The JPEGs that come straight out of the camera are beautifully detailed, featuring faithful tones and true-to-life colours with just the right level of punch to them. The Nikon Coolpix P7100 also provides the added benefit of being able to shoot raw files, giving you the ultimate level of control over the entire shooting process from capture to computer, at the same time as enabling you to really maximise the potential of the images you create with this formidable camera.
Chromatic aberration is generally well-controlled, although there is some evidence of fringing in between areas of high contrast in some scenes - generally only visible if you start 'pixel-peeping'. Distortion is similarly well-controlled throughout the 7.1x optical zoom lens's focal range and the level of sharpness delivered across the board is also impressive.
For those who want to ease themselves into the experience of shooting with such an advanced compact camera (or if you just want to take a break from the manual modes), there are plenty of automatic exposure modes on offer. Auto mode takes care of everything for you and produces consistently high-quality results, with accurately-exposed, pleasingly coloured shots with minimal effort on the photographer's part.
If you want to get a bit more involved, there are 18 scene modes to choose from - each of which is manually selectable - although you get the added bonus of the Scene Auto Selector if you can't decide which to use or want to speed things up a bit. The modes on offer cover just about every shooting situation, including the 'usual suspects' such as Portrait, Landscape, Sports and Night Portrait, in addition to a flash-free Museum mode, useful Backlighting Correction feature and a Pet Portrait mode.
We're a little disappointed that Nikon's impressive Easy Panorama feature hasn't made it onto the list, but you do get a manual Panorama Assist option instead. Each of the scene modes produces very good results, and the Auto Selector proves itself to be adept at correctly interpreting our subjects, successfully picking an appropriate mode with consistency.
Also on the mode dial is Nikon's array of special effects, each of which can be previewed on screen as you scroll through the options. On offer is Creative monochrome, Painting, Zoom Exposure, Defocus During Exposure, Cross Process, Soft, Nostalgic Sepia, High Key, Low Key and Selective Color.
Normal, with no effects applied
Defocus During Exposure
Each setting adds its own distinctive look to your images in-camera, processing them quickly and producing pleasing results that enable that little extra bit of creativity if you want some time away from your computer screen.
When it comes to noise control, the Nikon Coolpix P7100 fares better than its predecessor as well as succeeding in out-performing the competition at higher ISO sensitivities. The camera does a decent job of suppressing noise across its native range, maintaining an impressive level of detail at all but the very top settings.