The Nikon Coolpix P7100 is an update of the brand's P7000, bringing faster operation response and a tilting LCD screen to the table
The 10.1-megapixel Nikon Coolpix P7100 is an updated version of the Nikon Coolpix P7000 and resembles a DSLR that's had its lens removed and been placed in a compacter. Like newer DSLRs the P7100 now comes with a tilting LCD and has been given extra poke in the operational speed department, via an Expeed C2 processor.
Whirring into action in just over a second it costs almost as much as an interchangeable lens camera at a suggested £499. Its rivals include some of the best digital compact cameras around, such as the equally hefty Canon G12, marginally more pocketable Fujifilm X10 and positively svelte by comparison Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5.
Nikon Coolpix P7100: Controls
As befits a camera body taking its stylistic cue from a DSLR, the Nikon Coolpix P7100 sports a busy layout bristling with buttons and dials. There's a control here for everything from locking exposure and focus to adjusting exposure compensation on the fly (+/- 2EV). We even get a thumbwheel at the front and at the back, allowing us to rapidly scroll through settings.
Plus these are in addition to a scroll wheel encircling the familiar multi directional control pad on the backplate. Anywhere you place a digit on this camera, you'll hit an operational means of some sort.
For those looking for a system that can be expanded, although its lens cannot be swapped, a vacant hotshoe allows for the attachment of accessory flash, whilst the largest dial here, the shooting mode dial, is typically crammed. Its 12 options include three user customisable settings and an effects mode borrowed from the Nikon D3100 DSLR.
For anyone trading up from a point and shoot compact, the above is going to seem a little daunting, so the most receptive audience for the P7100 would undoubtedly be an existing DSLR owner wanting a less bulky but still robust back up.
That's still without, of course, the ability to swap lenses – although a 7.1x optical zoom offers a broader focal range than most premium compacts, here equivalent to 28-200mm in 35mm film terms.
Nikon Coolpix P7100: Screen
The new angle adjustable 3-inch, 4:3 aspect ratio LCD screen is one of the Nikon Coolpix P7100's main talking points. Yet as with the Olympus Pen E-PL3 and Sony NEX interchangeable lens models, the display here can only be tilted up or down, not flipped out parallel to the body, as one would with a camcorder.
Still, this does allow for hitherto awkward angles to be framed up, and greater accuracy is achievable when holding the camera at arm's length over the heads of a crowd. The other option is angling the screen uprwards when holding the camera low to the ground for that exaggerated perspective shot.
Nikon Coolpix P7100: Battery
The Nikon Coolpix P7100 takes its power from an EN-EL14 rechargeable lithium ion pack that slides into the base of its handgrip, adjacent to a vacant slot for all types of SD memory card. Battery life is a respectable, if not quite awe inspiring 350 shots from a full charge.
Still, that does better the performance of both the Canon PowerShot S100 and Fujifilm X10 with their own internal batteries. Indeed the P7100 offers 150 more frames than the much more compact Canon.
Nikon Coolpix P7100: Picture quality
In terms of shooting with the P7100, here the 7.1x optical zoom with a 28-200mm equivalent range in 35mm film terms, is quick to respond, if noisy. HD video is also included, if at a lesser 720p at 24fps speed.
Not that an untrained eye would notice the difference between this and Full HD as thanks to the combination of a larger than average 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor and superior lens performance the image quality is pin sharp and squeaky clean.
With good results handheld at maximum telephoto setting, with the physical bulk of the camera meaning it is steadier in the hand than a slimmer point and shoot, if we're looking to pick holes we did notice some very slight softening of corner detail at maximum wideangle setting.
Nikon Coolpix P7100: Verdict
Best suited to existing Nikon DSLR users, the brick-like Coolpix P7100 'compact' offers similar heft and control set, including the ability to shoot top quality Raw files alongside humble JPEG. Following on from the P7000 this 10.1 megapixel model's benefits are a tilting rear LCD and extra poke in the speed department.
It competes with the equally hefty Canon G12 and updates the P7000, yet still resembles a DSLR that has been squashed, its busy layout bristling with grown up camera buttons and dials. It's all about manual control here so the P7100 is best suited to existing DSLR owners or those who like the feel of cameras like the D3100, but want a more portable if still robust and workhorse-like option.
Nikon Coolpix P7100 availability: Available now
Nikon Coolpix P7100 price: £499