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Background: for over 40 years, I have been shooting a wide range of subjects with a great variety of gear - film and digital from compact to 4x5", natural and studio light -. My main career is in engineering but I regularly sell my fine art prints, do photo restoration and reproduce original 2D/3D craft and artwork. My main system is a Pentax K5 with DA* and DA lenses. I just replaced my go-everywhere Canon G12 with the Nikon P7800 as a truly excellent birthday gift. The camera has more functions that you can shake a stick at but, after having put it through its still photography paces, here are some personal conclusions.
The P7800 would not fit in a shirt pocket but it does it in larger jacket pockets or, the way I carry it, in a small pouch together with a spare battery and memory card, my wallet, phone, keys, etc. Given its small size, the ergonomics of the camera are surprisingly comfortable. It feels solid and well made with a good right-hand grip and positive action of all the external controls. The LCD looks great and its articulation is the best on the market - lateral hinge with best range of movement never in the way of the tripod head -.
The EVF is the real differentiator though. I was used to the excellent SLR pentaprism viewfinders in comparison with which composing with an LCD is miserable. The P7800 EVF is necessarily small but works really well offering a good, 100% view of the subject and the major camera settings. Once your (nimble) fingers have learnt the position of the camera's external controls, you never need to take your eye off the EVF, even if you wear glasses (I do but they are on a cord and easily removable). The added concentration and stability of this shooting stance are other important advantages. The manual encourages you to use the LCD for a more accurate evaluation of colors.
The lens has a record zoom range for this kind of camera even if, photographing a lot of landscapes, I would prefer more on the wide angle side (24mm) than the telephoto. It is also quite bright (a big plus for the autofocus) with good sharpness and low distortion which the camera corrects automatically unless you turn it off and do it yourself in software. I (also) use DxO Optics Pro, whose latest version has the P7800 module for Raw conversion and the results are spectacular.
Outdoors: I mostly shoot Raw + jpeg in A mode up to ISO400 to limit noise. I have to experiment some more to learn how far developing in DxO can stretch these limits (supposedly one f/stop). I set Picture Control to Neutral which is the mildest setting and offers the most realistic histogram. Whenever feasible, I choose a mid-way f/stop to limit diffraction (there is still plenty of depth of focus with this small sensor). 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 formats come all handy with different subjects but one thing that I have learnt at my own expense is that, as a rule of thumb, it pays to shoot a little wider and then final-crop in software. Autofocus is fast enough that I am not aware of it. I typically spot-focus on the subject and lock AF (only) with the AE-L AF-L button, recompose and take the picture. I use realistic HDR when the subject calls for it. The P7800 offers 3 or 5 frames at up to 1 f/stop intervals in exposure bracketing (at 8 fps) which is excellent. Raw continue shooting is up to 6 frames at 4 and 8 fps which is quite fast. Writing speed is on the lazy side and SDHC UHS-1 cards are recommended. While waiting for my new (inexpensive) speedster, the class 10 card that I am using now is not too bad (about 3sec x frame in Raw+ jpeg). You can get a quick in-camera HDR picture in Scenes/Backlighting with the camera in Auto and jpeg, and on a tripod. The P7800 exposes automatically up to 30 seconds (60sec in Manual), which is excellent for night photography. I haven't had the chance to try Continuous AF yet.
Indoors: the flash has intensity compensation and is good enough for family scenes in typical home spaces. The camera has the ability to drive external Speedlight flashes also with a wireless controller. I do some product photography with an inexpensive diffusion tent and high Color Rendering Index CFL lamps. In this case I shoot with the LCD monitor at ISO80 and f/8. With the AF in Macro Close-up and the Focus Area set to Manual, I can move the focus area around the frame exactly where I want it and then focus in AF. There are three WB manual presets which come especially handy when you shoot jpegs and want a good WB straight out of the camera. Shooting Raw, I include a small gray card in the scene and refine the WB in software. The camera can take several remote control accessories. Image stabilization should be shut off with the camera on a tripod. Shooting at f/8 for max depth of field introduces diffraction (softness) but I can control it in software
Setup: the camera external controls give direct access to shooting mode, f/stop and exposure time, exposure compensation, flash mode, timer, focus mode, AE and AF block. The Quick Menu brings forth Quality, ISO and WB and you can customize the Fn1 and Fn 2 buttons to your liking.
