In addition to the Dragon Boat Races and trip to the Zoo last weekend, a visit to Taipei to get a new camera for Yuling ended up being quite… fun for me. Over the next few days, I will post my reflections on the Nikon P7000, a newly-acquired “point-and-shoot.”
Before I begin, I should also mention that I have a large photography-related project that I will be announcing in the coming days – so look for details for that sometime next week.
Off to “Camera” Street, Taipei
Yuling had to replace her trusty Lumix point and shoot. The camera she had was quite nice, but like most consumer models, it is for more of a casual recording of memories than for serious photographers. It lacks RAW capability and even though it claims to have a 14mp sensor, the lens quality and sensor size keep it from making a real impact. In addition, it’s not built in a way that you “repair” – they’d rather have you buy a newer model – something I complain about in our “plastic society” with everything from cameras to cars to shoes.
As I said, I was able to persuade her in her new purchase. She wanted a good replacement to the last camera. I wanted an excuse to get her to try something more manual. We ended up settling on a Nikon P7000.
She likes the auto/JPG mode enough as it is easy and fast enough to use. Not to mention, the image quality even in JPG blows her previous camera out of the water. In addition, it has an optical zoom that is equivalent to what would be a 28-200mm lens on a DSLR. Below are my thoughts on my… I mean her… new camera…
Nikon markets this camera as an answer to Canon’s G12, an immensely popular, albeit more expensive high-quality point-and-shoot. Both cameras are marketing to the enthusiast crowd, though this is a shrinking market as many of us have DSLRs anyway. With that said, I do like the idea of not carrying my D5000 everywhere, and this presents an opportunity. Since my interests have been gravitating around street photography, I think I have found a great camera to carry around and feel more comfortable as I wander around Taiwan.
The body is made of a magnesium alloy that feels just like a DSLR and seems to be able to withstand abuse. While I’m not going to try any tests on the new purchase, I’m pretty confident that I don’t need to worry too much about this camera. The buttons, knobs, and switches are all well made and work great. The only complaint I have is the often inaccurate viewfinder – I expected a small area of coverage with a rangefinder-style camera, but when the camera is fully zoomed, the viewfinder seems pointless.
Manual Modes and RAW… and some complaints(!)
One of the things that attracted me to this camera were the M, A, S, P manual modes – like on a Nikon DSLR. In addition, ISO is easy to change, making the whole experience pretty nice.
The manual modes are easy and intuitive to work with. In addition, if you don’t like the control knob setup for say, aperture settings, you can easily flip-flop it so it’s more comfortable.
The problems first came when I wanted to shoot RAW. I always shoot RAW. I shoot it because I get more data, have the hard drive space for it, and have the patience for editing the filetype. It helps me constantly work on my post processing as well. With that said, the RAW load times are unacceptable when the camera is first out of the box. It takes about 3-5 seconds for the file to load and the camera to go back into shooting mode. In addition, we had problems with the camera simply not shooting at all when switching between manual and automatic modes. Again, unacceptable.
This camera’s software almost made me take it back to the shop. Fortunately, Nikon provided a firmware upgrade (1.1) and all is well now. Unfortunately, I have a feeling this is a matter of Nikon rushing a product, seeing as the P7000 was introduced right in time for Christmas 2010.
A few more things: I hate the fact that the live view is always on. Especially when I’m set at 35mm or 50mm (equivalent) and I can use the viewfinder, it just seems like a battery-suck. I also don’t like the lack of a distinct shutter “feeling” present in my D5000. I realize this is why people don’t want a DSLR, but I find that sound and feeling comforting. While digital photography is great, I do wish that a distinction between “camera” and “gadget” could be made – especially by a top camera company. Unfortunately, this just doesn’t feel like a camera sometimes…
Images from the P7000
…with that said, here are some shots. I’ll be keeping it in spite of the kinks. It’s a great alternative for street photography as it fits in a cargo pocket or easily around my arm/neck. I could recommended this purchase, but only if you know what you’re getting into and had a reason for getting it over Canon’s G12. In my case, the flash system was the basis of my reasoning, and my SB-600 works well when cabled to the camera, which would be nice for street photography and portraits – though the size is a bit overkill. Low-light photography is great, as the lens goes to f/2.8 and ISO is usable to 800 or even 1600 in some cases (though I keep it below 400). As I get to know the camera, I’ll accept it more, even though it’s not my ideal rangefinder-style camera.
You’ll notice that dynamic range and noise are some issues with this camera, but I can forgive both of these items as it IS just a point-and-shoot. Some reviews online had some unrealistic expectations – for example, you won’t get sports photography done with this camera. I think this is understandable, but also goes back to the issue of “camera versus gadget” that I complained about earlier. Maybe someone will – or has – done this in a rangefinder-style camera… we can only hope.
Anyway, off to the shots – these are a mix of Taipei and Jhubei: