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on September 28, 2011
For the past two decades I've been an avid photographer. My professional equipment choices have leaned towards Nikon. My point and shoot purchases towards Canon. I was in the market for a camera with the following attributes:

A decent travel camera.
Full Creative and manual controls.
Swing out LCD screen.
Compatibility with the Nikon Creative Lighting System.
Portability
High quality images including RAW output.
Good reliable performance
Good build quality

The Canon G12 was definitely in the running. So was the Olympus XZ1, Panasonic LX5 and the deeply discounted Nikon CoolPix P7000 These were all good camera's mind you. In the end I choose the P7100 after taking the Canon G12 and Nikon P7000 out for a test drive.

For the past week I've been putting my P7100 through its paces.
First thing I noticed was that the 3" LCD screen rendered beautiful almost photo surreal images and made shooting overhead in a crowd or doing Macro photography a breeze. The problems with the menu in the P7000 seemed to have all been ironed out in the P7100. Navigation and overall performance was quick and responsive.

There seems to be a button for everything including two customization buttons that offered quick access to favorite features such as Nikon's D-Lighting for difficult lighting situations or the Virtual Horizon display for taking level photo's.

I have large hands so even though this camera was a little larger then the usual size in this category it felt very comfortable and well balanced, especially with the rubberized grip.

One of the intriguing features was the HDR mode for back-lit situations. As I understand it the P7100 takes several pictures with a little D-Lighting magic and offers up a composite image. It seemed to work perfectly. Just for fun I plugged in my Nikon SB-400 flash. Works beautifully. I didn't really try out the video since I have no need of it.

From Twilight to dusk most of my photo images were keepers.
So here's what we got in Pro's and Con's.

Pro
Abundant manual and creative control.
Articulated 3" 921,000 dot LCD screen.
Built in 2 stop ND filter (wonderful!)
Outstanding battery life
720p @ 30fps video (love the frame rate)
Rubberized covering for good grip
Live Histogram

Con
Stingy Viewfinder. But it's better then nothing.
All of the documentation is PDF's on a CD ROM.
Drivers for RAW files are not available yet for Windows.
720p @ 30fps video (not 1080p but love the frame rate)

Summary
The 35 to 200mm equivalent zoom capability renders beautiful clean photo images from ISO 100 through 400. I had a lot of fun experimenting and playing with the scene modes. The P7100 is quick and responsive. I'm very happy with this camera and its performance. This is a camera for people who want full creative control.
Five Stars!

Update:
Relax and rejoice! Adobe just released the Lightroom 3.5 update that includes Nikon P7100 Raw support. Images look great in Lightroom.

update Nov 2012:
Over a year later. Still love this camera. No complaints. I use it more then my Nikon DSLR D700! Its my go to camera for total creative control.
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VINE VOICEon June 20, 2012
When Nikon released the Coolpix P7000 in 2010, I took a close, hard look at it. That camera seemed to have most of the features that I was looking for in a compact pro-level digital camera without the bulk of a DSLR. I had a chance to use one belonging to a friend for a few days, and though I liked it, the overall performance seemed a bit slow, especially compared with the Canon G12 owned by another friend.

First, the P7000 was slower than the G12 in most every way, and the Canon had an excellent 2.8-inch Vari-Angle LCD panel, a feature that I had come to really appreciate with my own Nikon D5000 DSLR. The Canon was very tempting, but I decided to wait and explore other options in pro/enthusiast compact cameras. And while I was narrowing the field, Nikon announced a new camera in the fall of 2011.

I'm glad that I waited, because after doing plenty of research and comparison between the current offerings of cameras like this including some that were being announced, I bought the Nikon COOLPIX P7100. Sometimes it's good to hold up on buying what one really needs.

I had explored the new mirrorless cameras from Nikon and others, but for serious, practical photography with a camera smaller than a regular DSLR, this one fits precisely that role. The lens is fixed, but it's a Nikkor that equates to a 28-200mm on a 35mm SLR, a 7.1x zoom in fact. There's also a small optical viewfinder that may be tiny, but it's useful when needed.

Getting down to the subjective nitty-gritty, here are my basic observations.

