Nikon Coolpix P7800 pictures and hands-on

Nikon has launched a new high-end compact camera, the Nikon Coolpix P7800. It updates the Coolpix P7700, but retains many of the same specs and features.

We had the chance to play with a pre-production sample of the Nikon Coolpix P7800 to discover the changes it brings. The headline change is the addition of the electronic viewfinder. Nikon told us that this was the result of customer feedback and it was one of the drawbacks we found when we reviewed the P7700 eariler in the year.

READ: Nikon Coolpix P7700 review

The addition of the viewfinder means that the P7800 can square-up against the growing number of high-end compacts out there, including its old rival the Canon G series. It's a fairly conventional electronic viewfinder, but the 921k-dot high-resolution certainly looked good when we tried it out.

Our first observation, however, was that there's no eye sensor, so when you want to use the viewfinder, you have to press the button, rather than just lifting it to your face as is the case with many. It's a minor foible, and at least the switch from rear display to viewfinder is fast, so you're not delayed once you punch that button.

The addition of the viewfinder changes the design from the P7700 predecessor, namely that one of the top dials is lost. Instead, there's a rear button that can toggle between the features that the dial used to support. In the limited time we had with the camera we couldn't determine whether this would make a huge difference to daily use, we suspect not.

The Coolpix P7800 is a larger compact camera model, which might deter some, especially with the likes of the Sony RX100 II leading the charge for a new generation of high-end compacts, but for those who want a DSLR-like experience, the P7800 offers much of that, from a handling point of view.

Little details, like the LED notification when you move the exposure compensation is a handy at-a-glance reminder that you've changed something: perhaps that's why all your shots are overexposed?

The 3-inch display on the rear is really nice too, with a sharp 921k-dot resolution. It's flexible adjustment is great for lining up shots in tight spots, but it isn't touch enabled. That's not a negative, in our mind, as we like the physical control approach that the camera offers, but some might be of the opinion that its time for this camera to move that along.

We weren't able to test the quality of the camera - it wasn't final firmware - but with the same 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor and the same 7.1x 28-200mm lens as the P7700, we're sure it will still produce the same high quality results.

In the hands the P7800 is rather chunky, but it's big enough to grip properly, with reassuring heft. We're left with high expectations for the Coolpix P7800: it feels like a serious camera, but the world around it is changing fast. Has Nikon done enough to stay in the high-end game? We will bring you a Nikon Coolpix P7800 review as soon as we can get our hands on a final sample.