Nikon Unveils Feature-Loaded, Flagship Coolpix Camera

A nice little rivalry is shaping up among high-end point-and-shoot cameras with manual controls, and Nikon is the latest big-name company to throw a fully-loaded fixed-lens camera into the ring for the holidays.

The Nikon Coolpix P7000 is built around the company's new Expeed C2 image processor, and it's one of three new Nikon point-and-shoot cameras announced today.

Nikon Coolpix P7000: Fast Access to Manual Controls

The Nikon Coolpix P7000 looks like it was built to compete squarely with Canon's PowerShot G11, thanks to its similar size, style, and range of features. The P7000 packs a 10-megapixel, 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor behind its 7.1X wide-angle optical zoom lens (28mm to 200mm, F2.8 to F8.0), stabilized via a five-way system that includes a combination of lens-shifting and digital methods.

The Coolpix P7000 offers RAW shooting and a full stable of manual controls that include aperture- and shutter-priority modes, and the camera's control layout is designed to enable fast access to most manual settings.

Three mode dials sit on top of the P7000: one that allows you to change the shooting mode; one that offers quick access to exposure compensation settings; and a secondary mode dial that lets you toggle between bracketing modes, white-balance settings, ISO sensitivity, resolution adjustments, and on-screen histogram details. The primary mode dial also offers quick access to three user-defined custom settings.

In addition to a sharp 3-inch LCD viewfinder, the Coolpix P7000 is one of the rare remaining fixed-lens cameras that offer an eye-level optical viewfinder. A hot shoe on top of the camera supports an external flash or an external microphone; the camera also has a built-in pop-up flash and stereo mics to bolster its 720p/24fps (frames per second) high-definition video recording with HDMI-out.

Nikon is also hailing the Coolpix P7000's low-light shooting capabilities, thanks to ISO settings that reach up to 6400 at full resolution and top out at ISO 12,800 in its reduced-resolution Night Mode scene selection. Other in-camera goodies include Nikon's excellent D-Lighting setting (an image-retouching function), automatic exposure adjustments for portraits, and motion-tracking autofocus for moving subjects.

Due in late September, the performance-minded Coolpix P7000 will be priced at $500.

Nikon Coolpix S8100: Pocket Megazoom With 1080p Video

The Coolpix S8100 replaces the Coolpix S8000 pocket megazoom camera released earlier this year, and it adds a new backside-illuminated 12-megapixel CMOS sensor for enhanced low-light performance, a faster burst mode that captures up to 10 frames per second at full resolution, and 1080p video recording.

Like the Coolpix S8000 before it, the S8100 offers a 10X optical zoom lens (30mm to 300mm) with hybrid optical/digital image stabilization, and the camera's settings are almost fully automated. However, Nikon revamped the mode dial on the new camera to offer easier access to some of the more frequently used in-camera settings (Night Portrait mode, Night Scene mode, motion-tracking autofocus, and the new burst mode among them). The camera also has a sharp 3-inch LCD screen, stereo microphones, and a dedicated record button for shooting video.

In addition to the 10fps burst mode at full resolution, the Coolpix S8100 also has a Sports Continuous scene mode that snaps up to 120 frames per second at a reduced resolution. Other features of note include an automatic high-dynamic range (HDR) mode, image-retouching functions such as Nikon's D-Lighting correction, automatic exposure adjustments for portraits, and motion-tracking autofocus.

Due in late September for $300, the Coolpix S8100 will be available in black, gold, and red.

Nikon Coolpix S80: Slim OLED Touchscreen Camera

Rounding out the day's announcements is the Nikon Coolpix S80, which replaces the Coolpix S70 and offers a 3.5-inch-diagonal OLED touchscreen for operating the bulk of the camera's controls. The 14-megapixel S80 has a horizontally-sliding faceplate that protects its optically and digitally stabilized 5X optical zoom (35mm to 175mm) lens when the camera isn't in use.

In-camera features include a Paint function that can be used to add graffiti-like details to photos during playback, 720p video recording with stereo audio recording and HDMI-out, automatic exposure adjustments for portraits, and photo-retouching options that include miniature effect and fisheye-lens simulators.

Available in the fall, the Coolpix S80 will sell for $330 in black, brown, pink, gold, blue, or red.

This story, "Nikon Unveils Feature-Loaded, Flagship Coolpix Camera" was originally published by PCWorld.

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