Nikon P7700 Review

 
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Nikon Coolpix P7700 Optics


Lens

Zoom
A wide-angle 7.1x optical zoom lens with good performance, though corners are soft.

28mm eq., f/5 50mm eq., f/5.6
200mm eq., f/5.6 4x Digital Zoom, f/5.6

The Nikon P7700 is equipped with a 7.1x, 6.0-42.8mm f/2-4 lens covering the equivalent of a 28-200mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That's a generous range for its class -- the same as the P7100 -- but it's one f-stop faster (brighter) than its predecessor which used an f/2.8-5.6 optic. Performance is pretty good at wide angle if not tack sharp, with only minor blurring in the extreme corners at f/5, along with low levels of coma distortion and chromatic aberration. Some minor flare can be seen emanating from bright white objects, though. Performance at medium focal length (50mm eq.) is good, with good sharpness and contrast across the frame, and very little chromatic aberration. Performance at full telephoto is also good in the center, though corners show some softness and a touch of flare. The camera's 4x digital zoom does a decent job, though with the typical loss of fine detail and increased visibility of noise associated with 4x digital magnification. We recommend avoiding that much digital zoom.

Macro
A small macro area, with strong detail across most of the frame. Closest focusing distance is too close for the flash.

Macro, f/8 Macro with Flash, f/8

The Nikon Coolpix P7700's macro setting captures a small minimum area of just 1.55 x 1.16 inches (39 x 30 millimeters). Detail and sharpness is very good over most of the frame, with just a touch of softening in the corners, though chromatic aberration is noticeable away from the center. (Most cameras show some softening in the corners in macro mode, but the P7700 showed very little.) The Nikon P7700's built-in flash didn't clear the lens at this short a distance resulting in a very large shadow and uneven exposure, so plan on using external lighting for really close macro shots with the Coolpix P7700.

Geometric Distortion
High barrel distortion at wide angle, about average pincushion at telephoto. Low amounts of distortion with Distortion Control enabled.

JPEG: Barrel distortion at 28mm eq. is 1.2%
JPEG: Pincushion distortion at 200mm eq. is 0.4%

The Nikon P7700's approximately 1.2% barrel distortion at wide angle is higher than average among the digicam cameras we've tested, and the distortion is quite noticeable in some shots. At the telephoto end, the P7700's 0.4% pincushion distortion is about average but also noticeable in some shots. This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide-angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

JPEG: Barrel distortion at 28mm eq. is 0.2%
JPEG: Barrel distortion at 200mm eq. is less than 0.1%

Distortion Control: The Nikon P7700's optional Distortion Control setting corrects for most of the geometric distortion in JPEGs when enabled. At wide angle, only about 0.2% barrel distortion remains, while at full telephoto, pincushion distortion is slightly overcorrected to a touch of wavy barrel distortion.

Chromatic Aberration and Corner Softness
Moderately low to moderate C.A. at wide angle and telephoto. Moderate blurring in the corners of the frame at wide angle and telephoto.

Maximum Aperture
Wide (f/2.0): Upper right
C.A.: Moderate
Softness: Very soft
Wide (f/2.0): Center
C.A.: Low
Softness: Sharp
Tele (f/4.0): Upper right
C.A.: Moderately low
Softness: Soft
Tele: (f/4.0): Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp

Chromatic Aberration. Chromatic aberration is moderately high in terms of numbers of pixels at wide angle, but brightness is moderate. CA extends fairly deep into the frame, but the width and intensity of the fringes reduce as you move toward the center, however you can still see some dark blue fringing in the center. At telephoto, chromatic aberration is lower, but more magenta than blue/yellow. Chromatic aberration is a type of distortion visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.

Corner Softness. Our Nikon P7700's lens produces soft corners on the right side of the frame at maximum wide angle and aperture, with the upper right corner being the softest. Softness extends fairly deep into the frame from the upper right, however the center is quite sharp. The left corners are sharper with the bottom left sharpest, so our lens is a little de-centered. It's a similar story at full telephoto with the right corners being soft and the left fairly sharp, while the center is sharp.

Vignetting. Moderate vignetting (corner shading) is noticeable at both wide angle and telephoto, as indicated by the darker corner crops.

Stopped-down to f/5.6
Wide (f/5.6): Upper right
C.A.: Moderate
Softness: Slightly soft
Wide (f/5.6): Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp
Tele (f/5.6): Upper right
C.A.: Moderately low
Softness: Slightly soft
Tele: (f/5.6): Center
C.A.:Very low
Softness: Sharp

Stopping the lens down to f/5.6 improves corners at both wide angle and telephoto, though they are still a touch soft with lower contrast than the center. Overall, the lens isn't quite as sharp in the center at f/5.6 due to diffraction, though it's still pretty sharp. Vignetting also improves to the point of being negligible, though C.A. in the corners is about the same. 

Chromatic Aberration Correction

Wide (f/5.6): Upper left
C.A.: Moderate
In-camera JPEG
Wide (f/5.6): Upper left
C.A.: High
dcraw converted Raw
Tele (f/5.6): Upper left
C.A.: Moderately Low
In-camera JPEG
Wide (f/5.6): Upper left
C.A.: Moderately high
dcraw converted Raw

As can be seen by comparing in-camera JPEG versus uncorrected Raw crops above, the Coolpix P7700 suppresses chromatic aberration in its JPEGs, just like its Nikon DSLR cousins. The improvement is more noticeable at wide angle as C.A. is lower at telephoto, though it's still easy to see.

All-in-all, optical performance is good given the lens's speed and zoom ratio, though distortion at wide angle is a bit high, and our copy is a bit de-centered leading to some asymmetrical corner softness.

Viewfinder Accuracy

Coverage
Very good accuracy from the LCD monitor.

28mm eq., LCD 200mm eq., LCD

The Nikon Coolpix P7700's LCD monitor shows just under 100% coverage at wide angle and close to 101% telephoto which is quite good. The minor variations from 100% coverage in these shots is likely a result of trying to frame the images in the face of the barrel and pincusion distortion. (Our tester noted that enabling Distortion Control actually reduced accuracy, however, as part of the image is cropped.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon Coolpix P7700 Photo Gallery.

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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