I leave Fn2 on default (it switches LCD info which is especially useful in Playback to jump from full screen to the comprehensive tone level info display). Under the menu Monitor Settings, you can set the LCD to show histogram, grid, and virtual horizon. Furthermore, Fn1 can be set in combination with other controls to your favorite short cuts (ISO, drive?)
Output: the proof of the quality of the camera is in the output pudding. I use jpegs to publish on the web and with the Powerpoint training material that I develop. These outputs are not demanding but my fine art prints are. I process my Raw images in Photoshop CS6, resize in Perfect Resize, and get excellent prints on art paper with my Epson Stylus 3800 17" printer up to 16x24" (they do make 17x25" fine art inkjet paper). With subjects that are not sharpness-critical, I can print even larger with my Epson 7600 24" printer.
In conclusion, there is no such thing as a perfect camera but working with the Nikon P7800 is very satisfying, especially due to the EVF, with remarkable output for this small sensor. Unless you do some specialized and demanding photography such as sports and low light, or very large printing, I believe that this camera is not only an excellent go-everywhere replacement for your DSLR but can also be the only camera you need. I do not know where the camera was purchased but I normally buy from Amazon with great satisfaction.
I have done some intense landscape shooting with the P7800 in the last several days and the camera has behaved very well. Sensible shooting and Raw development in DxO Optics Pro 9 keeps noise under strict control up to ISO800. With the new $24 SanDisk Extreme Pro 8GB SDHC Class 10 UHS-1 memory card, 12 MP Raw + jpeg pics write to memory in about 1.5 seconds and 6-frame sequences in 9. Hence, no reason to whine about poor performance. The 200mm zoom comes very handy to me for isolating scene details (i.e.: reflections and cattails swinging in the wind). Easy Panorama and Panorama Assist work as they should but I prefer to shoot panoramas the old way with full camera control and on a decent tripod.
I have been getting questions about the settings for the Nikon P7800 and thought about writing up a summary of my setup. I mostly shoot Raw + jpeg with the native 3 to 4 format cropped in software if necessary (Qual/ISO/WB button) at the lowest ISO possible (same button) and auto WB (same button, Auto 1), A mode, f/stop 1/5.6-f/6.3, Focus Area on Center (normal) (press the + button of the multi selector to change it). Relevant Menu settings are as follows.
Upper tab: Metering on Matrix. AF Area on Center. Noise Reduction on Low. I keep Distortion Off because I develop in DxO Optics Pro that has its own distortion controls; keep it On if you use Nikon software. Active D-Lighting acts only on jpegs but it looks like Nikon software applies it to Raw files in conversion; I keep it Off; a Medium setting is recommended if you turn it on. All other settings are on default.
Lower tab: Monitor Settings: Image Review on Tone Level; Photo Info on Histogram only (try Virtual Horizon and Grid to see if you like them); Playback/Menus on Monitor or Viewfinder. Self Timer Off. VR On (Off on tripod!). Sound Settings Off (they are loud and not adjustable). AE/AF on lock focus only. Fn1 + Command is awkward and I don't use it. Fn2 on Display (acts on shooting and playback). Everything else is on default.
I do use this camera to take studio pics of our flowers and my wife's hand made jewelry. The camera is on a tripod at f/8 with VR Off and Focus Area on Manual. I compose with the LCD, press the OK button, move the Focus Area right on top of the desired focus point with the multi selector, focus in AF and shoot with a 2sec timer (button on multi selector).
In Playback, after taking a pic the (excellent) Tone Level screen shows up with histogram and blinking over/underexposed areas (8 different tone distribution segments selectable with the multi selector); semi-press the shutter button to get rid of it. It can be shown again in playback any time by pressing Fn2.
Hope this helps (I certainly forgot something). Take lots of pictures.
