photos (especially if RAW is involved), so you're going to want to buy a memory card right away, assuming that you don't have one already. The P7700 uses SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards, and I'd recommend a 4GB card if you'll mostly be taking stills, and an 8GB or 16GB card if Full HD video is more your thing. Buying a high speed card (Class 6 or higher) is recommended for best camera performance.

The Coolpix P7700 uses the same EN-EL14 lithium-ion battery that's used on several other Nikon cameras. This battery holds 7.6 Wh of energy, which pretty good for a compact camera. Here's how that translates into battery life:

Camera Battery life
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot G15 350 shots NB-10L
Fujifilm X10 270 shots NP-50
Nikon Coolpix P7700 330 shots EN-EL14
Olympus Stylus XZ-2 iHS 310 shots Li-90B
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 330 shots DMW-BCJ13
Samsung EX2F 240 shots SLB-10A
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 330 shots NP-BX1

Battery life numbers are provided by the camera manufacturer

While its numbers are down slightly compared to the Coolpix P7100 that came before it, the P7700's numbers are still well above the group average. Should want to pick up a spare EN-EL14 battery, one with a Nikon label will set you back around $38.

When you run out of juice, just pop the EN-EL14 into the included charger. This charger, which plugs right into the wall, takes just 90 minutes to "fill up" the battery.

As with all D-SLRs, the sky's the limit when it comes it comes to accessories on the Coolpix P7700. Here are some of the most important ones:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
External flash

SB-400
SB-700
SB-910

From $112
From $279
From $539
Get more flash power and less of a chance of redeye with these Speedlights. The SB-400 is a basic model that doesn't tilt or rotate. The higher-end models do that and can also serve as wireless masters.
Lens hood HN-CP17 From $40 Reduces flare when shooting outdoors and also supports 58 mm filters.
Wired remote control MC-DC2 From $25 A shutter release button on a 3.3 foot long cord. Handy for when you don't want to risk bumping the camera.
Wireless remote ML-L3 From $17 You can also release the shutter remotely with this infrared remote.
Stereo microphone ME-1 From $159 Record high quality stereo sound when recording movies.
GPS unit GP-1 From $195 Add location data to your photos, automatically.
AC adapter EH-5b
EP-5A

From $79
From $38

Power your camera without draining the battery. You need BOTH of these expensive parts!
* Prices were accurate at time of publication

I should add that you don't need the lens hood in order to use a filter on the Coolpix P7700. The lens itself is threaded for 40.5 mm filters, and Nikon makes an MC protector (they call it a neutral color filter) that you can use to protect your lens. I see no reason why other types of filters wouldn't work equally well.

Bundled software includes Nikon Transfer, ViewNX 2, and Short Movie Creator (all three are for both Mac and Windows). Nikon Transfer does just as it sounds -- it moves your photos and movies from the camera to your PC. ViewNX 2 is a pretty standard image organizer, with a good set of editing tools for both JPEG and 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. Unfortunately, RAW editing is very slow, even on the 12-core Mac Pro that I have in my office.

If you'd prefer to use Adobe Photoshop for your RAW editing, then just make sure that you have the latest version of the Camera Raw plug-in.

The ViewNX software can also be used to edit videos produced by the Coolpix P7700. Also included is something called Short Movie Creator, and I think Nikon can explain what it does better than me, so here goes. "Short Movie Creator analyzes the registered source files and automatically edits the movie based on the settings that you apply." I haven't tried it, instead using Final Cut Pro to work with the P7700's videos.

Unfortunately, Nikon is keeping up with most of the other camera manufacturers by splitting the P7700's documentation into two parts. Inside the box is a 32 page "Quick Start Guide" which provides just enough information to get you up and running. For more detail, you'll have to view the full manual, which is in PDF format on an included CD-ROM. The full manual should answer almost any question you might have about the camera, though you'll have to wade through a lot of "notes" and fine print to find what you're looking for. Instructions for using the bundled software are installed onto your computer.