Nikon P7700 Review
Nikon Coolpix P7700 Image Quality
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Lower than average saturation, but good hue accuracy.
Saturation. The Nikon P7700's default settings produce mean saturation levels that are lower than average at 101.8% (only 1.8% oversaturated) at base ISO. Yellow, orange, purple, cyan and aqua are all undersaturated, to varying degrees, while reds and blues are slightly to moderately oversaturated. Most other colors are pretty close to accurate. Typical mean saturation is closer to 110% these days, so some users may find the Coolpix P7700's default colors look a bit muted, though saturation can be tweaked. (The P7700 offers 7 saturation level settings plus Auto.) 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. The Nikon P7700 did a decent job rendering Caucasian skin tones when using Auto white balance in simulated daylight. Lighter flesh tones are slightly pink, though darker ones are nudged toward orange. 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 P7700 pushes cyan toward blue and red toward orange. (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.) Most other colors show very little shift, and thankfully there's no yellow to green shift as we've seen in a lot of cameras. With an mean "delta-C" color error of 4.79 after correction for saturation at base ISO, the P7700's overall hue accuracy is a bit better than average. Hue is "what color" the
| See full set of test images
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Auto and Incandescent white balance are warm, while 2,600K is a touch cool. Best color with the Manual white balance setting. Slightly better than average exposure accuracy.
|Auto White Balance
|Incandescent White Balance
|Manual White Balance
Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting has a very warm orange tint using the Auto white balance setting. The Incandescent setting performed better, but results are still a bit warm and yellowish. The Manual setting produced pretty accurate color balance, though just a touch cool and greenish. The 2,600 Kelvin setting which should match the temperature of our lights produced a slightly bluish cast. The Coolpix P7700 required no exposure compensation here though images are a tad dim, however +0.3 EV was a bit too bright. Most cameras require about +0.3 EV for this shot. 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.
About average exposure accuracy outdoors, with good but slightly cool color.
|Auto White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
The Nikon Coolpix P7700 performed well for a compact camera in the harsh lighting of our "Outdoor" shots. In the "Sunlit" Portrait shot above left, quite a few highlights are clipped in the mannequin's shirt and flowers, but not as many as we're used to seeing for its class, and detail is quite strong in the shadows if a little dark. An average amount of exposure compensation (+0.7 EV) was required to keep the face reasonably bright. The Coolpix P7700 did a decent job with color, producing fairly natural looking skin tones with Auto white balance, but we prefer skin tones to be a little pinker. In the Far-field shot on the right the default exposure is pretty good, perhaps just slightly underexposed, but very few highlights were clipped even in the white parts of the building. Color is pretty good, if slightly cool.
Very high resolution with ~1,900 to ~2,000 lines of strong detail from in-camera JPEGs, about the same from Raw files.
Strong detail to
~2,000 lines horizontal
Strong detail to
~1,900 lines vertical
|ACR converted Raw:
Strong detail to
~2,000 lines horizontal
|ACR converted Raw:
Strong detail to
~1,900 lines vertical
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,000 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and about 1,900 lines in the vertical from in-camera JPEGs. (Some may argue for higher numbers, but aliasing artifacts start to occur at about 1,900 lines.) Extinction of the pattern occurred between 2,400 and 2,600 lines. We weren't able to extract significantly more resolution by converting a Raw file with Adobe Camera Raw here, and the ACR conversion shows more color moiré. 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.
Sharpness & Detail
Fairly sharp images overall, with minor edge-enhancement visible around high-contrast subjects. Noise suppression limits definition in the shadows, though detail is strong for a "compact" camera.
|Definition of high-contrast elements
is affected by noise suppression
but there's 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 P7700 captures reasonably sharp images with very good detail, though noise reduction reduces definition in the finer details. Only minor edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the halos around the larger branches and pinecones in 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 reasonably 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
More detail can often be obtained from carefully processing Raw files than can be seen in the in-camera JPEGs.
P7700PINE (ISO 80)
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 rollover crop from the left is from an in-camera Fine JPEG taken with default settings. The second is from a Raw file processed using the bundled Nikon ViewNX 2 software at default settings. Default settings produced a somewhat soft image, so a second ViewNX 2 conversion was made with sharpness increased to +2. The fourth crop was converted with Adobe Camera Raw, then sharpened in Photoshop using strong but tight Unsharp Mask (USM) of 300% with radius of 0.3 pixels. As you can see, the second ViewNX 2 converted raw file is very similar to the in-camera JPEG, with slightly better detail and higher saturation. Adobe Camera Raw was only able to extract a touch more detail than the camera, but as usual, noise is more visible. Still, noise isn't objectionable at base ISO, but be prepared to apply generous noise reduction at higher ISOs, which is to be expected with Raw images from a relatively small sensor such as the P7700's. Overall, though, the Nikon P7700's JPEG engine does a pretty good job with fine detail.
