First Look: Nikon CoolPix P7000

Nikon announced their new CoolPix P7000 point and shoot on September 8th, and we’ve been waiting to get a review unit ever since. We still don’t have access to a unit that I can fully review; however, I’m currently at the Albuquerque Balloon festival with Nikon, and have had a chance to take a pretty close look at their newest power-P&S. First impression: I like it.

First off, this is not a review. I’ve only had access to the camera for a few hours. I’ve been giving it a thorough checking out, and these are merely my initial impressions. The P7000 is unquestionably intended to take on the Canon G12, and while it doesn’t have a swing out screen, the other features make up for it. Nikon has created an alternative to the Canon, and in many ways surpassed it.

The P7000 has a 7x optical zoom, which is on the high end for P&S zooms. The controls are easy to use, and easy to navigate. The level of control you have in this camera is very impressive. You’ll find almost the same level of features that you’ll see in Nikon’s DSLR line. I used one of SanDisk’s Extreme SDHC cards (the 30MB/s version) with the P7000, and noticed no buffering when taking pictures. Either it’s so fast that you don’t notice, or Nikon has hid it in such a way that it’s not visible to the end user.

The P7000 has a few new features as well, including a built-in neutral density filter and the ability to control the flash output power — both important for certain exposures. Flash power is important when use the on camera strobe as a fill light, as it’s really easy to overpower your subject if you’re not careful.

The only thing I’ve run into so far that I don’t like is the macro focusing. If you are not in macro mode, the camera struggles a bit with focusing on items that are close up. Not a deal breaker, but something to be aware of.

The menu system also feels a little sluggish. This is of course something that Nikon will be able to fix later, and it’s a minor annoyance at worst. This is a camera I would be comfortable carrying around while leaving my beloved DSLR at home. Its small size also makes it a great pocket camera. The verdict so far, it’s an amazing camera and one heck of a deal at $499.95, though of course that’s far more than your average P&S.

There’s room for improvement, but nothing that is a deal breaker. Expect to see our full review once we can get a review unit sometime in November. For now, enjoy these lovely shots from Sandia Mountain, and visit this set again tomorrow night, as I’ll be shooting with the P7000 all day tomorrow and adding more pictures: