Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
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  • 12.2-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor
  • 7.1x zoom f/2 NIKKOR ED glass lens (28-200mm equivalent zoom range)
  • 3-inch vari-angle LCD monitor (921,000-dot)
  • Full HD 1080p video capabilit
  • Lens-Shift Vibration Reduction (VR)
  • Intelligent Autofocus and optical zoom
  • Full Manual Control (PSAM)
  • 19 Scene Modes and Scene Auto Selector
  • RAW Shooting
  • External Mic input
  • HDMI mini output
Pros
  • Excellent image quality with large image sensor
  • Low light results are outstanding
  • Good optical zoom measurement versus other fixed-lens, large image sensor models in this price class
  • Response times are fast in all conditions
  • Full auto mode is easy to use
  • Plenty of manual controls will appeal to intermediate photographers
  • Rotating dial on four-way button is handy
  • Plenty of specialty buttons make it easy to select the commands you want
  • Popup flash works pretty well
  • Many different effects can be applied with precise adjustments
  • Separate ports available to add GPS or external microphone
  • Very sharp and bright LCD screen
  • Articulated LCD is handy feature
  • Several specific controls available for shooting movies
  • EV Comp dial has an indicator light to show you've made a change; helps ensure you don't accidentally change the EV comp
  • Hot shoe allows you to add various accessories
Cons
  • Camera is a little chunky
  • Power button can be a little tough to press because of small size and location between various dials
  • Some dials hang over the edge of the camera, meaning you may bump them out of place inadvertently
  • Close-up focus can be slow in some conditions
  • More aspect ratio options would be nice
  • No dedicated video button
  • Price will be a bit high for some people
  • P7700 might be more camera than beginners really need or want
  • Popup flash must be opened manually
  • All black design may seem a bit boring
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.3 seconds (with start-up image turned off)
  • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = about 0.2 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay without flash = 3.3 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 3.2 seconds with review Off
  • Shot to shot delay with flash = 3.5 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 3.3 seconds with review Off
  • High Burst Mode = 6 frames in 1.1 seconds @ 12M
  • Medium Burst Mode = 6 frames in 1.9 seconds @ 12M
  • Low Burst Mode = 8 frames in 7.5 seconds @ 12M
  • All tests were taken using a PNY Class 10, 16 GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, Review on, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The number of high-end fixed-lens cameras aimed at intermediate and advanced photographers is growing, including the Nikon Coolpix P7700. Image quality is outstanding with this model, and it performs especially well in low light. Although most other $500 price point fixed-lens cameras also provide very good image quality, the P7700 offers a couple of advanced features, including an articulated, high-quality LCD screen and an above-average optical zoom lens. If you want top-notch image quality but don't want the hassle and expense of an interchangeable lens camera, the Nikon Coolpix P7700 is one of the best options currently on the market for less than $500.
Pick This Up If...
You need image quality and performance closer to an entry-level DSLR or ILC camera, but you want to stick with the simplicity and overall cost of a fixed-lens model.
Today's digital cameras all seem to offer a wide variety of features that attempt to grab your attention. Some cameras have large optical zoom lenses. Some have great options for shooting movies. Others might go with a bit of an attention-grabbing gimmick, such as one LCD on the front and one on the back.

However, the ultimate measuring stick for any digital camera really doesn't change from model to model: Image quality. No matter how many fancy features a camera may have, it's the camera's image quality that will determine whether it's worth your money.

There's a growing class of fixed-lens cameras that aim to create excellent image quality, albeit for an above-average price, usually starting at around $500. With cell phone cameras continuing to chip away at the low end of the digital camera point-n-shoot market, these high-end fixed-lens cameras are becoming more desirable, as they give image quality far above what any cell phone camera can provide. 

One such camera is the Nikon Coolpix P7700, and it is able to separate itself from other high-end fixed-lens cameras in this price point with a larger than average optical zoom lens, numerous control buttons and dials, dedicated microphone and GPS ports, and an articulated LCD screen.

Best of all, the P7700 excels in the one area that truly matters. This camera's image quality is among the best that you're going to find in sub-$500 fixed-lens cameras currently on the market. The Coolpix P7700 offers performance and image quality closer to what you'd expect to find in an entry-level interchangeable lens camera, such as a DSLR or an ILC.

Nikon included a 1/1.7-inch, 12.2-megapixel image sensor with the P7700, which contributes strongly to this camera's great image quality, especially in low light. Nikon's Vibration Reduction feature that's built into the Coolpix P7700 also contributes to the good low light results. It focuses fast and offers a variety of burst modes, too.