Pros:

* Substantial 7.1x optical zoom range; extra punch over 5x helps
* Tilting 3-inch Vari-Angle LCD display is just what's needed
* Excellent image quality, far better than anticipated
* Superb ergonomics; rational array of controls
* Very respectable battery life; averaging 320 - 350 shots per charge
* Much faster operational speeds than the P7000
* Uses readily-available SD card; SDXC support
* RAW (NRW) support for when needed for serious images
* Hot shoe accepts wide variety of Nikon Speedlights
* Rubberized grip area on the body

Cons:

* Wish the P7100 would go to 24mm wide angle, but a 28-200mm zoom is more important
* f/2.8 maximum aperture limits it's low-light use; f/2.0 would be good
* Only 720p HD video offered; subjectively not crucial

Making Choices:

Besides the Nikon COOLPIX P7100, I had taken a realistic and objective look at a number of better digital cameras that I hoped would meet my own subjective individual needs, and then narrowed the list to the following: the Canon G12 10 MP Digital Camera with it's 5x optical image stabilized zoom and 2.8 Inch Vari-Angle LCD display, and the Fujifilm X10 12 MP EXR CMOS Digital Camera, which featured its f2.0-f2.8 4x optical zoom and a 2.8-Inch LCD display. Each of these cameras had very strong points, each with its own set of features that would be useful for the creative process.

But even though the Fuji X10 had a very fast and sharp lens, it had the shortest zoom range and its LCD screen was fixed as opposed to the tilting screens of the Canon and the Nikon, so that left two. The Nikon had a significantly higher LCD screen resolution than the Canon (921k dots vs. 461k dots), and the Nikon's LCD at 3.0 inches was about 10% larger than that on the Canon. The Canon offered slightly more dynamic range (11.2 EV vs. 10.7 EV), about half a stop, and a bit better macro capability, but the Nikon's 7x optical zoom (28mm - 200mm) compared to the Canon's 5x (28mm - 140mm) was the final deal clincher for me.

I would suggest to that anyone considering the Nikon P7100 that it's worth the time to take a close look at these three cameras that go many steps above the general point and shoot category in features and quality of images. We each have our priorities; choices are a subjective thing for each of us, and for me the Nikon offered the best balance of what I was looking for.

First Impressions:

There wasn't much about the P7100 that I wasn't aware of before it arrived and took it out of the box, as I had already played with a couple of them. When first unboxed, it was apparent that the Nikon attention to detail was all here. The first thing that's noticed is how solid this camera feels, and maybe that's partially due to its magnesium chassis. Followed the printed Quick Start Guide and charged the battery for the recommended 1 ½ hours while reading and going through the box contents. This camera came packaged with:

- EN-EL14 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
- MH-24 Battery Charger
- AN-CP21 Strap
- Reference Manual on CD-ROM
- NikonView NX 2 CD-ROM
- UC-E6 USB Cable
- EG-CP16 Audio/Video Cable

The MH-24 Battery Charger blinks when charging, and glows steadily when the battery is topped up. Put the battery cap in a safe place for when it's needed. Once the battery was charged, inserted a Class 10 SDHC card and took the P7100 out for a trial run.

Even though I had played with this P7100 before, I now had a chance to really put it through its paces. This one was mine. Larger than most compacts, this camera subjectively has a comfortable feel; everything seems to fit the hand quite easily. There are enough controls and options that can be set to customize it to ones individual preferences, and in my initial explorations, found that this was easy to accomplish.

The P7100 In Use:

The small quick menu dial on the top of the camera body quickly became my ally, and it made access of the various functions such as ISO settings, white balance, auto bracketing and such to be far easier than exploring the camera menus. Fiddled with various shots trying face detection, the various metering settings and such, all part of the learning experience. This method is far better than digging into the viewfinder menus to access the various features.

The small optical viewfinder is useful under some circumstances, but be aware that you really getting about 80% of what will actually show in your resulting images. It's useful when needed, but the tilting 3-inch Vari-Angle LCD display is for this user where this camera really shines. It's a brilliant and very sharp monitor, offering very close to 100% of what your results will be, and for one who wears glasses, those 921,000 dots do help. It allows for creativity from some fairly awkward angles, and as I have made good and frequent use of this feature on my D5000, am happy to have it on this camera.

Once one gets used to it, and that doesn't take long, the ergonomics and controls of the P7100 are excellent. Now that I've spent some real time with it, there's nothing that I would change in that respect. Am not a much of a video shooter, but from the little that I've done, the video quality is good. The 720p may be a bit dated for some, but if you need to shoot only the occasional video, then it should be adequate.

