I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of using LCD screens to take a photo. Indoors or in dim light they work fine, but in bright sunlight they’re a waste of time. There is also the ‘arm-stretched out’ photo stance which to me looks just plain silly.
For a couple of years now, I’ve been using the excellent P300 as a carry-round, do-it-all compact and I’ve been really happy with it. The image quality is excellent, it’s easy to use and it has a really solid magnesium alloy body. The battery life is very good too and for its size and price range it is has many excellent features.
But there is always the LCD problem in bright sunlight.
So, I started to look around the smaller camera market for a replacement which has a viewfinder. I wanted to stick with Nikon and so I decided on the P7800.
It is a larger camera than the P300 and has a magnesium chassis which makes it feel very solid in the hand, but still light. There is a hand grip which is welcome due to the size of the camera and many of the controls that were menu-activated on the P300 are placed around the body on the P7800. The controls echo those on a full-sized DSLR including main and sub-command wheels, user configured function buttons, an exposure compensation dial and even an AE-L/AF-L button.
The LCD screen is very clear and also side-hinged which makes those low shots easy to do without having to lay flat on the floor and it also has an electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 921K dots, 100% and built-in diopter adjustment. This was the deal-breaker for me as was the ability to shoot RAW files – something the P300 could not do. The downside to the RAW capability is the length of time the camera takes to write the file to a class 10 SD card – an average of 3 seconds. That may not seem long, but when you’re waiting for the write process to finish to take another picture, it can seem like a lifetime. In jpeg mode, the camera performs its image save relatively quickly.
One other downside of the camera are the camera strap lugs. For some reason Nikon have made them so that they rotate both clockwise and anti-clockwise in the body. This may have been an attempt to reduce the amount of strap ‘tangle’ but it also resulted in one of the lugs unscrewing from the rotating connector in the camera body and only the fact that I was holding the strap stopped the camera falling to the floor. It was a fiddly job screwing the lug back in and now I’m very wary of it.
I’ve used the camera a few times now and I like it. The images that are produced by it are excellent (you can find some of them in the 365 project on this blog) and the viewfinder is a really useful feature on bright days.