In this article I want to talk about the Nikon Coolpix P7700 and why I found this camera a great option for advanced photographers. The P7700 belongs to the high-end compacts category. This camera was designed to allow plenty of manual controls and high quality optics to match the demands of enthusiast photographers. On the other hand, those types of camera suffer high competition from large-sensor compact (ie. Sony RX100), because they utilize a smaller sensor. In the case of the P7700, it’s a relatively small sensor (compare to 1″ or ASP-C), but larger than 1/2.33″ sensors that you can find on many P&S cameras.
The Nikon P7700 replaced the P7100 which was a very good camera, but was behind the competition in some areas. The P7700 features a 12MP BSI-CMOS sensor, a 28-200mm (35mm) f2-4 lens, capable of shooting 1080p30 Full HD videos and can shoot at 8 fps in burst mode. This is just the tip of the ice of course, and in this article I want to dig deeper and let you know the P7700 from up close.
Who is the P7700 For?
Before we start investigating the P7700 in more details, you probably asking yourself, who is the target market for this camera? – Well, the Nikon P7700 was designed for advanced photographers who aren’t fully satisfied with their P&S camera capabilities and they feel the need for a more advanced camera to unleash their creativity. Furthermore, those people might prefer buying a camera with a fixed lens, rather than buying into a Compact System Camera and invest in interchangeable lenses. In fact, those who need to use some special lenses (e.g. 1:1 macro, telephoto-zoom, ultra wide angle) will certainly go with a CSC or DSLR.
The P7700 was designed for those who want better image quality, manual controls, fast operation and high quality optics. You get all that in the Nikon P7700. The P7700 is also a great compact travel camera. A camera that is capable of delivering excellent image quality under various lighting conditions.
So in short, those type of high-end compact sits between large-sensor compacts and conventional P&S cameras. They have a fixed lens (can’t change lenses), and they host the latest technology innovation and high optics for very high image quality and video output. Those cameras also allow you to shoot in Raw format, which gives you more room for creative freedom when editing your photos in photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop.
Every camera has some features that a specific camera was built upon them and those are being emphasized in order to attract buyers. They Nikon P7700 has several key features that I want to talk about :
- The Lens
- The Sensor
- The LCD
- Manual Controls
Nikon P7700 Lens
The lens is probably one of the most important elements in a digital camera, which is directly responsible for how good the image quality will turn out to be. The combination of high quality sensor, image processor and lens will result in better looking photographs.
The Nikon P7700 features a 7.1x zoom 28-200mm (35mm equivalent) f/2-4 Nikkor glass lens. This lens was made from the same ultra high quality ingredients as other Nikkor interchangeable lenses. f2.0-4.0 means that this is a very bright lens. A ‘bright lens’ means that the lens can shoot at large aperture settings, which means that quite a large amount of light can reach the sensor for any given focal length. The lens is fastest in its widest field of view, at 28mm. At 28mm you can shoot at f/2, which makes this lens a great low light performer. This is great if you want to shoot photos where there just isn’t enough light (e.g. Indoor, Churches, Bars, Night shots, etc.).
The 28-200 mm focal length range is very versatile and gives you very nice range for general purpose photography. Of course it won’t give you the same super zoom range as superzoom compacts, but nevertheless, it’s a very nice range that will suit most of your needs. 28mm means that you can shoot wide angle shots, including photos of buildings, interiors, group of people, landscape shots, etc.
The P7700 lens is equipped with Nikon ‘s lens-shift Vibration Reduction System, also known as VR. This system compensate hand-shake movements and prevent blurry photos. When you hold the camera, the camera shakes a bit. Those camera movements, and under certain camera settings, can produce a blurry image. The VR moves the sensor to compensate those movements, promises blue-free images in almost any situation. The VR won’t help you stop fast moving subject (that’s where you need a faster shutter speed), but will help you shoot blur-free images when shooting in slower shutter speeds, whether set manually ot automatically by the camera.
So in conclusion, you get a very flexible lens with very nice zoom range for general purpose photography. A fast lens that can give you an advantage when shooting photos under low light. The quality glass lens promises excellent contrast, colors and sharpness to match the demands of many enthusiast and advanced photographers.
Nikon P7700 Sensor
One of the unique features of the Nikon P7700 is its relatively large sensor. The P7700 utilizes a 1/1.7-inch. This sensor is larger than a 1/2.3″ sensors that you can found on many point and shoot cameras on the market today. However, it’s still much smaller than 1-inch sensor that you can find on the Nikon 1 J2 CSC camera, and certainly much smaller than APS-C sensor that you can find on many DSLR cameras and even CSC like the Canon EOS-M.
You can click the image above to enlarge it and see how the Nikon Coolpix P7700 compare to other sensors. You can clearly see that it’s larger than 1/2.3-inch of the L26, same as the P7100, but much smaller than the Nikon 1 J2 and Canon EOS M sensors.
So why you want a large sensor in the first place? – The size of the sensor can directly effect the image quality. In fact it’s more related to the pixel density (the number of pixels per square inch), but in general, a larger sensor will result in larger pixels, which results in better light gathering capabilities. This will lead to better dynamic range, color accuracy, less artifacts and more details.