The built-in flash does a better job than was expected, and within the abilities of how these function, have no complaints with the results. But when I attached and used the Nikon SB-400, the resulting images were close to dazzling. I've used my SB-400 and the older SB-600 on my Nikon DSLRs, but this combination on the P7100 helped produce some of my best flash images ever.

Issues:

As noted early, I'm getting a very respectable 320 - 350 shots per charge with the standard EN-EL14 battery, but experience is a good teacher, so I usually try to get spares. When I went online here to get the second Nikon EN-EL14 battery, there was a shortage. EN-EL14 fits and is made specifically for the Nikon D3100, D3200, D5100, COOLPIX P7000 and COOLPIX P7100 digital cameras. I did find a genuine Nikon EN-EL14 battery for close to Nikon's suggested SRP of about forty bucks, but you have to dig. There are additional issues dealing with these Li-Ion batteries, and I keep the info updated in the comments to my review of the Nikon EN-EL14 Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery. In any case, don't waste your money on clone or third-party batteries for this camera.

Summary:

The P7100 is the type of compact digital camera that you may want to spend a little time getting used to, and maybe even a couple of hours getting into the manual reading how to get the most from it. The images straight from the camera look quite, with excellent details, bright colors, and very good performance at both the wide angle (28mm) and telephoto (200mm) settings, with surprisingly low noise. This is a highly-recommended 5-star compact digital camera worthy of the Nikon name. Prices keep trickling down on this model, and if you can get it for under $300, don't hesitate; grab it. You'll be glad that you did.

6/20/2012
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on March 9, 2012
No camera does everything, but this comes closer than any I've found. First, it's reasonably compact, with a built-in retractable lens. It will fit in a jacket pocket, and with the nice Nikon shoulder strap (included) it's pretty light and small to wear on your shoulder by your side.

2nd, it has a larger sensor than most point 'n shoot cameras, almost 75% larger! Because of the larger sensor, the image quality and low-light performance are very good, much better than your average point 'n shoot. So, by comparison, even though the Nikon P310 (a smaller camera with a smaller sensor) has a larger "fast" aperture of F1.8 (versus F2.8 on the P7100), the P7100 has just as good if not better low-light performance than the nominally faster P3100. You can get away without using a flash for most inside shots. And the P7100 does have a built-in flash which works well.

3rd, it has a more powerful zoom lens than its competitors with the same size sensor (Canon G12, Panasonic LX-5, Olympus XZ-1). This was the deciding factor for me. The similar but more expensive Canon G12 has a 5x zoom lens, but the Nikon P7100 has 7.1x, for significantly better zoom capability. Any DSLR or interchangeable-lens-camera with equivalent zoom capability would be much larger.

4th, it's very customizable with lots of control over settings. This camera is covered with knobs, dials, buttons, and levers! It's pretty confusing at first, but you can also just use the "auto" or "P" setting and let the camera adjust itself. I recommend David Busch's Nikon Coolpix P7100 Guide to Digital Photography for learning how to use all its settings.

I've had some problems getting the distortion control to work when the dial is set to "auto" but it seems to be working now.

Finally, it has an optical viewfinder--an increasingly rare feature these days! The optical viewfinder is very handy when sunlight makes the LCD screen unviewable, or when you need to turn off the LCD screen to save power. The viewfinder is pretty small, but works fine in a pinch.

A good case is the Lowepro Apex 60 AW (Black). The camera with strap fits snugly inside, and there is also room for a extra battery and SDHC card. Or just get a neoprene sleeve: OP/TECH USA 7401024 Soft Pouch - Digital D-Mini, Neoprene Pouch for Compact Digital Camera (4x5x5 Inch) - Black
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on October 22, 2011
I have both P7000 and P7100.
I loved P7000, but there were few things I would like it to have - like the tilted screen, separate buttons to change S and A, when I shoot on Manual. I was happy with the image quality, with the vivid colors, etc. It is very capable camera - I was doing everything from Macro (close-up) to even shooting sports and using panning technique. I never had shutter lags and menu problems the other were complaining about.
I bought the P7100 when it came out. It is the same camera with added those things I was missing on P7000. Amazing! There is even nice bokeh when shoot at small f. I post some pictures, so you can take a look.
For it's group - as a high end P&S this is really amazing camera. Highly recommend to everyone.
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on July 30, 2012
I wanted a compact camera that I could carry with me when my DSLR was just too big. The P7100 fit the bill perfectly. Pictures in most conditions have been excellent. Battery life superb. Great rear LCD display. Versatile controls. Very effective vibration reduction. Good lens quality backed by in-camera distortion and chromatic aberration correction (when you use JPEG output). It accepts (and communicates with) Nikon flash units. Seemingly sturdy construction.

