The Coolpix P7000 slots into Nikon's compact line directly opposite the Canon G12, a wonderful camera that has the best image quality of any compact I've ever reviewed and which this site awarded an "Editor's Choice" designation. Tough neighborhood for any compact, and this review isn't meant as a direct comparison of the two, but let's face it: the G12 is the obvious yardstick for high-end compacts right now.
Nikon P7000 image quality is as good as the Canon G12's and high ISO noise performance might just be a hair better. A very fine hair to be sure, but a hair nonetheless. The Nikon generally acquires AF quicker and video quality seems comparable. The Nikon offers a wider focal range with lens speed that is comparable at the wide end of the zoom, but 2/3rds of a stop slower at telephoto. Game, set, match to the P7000, no?
No. While the P7000 generally acquires focus promptly, there are times when it says it's acquired focus, but hasn't, and you wait a split second longer to capture the image. It doesn't happen often, but just enough to be annoying, and all the more so because the P7000 is so quick most of the time. RAW still image write speed for the P7000 seems on the slow side, even with class 10 SDHC media, and things are really slow if you shoot a burst of RAW/JPEG fine captures. Nikon produced a firmware update for the P7000 to address focus issues and RAW image write speed, and while I never shot the P7000 before installing the firmware, the AF, while quite good, still throws you a glitch now and then. RAW write speed is reportedly improved with the firmware, so it must have been molasses-in-January slow before.
If you're in the market for a high-end compact and are wedded to either the Canon or Nikon brand, you can safely go with the product of your choice and know the other guy isn't going to outshoot you because of hardware. And if you're not brand oriented and just want to get the best images out of this class of camera, you can go either way and if the images aren't great it's not the camera's fault. The P7000 joins the G11/G12 on my best compact digital image list, and that's pretty select company.
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