Because the P7000 puts all of its manual controls front and center--more so than any other camera in this roundup--it also has the most challenging learning curve. Novices are bound to be a bit intimidated by its array of buttons and dials, but photographers who have used Nikon's DSLR cameras will welcome the familiar button layout.
It lacks the flip-and-pivot LCD screen of the , but in other respects the Coolpix P7000 is the spitting image of the G12. Both offer a flash-supporting hot shoe, a battery-saving optical viewfinder, an electronic level dubbed the 'Virtual Horizon', a lens with 28mm wide-angle coverage and F2.8 maximum aperture; the Nikon's bulky body is a hair slimmer and lighter than the Canon's.
The P7000 holds an edge in optical oomph over the PowerShot G12: Its 7.1X optical zoom lens gives it the highest zoom range of any camera in this roundup, stretching from 28mm to 200mm. The Coolpix P7000 also has a superior optical viewfinder; the zoom lens never creeps into your wide-angle view, as happens with the G12's optical viewfinder.
The 17 buttons on the Coolpix P7000 provide some amazingly quick shortcuts to the camera's manual controls. Among them are a one-touch toggle right next to the shutter button for aperture priority and shutter priority, a thumb-operated automatic exposure lock and automatic focus lock button; a custom mode wheel that lets you jump quickly between aperture, shutter, and white-balance bracketing modes, ISO settings, image resolution settings, and on-screen histograms; and a mode dial with three user-defined custom presets. The P7000 takes great photos in Auto mode, but you'll get a lot more out of this camera by diving into its manual settings.
In PCWorld Labs' subjective testing of a group of for image and video quality, the P7000 finished a close second to the PowerShot G12, with an overall performance mark of superior. The images it snapped were the sharpest ones we saw from any camera in the bunch, and its scores for exposure quality and color accuracy were only a shade behind those of the G12. On the other hand, if you plan to shoot a lot of video, you'll be better off with a different camera: The Coolpix P7000 finished next-to-last in our subjective tests for video quality, and its 720p footage (at /24 frames per second) outscored only the standard-definition-shooting in our tests. The Nikon camera's battery life is good, with a CIPA rating of 350 shots per charge with the LCD turned on.