At first the Coolpix 8700 looks like a simple upgrade for Nikon, take the Coolpix 5700 body, the same lens and controls and drop in an eight megapixel CCD. However it’s clear that the 8700 has changed quite a bit under the skin, the camera starts more quickly (although is still not fast in that respect), feels more responsive and has slightly faster shot to shot times. From a design point of view it has a fairly standard ‘SLR-like’ prosumer digital camera look, nothing radical but not particularly inspired either.
On the whole image quality was good, Nikon’s matrix metering ensuring that almost every shot is perfectly exposed helps a lot. Tonal balance was good and color response was neutral while still appealing, resolution performance was less than we had hoped although the 8700 did well in our side-by-side studio comparison shot. White balance was a revelation, the 8700 delivering the best automatic white balance results of all the eight megapixel digital cameras we tested in this group.
Unfortunately the Coolpix 8700, like a couple of other eight megapixel prosumer digital cameras just feels like another ‘me too’ product. It certainly delivers good image quality and has the required range of features but also doesn’t break the mold and doesn’t stand out in any particular way. It may also be less attractive to some buyers because of its 35 mm wide angle (compared to the 28 mm wide angle offered by the rest) and relatively slow F4.2 telephoto. To existing Nikon owners the Coolpix 8700 may well be the best choice, to others it should at least be near the top of their ‘may buy’ list.
(Located in AIMM 216)