Nikon Coolpix P7100 pictures and hands-on

Competing for the crown in high-end compacts is the Nikon Coolpix P7100, which replaces 2010’s Coolpix P7000. It puts itself up against the likes of the Canon PowerShot G12, hoping to appeal to those who want full control from their compact, perhaps as a DSLR backup or second camera.

It’s packed with features and, more importantly, is loaded with controls. It is reassuring weighty in the hand at 395g and with barely pocketable dimensions, you do at least have plenty to grip on to.

Being touted as the “expert compact”, at first glance the control layout looks much more like DSLR than a compact. A selection of shoulder dials give you access to shooting modes, exposure compensation and major functions, so you can change the ISO, bracketing or white balance quickly and easily.

There are also front and rear thumb dials for making adjustments, so when shooting in manual you can quickly adjust the shutter speed and aperture on different dials to get the exposure you want.

The articulated screen gives some flexibility in shooting, especially good for those low or high angle shots, but unlike the Canon G12, you can’t fold it away to protect it from scratches. 

Internally the 1/1.7 type CCD offers you 10 megapixels and as we’ve found on other cameras of this type, it should offer cleaner results as the sensor isn’t too densely packed. The lens offers 7.1x zoom (28-200mm in 35mm terms) and has a maximum aperture of F/2.8, so offers some scope for more dramatic portraiture with increased depth of field.

Perhaps surprisingly you don’t get Full HD video capture, instead you’ll be left with 1280 x 720/24p, which might leave some disappointed, but that’s the same as the Canon rival.

The Nikon Coolpix P7100 feels good in the hand and although there are a wide range of controls on offer, it’s never too hard to find what you’re looking for, especially if you are familiar with DSLR controls. You also get a run of fun filter effects, as well as a front screw thread for adding accessories, so it certainly looks to offer a lot of potential.

Priced at £499.99, and hitting the stores from 22 September 2011, it might find itself in competition with the compact system cameras or even entry-level DSLR models. Still, it’s just about pocketable and does offer you some serious control.