Nikon COOLPIX P7700 review - Quality

Quality

Nikon P7700 vs Canon G15 quality

 

To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Nikon Coolpix P7700 and Canon PowerShot G15, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The zoom on both cameras was set to its maximum wide angle, 6mm on the P7700 and 6.1mm on the G15, providing an approximately equivalent fields of view.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

  Nikon Coolpix P7700 results
1 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Quality JPEG
2 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Quality RAW
3 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Noise JPEG
4 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Noise RAW
5 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Nikon Coolpix P7700. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f4 and the sensitivity to 80 ISO. As both the Coolpix P7700 and PowerShot G15 overexposed the scene, exposure compensation on both cameras was adjusted by -2/3EV which resulted in an exposure of 1/250 at f4 on the Coolpix P7700 and 1/200 on the G15.

Overall these crops are really very good, so it’s a shame to start on a negative note, but, like the PowerShot G15 the Coolpix P7700 would have overexposed this shot if left to its own devices. In the P7700’s case I think the reason for the incorrect metering was probably down to something called focus-coupled metering which gives higher priority to the AF area even when in Matrix (average) metering mode. Focus-coupled metering is enabled by default, so if you want true Matrix metering that’s not weighted to the AF area, which in this case would almost certainly have produced a better result, I’d suggest you disable it.

So what about the crops? Well, overall the sharpness and level of detail is excellent. In the first crop the edges of the chapel and walls are crisp and the door and windows are clearly defined. There’s good detail in the grassy hill and rocks and, though there’s a very slight texture in the sky the horizon line between the sea and sky is cleanly defined.

In the second crop you can just make out the outline of the lighthouse but any indistinctness is probably down to atmospheric conditions as much as anything else. The window frames in the foreground are nice and crisp and there’s good detail in the roofs.

The third crop from closer to the frame edge is a tiny bit softer and less contrasty than those from closer to the middle but the difference is slight and there’s no evidence of any colour fringing. Finally, the last crop from nearer the middle of the frame has a good level of detail with nice crisp edges. This isn’t quite up to the standards you’d expect from bigger Four Thirds or APS-C sensors, but it’s a cut above the kind of quality you’d get from a compact with a 1/2.3 inch sensor

Compared with the Canon PowerShot G15 it looks to me very much like the Coolpix P7700 crops are cleaner, sharper and show more detail than those from the G15. And I think this is more than just a question of processing. In all of the crops you can see more detail from the P7700 – the doors and windows in the chapel, the lighthouse and the bacony dividers in the final crop.

Check out my Nikon P7700 RAW quality results on the next page or see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Nikon P7700 Noise results.

 

Nikon Coolpix P7700
 
Canon PowerShot G15
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO


Nikon Coolpix P7700
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Nikon P7700 vs Canon G15 RAW Quality

 

To compare real-life RAW performance I shot this scene with the Nikon Coolpix P7700 and Canon PowerShot G15, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The zoom on both cameras was set to its maximum wide angle, 6mm on the P7700 and 6.1mm on the G15, providing an approximately equivalent fields of view.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

  Nikon Coolpix P7700 results
1 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Quality JPEG
2 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Quality RAW
3 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Noise JPEG
4 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Noise RAW
5 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Nikon Coolpix P7700. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f4 and the sensitivity to 80 ISO. As both the Coolpix P7700 and PowerShot G15 overexposed the scene, exposure compensation on both cameras was adjusted by -2/3EV which resulted in an exposure of 1/250 at f4 on the Coolpix P7700 and 1/200th on the G15.

I processed both files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. To further reduce any distracting visual differences between the crops I also set custom white balance to 6000K and tint to 0. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what’s really going on behind the scenes.

The Coolpix P7700 crops from the RAW files processed in this way reveal even more detail than was present in the in-camera JPEGs, but they also reveal quite a bit more noise too. In the absence of any noise processing all of the crops have quite a grainy appearance. It isn’t overwhelming, but then you probably wouldn’t choose these settings for everyday RAW processing. While the abscence of noise reduction and degree of sharpening used here is good for revealing detail and making comparisons, it also shows that, if you can tweak it out, there’s more detail being recorded by the P7700’s sensor than is being retained by the in-camera JPEG processing. The difficulty is going to be in holding onto it while at the same time dealing with the graininess.

Compared with the RAW crops from the PowerShot G15 processed in exactly the same way, there isn’t as much of a quality gap as with the JPEG crops. The Coolpix P7700 still has the edge, with crisper, sharper edges and superior fine detail resolution, and the G15 crops still look a little soft in comparison, but the difference isn’t nearly as noticeable. With these processing settings the P7700 crops also look grainier than those from the G15 and there’s clearly some chromatic aberration that’s being dealt with in-camera. But let’s take nothing away from the P7700 which produces very good in-camera jpegs from RAW data that reveals a very capable sensor and lens.

Now, it’s time to examine their high ISO performance, starting with a JPEG comparison in my Nikon P7700 Noise results.

