The top mode dial offers the usual, as well as three user-setting modes. I especially like the way you configure them, completely through the menus. So, for instance, in order to customize a setting based on shutter-priority mode, you can simply select that mode; you don't have to be on it on the dial in advance as you do on most cameras. This makes it especially easy to update existing settings.
There's also a programmable function button on the front next to the lens, to which you can assign direct access to raw/JPEG toggle, ISO sensitivity, white balance, picture control, Active D-Lighting, or metering. In conjunction with the Zoom Memory setting, which allows you to preset stops at a variety of focal lengths, you can create a custom stepped zoom. I have to admit, though, I always forget the button is there; it's a bit too unobtrusive and awkward to reach.
A thumb-operated exposure compensation dial--three stops in either direction--sits just behind a button to toggle dial behavior between adjusting shutter and aperture. On the left, a Quick Menu dial selects among white balance, ISO sensitivity, image quality, bracketing, vertical histogram display, and a six-slot customizable MyMenu; the button in the middle lets you change the settings for the selected option. I really like the concept as well as the execution. However, when the flash is raised, that button is the only place to grip with your left hand if you hold the camera like a point-and-shoot rather than a dSLR.
And, speaking of the flash, it allows you to quickly dial in flash compensation in fractions of power--1/2 through 1/64 by halves--rather than in stops. Some people may find this a faster, more intuitive system.
|Canon PowerShot G12||Nikon Coolpix P6000||Nikon Coolpix P7000||Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5|
|Sensor (effective resolution)||10-megapixel CCD||13.5-megapixel CCD||10-megapixel CCD||10-megapixel CCD|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 80 - ISO 3200||ISO 64 - ISO 6400||ISO 100 - ISO 3200/6400 (expanded)||ISO 80 - ISO 3200|
|Closest focus (inches)||0.4||0.8||0.8||0.4|
|Viewfinder||Optical||Optical||Optical||Optional OVF or EVF|
|Metering||n/a||256-segment matrix||256-segment matrix||n/a
|Shutter||15-1/4,000 sec||30-1/2,000 sec||60-1/4,000 sec||60-1/4,000 sec|
|Video (best quality)||720/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
|30fps VGA Motion JPEG AVI
|720/24p H.264 QuickTime MOV
|720/30p AVCHD Lite
|Manual iris and shutter in video||No||No||No||Yes|
|Zoom while recording||No||No||Yes||n/a|
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||390 shots||260 shots||350 shots||400 shots|
|Dimensions (WHD, inches)||4.4x3.0x2.0||4.2x2.8 x1.7||4.5x3.1x1.8||4.3x2.6x1.7|
|Weight (ounces)||14.2||14.0 (est)||12.6||9.2|
|Availability||October 2010||September 2008||September 2010||August 2010|
I like the operation of the P7000's back selector dial better than the G12's; it's far less prone to accidental selections. I also like the location of the adjustment dial better here than on the G12. It falls close enough to your thumb that it feels natural to operate.
Though shaped differently from the G12's, the viewfinder on the P7000 is about the same size and quality. It's especially useful on this camera, since its display doesn't swivel or tilt, so you can't get better visibility on it in direct sunlight.
If you're a time-lapse fan, you actually lose some capabilities relative to the P6000. First, there's no time-lapse movie feature anymore. And still-photo intervals have been cut back to 30 seconds and 1-, 5-, and 10-minute options. Further, while you used to be able to shoot up to 1,800 frames, now it's capped at 300 minutes, such as 300 frames at a 1-minute interval or 30 frames at a 10-minute interval. (For a complete accounting of the P7000's features and operation, you can download a PDF of the manual.)
For the most part, I think shooters in this class would prefer wider-angle, faster-aperture lenses like that of the LX5, and probably the more compact design as well. Nikon offers a 0.75x wide-angle adapter, but you usually lose some light with adapters. But the Coolpix P7000 is a fine camera that lots of enthusiasts will appreciate for its smart shooting design, interesting feature set, and worthy photo quality.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Raw shot-to-shot time||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Typical continuous-shooting speed|