I've also found it to be a good indoor snapshot camera. I wasn't really expecting that. I'll grab it over my DSLR for shots of family and friends indoors.

Now with that said, I will list the negatives. Keep in mind that my regular camera is a D300s and the downsides tend to apply on most, maybe all compact cameras.

1. I wanted a versatile camera. However use of many features preclude the use of others. For instance I can't use the intervalometer when I'm shooting RAW. Why? There are many such restrictions.

2. Manual focusing is pretty much a joke, and the limited range of aperture sizes reduce the flexibility of Shutter priority mode.

3. Viewfinder only gives you a general idea of your frame.

4. Camera is too slow for action photography. Luckily I'm primarily a landscape photographer.

5. Camera does poor job shooting toward the sun (not at the sun, just toward it).

I've taken about 1,000 pictures with it so far and am very happy with my decision. The Canon G12 was also on my short list. They are very similar except for the lens (Nikon is better) and JPEG processing (Canon is better).
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on June 21, 2012
The CoolPix P7100 is a fantastic camera capable of incredible shots. It's larger than most compact cameras, but I still carried it in my front jeans pocket (nothing else fit) as I toured San Francisco. I got great shots during the day and long exposures at night. I didn't mind leaving my DSLR at home and didn't miss a shot.

The three user presets, where you set the main mode (Program, Aperture, Shutter, Manual), the zoom level, and ISO. let me switch into night landscape long exposure manual mode, daylight manual, or motion blur with just a quick turn of the dial.

The other modes are useful, though the menus and the exceptions are overly complex in some cases. The exceptions for ISO settings is the most glaring example. When setting long exposures, it's normal to use higher ISO settings, yet mysteriously, Nikon limits longer exposures to 400 ISO or less. High ISOs are usable only when the shutter is set for fractions of a second. D-lighting also controls

The lens is great, offering a wide zoom range with clear shots and little distortion. It also zooms, focuses, and deploys at a good pace and I was rarely left impatient as it shifted.

The tilt screen is very handy, though it only moves up and down. It would have been much handier to have an option to swivel left and right. It would also be useful to be able to flip the LCD around to protect it.

In general, I am so happy with the P7100 that it replaced an older, entry-level D40 DSLR in my bag. Even better, it shares the same battery as my D5100 making things simpler there, too. I don't leave home without it, even to work!
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on February 6, 2012
I purchased this camera to take to Europe for sightseeing purposes. I have a Nikon D50 which I love but don't want to carry it everyday. I find that its too heavy at times or inconvenient but in either case I wanted a smaller camera I could carry everyday for quick shots. I mainly was looking for a camera that could take low light shots at dusk or in museums and as a bonus video. This camera takes great videos and the zoom on it is fantastic. I really like how I can get the shots without having to swap out my lenses on the D50, another big plus. The quality of the pictures is very good in my opinion, of course when I take the same shot with my D50, its clear that it is not as good, but that is a given I think. Its also obvious that is it is slower. I do really like all the different settings on it and you have to read the manual to figure out what each is for but mainly I am using auto, portrait, landscape and museum. I have also played around with some of the effects such as sepia and black and white, etc but I will probably just do that on iphoto. I am still getting used to not pushing the on/off button when I mean to take a picture, not sure why I keep doing that. The battery life is very good in my opinion but I thought it was odd that when it died the other day, the lens didn't go back in the body so I had to leave it that way until I could get back to my hotel and recharge it. All in all I think this is a great camera for the price and it does what I hoped it would.
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on September 13, 2013
I had a p7000 and replaced it after I smashed it in a fall. Before its demise, the p7000 gave me a lens error so I sent it in and it was repaired and returned. The P7100 replacement lasted a whole eight months before I got a lens error. Sent it into Nikon for repairs and it came back unrepaired with a notation of "gray market." (Thanks a lot, Amazon, for the lack of transparency.) Right now it's an expensive paperweight and I don't have much faith that it will ever be suitable for shooting much more than the ladies sewing circle, provided it's inside.
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on November 18, 2011
The Nikon Coolpix P7100 is a pretty nice camera. It can not tangle with DSLRs of course, but that is to be expected given its smaller sensor.

