P7100 - Nikon’s top compact

The Nikon Coolpix P7100 is the new flagship compact from the Japanese company: a no-compromise snapper aimed at the sort of seasoned photographers who know their aperture from their elbow.

With enthusiast-baiting features like RAW shooting, an optical viewfinder, full manual controls and more dials and buttons than the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, the P7100 runs the risk of scaring away noobs – but Nikon, which manufacturers loads of ‘basic’ point-and-shoot models, probably isn’t too fussed. And of course there’s a full auto mode for greenhorns thrown in there too.

Canon P7100 vs P7000

Design-wise the P7100 echoes its predecessor the P7000 (as well as Canon’s equivalent pro compact, the G12): it’s chunky and matt black, with a large grip. There’s a pop-up flash as well as a shoe for accessories and external flashes. The screen is all-new though, and can be tilted up or down to help you compose shots at awkward angles.

P7100 - control system

The sheer amount of controls on offer – as well as two customisable function buttons, there are two dials for adjusting settings, plus a mode dial, exposure compensation dial, navigation wheel and one more dial for quickly tweaking ISO, white balance and other criteria – means you can swiftly alter almost any setting, provided you know what you’re doing.

The P7100 also features shooting modes for artistic effects and low-light shooting. The former lets you slather your shots in Lomo-esque cross processing, isolate individual colours or snap moody, grainy black and white photos. The latter ups sensitivity to take sharper shots without a flash in murkier conditions.

Nikon P7100 - photo quality

The Nikon P7100’s photo quality is superb. At the lowest ISO setting of 100 there’s virtually no noise visible in shots, and it doesn’t really become noticeable until you get to ISO 800 and above – basically it’s miles better than most compacts, and not far behind some DSLRs. It’s on a par with the likes of the Canon G12 and the P7000, though – so if you already own a top-drawer compact you’re unlikely to get much of an upgrade from the P7100.

That £500 price tag (or a bit less if you shop around) means you’d expect it to deliver the goods when it comes to performance. Between the price and the hard-wearing, pro-friendly design, the P7100 is a great compact for any photography nut. Less experienced snappers will probably be better off spending less on something smaller and simpler, though.

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Nikon Coolpix P7100 review

One of the finest high-end compacts on the market