I am a professional photographer and I just purchased a point and shoot camera for the very first time. I chose the Nikon Coolpix P7700. Why is this a big deal? First, let me put things in perspective as to why is is a monumental moment in my life. I bought my first SLR camera in the early 70's. It was a Ricoh film single lens reflex camera, which was quite a magnificent piece of equipment for the day. I used this camera for over 20 years, and shot my kid's photos with it, took it on vacation and photographed just about everything with it. Most importantly, I learned the fundamentals of photography by and became classically trained in exposure and lighting. One of my favorite learning experiences was becoming familiar with Ansel Adams zone system. I slowing became a guru(and a bit of an SLR snob) and could not see the benefits of using any other type of camera beneath the almighty SLR. In the mid 90's, I purchased a much newer model SLR film camera, the Canon AE2. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. There were so many upgrades to this camera that my Ricoh did not have. When digital SLR cameras became the norm, I purchased my first DSLR in 2003, the Olympus E-20. I began to upgrade my cameras every other year or so, because the digital cameras were updating their features at such an unprecedented rate, unheard of in film photography. From 2003 - 2013, I updated my cameras five times. I now use the Canon 7D which has one of the fastest autofocus modes on the market. So why did I recently choose to buy a point and shoot camera?
Reasons I Purchased A Point and Shoot Camera
There are so many reasons I purchased the Nikon Coolpix P7700 Point and Shoot camera. To call it just "a point and shoot camera", is an under-statement. Although you cannot remove the lens, it has many of the same features (and more) of a DSLR camera. The Nikon Coolpix P7700 is really the coolest camera I have ever owned. I would not have the time or space to mention everyone in this article, so I am going to list the five TOP reasons I like this camera.
Reason #1 - The Size
My Canon 7D with the external battery pack and the 70-200 mm lens measures 13 inches and weighs 5 lbs. Ouch! No wonder I have arthritis in my neck and a pinched nerve in my right arm. The Nikon Coolpix P7700 measures just 3 inches and weighs only 1 lb. Its dimensions are 3x3.5x3 inches and can fit into my purse
Reason #2 -The Lens
The Nikon Coolpix P7700 has a 28-200mm zoom lens that opens up to f/2.0 and also serves as a macro lens if you prefer. I am able to blur backgrounds by using a shallow depth of field just like I can with my Canon lenses. The macro feature is an added bonus because I do not have macro possibilities with my Canon equipment. I can get as close as 0.8 inches to the subject. I love to photograph flowers, so imagine the close-up work that I can do now. The telephoto lens allows me to shoot from far away. Because the aperture is not fixed throughout the range of the zoom, at 200mm the widest aperture is 4.0, but that's okay.
Reason #3 - The Shooting Modes
Wow, I can shoot in aperture and shutter priority or shoot in manual just like I can with my SLR camera. Best of all, there is a dial on top of the camera where I can dial in 1, 2 or 3 stops of over-exposure or under-exposure. As an experienced photographer, I shoot many scenes with a slight over or under exposure, so this helps keep my keen vision in check.
Reason #4 - The Video
I found this camera online because I was searching for a small camera that had video and a jack for an external mic. There were not many choices, so I chose the Nikon Coolpix P7700. Little did I know that I would love all the other features just as much as the video. The camera shoots video in HD at 30 frames per second and can track motion with its AF-F autofocus mode. This camera can support an external lavalier mic which produces much better sound than an in camera microphone.
Reason #5 - The ISO Range
I am an ISO nerd and am constantly changing ISO on my camera to match the existing lighting, making sure it is not too high. The Coolpix has and ISO range that starts at 80 and goes all the way up to 6400. Sure there will be noise with a high ISO, but the camera also has a noise reduction feature. Wait there's more. It has a built in neutral density filter that you can turn on or off. No more problems shooting wide open in the bright sunlight.
There are so many other incredible features to the camera that deserve mentioning. Here they are:
Amazing software for downloading and retouching images
Shoots in raw in the Nikon NRW format.
Continuous shooting mode at 8fps.
Vari-angle 3-inch LCD screen.
Choice of pop-up flash, external flash unit, or wireless off-camera flash.
In camera effects like monochrome, sepia, zoom exposure, cross process, painterly effect and more.
Processes HDR in camera when shooting a back-lit subject or a scene with a lot of dark and light areas.
Interval timer if you wanted to shoot a flower opening up or something that changes at regular intervals.
Histogram live view while you are taking the photo (can't live without my histogram)
There are so many more features from its elaborate focusing system, to its white balance presets and bracketing to its custom picture control (available for video and stills) that make this camera incredible.
You are probably wondering if there are any cons to this camera. Not really a con, but I do not recommend this camera someone who typically shoots in auto mode. There are just too many advanced features that would go to waste for a novice. I purchased a book written by David Busch on how to use this camera and even for me I was stuck a couple times and had to re-read the material. The main con is the size of the image sensor. It is only 7.44x5.58 mm compared to 23.6 x 15.7 mm for a cropped DSLR sensor or 36 x 24 mm for a full frame DSLR sensor. Image quality may lack for large images or those shot at high ISOs. Will I be using the Coolpix for my professional photography? Probably not, but you bet I will be taking with me on my next vacation. Gotta run now... I am going to go back reading the 300 page manual to find out what else I can learn about this amazing little camera.
Wishing you all the best in photography
Mary Buck is a Professional Photographer and Photography Instructor in Duluth, GA. She is author of an E-book and online course, "Take Creative Control of Your SLR Camera." The course is now offered online at: http://www.online-digital-photography-course.com Her website offers free photography tips, reviews of digital SLR cameras and advice on how to start a photography business. You can also find photographs taken with the Nikon Coolpix on the website. She is author of "How to Take Better Photos of Your Kids" an instructional video which can be found at http://www.udemy.com
She owns and operates a portrait studio in Duluth where she specialized in children's portraits.