That said, the photo quality is pretty good. I was pretty pleased with the results when I took the camera out on a recent hike. Sharpness is good, detail is good. I think the color saturation is maybe pushed just a tad more than I like, but, that is something that can certainly be changed in the camera. ISO performance is pretty decent up to 800. JPEGS are pretty good although it is almost always advised to shoot RAW when you can.

Performance overall is pretty good. Maybe not as good overall as the Olympus XZ-1 but it's faster than the Canon G12 in almost everything. But, relatively speaking, for this class of camera it has a pretty good showing performance-wise.

The camera has a lot of features loaded into it. The menu system navigation and the way which you adjust settings is just okay. My preference is towards Canon when it comes to this. BUT that sort of thing is a bit subjective. I am kind of a simpleton when it comes to things like this and don't like digging through the settings to access certain features. As I always say, to understand all this camera is capable of, it's best to read the manual. But the menu system wasn't such an annoyance as to overall hamper my shooting experience, once I got the feel for where everything was.

There are some other aspects to the design which I really like. I really like that they put the exposure compensation as a physical dial on the camera. It would be really nice if they also put an ISO dial like on the G12. But there is also is another dial which is for navigating the most common shooting functions. I also especially like that you have three customizable dials on the camera.

I like that Nikon has increased the zoom range on this camera to a 7x. That could be a make or break factor for a lot of people when deciding between this and the Canon G12. As that little bit of extra zoom range comes in handy. The LCD screen on back is pretty good. Although it has issues in bright sunlight like a lot of them do. The viewfinder is really not that great but it can be useful in cases when the LCD is not viewable.

The camera is also very comfortable to shoot with. With a nice rubberized grip on the front of back. The build quality is pretty good. Although, admittedly, the G12 feels a little more solid. But is certainly a step-up from most point and shoots. It comes with a nice chunky battery. Battery life is pretty good on this camera overall.

So, overall, I think the Nikon P7100 is a nice camera. It is perfect for the hobbyist photographer or student who wants nice photo quality on a budget, and lots of controls, but doesn't want to spend money on an ILC or DSLR and its associated lenses.

The camera now retails for $450. If you have $450 to spend on a camera.... this is a solid choice. But.... I would also check out or maybe even try the Olympus XZ-1 before committing to the Nikon. The XZ-1 does not have the amount of controls the Nikon does and has a number of annoyances of its own. But, in terms of photo quality, at least in my opinion... it is the one to beat in the sub-$500 price range (for fixed-lens compacts anyway).
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on March 15, 2012
I must say that I was overwhelmed by all of the cameras on the market and selecting one to buy. I am not a techie and tend to be intimidated by gadgets. I had several reasons for choosing this camera: Because of the crispness of the photos of an earlier nikon coolpix, 2) because it has the options of using autofocus or manual, 3) the optical viewfinder (a must for steady shots), and 4) the 28-200 telephoto lens. I have had this camera for two months, and I am surprised by how easy it is to use. The pictures are very crisp. The video is exactly as I witnessed the event and the quality of the sound is stunningly clear. I enjoy nature photography. I have made my first videos of the river, and the sounds of water riffling and falling in the river is a delight. I didn't even think I would use the video portion of this camera when I purchased it. The on-line manual and printed guide to its many features are written very clearly. Sometimes when you purchase an electronics item that was made in Japan, the manuals are often written in Japanese and then translated. This manual seems to be written in English by people who speak English. The shutter release is quick as is the on/off button and feature. I use a Mac. It is very easy to import photos to Iphoto. I needed assistance from Apple to figure out how to import videos, but now that I have, I can't wait to become a nature videographer.

I purchased this from Amazon. I was not pleased by how the camera was packaged. The camera comes in a Nikon Coolpix box, and Amazon only stuck it in a slightly larger cardboard box with no protective wrap. It could have easily been crushed.
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