Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Photo Shooting (Nikon P7000)

During the past few years I've been taking all of my holiday photos with one of my DSLRs, but this year I decided that lugging one around to various Christmas parties was too much of a hassle. That left me with one alternative, taking the Nikon Coolpix P7000, which at first left me feeling a little uncomfortable. I wasn't worry about focusing problems, as I've noticed far better performance in the auto focus system since the 1.1 firmware update, but rather how the camera would handle the low light in family members homes.

About 90% of the time I was shooting with shutter speeds around 1/10s, so I did pop up the P7000s flash from time to time when there was a lot of movement. This experience with the P7000 reinforced the statements I made about how well VR works on the P7000, I had almost no photos that showed signs of camera shake, as any signs of movement were in my subjects themselves. Overall the P7000 did a good job, capturing the images that I wanted. I did have some focusing problems in low light, but I just had to try focusing several times to overcome that. I used face detection often because that seemed like the best way to make sure I had focus in the right place, but I noticed that the camera had trouble noticing some people in my family, while others were no trouble at all. I suspect the lighting conditions were the primary reason for that.

The nicest aspect of using the P7000 verse one of my DSLRs was that people didn't notice me taking photos as much, so I felt more free to shoot. That alone made using the P7000 a big plus, and made the image making process more fun overall. A lot of people go for posed shots at Christmas time, but I find that I get far more interesting photos when people aren't even looking at the camera, so using the P7000 helped me to achieve that. Of course any high end point and shoot users would likely have the same experience. I say high end, because you really need to good high ISO noise performance for people not to notice you. I hardly even used the flash, which helps people stay more comfortable. This was extremely important, for example, my future brother in law is hard to photograph, and so without the flash he hardly even noticed me snapping away. That creating the conditions needed to get some of the best shots I have of him.

One thing that I did find interesting was that the P7000 was overexposing a lot in mixed lighting indoors, so I was often shooting with -0.3 or -0.7ev dialed in. That was easy to do thanks to the P7000's exposure compensation dial. The performance of the camera was good overall.