Nikon P7000 Review

 
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Nikon Coolpix P7000 Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Good overall color and hue accuracy, with moderate oversaturation of some colors.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located towards the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center.

Saturation. The Nikon P7000's default settings produced pretty good saturation levels overall, with mild to moderate oversaturation in blues, reds and some greens. Bright yellow, aqua and cyan were actually undersaturated by a small amount, but this is quite typical. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. Here, when using Auto white balance, the Nikon P7000 did a decent job rendering Caucasian skin tones, though they were a bit warm and yellowish in our tests. In some instances, the camera rendered skin tones a touch too pink instead. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. Like most cameras, the Nikon Coolpix P7000 pushes cyan toward blue, red toward orange, and orange toward yellow. (The cyan to blue shift is very common among the digital cameras we test; we think it's a deliberate choice by camera engineers to produce better-looking sky colors.) Overall, hue accuracy was pretty good. Hue is "what color" the color is.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Auto white balance had a slight magenta tint, while Incandescent was very warm; best color with the Manual white balance setting. Slightly above average exposure accuracy.

Auto White Balance
0 EV
Incandescent White Balance
0 EV
Manual White Balance
0 EV

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting had a slight magenta tint with the Auto white balance setting, though performance here is better than a lot of cameras. The Incandescent setting produced very warm, yellowish results. The Manual setting produced very accurate color, though just a touch cool. The Coolpix P7000's exposure system handled this lighting well, producing good results with no exposure compensation. Most cameras we've tested required about +0.3 EV exposure compensation for this shot, so the P7000 performed better than average in this regard. Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

Outdoors, daylight
Average exposure accuracy outdoors, with slightly warm colors.

Auto White Balance,
+0.7 EV
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

The Nikon Coolpix P7000 produced some hot highlights in the harsh lighting of our "Outdoor" shots. In the Portrait shot above left, detail is quite strong in the shadows though some highlights are lost in the white shirt and flowers. An average amount of exposure compensation (+0.7 EV) was required to keep the model's face reasonably bright. The Coolpix P7000 did an okay job with color, producing fairly natural looking though somewhat warm and yellow skin tones. In the Outdoor House shot on the right, the default exposure is pretty good, but again some highlights are clipped in the white trim. Shadow detail, however, is quite good. Color is pretty good, if slightly warm.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
High resolution with ~1,600 lines of strong detail from in-camera JPEGs, about 1,700 to 1,800 lines from RAW files.

In-camera JPEG:
Strong detail to
1,600 lines horizontal
In-camera JPEG:
Strong detail to
1,600 lines vertical
ACR converted RAW:
Strong detail to
1,800 lines horizontal
ACR converted RAW:
Strong detail to
1,700 lines vertical

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,600 lines per picture height in both directions from in-camera JPEGs, with some noticeable color moire. Extinction of the pattern occurred between 2,400 and 2,500 lines. There were also some "hot" or "dead" pixels that weren't properly substituted within some of the fine line patterns. We were able to extract a bit more resolution (1,700 to 1,800 lines of strong detail) with fewer artifacts by converting a RAW file with Adobe Camera RAW. Extinction of the pattern was also extended to between 2,600 and 2,800 lines in converted RAW files. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Fairly sharp images overall, with only minor edge-enhancement on high-contrast subjects. Noise suppression limits definition in the shadows, though detail is still relatively strong for a compact camera.

Definition of high-contrast elements
is affected by noise suppression
but there's very little evidence
of edge enhancement.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression blurs
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of hair here.

Sharpness. The Nikon Coolpix P7000 captures reasonably sharp images with a lot of fine detail, though noise reduction reduces definition in the finer details. Only very minor edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the crop above left. Very good results here. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows moderate levels of noise suppression, as the darker areas of hair and regions of low contrast show less distinct detail. However, individual strands remain fairly well defined in higher contrast areas. An above average performance for a compact camera here. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

RAW vs. In-Camera JPEGs
As is almost always the case, quite a bit more detail can be obtained from carefully processing RAW files than can be seen in the in-camera JPEGs. Take a look below, to see what we mean:

In the table above, mousing over a link at the bottom will load the corresponding crop in the area above, and clicking twice will open the full resolution image.

