In 2010, Nikon released a strange camera onto the market. We say "strange" purely because it looked just like another camera already making waves in the same arena: the Canon PowerShot G12.
Design and features
The P7100 is not significantly different from the P7000, the camera released last year, as it uses the same 10.1-megapixel 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor and 7x optical zoom lens with a maximum aperture range of f/2.8-5.6. Just by looking at the external casing, you can see how similar this looks to the Canon G12. The body shape borrows some familiar bumps over the lens barrel, which houses the hotshoe, and a small pop-up flash is nestled just above the Nikon logo.
It's one of the last few compact cameras, if you can call it that due to its 395g heft, to have an optical viewfinder. Along the top panel is a range of dials and buttons for tweaking common shooting settings. Adjustments to ISO, white balance, bracketing, picture control and photo quality can be made using the dial above the left hand side of the screen. A more standard mode dial with PASM, automatic, creative effect and custom settings is towards the middle, while a small exposure compensation dial is over towards the other end.
The screen on the P7100 can pop out from the body, allowing it to be tilted.
The LCD screen has been given a tweak, maintaining its resolution at 921,000 dots, but having a flip-down design that pivots out from the body. A front control dial is quite intuitive for adjusting settings, and there's also one at the back, too, for quick changes to exposure in manual mode.
One addition that Nikon probably should have made to the P7100 is to have an instant-on record button somewhere on the body. To start recording, you first need to change the mode dial to the movie option, and then start filming by pressing the shutter button. It would be a great solution if the Fn2 button, conveniently placed near the shutter, could be customised as a record button, but it's limited to just four custom options, including a virtual horizon and histogram toggle.
A visual indication of how close 7x optical zoom gets you.
Connectivity is provided via mini-HDMI and USB-out, while there's an external mic jack for more control over audio recording.
|Nikon P7100||Canon G12|
|10-megapixel CCD (1/1.7-inch)||10-megapixel CCD (1/1.7-inch)||10.1-megapixel CCD (1/1.63-inch)||12.1-megapixel CMOS (1/1.7-inch)|
|3-inch, flip-down 920,000-dot LCD||2.8-inch, 461,000-dot LCD||3-inch, 460,000-dot LCD||3-inch, 461,000-dot LCD|
|7.1x optical zoom||5x optical zoom||4x optical zoom||5x optical zoom|
|HD video (720p, 24fps)||HD video (720p, 24fps)||HD video (AVCHD Lite, 720p, 30fps)||HD video (H.264, 1080p, 24fps)|
|Pop-up flash, hotshoe||Built-in flash, hotshoe||Pop-up flash, hotshoe||Pop-up flash|
Chart (in FPS)
- Time to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- RAW shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- 188.8.131.52.3Panasonic Lumix LX5
- 184.108.40.206.3Nikon Coolpix P7100
- 220.127.116.11.3Canon PowerShot G12
- 18.104.22.168Nikon Coolpix P7000
- 22.214.171.124.4Canon PowerShot S100
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed
- 2.6Panasonic Lumix LX5
- 2.5Canon PowerShot S100
- 2Canon PowerShot G12
- 1.15Nikon Coolpix P7000
- 1Nikon Coolpix P7100
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
We conduct all of our performance testing on an SDHC, class 10 card. Even with a best-in-class memory card in the camera, the P7100's RAW shot-to-shot shooting is only marginally faster than the P7000. Nikon rates the battery for the P7100 at 350 shots.