I’ve only had the P7100 for a bit more than a week, but so far I’m quite impressed with just how easy this camera makes it to capture the image you visualized before you pressed the shutter button and with more than forty years experience as a photographer I am not easily impressed.
Here’s an example – most point-and-shoots permit only limited user input into the exposure process – the P7100 takes the single most important exposure control that P&S users have, the exposure compensation function, and links it to a dedicated knob on the camera’s top deck that permits immediate adjustments (to incrementally lighten or darken the image) in any shooting mode except full manual. Most digicams bury the exposure compensation function in the menu somewhere or allow indirect access via the compass switch, both of which are time consuming and distracting. With the P7100 users can view composition and if a problem with the ambient lighting is detected, then the right thumb falls directly on the exposure compensation knob which can be turned right (plus) or left (minus) until the lighting is balanced. This is a brilliant design that puts more control in the hands of the user.
Some folks will say that this idea was stolen from the G12 and its predecessors, but Canon put the control on the left end of the top deck which means that the exposure compensation function must be accessed by the shooter’s left hand or the camera must be shifted, altering the composition at least momentarily. The P7100 locates this control on the same end of the top deck as the mode dial and shutter button/zoom control meaning the exposure compensation function can be used (by right handed shooters) without shifting from the composition of the image – much better ergonomics.
Here’s another example of the P7100’s dedication to user input – in review mode shooters can crop (using the zoom control and the compass switch) and then save the cropped version of that image (just as it appeared on the LCD) by simply pushing the menu button and then selecting yes.
I really liked the G12 and the TL500 and now I really like the P7100, too. If I were in the market for a high-end point-and-shoot I would have a seriously tough time deciding which of those three cameras I would buy and that is a really good position for consumers to be in – for five hundred bucks consumers should get the very best camera that current technology is capable of producing. The G12 is the latest in a long series of exceptional P&S digicams, the TL500 is quite compact when compared to its rivals, but it doesn’t skimp on features and it has a very fast f/1.8 maximum aperture Schneider-Kreuznach zoom. The P7100 has the best ergonomics and the broadest zoom range of the three.
I’ll go into more detail in my full review of the P7100, but at this point I would be willing to take the P7100 (or the G12 or the TL500) along as my sole camera on a once in a lifetime trip. As for the P7100 bumping the G12 out of the rankings – that’s unlikely, but the top rank is noticeably more crowded than it was before.
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