The first image on the left is an in-camera Fine JPEG taken with default settings. The second was a RAW file processed using the included Nikon ViewNX 2 software at default settings. The default settings produced a somewhat soft image, so a second ViewNX 2 conversion was made with the sharpness increased to +2.  The fourth image from the left was converted with Adobe Camera RAW, then sharpened in Photoshop using strong but tight Unsharp Mask (USM) of 500% with radius of 0.3 pixels. As you can see, the second converted RAW file does offer a bit more detail than the in-camera JPEG, but noise is also slightly more evident in the shadows. Adobe Camera RAW was able to extract the most detail, but again, noise is more visible. As is usually the case, sophisticated noise reduction plays an important role when trying to extract the most from RAW files produced by these relatively small sensors, especially at higher ISOs.

ISO & Noise Performance
Very good detail versus noise handling up to ISO 400. Noise and the effects of noise suppression become quite strong at higher ISOs.

Normal (Default) Noise Reduction
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800
ISO 1,600
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400

The Nikon Coolpix P7000 produces relatively clean images at the lower sensitivity settings, though some smearing of fine detail by the camera's noise reduction is already visible at the base ISO of 100 if you look closely. ISO 200 shows a slight increase in blurring, but fine detail is still very good for a "compact" camera. ISO 400 shows slightly stronger blurring, and chroma noise (color blotches) start to appear in darker areas, but detail is pretty good. ISO 800 is more of the same, with slightly less detail and more chroma and luminance noise. Image quality starts to go south more quickly at ISO 1,600, though, with much stronger blurring and more obvious purple and yellow color blotches. At ISO 3,200, the Nikon P7000's noise reduction seems to back off a bit, leaving more visible "grain" while trying to retain what little detail there is left, though chroma noise is quite high. ISO 6,400 is a real mess, with large purple, yellow and blue blotches and very little detail. Still, pretty good performance overall for a compact camera. Noise levels are similar to its main rival, the Canon G12, though the PowerShot's default processing was able to retain a bit more detail in most instances, except low-contrast reds. The Nikon P7000, however, offers a Low noise-reduction setting, while NR strength is fixed on the G12. To see how these images held up to printing at various sizes, read the Output Quality section below.

(Note: We had a lot of autofocus issues with the Indoor Portrait shots above. The Nikon P7000 would confirm focus very quickly, but the resulting images were often out of focus no matter which AF mode we tried. We ended up having to bracket focus manually for these shots.)

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong detail, with pretty good dynamic range for its class. Good low-light performance, capable of getting bright images in near darkness.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

Sunlight. The Nikon Coolpix P7000 did quite well in bright sunlight for a "compact" camera. There are some washed-out highlights in the white shirt and flowers, but shadow detail is quite good. We preferred the exposure with +0.7 EV compensation overall, as the model's face was a bit dim with +0.3 EV, and too many highlights were blown at +1.0 EV. Adjusting the contrast setting or employing the P7000's Active D-Lighting feature helps tame those hot highlights.

Active D-Lighting Examples
Off Low Normal High

Above are examples of our "Sunlit" Portrait shot with Nikon's three levels of Active D-Lighting at default exposure (0 EV). It's a little difficult to see the effect, as there weren't many blown highlights to begin with at the default exposure, but there is improved highlight retention, and the shadows are brighter, too. Our Far-field House Active D-Lighting series is a better example:

More Active D-Lighting Examples
Off Low
Normal High

In the above shots, it's much easier to see the improved highlight retention in the white trim that Active D-Lighting offers. Shadow detail is improved as well.

Face Detection Examples
Aperture Priority
0 EV
Auto
0 EV
Portrait
0 EV

The table above shows results with the default exposure using Aperture Priority AE, as well as full Auto and Portrait scene modes. As you can see, the Nikon P7000's face detection in Portrait mode improved exposure automatically compared to the default exposure in Aperture Priority mode. Full Auto mode made very little difference.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)



Low Light (One Foot-Candle)
ISO 100
2.4 sec, f2.8
ISO 200
1.2 sec, f2.8
ISO 400
0.6 sec, f2.8
ISO 800
0.3 sec, f2.8
ISO 1,600
1/7 sec, f2.8
ISO 3,200
1/14 sec, f2.8
ISO 6,400
1/28 sec, f2.8
Auto, ISO 400
0.6 sec, f2.8
Night Scene, ISO 400
1/4 sec, f2.8

