Nikon Coolpix P7700 Digital Camera Review$499.95
Speed and Timing
The P7700 is a curious mix of high ambition and modest success when it comes to burst shooting. It offers a total of eight burst modes, including an interval timer option. Virtually every option under the sun is assembled here, and they all work—if not quite as well as we might hope. There is a full suite of self-timer options, as well, though we would have liked to see a customizable setting.
Continuous shooting is broken up into three primary modes: Continuous H (8fps, 6 shots), Continuous M (4fps, 6 shots), and Continuous L (1fps, 30 shots). While we found the camera to meet and at times exceed its stated speeds, and while 8fps is pretty good, 6 shots is a paltry number for an advanced compact camera these days. Worse yet, the camera essentially locks up while it's clearing the buffer, meaning you can't use the camera for a good few seconds after shooting a burst. This is doubly sad considering that the P7700 has a longer zoom range than its competitors, and thus would probably be the best-in-class solution for sports shooting, etc.
Nikon throws in all kinds of extras on top of these three continuous modes. First among these is BSS aka Best Shot Selector, which shoots up to 10 photos and then picks the sharpest among them automatically. (Nikon recommends using this option in dim lighting situations.) Also included are Muti-shot 16 (takes 16 shots and arrays them in a single-frame mosaic), Continuous H: 120 fps (shoots 60 frames at about 1/125sec or faster, at a 1280x960 resolution), and Continuous H: 60 fps (captures 60 frames at about 1/60sec, at 1280x960 resolution). Finally there's an interval timer option, which allows the P7700 to automatically take a shot every 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, or 10 minutes.
Basic self-timer options are 1, 2, or 10 seconds, but the P7700 also offers remote-control shooting with all three timer options (or no delay), as well as a "Smile timer" that will be ever vigilant for a smile in your field of view and automatically start shooting whenever it detects one.
In all but the darkest and lowest-contrast situations, the P7700 locks focus reliably and accurately. We experienced very few failures to lock when we'd selected the appropriate focusing mode, despite the fact that the camera was hesitant to use its AF assist lamp.
The focusing modes were a source of occasional frustration, though we understand why Nikon has chosen this path. As with nearly every other aspect of the P7700's design, there are several different focusing modes available. The default autofocus mode (AF) will focus on any subject between 50cm and infinity (or 80cm and infinity at full telephoto). Change to the macro mode (Macro close-up) and you can shoot objects as close as 10cm or 2cm from the lens, depending on how much zoom you're using, and all the way to infinity. Select the secondary macro mode (Close range only) and focus is limited to the macro range, with the upshot being that it should be a bit faster. Some might be happy to exchange the slightly quicker AF for automatic use of the full macro-to-infinity focusing range, but others will surely be happy with the decision Nikon made here.
There are also Infinity (only focuses on the horizon) and manual focus modes. Manual focus is controlled using the rear rotary dial or the up and down buttons, and includes a magnified focus assist window at the center of the LCD display.