 

Nikon Coolpix P7700 RAW
 
Canon PowerShot G15 RAW
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO


Nikon Coolpix P7700
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Nikon P7700 vs Canon G15 Noise RAW

 
  Nikon Coolpix P7700 results
1 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Quality JPEG
2 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Quality RAW
3 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Noise JPEG
4 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Noise RAW
5 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Nikon Coolpix P7700 and Canon PowerShot G15 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The zoom on both cameras was set to its maximum wide angle, 6mm on the P7700 and 6.1mm on the G15, providing an approximately equivalent fields of view.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

The image above was taken with the Nikon Coolpix P7700. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f2 and the sensitivity to 80 ISO. The Coolpix P7700 metered an exposure of 1.3 seconds at f2, with exposure compensation set to +1EV to produce a sufficiently bright image with a histogram in the middle of the chart. With exposure compensation similarly set on the PowerShot G15 it metered 1 second at f2.

I processed both sets of files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. To further reduce any distracting visual differences between the crops I also set custom white balance to 4500K and tint to 0. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what’s really going on behind the scenes – as such the visible noise levels at higher ISOs will be much greater than you’re used to seeing in many of my comparisons, but again it’s an approach that’s designed to show the actual detail that’s being recorded before you start work on processing and cleaning it up if desired.

As with the RAW outdoor crops, these high ISO noise crops from the Coolpix P7700 and PowerShot G15 are very revealing and tell us more about the quality and noise performance of these two sensors than the JPEG result on their own reveal. In terms of noise, there’s actually not as much of a difference between these two cameras as the JPEG results might lead you to expect. In fact I’d go so far as to say there’s really nothing in it throughout the ISO range, right the way up to the Coolpix P7700’s 6400 ISO maximum.

What you can see is that the PowerShot G15 crops are generally softer. Whatever the reason for that, when the noise suppression algorithms go to work it means there’s greater detail loss in the G15 crops. I expect that’s one of the reasons for the marked drop in quality of the in-camera JPEGs at the 800 ISO sensitivity setting.

So the Nikon Coolpix P7700 sensor and lens combination are producing better quality more detailed images that are more robust when it comes to image processing and noise reduction. What does this mean for Coolpix P7700 owners who shoot RAW in the hope of squeezing even better image quality from the sensor data? I think that’s going to be a tough prospect because Nikon has done an excellent job with the in-camera JPEG quality. Of course image detail and noise suppression aren’t the only, or even the main reasons for shooting RAW and it’s still a very worthwhile feature to have on the P7700.

Now head over to my Nikon P7700 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions, or head straight for my Verdict.

Nikon Coolpix P7700 RAW
 
Canon Powershot G15 RAW
80 ISO
80 ISO
     
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
12800 ISO Not available
12800 ISO


Nikon Coolpix P7700
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Nikon P7700 vs Canon PowerShot G15 Noise JPEG

 
  Nikon Coolpix P7700 results
1 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Quality JPEG
2 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Quality RAW
3 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Noise JPEG
4 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Noise RAW
5 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Nikon Coolpix P7700 and Canon PowerShot G15 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The zoom on both cameras was set to its maximum wide angle, 6mm on the P7700 and 6.1mm on the G15, providing an approximately equivalent fields of view.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

The image above was taken with the Nikon Coolpix P7700. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f2 and the sensitivity to 80 ISO. The Coolpix P7700 metered an exposure of 1.3 seconds at f2, with exposure compensation set to +1EV to produce a sufficiently bright image with a histogram in the middle of the chart. With exposure compensation similarly set on the PowerShot G15 it metered 1 second at f2.

As with the outdoor test results, this is a pretty impressive set of crops from the Coolpix P7700. The 80 ISO crop is clean, bright and hard to fault either on quality or noise grounds. Except that I am going to make one minor criticism and that is that this crop does have a fine overall texture to it. It’s barely visible and only noticeable looking at these 100 percent crops, but it’s there all the same. It becomes a little more apparent at 200 ISO, especially in the wall on the right side and in the text panel of the memorial, but it’s still pretty subtle and you’d need to be looking for it to find it.

At 400 ISO though, there’s a very definite hike in the P7700’s noise levels. The granularity is now pretty apparent in the walls and the previously crisp, clean and well defined edges are starting to look a little crumbly. 400 ISO is still easily good enough for full sized prints though. At 800 ISO there’s another significant hike in noise levels and we’re now getting close to the stage where noise and true image detail start to compete for supremacy. That point is reached at 1600 ISO and beyond it, while you might get away with it a smaller sizes, at 100 percent the noise obscures image detail to the extent that you’re really only getting a rough impression.

Compared with the crops from the Nikon Coolpix P7700 it has to be said the PowerShot G15’s performance looks a little lacklustre. The P7700 gets off to a great start, with 80 and 100 ISO crops that are crisp and sparkling with nice clean edges. At 200 and 400 ISO the Nikon crops show much more detail with cleaner edges, there’s more graininess in the wall, but I’ll take that over the softness of the G15 crops. I think it’s fair to say that up to 800 ISO the P7700 has a clear lead all the way. At 1600 ISO I’d still give it to the P7700 but arguably its clumpy fuzz is equally offensive, if qualitatively different to the mushy G15. At 3200 and 6400 ISO I think the fine granularity of the Canon crops is preferable to the hard clumpy buzz of the Nikon’s, but at this level neither is retaining a great deal of worthwhile image detail.

To find out how much of a role processing plays in keeping noise at bay in these crops take a look at my Nikon P7700 RAW noise results page to see just how much noise is present behind the scenes. Or head over to my Nikon Coolpix P7700 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Nikon Coolpix P7700
 
Canon Powershot G15
80 ISO
80 ISO
     
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
12800 ISO Not available
12800 ISO


Nikon Coolpix P7700
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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