Nikon’s Coolpix models with the “P” designation are the performance models, and as you’d expect from a performance oriented machine, the P7000 can shoot in RAW. But all Nikon RAWs are not created equal – Nikon has used NEF (Nikon Electronic Format) as its RAW standard for years, but the P7000 (and the P6000 before it) uses a new variant, NRW.
Nikon’s Capture NX2 software can handle NRW files, and Nikon includes View NX2 software with each P7000 that does as well, but my Adobe Photoshop CS4 doesn’t recognize it, and the Adobe fix to recognize NRW only works with CS5. Adobe CS4 works fine with NEFs, but if you’re shooting NRW with a P7000 plan to convert to JPEG or TIFF in one of the Nikon software programs before trying to work the images in Photoshop CS4 or earlier.
The P7000 is about average in startup time – the monitor comes on in about a second, but you don’t get a focus point displayed until over two seconds have passed. I was able to get off a first shot in about 2.7 seconds. Single shot-to-shot times run about 2.75 seconds, due in large part to an almost 2 second write time for a single fine quality JPEG image. The camera made its advertised “approximately 1.3 frames per second” continuous shooting rate, but when those shots were of RAW/JPEG fine quality, we got 5 shots and a 21 second write time with a 16GB class 10 card. Recording 8 JPEG fine shots took about 8 seconds to write after the last shot was taken.
Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5||0.01|
|Nikon Coolpix P7000||0.01|
|Canon PowerShot G12||0.04|
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)
|Nikon Coolpix P7000||0.24|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5||0.40|
|Canon PowerShot G12||0.50|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5||3||3.3 fps|
|Canon PowerShot G12||∞||2.1 fps|
|Samsung TL500||∞||1.5 fps|
|Nikon Coolpix P7000||26||1.5 fps|
*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera’s fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). “Frames” notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.
Continuous shooting is difficult with the monitor – there’s an initial blackout period after the first capture, and shorter blackouts between shots, so you’re always a frame behind on the monitor and tracking moving subjects can be difficult. The viewfinder doesn’t suffer from the blackouts so that’s the way to go, assuming you can shoot without worrying about the 80% coverage and what’s getting into the frame that you don’t see. There’s virtually no shutter noise in the continuous shooting mode so it’s hard to keep track of how many shots you’ve taken by sound alone.
The P7000 may be a bit on the slow side to write images, but it scoots right along in acquiring focus (in most cases) and shutter lag, which we measured at 0.24 and 0.01 seconds, respectively. The camera seemed to perform better at AF acquisition when set for full time AF versus single servo AF – acquisition times were quicker and more consistent across a range of lighting conditions at the full time setting.
In single shot mode, the P7000 displays a red focus point(s) while acquiring focus which then turns to green and is accompanied by the typical compact digital camera “beep” when focus is acquired. On a number of occasions, the icon would change color and the “beep” would ensue, but the image on the monitor was clearly not in focus. A split second later the monitor would come into focus, but if you pushed the shutter to capture at the beep, the shutter wouldn’t fire. Once the image on the monitor comes into focus, the shutter fires, but most of the time the P7000 acquires focus and shoots without the delay. I have no idea why it sometimes drags its feet.
P7000 ad copy talks about 5-way stabilization, but that’s counting things like the ability to manually select a 6400 ISO sensitivity to keep shutter speeds up in dim light, or Nikon’s BSS (best shot selector) which takes up to 10 images while the shutter is held down, then saves the sharpest one and discards the rest. The two that matter most are vibration reduction and motion detection, and both are found in the setup menu. Vibration reduction involves mechanical stabilization with the sensor being moved to combat camera shake; motion detection raises ISO sensitivity to produce faster shutter speeds to accomplish the same result. If you’re going to use stabilization, enable vibration reduction but not motion detection (unless there’s no other way to get the shot). You don’t want to be ramping up ISO sensitivity any more than you have to.
Flash range is listed as out to 21 feet at wide angle and auto ISO, and recycle times were good with a fresh battery – 2 to 5 seconds from best to worst case scenarios.
Battery life is listed as about 350 shots, and the battery is the same used in the D3100 (which gets 550 shots out of a charge).
The 28 to 200mm focal range of the P7000 offers a nice mix of fairly wide to modestly long, and the f/2.8 maximum aperture at the wide end is decently fast. Corners are a bit soft at the wide end, and edges and corners a bit soft at telephoto, but the lens is fairly sharp overall. There’s barrel distortion at wide angle and pincushion at telephoto, but the P7000 has a distortion control setting that, when enabled, really minimizes these conditions. The trade-off is that the frame may get cropped a tiny bit. I shot most of this review with distortion control enabled.
There is some chromic aberration (purple fringing) throughout the focal range in some high contrast boundary areas, although the effect is usually fairly hard to detect in enlargements below 200 to 300%. Still, there may be occasions when the effect is apparent under close scrutiny at 100%, but the P7000 isn’t too bad overall.