Customer Review

137 of 140 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good portable option, 17 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Nikon COOLPIX P7100 Compact Digital Camera (10.1MP, 7.1x Optical Zoom) 3 inch LCD (Electronics)
I am a DSLR user looking for a more portable solution to compliment my setup for city breaks etc. I think what everyone else has commented upon so far is true, so rather than repeating any of that here are some additional observations.

The camera is not small from a shirt pocket point of view, but more suitable to a baggy coat pocket. In fact the rear screen is very high res and very useful as it tilts on the same axis as the lens (i.e. does not swing out to the side) but this means that the screen cannot be turned inwards for protection. keeping the nice screen in good conditions means a bag ..... so no coat pockets after all :-)

It takes the same battery as my D5100 DSLR so that is a bonus for me. However, my Nissin Di622 flash does not work on the P7100.

There are 4 major things of importance about this camera that may influence buying. (1) the zoom range is a very handy walkabout range of 28 - 200mm (2) the sensor is of the larger type found in compacts and is not over populated being just 10MP but still giving good resolution (3) The camera can shoot in RAW and a nice touch is that there is a RAW to JPG converter built into the camera, so you can have enhanced 'out of camera' shots by using that (4) for a compact, it is amazing just how much in this camera can be manually set / adjusted. There are a ton of buttons and dials on this body, so nothing important is burried in menus and you are more likely to be more aware of your cameras main features and settings (and for a new user, what it can do).

The effect of (4) above is that regardless of your knowledge you will go through a learning curve exploring your camera setting to get the best out of it for your taste (or you can just select scene mode or auto - so something for everyone and definitely lets an inexperienced users 'grow' into the camera).

The effect of (2) above gives rather nice images. I took a picture of a church set amongst trees yesterday, zoomed in to 68mm and just used 'P' mode and 'standard' picture mode and then printed it out to full A3 size (no cropping). The resolution was nice with plenty of detail, the white balance was accurate, there was no purple fringing in the trees and the sky and stonework were accurate colours.

Now, the church was lit up in full sun, this created shadows to part of the side. using the built in D-Lighting mode, the shadows were revealed but I felt that if D-Lighting was used any higher than the 'low' setting, then some of the midtones and highlights became a bit washed out (i.e camera seems to lower contrast), so I think D-Lighting is best kept off for general use and just deployed when you think the situation needs it - you can program one of the two function buttons to call it up, so it always at your finger tips.

Speaking of white balance, I find it to be very accurate on auto, but the other settings are good, though I thought 'daylight' was a little cool.

The rear screen gives a nice image (very good for reviewing shots) and I like the way it tilts. There is an optical viewfinder (with dioptre), some criticise if for just giving around 80% field of view but I think it's fine as long as you take that into account and prefer a camera held to may face than wobbling around in front of me - that might be an age thing :-).

On auto, the camera seems to prefer to keep ISO to 100 and often puts the shooting speed down to 1/30 on bright days to get that. I use a lot of zoom, so I like a higher shooting speed. One of the nice customisable (sp?) options is that you can set the minimum shooting speed in settings, to say 1/60, which is useful for people like me who tend to be a bit of a sloppy shooter (hold the camera loosly) and consequently suffer a bit of camera shake (I am probably too reliant on image stabilisation helping me out and just need to improve my technique). The camera will often select f2.8 as a preferred apperture and surprisingly, even in a lanscape type shot, this gives a good result - by nature (due to my DSLR use) I whet into 'A' mode and used f8 to do a landscape shot (the church mentioned above) and then thought the result looked a bit harsh, so the f2.8 just seems fine and of course is fast.

In standard mode, colours seem nicely reproduced without being too punchy. I am not keen on the vivid setting and also I felt that pushing saturation (in standard mode) up by +1 made the image too warm, the only setting that I have changed is to have sharpening at +1 but that is common to what many do with their camera settings.

I have been impressed by the battery, it just seems to go on and on and I have been doing plenty of playing around with it, including lots of flash (which can have its strength adjusted).

The computer comes with ViewNX2 software, which is excellent for post processing the RAW and JPG files (and I have lightroom to compare it to). The only thing I would say is that when using RAW, there are times when the program can run slowly (I am using an 18 month old dual core laptop which is just pre Corei3 / i5 generation, which is fairly fast for everything else I use) so your computer power may be relevant to what software you will use. JPG processing does not seem to slow me down in the same way.

Some have described this as a DSLR like camera - well that is true from a control point of view but it is nothing like a DSLR in 3 respects. (1) it is nowhere near as fast or responsive as a DSLR, in fact it is quite predestrian (suits me). (2) you do not get a shallow depth of field, that is just the physics of things, and so you will invariable have distraction in the background depending on what you shoot (3) the sensor is 8 times smaller than a DSLR, so don't expect those gorgeous super DSLR (etc) type images (especially in low light) BUT considering the size of the sensor, image quality is very good and better than other compacts that I have owned - if you are are a DSLR user, you just have to put that out of your mind and not get the roles and abilities of the two cameras confused (obvious but worth saying) and just enjoy the P7100.

I like doing wildlife and air shows etc, so this can never replace my DSLR as that part of my photography is important to me, but as my everyday camera, I am currently enjoying it more than the DSLR. It is more portable and just a liberating fun thing to use. For many users, this will be the only camera that they need.

This might seem a bit of an unbalanced review, as I seem to like everything about it. Well I have tried to think of some negatives and really for my kind of shooting and for what I want this for, I have not really come across any dislikes. Having used it, I would happily make the same buying decision again.
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