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Nikon unveils Coolpix P7100, five other compact models  
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 | by Rob Galbraith
Nikon has unveiled six additions to its compact digital camera lineup. Leading the pack is the Coolpix P7100, a reworked version of the P7000 that addresses head-on that camera's various performance and design quirks (and should result in the P7100 being the most capable RAW-shooting Coolpix ever produced), the Coolpix S1200pj, a 14 million image pixel model which can can serve as a projector too (including for an iOS device from Apple), the waterproof/shockproof Coolpix AW100 and three others.

Coolpix P7100

The new P7100 retains the best of the P7000, including its overall body design, 9.98 million image pixel, 1/1.7" CCD sensor, 28-200mm (equivalent) zoom, ISO 100-6400 sensitivity range, hot shoe, 3.0-inch (diagonal), 921,000-dot rear LCD, built-in ND filter, Virtual Horizon leveler, 720p video mode with fairly smooth zoom during recording, external stereo mic jack, RAW, JPEG, and RAW + JPEG file format options and compatibility with newer Nikon Speedlights (including one-group remote wireless triggering). To this mix the P7100 adds a healthy list of improvements, several of which are meant to tackle performance pain points in the P7000.

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Renovated: Views of the Coolpix P7100. Click photos to enlarge (Photos courtesy Nikon)

Here's a summary of the principal changes.
  • Refined EXPEED C2 image processing, which is meant to deliver cleaner files at all ISO settings. Noise reduction is also promised to tread lighter on fine detail than before. Purple fringing around highlights is also said to be reduced.
  • Faster everything, including a shorter startup time and shutter lag (this has been trimmed from 300ms to 200ms), a quicker AF system and, perhaps most notable of all, a significant reduction in the wait time when switching between shooting, playback and menus on the camera, including when jumping into one of the settings on the top Quick Menu dial.

    The P7000 effectively locks up for several seconds when set to RAW or RAW + JPEG and one or more pictures are taken. This is the camera's most bothersome operational shortcoming. The P7100 is expected to be better in this regard, but we're not sure how much better as the improvement has not been quantified by Nikon.
  • In the P7100, it's now possible to lock the exposure for video recording, using the camera's AE Lock feature (there is no full manual exposure video mode). This is a welcome improvement over the fully automatic and non-adjustable exposure control of the P7000 when set to record video. The only restriction is exposure must be locked prior to the start of recording video with the P7100. As before, exposure compensation can be applied to video capture, though only before recording begins.

    P7100 video capture is 720p at 24fps, the same as the P7000.
  • The P7100 provides a manual audio gain setting of sorts. Two sound level options are provided in the camera, auto gain and high gain, the latter of which is a fixed gain level. The high gain setting can be applied to sound coming in from a connected external mic only.
  • While Eye-Fi memory/Wi-Fi combo cards work just fine in the P7000, the camera lacks specific support for them. The P7100, by comparison, includes an Eye-Fi enable/disable menu, rear LCD transmit status icon and power management features designed expressly for Eye-Fi's SD lineup.

    The P7100 is also officially compatible with over-32GB SDXC cards (in addition to SD and SDHC).
  • In-camera HDR plus new special effects options have been added to the P7100.
The body has been given a makeover too. The biggest difference is the new tilt-and-swivel mechanism for the rear LCD (the 921,000-dot LCD component is the same as before). Nikon has also added a sub-command dial to the front of the camera, though it's oriented vertically rather than the embedded horizontal placement typical to Nikon's digital SLRs. The strap lugs now rotate, plus Nikon has turned the P7000's Av/Tv button on the top of the camera into a second Fn button on the P7100 (this change is really just formalizing the role the programmable Av/Tv button was already playing in the earlier camera, though there may be different or additional functions that can be assigned to it in the P7100).

Speedlight functionality is unchanged, which is just fine as the P7000 has worked like a charm for me with either a SB-700 mounted in its shoe or an SU-800, with the latter triggering an off-camera SB-700 or SB-900. Also as before, the camera sports front and rear IR receivers for remote firing with a compatible IR trigger, but lacks a wired sync jack, while RAW files are NRWs rather than NEFs (though there are few if any notable under-the-hood differences between Nikon's two RAW formats these days). Like the P7000, the P7100 will accept the 0.75x Wide-Angle Converter WC-E75A.

My weekend camera has been the P7000 since it came out almost a year ago, and it has been a love/hate relationship right from the start. The lens' 7.1x zoom range is really useful while optical quality is very good, plus the image quality is impressive for this class of camera. Remote wireless i-TTL flash photography is a breeze and I like the P7000's handling too. Because it does a few things quite well, I have frequently brought out the P7000 to photograph my two elementary-age boys.

Playtime: Coolpix P7000 at 28mm (equivalent), ISO 100, 1/250, f/3.2, off-camera SB-900, NRW converted in Capture NX2. Click to enlarge (Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)

But the slow switching between modes, the long wait to shoot again after squeezing off one or more RAW frames and the lack of a way to lock down exposure during video recording have added up to more than a few infuriating moments with the P7000.

Nikon seems to have hit all the right notes with the P7100, at least on paper, which means I'm anxious to try one to see if the stated improvements are as good as described, as well as to test whether RAW and RAW + JPEG capture is as usable as that of the Canon PowerShot G12. Canon's pro-friendly compact imposes only a short pause after a RAW burst before being ready to fire again; the P7100 needs to behave the same way, and I hope it does.

(Like the P7000 before it, the P7100 is the only compact from Nikon to offer RAW as a file format option.)

The Coolpix P7100 is to ship September 22, 2011 at an estimated street price of US$499.95 in the U.S. Photos taken with the camera are here.

Coolpix S1200pj

Nikon has also unveiled the S1200pj, the third iteration of projector-equipped Coolpix from the company. The new, 14 million image pixel model bumps projector brightness from 14 to 20 lumens, relative to last year's S1100pj, and adds the ability to serve as a 640 x 480 pixel projector for Apple's iPhone, iPod touch and iPad (a cable to connect the iOS device to the camera is bundled with the S1200pj).

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Shining Brighter: Views of the Coolpix S1200pj. Click photos to enlarge (Photos courtesy Nikon)

The Coolpix S1200pj is to ship September 22, 2011 at an estimated street price of US$429.95 in the U.S. It will come in black and pink colours. Photos taken with the camera are here.

Coolpix AW100

The third new Coolpix from Nikon is the AW100, a waterproof/shockproof 16MP model that's rated to an underwater depth of 33ft/10m. It's to ship September 8, 2011 at an estimated street price of US$379.95 in the U.S. It will come in black, blue and orange. Photos taken with the camera are here.

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Tough Guy: Views of the Coolpix AW100. Click photos to enlarge (Photos courtesy Nikon)

The other new models are the Coolpix S100, S6200 and S8200.

Revision History
August 24, 2011: Corrected the P7100's video frame rate specification.

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