The Nikon P7000 looks the business. Clad in dull, gunmetal black and following the G12's approach of scattering the toplate with dials and buttons, it is, like its Canon cousin, an intimidating camera at first, particularly if you're not familiar with terminology such as "BKT", "QUAL" or "WB" might mean.
But if you are, the Nikon P7000 is a snap to set up. The menu system is excellent, as is the 3-inch, 921,000-pixel monitor, but you won't have to poke it into action much.
On the left-hand side a dial allows you to choose from Quality, ISO, white balance and bracketing. Select one and push the button in the centre and the current settings are displayed on the screen for you to change with a spin of the rear-mounted click wheel. You also get a dedicated PASM dial, as well as an exposure compensation dial that allows you to dial in plus or minus three stops.
The back of the camera is similarly busy. The flash is manually-activated, while the four-way direction pad acts as a shortcut to flash settings, the self-timer and has two buttons dedicated to the focus mode. The first allows you choose from normal, macro, infinity and a manual mode.
The latter blows up the centre of the frame - pushing the D-pad up or down moves focus backwards and forwards. It works well, although it's not exactly fast enough for moving subjects. The other focus button allows you to choose your focus zone. You can select it yourself, or have it track a subject, or prioritise faces.
In use the Nikon P7000 works extremely well, give or take a few instances of lag when accessing the menu system. It certainly feels like it'll take the odd knock and thwack.
The only weak spot is the hopeless optical viewfinder, which is incredibly cramped and doesn't impart focus information - only focal length. The LCD monitor is a much more reliable choice.