Hi there, I recently found a Trio offer at a very good price and decided to give it a try. Let's keep in mind that this is a small projects' tool. I used the Trio with the cutting bit that comes with the kit (I believe it's the TR561 HSS Multi-Purpose Bit). I made a number of small cutouts for joints in 3/4" (re-sawn) Douglas fir. I used a rafter square as a guide and got good results. It wasn't necessary to apply any special pressure to the tool because the bit progressed easily. With just a little bit of attention, tool control was OK. Cutting rectangular holes in 1/2" gypsum board was even easier. The bit had a very good time and, with some attention and patience, I was able to cut free-hand straight enough (if you make a mistake, the bit chews into the gypsum board with a vengeance). I squared up a flat push block with a rubber base on the table saw and used it as a guide (just by pushing on the handle against the wall) with even better results. Again, overall control of tool and guide was OK. At the end of the job, I decided to keep the tool and order a couple of multipurpose carbide bits (TR563). I haven't done any sanding but would be surprised if the Trio did not do a good job there. I also ordered the set of 5 carbide router bits (TR780). I use a Bosh Colt for small routing jobs and love it but the Trio bit set is affordable and I want to give it a try. I believe that overall, as long as you stay within the design intent of the tool, the Trio is definitely worth having if for nothing else but the jig saw function. It cuts well, it's light, fits comfortably in your hand and is reasonably priced even when it is not on special offer. It is easier to control than the Colt. Complaints about broken bits make me suspect excessive pressure on the tool probably due to dull bits, cutting improper materials or too-large projects. The 4 stars are due to the "special" 3/8" collet which does not allow the use of all the standard Dremel accessories....Read more
Canon does not offer a wide angle adapter for its G12 but I managed to make it work by purchasing an (excellent) Lensmate Canon G12 A section mounting tube (unfortunately discontinued, I found it used) and this lens (also used) with a step-down ring between tube and lens. This setup reduces the minimum focal length of the camera from 28mm to about 20mm. I tried other combinations but nothing worked - there was always some dimensional problem -. At the beginning of my search, I talked to Lensmate who mentioned a Chinese manufacturer who makes similar tubes sold by Cowboystudio. I tried but the tubes, while very well made, are not exactly the same and don't work on the G12. In comparison with older wide angle adapters I used in the past on other cameras, this lens has much less peripheral distortion. This Olympus wide angle adapter also started at half the price of the equivalent Nikon. All in all, this setup offers a true wide angle solution with decent quality and price for the G12 especially in harsh shooting conditions when you want to be light and nimble (i.e Winter landscape photography on ice with windchill factors below 0dF). Ultimately, only you can decide through experimentation if the level of image quality suits your needs....Read more
This is the latest model of this saw with the battery mounted on the side (the $99 combo at the Home Depot has the second-last model with the battery in the back). I have been using the blue model (with lithium-iron batteries) for most of my dimensional wood and panel cutting. The older saw has just enough juice to do the job. This latest saw has sufficient additional power to justify the upgrade. It is also better balanced and the laser guide comes handy for rough cutting. I systematically replace the original blades of my saws with Freud Diablo equivalents. If you do not have a saw like this or, like me, want to upgrade an older model, go ahead and buy it with confidence. Just mind the fact that, with a 5 1/2" blade, it cuts through 2x wood only perpendicularly and you need a saw with a 6 1/2" blade to cut at 45 degrees. BTW, since I started using this kind of saw (with boards between two folding tables), I have not been touching my sliding miter saw any longer....Read more
When you get it you will be surprised at the substance and quality of this very inexpensive accessory. I do some studio photography also with focus stacking and the rail is perfect for my Pentax K5 camera with the 50mm macro lens (I move the camera instead of refocusing the lens). It has enough range of motion, it's sturdy and the sliding mechanisms are smooth and positive. All in all, great features for a very convenient price....Read more
Hi, I am a part-time fine art pro. I carry an advanced P&S with me almost everywhere I go. Right now, it's a Canon G12. I really don't like to compose with the LCD (I grew up with big and beautiful pentaprisms) but sometimes it's inevitable. I like to protect the LCD from scratches and shade it in strong sun light. In the past, with a number of different cameras, I have tried diverse solutions. I was unhappy with the plastic film because you can never put it down perfectly flat and it scratches easily. Thin glass protectors add glare and, in time, let fine dust penetrate between the LCD and the inside of the glass. So far, the Delkin pop-up shade has been the best solution for me. As other reviewers have already pointed out, you have to remove the screen to avoid picking up a lot of glare (press gently around the perimeter to pop it out of the metal frame). If there are situations where the shade is in the way, it's easy to remove its top (temporarily). The G12 has a 2.8" LCD but the Delkin shade of the proper size is the 3" model. It doesn't hurt that the price of the shade is very reasonable. Overall, I find this accessory to be a real winner and I would recommend it without hesitation....Read more
Hello, I am a building performance instructor and was looking for a publication able to call the attention of building owners, managers and investors to the multiple benefits of sound operations and maintenance in existing buildings. This book does it very well. It includes all the indispensable technical information kept succinct and approachable, and it makes a compelling financial case. The price is high but, since it goes to support ASHRAE, it's for a good cause....Read more