A direct rival to Canon’s G15 is presented in this 12-megapixel 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor compact with an armour-like magnesium alloy build that has shoehorned in many features otherwise found on digital SLRs. Thus it suggests itself as an excellent backup for anyone already in possession of a Nikon DSLR. The model number in part references its 7.1x optical zoom, which offers the longest focal range on test, here equivalent to 28-200mm in 35mm terms. Thankfully there is the ability to adjust the zoom mid video recording, and, while the maximum aperture of f/2 (f/4 at the telephoto end) isn’t quite as fast as the others on this spread, performance is respectable enough. Take a look at Group test: what's the best compact camera?
Lens reach aside, what we really love is the angle adjustable, 921k-dot resolution LCD monitor that can be swung out parallel to the body. This gave it the edge over the G15 in terms of flexibility, whether we were shooting stills or Full HD video. However, though screen visibility is crystal clear even indoors under artificial light, purists may bemoan the lack of optical or electronic viewfinder; a surprising omission given the enthusiast audience for this camera. See Sony Cyber-shot DMC-RX100 review.
By way of appeasement, also making an appearance is a vacant hotshoe for optional Nikon Speedlight, GPS unit or remote, plus integral pop-up flash. Whilst we get a more rounded handgrip than its Canon competitor, the P7700’s overall dimensions are larger – in fact it’s the biggest camera on test – and this is therefore not a pocket option. Like the G15 there’s the ability to unscrew the ring surrounding the lens for the attachment of supplementary filters.
Perhaps surprisingly for a camera with a relatively modest pixel count, bright lens and larger than average sensor, maximum light sensitivity stops at a disappointing ISO6400 on this Nikon, so it’s no exact match for a dedicated DSLR, picture-wise. Nevertheless DSLR-style control dials feature front and back and there are three dials on the top plate too – accessing key features such as ISO, white balance and image quality with a quick twist, as well as a comprehensive 12 option shooting mode wheel and a stiffer one for adjusting exposure (+/- 3EV).
A very comprehensive array of dials and buttons fall under the fingertips whilst an angle adjustable LCD makes up for the lack of a viewfinder