Nikon Coolpix P7000: Video and Image Quality

by Jim Keenan Reads (1,553)
Editor's Rating
8.75

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 10
    • Features
    • 9
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 9
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 8.75
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Video Quality
Video quality at 720 HD is pretty good, on a par with the G12. Video capture requires setting the mode dial to movie, acquiring focus with a half push of the shutter and then initiating capture with a full push. The full time AF (single servo AF is the default) setting does a pretty good job of adjusting when you zoom or change the scene – I acquired focus on a distant ridgeline then panned down to a bush only a few feet away, and the AF kept up pretty well. The full time AF is noisy in videos – the camera records it and zoom noise during video capture, and the built-in microphone is wind sensitive. The wind noise reduction setting helps with wind and still allows a fair amount of external audio to come through (but doesn’t have an impact on the zoom or AF noise). There is a microphone jack to permit use of an external microphone.

Image Quality
When I shot the P7000 for the First Look teaser my initial impression was that still image quality was on a par with the Canon G11/12 cameras I felt had the best image quality of any compact I’d ever reviewed. Nothing’s changed and the P7000 now joins the list.

Nikon P7000 Sample Image Nikon P7000 Sample Image
Nikon P7000 Sample Image Nikon P7000 Sample Image

Default images out of the P7000 were pleasing as to color fidelity and sharpness, although I increased in-camera sharpening settings for the manual modes. Lately, I’ve been turning up the sharpening in review cameras and I think it’s probably got something to do with the fact that I’ve been using a sharpening program on my personal NEFs (and really liking the results); I’m trying to get the review camera output closer to that look right out of the camera. Most folks will probably be happy with the default images. The good news for manual mode shooters is that the P7000 provides lots of setting possibilities and access is readily available to many via external controls.

Nikon’s Picture Control color palette offers four main selections, and here’s a look at the standard, neutral, vivid and monochrome settings.

Nikon P7000 Sample Image
Standard
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
Vivid
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
Neutral
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
Monochrome

There are also yellow, orange, red and green filter effects that may be applied to the monochrome setting, as well as black & white, sepia and cyanotype versions of monochrome with seven levels of saturation.

Nikon uses Active D-Lighting to enhance the apparent dynamic range of the camera, and in the P7000, this is available as an in-camera setting that may be disabled or set to low, normal or high in the shooting menu for the manual modes. D-Lighting is available for post processing images in the playback menu. I typically shoot with Active D-Lighting disabled and then post-process if needed. Here are a couple shots of the mission walkway with Active D-Lighting disabled and then set for high.

Nikon P7000 Sample Image
No D-Lighting
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
High D-Lighting

Auto white balance was used for many of the captures in this review and did a fairly good job with the exception of incandescent light, which shot warm. Only auto WB is available in the monochrome picture control setting, but for the others there are daylight, incandescent, three fluorescent, cloudy, flash, Kelvin temperature and three user-defined custom settings available in addition to auto.

Nikon P7000 Sample Image
Auto White Balance, 5500k fluorescent light

Matrix metering is the default and did a pretty good job in most cases, but it could lose some highlights in bright, high-contrast conditions in the manual modes. The camera seemed less prone to lose highlights in auto mode and I shot a far higher percentage of images in auto mode with this camera versus my customary aperture priority. There are center-weighted, spot and spot AF area options as well in the manual modes.

The P7000 uses the same physically-sized sensor and resolution as the G12, and if you’re jumping ahead and guessing that ISO noise performance might be similar, you’re correct (unless my eyes are deceiving me). Both cameras are following the same path philosophically regarding ISO noise by using larger than typical sensors and holding resolution to the 10 megapixel level. This helps achieve noise performance that’s a bit better than the average compact digital.

ISO 100 and 200 in the P7000 are quite similar and hard to tell apart. ISO 400 begins to lose some fine details compared to 200, but is still quite good and usable for large prints. ISO 800 picks up some graininess and loses a bit more fine detail, but is still usable for small prints.

Nikon P7000 Sample Image
ISO 100
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
ISO 200
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
ISO 400
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
ISO 800
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
ISO 1600
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
ISO 3200
Nikon P7000 Sample Image
ISO 3200, 100% crop

ISO 1600 is the tipping point for the P7000, with a fairly marked loss of fine detail and increased graininess. ISO 3200 experiences another major drop off, with grain becoming very prominent and fine details lost to smudging for the most part. The photos are usable (along with 1600) for internet small images, but print at your own risk.

I’ve alluded to the G12 on several occasions in this review, so I know some of you are wondering which has the better ISO performance. Looking at the shots from both cameras I’d say noise performance is about equal through 400, and the P7000 does just a tiny bit better at 800 through 3200 – primarily a bit more detail and a bit less artifacts and grain. The difference isn’t major and certainly not enough to be a deal-breaker if you have your sights set on one camera or the other.

Additional Sample Images

Nikon P7000 Sample Image Nikon P7000 Sample Image
Nikon P7000 Sample Image Nikon P7000 Sample Image
Nikon P7000 Sample Image Nikon P7000 Sample Image


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