ISO & Noise Performance
Good detail versus noise handling up to ISO 800. Noise and the effects of noise suppression become quite strong at higher ISOs.
|Normal (Default) Noise Reduction|
|ISO 80||ISO 100||ISO 200|
|ISO 400||ISO 800||
|ISO 3,200||ISO 6,400|
Very good detail at ISO 80 and 100, though some smearing of fine detail by the camera's default noise reduction is already visible if you look closely. (The P7700 offers three levels of noise reduction: Low, Normal and High.) ISO 200 shows a slight increase in blurring, but fine detail is still very good for a "compact" camera. ISO 400 shows stronger blurring and luminance noise, and chroma noise (color blotches) becomes more noticeable in darker areas, but detail is still very good for its class. ISO 800 images contain more luminance noise, though there's still good detail left. ISO 1,600 is significantly softer, with much stronger blurring and more obvious purple and yellow color blotches. Fine detail at ISO 3,200 is mostly lost to noise reduction and chroma noise is pretty high in the form of purple and yellow blotches. ISO 6,400 has very little detail with strong chroma noise, and high luminance noise along with generous sharpening gives the image a very grainy, peppered effect. Higher ISO images are also less saturated.
Still, pretty good performance overall for its class. The Nikon P7700 leaves a little more noise in its JPEG images compared to the P7100, but noise is fairly fine grained and most detail is better for it. To see how these images held up to printing at various sizes, read the Output Quality section below.
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 capturing bright images in near darkness.
|+0.3 EV||+0.7 EV||+1.0 EV|
Sunlight. The Nikon Coolpix P7700 does fairly well in bright sunlight for a "compact" camera. We preferred the exposure with +0.7 EV compensation overall, as the mannequin's face was too dim with +0.3 EV, and too many highlights were blown at +1.0 EV. Default contrast is pretty high so there are quite a few washed-out highlights in the white shirt and flowers along with some dark shadows, but shadow detail is actually pretty good for its class. Adjusting contrast or employing the P7700's Active D-Lighting feature helps tame those hot highlights and open up dark shadows. See below.
Outdoor Portrait Active D-Lighting
Above are examples of our "Sunlit" Portrait shot with the Nikon P7700's three levels of Active D-Lighting at +0.7 EV. Rollover the links to the right to load the corresponding thumbnail image and histogram, and click on the links to get to the full-resolution versions.
As you can see, the Low Active D-Lighting setting primarily boosted shadows and midtones while the Normal also dialed-back highlights, preventing additional highlights from clipping. The High setting prevented almost all highlights from clipping, but midtones and shadows were left a bit too dark.
|Face Detection Example|
Face Detection. The table above shows results with the default exposure using standard Aperture Priority AE, as well as full Auto exposure mode. As you can see, Auto mode made only a slight improvement in exposure, and it appears the face was not detected.
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. The Nikon Coolpix P7700 did pretty well in our low-light tests, capturing bright, usable images at sensitivities as low as ISO 80 in manual exposure mode, thanks to its fast lens and wide range of shutter speeds. Noise is well controlled to ISO 800, and color balance is fairly neutral with the Auto white balance setting, just slightly cool, though blacks take on a green tint at high ISOs and very low light levels. We didn't detect any issues with hot pixels or banding.
The camera's autofocus system did fairly well in low light, too. The P7700 was able to focus down to just below 1/8 foot-candle without the help of the AF assist lamp, which is pretty good for a compact. With the AF assist lamp enabled, the camera was able to focus in complete darkness, as long as the subject was in range of the lamp and had sufficient contrast.
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.
Coverage and Range
A moderately powerful flash for its size, with uneven coverage at wide angle. Dim exposure in our indoor portrait test shot.
|28mm equivalent||200mm equivalent|
Coverage and Exposure. Flash coverage was quite uneven at wide angle, though that's fairly typical. Coverage was much more uniform at full telephoto. The Nikon P7700's Auto flash mode produced an underexposed flash portrait image, only boosting ISO to 200. Better results are certainly possible by applying some exposure compensation or increasing ISO.
ISO 200 Range. At wide angle and ISO 200, our flash target was bright all the way to 15 feet. At full telephoto, flash shots started out a little dim at 6 feet, but brightness didn't start to fall off noticeably until about 10 feet.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Auto ISO 200
Auto ISO 640
Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. In the shots above, results at full wide angle are inconclusive. The bright foreground likely caused underexposure of the flash target at the rated flash range of 32 feet with Auto ISO selecting 200, despite using spot metering. At full telephoto, the Nikon P7700 produced a well-exposed image at the rated range of 18 feet, but boosted ISO to 640. 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.
Good 16 x 20 inch prints at ISO 80/100; ISO 800 prints are better at 8 x 10; ISO 6,400 make usable 4 x 6-inch prints, but colors are washed out.
ISO 200 images are great at 13 x 19. Many would be happy with the 16 x 20s, with the slight exception of some noticeable softness in our target red swatch.
ISO 400 prints almost meet our standards at 13 x 19, but minor softness and noise lead us to make the call for 11 x 14 inch prints here.
ISO 800 prints are better at 8 x 10.
ISO 1,600 prints are usable at 8 x 10, but better at 5 x 7.
ISO 3,200 prints are better at 4 x 6, with minor softness in some areas and noise in others.
ISO 6,400 shots are usable at 4 x 6, but solid colors are a bit flattened, and image noise is quite visible.
Overall, the Nikon P7700's prints look good and make a nice print at most available ISOs. Oddly, when image detail is soft in the printed image, it also appears overexposed.
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 P7700 Photo Gallery.
Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Nikon Coolpix P7700 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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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.