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Nikon P7700 Review$499.95
It's big, it's bulky, and it's the best advanced compact we've ever tested (for now). Nikon's Coolpix P7700 sets a new bar for enthusiast point-and-shoots.
Lately, we've noticed a trend here at DCI: As smartphones and tablets continue to gnaw away at the low end of the point-and-shoot market, the big manufacturers are putting more and more effort into advanced compact cameras. That's a great thing for consumers, and it's a trend that's given us some fantastic models already this year, from the Canon G15, to the Sony RX100 and the Olympus XZ-2.
Now, Nikon steps up to the plate with the P7700, the third iteration of the P7xxx series. The new version updates the P7100 with a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor, a bigger grip, a fully articulating LCD, and a significantly brighter 7.1x zoom lens. This market is pretty cut-throat, though, so we got to work testing this Nikon to see if it could hold its ground and back up those awesome specs with similarly awesome performance.
Design & Usability
The P7700 isn't exactly pocket-sized, but the handling is phenomenal.
This camera's 12-megapixel, 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor and its 28-200mm (effective) f/2.0-4.0 zoom lens are not exactly cutting edge, but they don't need to be. They simply get the job done, and do it as well as virtually any other advanced compact camera out there today. The longer-than-average 7.1x zoom range requires a larger body, and Nikon goes all-in, adding a big grip and an articulating LCD to create the largest advanced compact out there (aside from the mammoth Canon G1 X). The upshot? It's by far the most comfortable of its kind, though no doubt some will complain about its lack of pocketability.
Here a button, there a button, everywhere a button button...
The P7700 never shies away from offering three or four options where one or two would do. From its white balance to its special effects, from its customizable controls to its articulating screen, this is a camera that adjusts to suit its user—not the other way around. If users are intimidated by the massive feature set, fully automatic shooting modes come to the rescue. But the array of physical controls will take some time to master, no matter how you're shooting.
Best or near the top in almost every category
Image quality is a complex equation incorporating many factors. Some cameras master one function while failing in another. Results are frequently quite mixed. We haven't found a camera yet that gets everything right, but the P7700 makes a great effort. Sharpness is very impressive, and more importantly, it achieves its results without resorting to excessive software-based JPEG sharpening. Color accuracy is among the best we've seen, distortions are minimal, and noise and dynamic range performance are among the best in the class. Of course, there are still areas to improve: Automatic white balance is a mess, and video performance has a long way to go.
The Nikon Coolpix P7700 is a horse of a different, better color.
What makes a great advanced compact camera? Image quality is the first thing that springs to mind: What use is a camera that takes bad photos? But this is not the only concern. Comfortable handling and a friendly user interface are just as critical, as the Sony RX100 illustrates. All the image quality in the world might not sway a buyer if the camera feels like a slippery bar of soap.
While the P7700 isn’t the best in many of the categories we test, it’s one of the best in virtually all of them. Some competitors might be slightly sharper, have marginally better noise performance, or a little higher dynamic range, but this Nikon's overall output is definitely among the best in its class. Ultimately it succeeds—at least in terms of image quality—on the sum of its parts, rather than individual features. Add to that the wonderful variety of manual control, customization, and excellent handling, and the P7700 is the complete package.