Nikon Coolpix P7000 vs Canon PowerShot G12

Hybrid cameras are becoming popular either as a step-up from a compact, or as a more compact alternative to a DSLR. Nikon has just unveiled the Coolpix P7000 as the replacement for its P6000 and, like its predecessor, it's being sold as a 'point and shoot' backup camera for pros and enthusiasts.

The obvious competitor to Nikon's new kid on the block is the brand new Canon PowerShot G12, announced today, which replaces the G11. We put the two into battle to see which will emerge victorious.

 

Image Sensor

Nikon P7000
1/1.7 CCD, 10MP
Canon G12
1/1.7 CCD, 10MP

While the level of design of these two sensors is undoubtedly different, the headlines specs on them are identical. Both of these powerful compacts feature CCDs with the same size crop and the same amount of image resolution available. A draw in this department.

 

Lens

Nikon P7000
28-200mm, f/2.8-5.6
Canon G12
28-140mm, f/2.8-4.5

The lens construction for both here is essentially very similar with both manufacturers offering 11 glass elements in 9 groups. Neither manages to drop as far as you might like to reach apertures of f/2.0 but it's the Nikon that has both the better range and also, more importantly perhaps, more optical zoom. It's a 7.1x magnification compared to the 5x on the G12. 

 

Technology

The P7000's sensor has been stepped down to a manageable 10 megapixels CCD with Nikon's EXPEED C2 processor running the show from beneath the chassis. Meanwhile, the camera sports a 7.1x Nikkor lens that offers an impressive 28-200mm (in 35mm terms) range and lens-shift type vibration reduction, with a maximum aperture of F/2.8 on offer at the widest angle.

The G12 inherits most of the features found on the G11, such as the 10-megapixel CCD image sensor and 5x optical zoom. The new model also boasts a high-performance DIGIC 4 processor, designed to take quality shots in all lighting conditions. The new model also features a new OIS system called Hybrid IS which, according to the manufacturer can further reduce camera shake when moving horizontally towards the subject - good news for taking close-up shots.

 

Form

Nikon P7000
114.2 x 77.0 x 44.8 mm, 360g
Canon G12
112.1 x 76.2 x 48.3 mm, 401g

At 401g (including battery and memory card), the G12 is slightly heavier than its predecessor and the P7000 as well. Dimensions-wise though, both compacts are on a very similar pocketable frame. Not too much in it here but it seems the Nikon just has the edge as compact compacts go.

 

Focus

The P7000 boasts a 12-point system, and also has a Subject Tracking function that automatically tracks the designated subject. In contrast, the G12 only has a 9-point system, but does allow a closest focusing distance of just 1cm.

 

ISO

Nikon P7000
100-3200 + 12800 extended
Canon G12
80-3200 + 12800 extended

The P7000's ISO range runs from 100 up to a standard 3200 and 6400 (Hi 1) also selectable, while the low light noise mode will use an ISO range of 400 to 12,800 and various other user selectable ranges are available.

The G12 is equipped with a dedicated dial which enables you to adjust the ISO in 1/3 stop increments, and you can also set the maximum auto ISO level. The Low Light offers ISO 12,800, while the Hybrid IS also helps in low lighting conditions. In short, you're looking at the same kind of stretch here. The real test, of course, lies where the noise starts to creep in. We'll have to save that one for the full review.

 

Imaging

Along with full manual control and RAW capture, the P7000 offers all the usual shooting modes, including the smart portrait system, which is probably a waste of time for someone looking at a high-end camera of this type. The cameras also offers a variety of tweaks to help you get the best out of your pictures including, blink warning, red-eye reduction and the ability to take black and white or sepia images.

The G12 offers several of the same features, such as red eye reduction, and black and white and sepia shooting, as well as a comprehensive selection of other colour effects.  It also offers a High Dynamic Range mode that takes three shots in quick succession and then combines them into one detailed image. Users will also be able to take up to 4.2 shots per second. The G12 shoots uncompressed RAW images, which can be edited on Canon's Digital Photo Professional after capture. As the name suggests, the Electronic Level Sensor enables you check whether your photos are level. There is also a comprehensive range of shooting modes such as a fish-eye effect, an underwater mode and the Smart Mode that includes Smile, Wink Self-timer and Face Self-timer.

 

Video

Nikon P7000
720p/24fps + stereo mic
Canon G12
720p/24fps + stereo mic

We were slightly surprised to find out that although the P7000 can capture HD video, it only supports 720p footage - perhaps something to keep it in line with most of the video shooting Nikon DSLRs. An HDMI slot enables you to rig up the camera to your HD TV for viewing your shots and video in high-def. The absence of full 1080p HD recording may not quite cut the mustard with some, but they may be partially placated by the built-in stereo audio capture along with the input for an optional external mic.

While the G11 could only manage to muster an outdated 640 x 480 resolution offering, the new G12 is set to offer 720p HD recording, along with an HDMI port and stereo sound, putting it neck and neck with the P7000 in video terms.

Display

Nikon P7000
3", 920K-dot, fixed
Canon G12
2.8", 460k-dot, vari-angle

The P7000 features a high-resolution 3-inch 920K-dot display, along with an optical viewfinder. It's both bigger than what Canon has come up with on the G12. However, and it's a big however, the G12 has a serious edge in that its LCD display is a vari-angle unit meaning you can do all that shooting round corners and up and over peoples' heads that's often so useful. So, rather a case of swings and roundabouts here. The purist should opt for the P7000 and the modernist the G12. What you should pick is going to have to be your call.

Usability

Designed to echo the controls of Nikon's DSLR range, those found on the P7000 comprise three top-mounted dials offering shortcuts, shooting modes and exposure compensation.  There are also additional button controls around the casing.

Along with full manual control and a range of semi-automatic modes, the G12 offers a new front dial for quick access when shooting. Users can choose whether to use this or the rear multi-control dial as the main way of controlling the camera, or use a combination of both.

 

Accessories

The two cameras are fairly evenly matched when it comes to add-ons. On the P7000, accessories can be added thanks to the top-mounted hot shoe and a built-in pop-up flash sits on the left-hand shoulder. A wide angle convertor lens is also available. Meanwhile, the G12 offers support for a wide range of accessories, including th new FA-DC58B lens adapter which attaches to the lens barrel ring enabling you to attach a variety of 58mm Canon filters. The hot shoe is compatible with Canon's EX Speedlites, enabling you increase the available flash power, or use an external flash using a remote shoe cord.

 

Price

Nikon P7000
£489.99
Canon G12
£539

The P7000 is set to hit UK shops on 23 September 2010, and will set you back £489.99. Due to land in early October, the G12 is a little more pricey at £539, although this is less than it's predecessor cost when it was first released (£569). Costing £50 less than the G12, the Nikon clearly takes the trophy in this round.

Conclusions

Although these both look like very impressive cameras, we have to pick a winner. Obviously things could change once we get both the new models in for a full review, but based on the specs available to us, we have to give the crown to the Nikon P7000. It pips the Canon G12 to the post in a few areas including the lens and optical zoom and well as a slightly more compact chassis. It also beats the Canon in the price war, with a price tag that's £80 less than the G12.

Do you think that the Nikon P7000 looks like the best buy or will you opt for the Canon G12? Let us know.



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