The P7700 utilizes a Back-illuminated CMOS sensor technology. Which means that the sensor is twice more sensitive to light than conventional CMOS sensors. The P7700 can shoot up to ISO 3200, and even at Hi 1, which is equivalent to ISO 6400. You probably find yourself shooting at the 80-800 ISO range not more. Higher ISO suffer from higher amount of noise. Those ISO1600 and above are probably more useful for emergency, rather in situation where you are after for best image quality. You can use noise reduction software to minimize the amount of noise in those photos, but this is at the cost of details, which are already lost because of high noise levels.
All in all, the flexibility is there if you need it.
Nikon P7700 LCD
Let’s admit it, in P&S cameras the LCD is an asset that cannot be ignored. The Nikon P7700 doesn’t feature an electronic viewfinder, which makes the rear LCD even more important. You will be composing all your shots via this display. Any changes to the camera settings (Except those which are directly controlled via the button and dials) will be done via the back LCD screen. You want this display to be the best as it can to really elevate the shooting experience.
The Nikon Coolpix P7700 feature a 921,000-dot Vari-angle 3-inch display wiith anti-reflective coating. This is a different screen than the P7100, which was was just tilting, but not swivel as the P7700 one.
This type of tilt/swivel screen will give you quite a lot of flexibility when shooting stills and videos. You can shoot photos from low and high-angles like above your head or below your knees, this without having to lie on the ground to see what you are shooting. This makes composition much easier and this is especially useful when shooting videos. A highly demanded feature, now available on the P7700!
A 921K-dot resolution means that the LCD has a very high resolution, on par with leader LCDs on the market today. This will make text clearer, image and videos look crisper and will also contribute to better user experience when using the camera. The anti-reflective coating will help you get a better view of the screen when shooting in bright daylight. Due to the fact that the camera doesn’t feature an EVF, this is a very important feature to have with the back LCD screen.
Nikon P7700 Manual Controls
One of the reasons why people prefer getting the P7700 over conventional P&S is the manual controls on this camera. The manual controls are accessible for fast operation via the top dial wheel, where you can choose to shoot in either automatic mode, aperture priority, shutter priority or full manual control. You have full control over the exposure and you can choose to play with several settings that control the shutter speed, aperture opening and ISO sensitivity.
Some people ask me why one want to have manual control when the camera can automatically to this for you? – When you click the shutter button in automatic mode, the camera will do its best to guess what are the best settings for a specific scene. If you provide it with a specific scene mode, you actually help the camera make a better decision.
However, in some cases you want to achieve specific effect that is only achievable when shooting in manual mode. I give you an example: let’s say that you are shooting indoors in a dim room with candle lights. When you shoot in automatic mode, the camera will identify that the room is relatively dark and bump up the ISO and lower the shutter speed to get as much light as possible to light up the room. However, what if we want to get that dim light feeling with only the candles are shining through this darkness. We want to be able to control the exposure ourselves, rather than let the camera figure out what to do.
In this case we would use the largest aperture possible, but also use relatively faster shutter speed. This will give us the same dim look with only the candle lights shining through the darkness. This is just one example out of endless possibilities that you might encounter as a photographer.
Many P&S cameras don’t give you so much room for flexibility, but the Nikon Coolpix P7700 gives you full manual control, which is a must for people who want to explore the world of digital photography and become more creative with their cameras.
Exposure Control Options:
- Programmed auto exposure with flexible program
- aperture-priority auto
- exposure bracketing (Tv, Av, Sv)
- exposure compensation (-3.0 to +3.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)
- shutter priority auto
Other Great Features of the P7700
The P770 offers additional features that you might find interesting:
- Compatible with Nikon Speedlight flashes (SB-910 and SB700)
- Compatible with GP-1 GPS unit
- Compatible with ME-1 external stereo microphone
- 20 different scene modes
- 14 in-camera editing functions (e.g. Black border, Crop, D-Lighting, Paint, Skin softening, etc.)
- 1/4000 – 60 sec shutter speed
- 8 fps continuous shooting (up to 6 sequenced shots). Other options include Multi-shot 16, Interval timer, Best shot selector and more..
- 1080p Full HD video recording
The Nikon Coolpix P7700 is a great advanced P&S camera. It’s compact in size and combines lot of attractive features. This camera is aimed towards the advanced photographer who finds its current P&S camera limiting. The excellent optics, new image processor, relatively large sensor, manual controls and great LCD display, makes this camera a really excellent choice for demanding photographers.
The question that still remain is whether you should buy a larger sensor camera instead of this one. Large sensor cameras like the Sony RX100 will offer better image quality and low light performance. The RX100 is more limiting in terms of optical zoom, but features a 1-inch sensor and top of the line components that made it one of the most large sensor compact around, if not The most popular one. Of course the difference in price between the RX100 and the P7700 is around $150. This a big price difference considering the price of the P7700 which is around $450 at the time of writing this article.
It really comes to personal preference. I think that the Nikon Coolpix P7700 can be an excellent choice for people who are looking for a camera with full manual control, and one that can deliver very good image quality for a relatively lower price. The other option is to go with CSC and Large-sensor compacts, but those are more expensive and sometimes have features that we don’t really intend to take advantage off. That means that you might throw your money on features that you don’t need or don’t intend to use at this time.
The P7700 is a great update over the P7100, and certainly gives the Canon G12 a tough competition, which the P7100 lacks. I recommend this camera for advanced photographers who want to have a camera that give them: manual controls, can shoot Raw, have high quality LCD, 1080p video recording and can shoot high quality images, better than their current automatic P&S camera.
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