Low light. The Nikon Coolpix P7000 did well in our low-light tests, capturing fairly bright, usable images at sensitivities as low as ISO 100 in Aperture Priority mode, with no exposure compensation required. Given that the Nikon P7000 is capable of shutter speeds as slow as 60 seconds in manual mode, the camera should have no problems capturing usable images at much lower light levels than the one foot-candle level we tested at. Noise is very well controlled to ISO 400, and color balance looks very neutral with the Auto white balance setting. The camera's autofocus system, however, struggled in low light. While it was able to focus down to almost the 1/8 foot candle level without AF assist, it wasn't very reliable or accurate in low light, often confirming focus when it wasn't. Enabling the AF assist lamp actually made AF performance worse at short range, overwhelming the autofocus system. With it enabled, we were only able to get the Nikon P7000 to focus down to about 1 foot-candle.

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.

Flash

Coverage and Range
A moderately powerful flash for its size, with somewhat uneven coverage at wide-angle. Good exposure from Auto flash mode in our indoor portrait test shot.

28mm equivalent 200mm equivalent
Auto Flash

Coverage and Exposure. Flash coverage was somewhat uneven at wide-angle, with a more uniform (albeit dim) result at full telephoto. The Nikon P7000's Auto flash mode did a good job with our indoor flash portrait test, resulting in a reasonably bright image at ISO 200 (automatically selected). The P7000 used a slower shutter speed of 1/30 second which could produce subject motion blur, though the camera's shutter priority mode could be used to address that issue.


Flash Range: wide-angle
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see P7000FL06W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL07W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL08W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL09W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL10W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL11W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see P7000FL12W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL13W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL14W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL15W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL16W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100

Flash Range: Telephoto
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see P7000FL06T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL07T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL08T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL09T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL10T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL11T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see P7000FL12T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL13T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL14T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL15T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see P7000FL16T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.6
ISO 100

ISO 100 Range. At wide-angle and ISO 100, flash shots were reasonably bright to about 10 feet, decreasing in brightness from that point on. At telephoto, flash shots started out dim at 6 feet, and got dimmer from there.


Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range
Wide-angle Telephoto
Click to see P7000FL_MFR210WA0200.JPG
21.0 feet
Auto ISO 200
Click to see P7000FL_MFR098TA0484.JPG
9.8 feet
Auto ISO 484

Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. In the shots above, results at full wide-angle are inconclusive as the bright foreground likely caused underexposure of the flash target at the rated flash range of 21.0 feet at ISO 200. At full telephoto, the Nikon P7000 produced a bright image at the rated range of 9.8 feet, but boosted ISO to 484. Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Good print quality, good color, usable 13x19-inch prints. ISO 400 images are good at 8x10 inches, ISO 800 shots are better at 5x7, ISO 3,200 shots make a good 5x7.

ISO 100 images look good printed at 16x24 inches, but are slightly soft on close inspection. Printing at 13x19 inches, however, looks good and sharp.

ISO 200 images are noticeably softer, though, looking better at 11x14, a bit of a disappointment.

ISO 400 shots are again softer than expected at 11x14 inches, looking better at 8x10.

ISO 800 images are usable at 8x10, but still pretty soft, looking better at 5x7.

ISO 1,600 shots are also usable at 1,600, but better at 5x7.

ISO 3,200 shots are good at 5x7, but better at 4x6.

ISO 6,400 images are usable printed at 4x6 inches, though there's quite a bit more grain than was apparent in any of the other images.

Overall it's a good performance, but a bit of a disappointment when compared to its main rival, the Canon G12. It's only about one print size difference, though, more noticeable at ISO 200, 400 and 800. So where Nikon leads in the high-ISO image quality gambit among SLRs, Canon is doing better among the small-sensor 10-megapixel cameras.

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon Pro9000 Mark II studio printer, and on the Canon Pixma MP610 here in the office. (See the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II review for details on that model.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon Coolpix P7000 Photo Gallery.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Nikon Coolpix P7000 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

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