Although most of the P7700's features are going to be more than beginning photographers need, one nice aspect of this camera is that it can function quite well as a simple point-n-shoot camera in Auto mode. As you learn more about photography, the Coolpix P7700 will allow you to apply that knowledge with its large collection of advanced shooting options. And you receive these advantages while creating images with outstanding quality.

The layout of the various dials and buttons on this camera is really good for a model that isn't overly large, and it's a comfortable camera to use for extended periods of time. It may take you a bit of time to learn exactly how to use each of the dials and buttons, but each one was smartly designed with a specific and useful purpose. 

The large mode dial is well positioned and has plenty of options. There are three user customizable positions on the mode dial, which can be handy for the advanced photographer. I really liked the Quick Menu dial, too, which makes it easy to make changes to commonly used features of the P7700. The on-screen menus on this camera are pretty detailed, so having quick access to some of these commonly used features is nice. It may take you a little while to get used to accessing the various dials, but they'll save you time in the long run.

You can shoot in RAW and JPEG formats with the Coolpix P7700, although the camera's performance slows down a bit when shooting in RAW (which Nikon calls NRW). 

The Nikon P7700 offers a maximum ISO setting of 6400/Hi 1, but ISO settings of 3200 and 6400 have excessive noise in the image. Another area where this camera is lacking a bit is in its options for shooting at multiple resolutions at non-traditional aspect ratios. There's only one resolution setting at 1:1 and 16:9 aspect ratios, for example, which is a little disappointing.

There are two function buttons to which you can assign specific commands, and the P7700 has a large number of customizable settings and features, which is great. You also can add several accessories, thanks to a hot shoe and dedicated ports for a GPS unit or an external microphone.

Compared to other advanced fixed-lens cameras in this price range, the P7700's 7.1x optical zoom lens is larger than average. Although you can find much larger zoom lenses on cameras at lower price points, those cameras almost certainly aren't going to match the image quality of this Nikon model. You even can set the optical zoom to a particular focal length upon startup, which is handy if you most often use the camera at the maximum zoom, for example.

With this high-quality lens, you'll find a maximum f/2.0 aperture at the wide-angle setting and f/4.0 at the maximum telephoto setting. 

The P7700's autofocus mechanism works pretty fast and it's extremely accurate, even in low light and at the maximum zoom setting. Images are very sharp the vast majority of the time. Nikon included a basic manual focus capability with the Coolpix P7700, which works pretty well, but it's probably more time-consuming to use in all but the most extreme shooting situations. The autofocus works well enough for most photographs.

You're going to find an above average LCD screen with this Coolpix camera, too. Not only does the Coolpix P7700's LCD offer 920,000 pixels of resolution on its 3.0-inch screen, but the articulated screen can twist and swivel away from the camera body. This is a handy feature for shooting some odd angle images or for shooting self-portraits.

Nikon included a popup flash unit with this camera, which results in pretty good image quality. With the Nikon P7700, you can use the popup flash to trigger external Nikon flashes remotely, too; which is a handy feature. One drawback is that you must manually open the flash unit; it doesn't automatically pop up when the camera senses that it is needed. 

For those photographers who want to shoot movies with their digital camera, the P7700 is better than average here, too. It can shoot at full 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second, as well as a variety of other resolutions and frame rates. You can even apply some special effects to your movies, similarly to what you can do with still images.

The camera's look isn't going to turn any heads. It's an all-black camera -- no silver trim or any other color options are available -- and it's a little chunky at 2.0 inches in thickness. The extended right-hand grip is nice, though, for comfort, and it has a rubbery surface for an sturdy grip. The P7700 has a hefty feel to it, especially when the thicker-than-average battery is installed. Battery life is just average with this camera.

Bottom Line - Simply put, the Coolpix P7700 is one of the best fixed-lens cameras on the market in its price range. Undoubtedly, the nearly $500 MSRP of this model will force some photographers to look elsewhere. But if you can fit this model into your budget, the P7700 compares favorably against the growing number of high-end fixed-lens cameras aimed at intermediate and advanced photographers. Image quality is outstanding with this model, and it performs especially well in low light. Although most other $500 price point fixed-lens cameras also offer very good image quality, the P7700 provides an articulated, high-quality LCD screen and a larger-than-average optical zoom lens. If you want top-notch image quality but don't want the hassle and expense of an interchangeable lens camera, the Nikon Coolpix P7700 is one of the best options at its price point currently on the market.

You can check out the price of this camera on Adorama by clicking here

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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