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Camera Reviews > Nikon Coolpix 8700
Nikon Coolpix 8700 Review
Date: June 21, 2004
Amateur - Prosumer
HANDLING & FEEL
11.6mm, Programmed Auto, Partial, 1/91.8 sec.,
F4.2, and ISO 50
The first thing you notice when you unpack the
Nikon Coolpix 8700 from its box is how
compact and light it is. With dimensions of 113W
x 105H x 78D mm (4.4W x 4.1H x 3.1D in.), and
weighing 480g (17 oz.), it is the most compact
of the 8MP digital cameras.
Nikon engineers have been able to squeeze a
8MP image sensor, a 8x optical zoom, a fully swivelling
LCD, and all the professional features one would
desire into a well-built compact body. Thanks
to its deep handgrip, the 8700 is easy to hold
and handle. The lens barrel is just large enough
to hold comfortably with the left hand.
Readers know that I make no pretense that compactness
is a preference of mine. There's something to
say about having a camera that is both discreet
in appearance and quiet in operation, and the
Coolpix 8700, in its professional black magnesium
alloy body, is both.
However, due to its compact size, there are a
few compromises that make certain operations a
bit arkward to operate. The Multi Selector is
located a bit too low on the back of the camera
and is also quite small. It's usually not a problem,
but since I use the Focus Areas a lot, I need
to select the latter using the Multi selector,
and I find my thumb just can't get low enough
to press the Multi selector without letting go
of the shutter release button.
Control buttons are divided between the back
and the left side of the camera (viewed from the
back). The Coolpix 8700 is the only prosumer digital
camera I've used that does not have a mode dial.
Instead you select functions by using the control
buttons and Command Dial. The control buttons
toggle and/or work in combination with the Command
the left of the camera, there are the Size, Flash/ISO,
AE/AF Lock, and Focus Mode/MF buttons. You select
a function by pressing the appropriate button
a number of times to cycle through available options,
and/or pressing a button and rotating the Command
Dial to select an option.
I like the toggle aspect especially when there
are only a couple of options to cycle through.
However, because you also have to hold a button
while rotating the Command Dial to select other
functionality, you may inadvertently change the
underlying setting. It's also easy to brush against
one of the control buttons and change a setting
by mistake; I find that at first I would inadvertently
press one of the buttons and not realize I changed
some function: e.g. switching from Fine to HI
image size, and wondering why it takes so long
to save the image. I quickly get used to them
and come to appreciate the layout and operation.
1.8 in LCD can be folded into the body for protection,
and swivels to face forward or downward, and any
other angle in betwen. It is really the best type
and invaluable for macro shots. At 134,000 pixels
resolution and 1.8 in., it is quite clear, though
not as high in resolution or as large as what
we are starting to see more and more in the prosumer
The EVF is similar in resolution than on most
of the other 8MP digital cameras, at 235,000 pixels.
When the LCD is folded closed against the camera
body, the monitor defaults to the EVF. If you
wear glasses like I do, you will appreciate the
easily set diopter adjustment (I mention this
because on too many digital cameras, it's quite
difficult to adjust the diopter).
There is also a monochrome LCD control panel
display on the top with a backlight button.
The AF assist lamp is on the pop up flash, so
when the camera measures the need to use it, it
automatically pops up the onboard flash. It feels
a bit strange when this happens, especially if
you don't want the flash to go off, and you're
not sure if the flash will fire or not.
To turn the camera on, you turn the Power Switch
that surrounds the Shutter Release button. If
you are used to having a zoom toggle at that location,
you end up switching the camera off inadvertently
until you get used to it.
The Zoom buttons are at the back and activated
by your right thumb. I personally would like them
just a bit higher, perhaps flush against the top
of the body.
It takes about 3 sec. for startup, with the lens
extending 3 cm (1.2 in.). At full telephoto, the
lens extends almost 5 cm (2 in.). It's a good
idea to put the lens cap on after switching
off the camera as I found out. I usually place
the lens cap on, put the camera on the table (on
a protective bubble sheet) and switch the camera
off. Because the diameter of the lens cap is bigger
than that of the front lens element, the lens
cap can snag something between itself and the
camera body (finger, paper, bubble sheet) as the
lens retracts. It's always a good idea anyway
to always switch the camera off first, and wait
for the lens to fully retract, before putting
the lens cap on.
The Nikon Coolpix 8700 has excellent ergonomics
and handles very well for a compact prosumer digital
camera. If you value compactness, you will value
this professional 8MP.