Noise profile, JPEG

JPEGs start to show artifacts at as low as ISO 200, and by the time you hit ISO 400, there's obvious degradation in the details.
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 80 JPEG

At the lowest ISO sensitivity, images display a natural-looking sharpness and tonality.

(1/100 sec, f2.5, spot metering, AWB, ISO 80, 46mm equivalent)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 200 JPEG

In good light, ISO 200 delivers nice, artifact-free textures, and Nikon doesn't get aggressive with the sharpening.

(1/60 sec, f4.5, spot metering, AWB, 92mm equivalent)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 400 JPEG

I think ISO 400 shots look mushy and soft, especially around edges, and I couldn't really get a better result from the raw file.

(1/160 sec, f5, spot metering, AWB, 105mm equivalent)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 800 JPEG

Edges get very messy at ISO 800, and the out-of-focus areas get quite mushy.

(1/40 sec, f3.2, matrix metering, AWB, 66mm equivalent)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 800, raw vs. JPEG

At the higher ISO sensitivities, JPEG images don't fare very well. Here, the automatic white balance wiped out the warm tonality of the colors, and you can see noise-suppression artifacts on the clock and sky. There are also quite a few hot pixels in the sky. Shooting raw makes a huge difference at night.

(1/60 sec, f3.2, matrix metering, AWB, 66mm equivalent)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 1600 JPEG

As long as you keep it small, and depending upon scene content, you can still get some usable photos at ISO 1600. (This image appears a lot darker in a browser than in Photoshop.)

(1/30 sec, f2.8, spot metering, AWB, 58mm equivalent)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 1600 raw vs. JPEG

While shooting raw helps at the higher sensitivities -- especially for preserving colors -- there's no magic. You'll still end up with quite a bit of grain.

(1/30 sec, f2.8, spot metering, AWB, 58mm equivalent)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Color

Though I'm not crazy about the colors in low light, in good light the camera produces relatively accurate, saturated colors.
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Picture controls

The default Standard Picture Control profile increases contrast and sharpening a hair, and tends to shift hues just a little.

(1/80 sec, f3.5, spot metering, AWB, ISO 80, 58mm equivalent)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Highlight recovery

Typical for its class, the P7700 doesn't have a lot of latitude in the highlights, but there's enough to bring down some of the blown-out areas in a shot like this. In brighter shots (such as with light-green apples), there's nothing to recover.

(1/200 sec, f4.5, spot metering, AWB, ISO 200, 28mm equivalent)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Bokeh

The lens produces relatively nice out-of-focus areas for its class.

(1/100 sec, f2, spot metering, AWB, ISO 80, 28mm equivalent)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Center sharpness

The lens remains pretty sharp at the wider apertures, though by f8 it's quite soft.
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Distortion

Nikon defaults to distortion control off, and the lens has pretty noticeable asymmetrical barrel distortion at its widest, plus some pincushion distortion starting from the middle of the zoom range.
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Effects

The camera has a reasonable set of special effects, but only a few have adjustment options, and even on the ones that do it's hard to get decent results. Also, the Paint effect, shown here, is more faux-HD than painting.
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:
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