Nikon Coolpix P7800: Return of the viewfinder

September 4, 2013 9:01 PM PDT / Updated: September 6, 2013 5:05 AM PDT
Nikon Coolpix P7800
Nikon Coolpix P7800 on show at IFA in Berlin. Nick Hide/CNET

I criticized Canon for its disappointing G16 update to the G series, but Nikon's no innovation revelation either in this class. The Coolpix P7800, which sort of replaces the P7700 -- Nikon cameras never really discontinue, they just fade away -- offers just a few enhancements over the P7700, but doesn't seem to address that camera's real weaknesses.

For the P7700, Nikon dropped the optical viewfinder, but this year's P7800 gains an electronic viewfinder. Given how small the direct-view optical finders have become, the EVF is a nice addition. Although the LCD remains 3 inches, it's now one of the increasingly popular RGBW versions that use an extra set of white pixels to increase visibility and improve brightness. Nikon updated the design slightly, dropping the left-side dial of frequently needed settings and replacing it with a combination of shortcut button and typical quick-control screen.

In all other respects, the camera remains identical to its predecessor: same sensor, same lens, same processing engine (although I'm sure the latter's been tweaked a bit). The lens is fine and fast, although I did see more distortion than I'd like. But the P7700 was one of the slowest performers in its class -- this series has been notoriously slow for generations -- and Nikon has said nothing about speed improvements. Even Canon addressed its speed problems for the G16. Nor does Nikon indicate that its done anything to improve photo quality; while not bad, the P7700 did have room for improvement.

Here's its current competition:

  Canon PowerShot G16 Fujifilm X20 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Nikon Coolpix P7800 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
Sensor (effective resolution) 12.1MP CMOS 12MP X-Trans CMOS 12.2MP BSI CMOS 12.2MP BSI CMOS 20.2MP Exmor CMOS
1/1.7-inch 2/3-inch 1/1.7-inch 1/1.7-inch 1-inch
(13.2 x 8.8mm)
Sensitivity range ISO 80 - ISO 12800 ISO 100 - ISO 12800 ISO 80 - ISO 3200/6400 (exp) ISO 80 - ISO 3200/6400 (exp) ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Lens 28 - 140mm
f1.8-2.8
5x
28 - 112mm
f2-2.8
4x
28 - 200mm
f2-4
7.1x
28 - 200mm
f2-4
7.1x
28 - 100mm
f1.8-4.9
3.6x
Closest focus (inches) 0.4 3.9 0.8 0.8 1.9
Burst shooting 9.3fps
unlimited JPEG
12fps
11 JPEG/n/a raw
8fps
6JPEG/ n/a raw
8fps
6JPEG/ n/a raw
2.5fps
(10fps with fixed exposure)
n/a
Viewfinder Optical Optical None EVF None
Autofocus n/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
25-area Contrast AF
Metering n/a 256 zones 224 segment 224 segment n/a
Shutter 15 - 1/4000 sec 30 - 1/4000 sec 60 - 1/4000 sec 60 - 1/4000 sec 30 - 1/2000 sec; bulb
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hot shoe Yes yes Yes Yes No
LCD 3-inch fixed 922,000 dots 2.8-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch articulated
921,000 dots
3-inch articulated
921,000 dots
3-inch fixed
921,600 dots
IS Optical Optical Optical Optical Optical
Video (best quality) 1080/60p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
1080/60p H.264 QuickTime MOV Stereo 1080/30p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
1080/30p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
1080/ 60p/50p
AVCHD Stereo
Manual iris and shutter in video n/a No Yes Yes Yes
Zoom during movies Yes Yes Yes
(Auto only)
Yes
(Auto only)
n/a
Mic input No Yes Yes Yes No
Wireless connection Wi-Fi No No Optional
via WU-1a ($59.95)
No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 360 shots
(not CIPA standard)
270 shots 330 shots 350 shots 330 shots
Size (WHD, inches) 4.4 x 3.0 x 1.6 4.6 x 2.7 x 2.2 4.7 x  2.9 x 2.0 4.7 x  3.1 x 2.0 4.0 x 2.4 x 1.4
Weight (ounces) 12.6 (est) 12.8 13.8 14.1 (est) 8.5
Mfr. Price $549.99 $599.99 $499.95 $549.95 $649.99
Availability October 2013 March 2013 September 2012 September 2013 July 2012

With so many companies stepping up the pace in the $500 to $1,000 range, notably Sony, it's hard to watch when some seem to choose to coast for a year in a particularly competitive market segment.

The LD-1000 LED Movie Light. Nikon

On the other hand, in conjunction with the P7800 Nikon has announced an interesting, oddball little accessory for continuous lighting (primarily for video shooting). Its an LED array with diffuser whose head can rotate for indirect illumination. The LD-1000 is "dumb" in the sense that it doesn't talk to the camera, but that means you can use it with any camera, not just Nikons. You attach it to a bracket that mounts via the tripod connector. It will come in black or white and is slated to ship in October for $99.95.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Digital camera type Digital Camera
  • Optical Zoom 7.1 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CMOS
  • Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer Optical
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/1.7"
About The Author

Lori Grunin is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering cameras, camcorders, and related accessories. She's been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 1988.