TECH ProDuct reviews
Pros: Blazing 12fps shooting speed at full
24.3-megapixel resolution with full-time
autofocus is nothing to sneeze at; attractive,
elegant camera design that feels professional
(at a non-pro price); gorgeous 1080p HD video
at 60i with full-time autofocus; fully loaded
with more useful photo features in one model
than most camera companies offer across their
Cons: No optical viewfinder; Sony’s
“TruFinder” Electronic Viewfinder is an
improvement over previous EVFs but hard to
use in bright light; images tend to be slightly
underexposed; below average performer in
low light at high ISOs.
Price: $1,399 (body only); $2,000 with Sony DT
16-50mm f/2.8 SSM kit lens
an amusement park, and you have a Sony DSLR that
should make Canon and Nikon users jealous. When
was the last time you could say that?
Nikon Coolpix P7100
Nikon makes subtle but significant upgrades to its
flagship Coolpix camera.
If Nikon had released the P7100 as its new Coolpix
camera model a year ago instead of the disappointing
P7000, it would have saved everyone a lot of time and
money. But alas, that’s how imaging and consumer
electronic companies sometimes work. They release a
buggy “first” model and then fix the mistakes in the
inevitable follow-up. It’s why “early adopters” sometimes feel like guinea pigs.
The 10.1-megapixel P7100 is not a major overhaul
from the previous model but it is an improvement in
some significant ways. First off, it’s important to note
that some of the failings of the previous model, includ-
ing its glacial start-up and shot-to-shot times, were
enhanced with a couple of firmware updates along the
way. But who has time for firmware updates when you
just want to go out and shoot?
THE GOOD NEWS
That’s all the bad news there is about this camera. It’s
a fine upgrade from the P7000, making it a more legitimate contender in the advanced compact category to
top dogs such as the Canon G12 and Panasonic LX5. The
whole herky-jerky menu thang from before has been
resolved on the P7100, and scrolling and selecting options is acceptable if not exactly enjoyable.
The Quick Menu Dial on the top left, where you can
adjust some of the most used settings such as ISO,
bracketing and white balance, is a nice feature that is
more useful now that it’s been amped up. The center
button on the dial, which calls up an onscreen menu
for adjusting settings, is markedly faster, putting the
“quick” back into the Quick Dial.
Shutter response is still quite good with very little
lag—about a quarter of a second—and virtually none
when you prefocus. All the excellent external control
remains from the previous model and there’s even
a new command dial added to the front.
Also new: The 3-inch, 921,000-dot LCD on
back is now a vari-angle screen that tilts to
help you compose shots from unusual angles.
There’s still an optical viewfinder (with diopter
control) on the camera, but it’s pretty tiny and
I prefer composing photos on the tilting screen,
which has anti-glare coating that helps while
Another somewhat strange—though useful—feature on the P7100 is a button on back of
the camera that kind of looks like Pac-Man, but
actually triggers the pop-up flash which, while
small, has a pretty good range: from a foot to 21
The P7100’s 3-inch rear LCD is now a vari-angle screen that tilts
to help you compose shots from unusual angles.
feet on the wide angle; and from two feet to nine feet
ten inches on the telephoto. There’s also a hotshoe
(i TTL) for an external flash, and in-camera wireless
flash control with a commander mode.
IMAGE QUALIT Y
Since the 10-megapixel, 1/1.7-inch CCD and lens are the
same from the previous model, image quality is pretty
much the same, i.e. quite good. Like other high-end
compacts with 1/1.17-inch image sensors, there’s only
so much these cameras can do at higher ISOs. The most
you’re going to want to push it is ISO 1600, which still
produces noisy shadow areas. ISO 3200 and 6400 (Hi
1) were quite noisy, while the Low Noise Night mode,
which can record as high as ISO 12800, is for emergencies only since it captures images at just 3 megapixel.
I was disappointed that Nikon did not upgrade the
HD video function on this camera; it’s still stuck at
720p at 30 frames per second, when many competing
models offer full HD. Sound quality from the built-in
stereo mic is only so-so but there is a 3.5mm stereo microphone jack for attaching something more professional. There’s also a mini HDMI port for playing your
movies directly on an HDTV (but you’ll have to purchase your own cord).
THE BOT TOM LINE
Nikon hasn’t changed a lot on the reboot of its flagship
Coolpix camera but it has significantly improved it. The
new P7100 may look the same and offer essentially the
same good image quality from the previous model but
it’s much faster and more enjoyable to use overall. I’d
still rate it a step down from competing advanced compacts from Canon and Panasonic but the gap is closing.
Nikon Coolpix P7100
Pros: Faster to use overall; even more external
control with the addition of front command
dial; tilting, vari-angle 3-inch LCD is a big plus.
Cons: Shot-to-shot speeds are still slow,
particularly when shooting RAW; HD video
is still stuck at 720p; style of camera too
imitative of Canon G12.
Ricoh GR Digital IV
A high-quality compact camera from a company
commonly associated with the photocopier world.
One of the most fun compact cameras I’ve shot
with in recent months is the 10-megapixel Ricoh
GR Digital IV. Never heard of it? You’re probably not
alone. You see, it follows in the footsteps of the GR
Digital III, another compact that was released way
back in 2009 but didn’t make much of a splash in the
I’m told Ricoh’s cameras are much better known in
Japan but here the company is mainly associated with