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Wednesday Wrap: September 8, 2010

Wednesday Wrap: September 8, 2010

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Special edition: A quick look at a significant new camera from Nikon

September 8, 2010

Nikon today unveiled three new Coolpix cameras, including the P7000, an overhaul of their flagship compact camera and a direct competitor to the popular Canon G11.

Yeah, I know. I said no Weekend Wrap during this abbreviated week, but this news, which came in the wee hours of the morning, couldn’t wait.

The battle for the top of the compact self-contained camera world has been joined.

The Canon G11 had no major competition…until now, thanks to today’s announcement from Nikon. The Nikon Coolpix P7000 ($499; available later this month) offers an impressive feature set, making it a formidable challenger to the G11’s supremacy in the increasingly complex world of system compact cameras.

First, there’s the camera’s design, which has been totally revamped over its predecessor, the P6000. Whereas the P6000 was more boxy in design, the P7000 has more varied lines and dials, and at a glance seems similar to the G11. Of course, a closer look will reveal subtle and not-so-subtle differences There are traditional-looking control knobs that will make any traditionalist feel at home, a high resolution (921,000 dot) LCD monitor, and a 7.1x (28-200mm, 35mm equivalent) f/2.8-5.6 optical zoom lens.

Under the hood, the camera boasts a 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor that delivers 10MP images—which potentially can be very high quality. A new Expeed C2 processing engine is claimed to offer high performance and vivid color and sharpness. ISO range is 100-6400, expandable to ISO 12,800, and Nikon offers Low Noise Night Mode and Noise Reduction Filter.

HD Video

The P7000’s big new feature is HD Video, which it records at 720p and 24 frames per second, with optical zoom and AF control. Even better: The P7000 may be the first compact camera to have an external microphone jack, one of the only compact cameras to offer this feature. Compare this to the G11, which only offers VGA video, and no external mic option.

Other features include:

•    RAW NRW file capture
•    Macro focus to less than an inch
•    Histogram (Tone Level)
•    Electronic horizon indocator
•    In-camera image editing includes noise reduction, D-Lighting, Quick Retouch
•    5-Way Vibration Reduction
•    Full manual controls: Program, Shutter, Aperture, Manual
•    Exposure and White Balance Bracketing
•    Subject tracking
•    Scene Auto Selector


Full disclosure: I haven't gotten my hands on this camera so I can't speak about its performance in the field, and I eagerly await DxOMark's lab test results for image quality. But based only on the specifications provided by Nikon, the P7000 looks like it will be a formidable competitor in its class.

Read the full Nikon Press Release and Specifications for details.

But wait—there's more!

Nikon also released two more compacts, the Coolpix S8100 (above), a 12MP CMOS sensor-equipped camera with a 1080p HD video and a 10x optical zoom and is built for high-speed shooting in low light, and the touchscreen operated, colorful fashion-cam Coolpix S80 (below). Read Nikon’s press releases for details about the Coolpix S8100  and  Coolpix S80.


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