Nikon Coolpix P7700 Digital Camera Review$499.95
Lens & Sensor
Though most of its competitors atop the compact digital camera market have opted for f/1.8 or brighter zoom lenses, the P7700 is equipped with a lens that maxes out at f/2.0. That's getting to be mundane in today's world, but it appears to have been a conscious (and perhaps brilliant) tradeoff. Most advanced compacts don't offer more than a 4x or 5x zoom ratio, but the P7700 has a 35mm-equivalent zoom range of 28-200mm—that's 7.1x. Even better, it's able to open up to f/4.0 at the 200mm-equivalent telephoto end. The P7700's predecessor, the P7100, also had a 7.1x zoom, but that model's aperture range was just f/2.8-f/5.6.
The P7700 uses a 1/1.7-inch CMOS imaging sensor capturing 12.2 megapixels. In this respect, it falls squarely in line with the competing models from Olympus, Canon, and Samsung. Though there are larger sensors on the market today—Fuji's 2/3-inch sensors, the Sony RX100's 1-inch unit, and the Canon G1 X's super-large 1.5-inch piece—1/1.7-inch models are the standard for advanced compacts. It's a big upgrade from the 10-megapixel CCD sensor employed by the earlier P7100.
In terms of screen technology, Nikon seems to be taking the opposite tack of Canon. Where Canon dropped articulating LCDs entirely with their new G15, Nikon has moved from the P7100's tilt-only implementation to a full flip-out and swivel design on the P7700. This is by far the best and most versatile screen configuration, and we're pleased to see it here, even if it does add to the bulk of the camera. The screen itself is 3 inches on the diagonal, offers a resolution of 921,000 dots, and is not touch-sensitive. Again, this is par for the course in this segment. The screen is very bright, clear, and sharp during image playback. While shooting, the live view picture is similarly clear in good light, though the framerate can dip in dimmer situations.
The built-in flash pops up from the left shoulder of the camera's body via a manual release switch. It's small, not very powerful (32-foot range at wide angle and 18 feet at telephoto), and not all that high above the lens, but it should get the job done in most day-to-day shooting situations. More serious strobists will enjoy the fact that the P7700 has a full hot shoe and is compatible with Nikon's Speedlight flashes in both hotshoe-mounted and wireless configurations.
Like most of its rivals, the P7700 includes a mini-HDMI port and a proprietary USB 2.0 connector that can output audio and video as well as transfer data files. These are found under a sturdy hinged flap on the right side of the body. However, it goes a step further and also offers a microphone input and a connector for the accessory GP-1 GPS unit, both found on the left side under individual covers.
The P7700 is powered by Nikon's EN-EL14 lithium ion cell, which also ships with the P7000 and P7100, as well as the D3100, D3200, and D5100 DSLRs. According to CIPA testing, you should be able to get about 330 shots on a charge. That's not really a great number, but it's roughly in line with its competitors. (It's worth noting, however, that the Canon G15 can substantially increase its battery life by relying on the optical viewfinder rather than the rear LCD for composition—a luxury that neither the P7700 nor any of its other competitors enjoy.)