We compare Canon's G12, Panasonic's LX5 and the Nikon's P7000 in real-life situations.
Like: The P7000 sits comfortably and securely in one’s hand thanks to rubber-clad areas on both the front and the back. We were impressed with the overall quality of the images thanks to the P7000’s large (for a compact) 1x1.7” sensor. The camera also features the highest-res/largest LCD of the three compared, coming in at 3” 921,000 pixels (the LX5 is also 3” but only 460,000 pixels, the G12 is 2.8”).
Built-in viewfinders are becoming harder and harder to find in compacts. The fact that the P7000 has a viewfinder is a nice touch, although it is fairly inaccurate (80% coverage) and does add extra size to the body.
Another nice feature of the P7000 its extremely versatile 7.1x optical zoom—beating the pants off the G12, which features a 5x optical zoom and the LX5 which features a 3.8x optical zoom.
Dislike: Of the three cameras compared, we found the controls on the Nikon P7000 to be the least intuitive. Even after spending some significant time out and about with the camera, we still found ourselves frustrated and stumbling to change basic settings like the shutter speed and aperture. Obviously with some practice, this may be less of an issue.
We found the exposure compensation dial, in particular, to be oddly placed. Someone coming from a Nikon DSLR background can easily mix up the oversized exposure compensation dial with the considerably smaller shutter speed wheel. Switching the placement of these two would make a lot of sense.
Other issues we ran into while shooting with the P7000 include the fact that one needs to manually switch the camera to macro mode in order to take a close-up (on the G12, macro mode automatically engages when the camera senses you are close to a subject). We also weren’t terribly impressed with the “quick menu dial,” used to change things like the white balance, ISO and quality. The setup makes it difficult to change these settings on the fly as the camera interrupts the LCD image to bring up a separate menu for each.
Overall: The P7000 offers high-end features and solid image quality in a convenient package. Unfortunately the controls on this camera are its biggest downfall. It would make sense for companies like Nikon to make the controls on their high-end compacts similar to those on their DSLR’s—allowing users to easily switch back and forth.
On the aesthetic side, of the three compared, the P7000 feels the most bulky and is the heaviest. Unlike the G12, its body is made up of harsh lines and contours. It's also definitely not going to fit in the average pocket.
It should also be noted that the P7000 is Nikon’s first attempt at a high-end compact on the same level as the G12 and LX5—keep in mind that the Canon G12 is an update to the G11 and the LX5 is an update to the LX3. Considering that the P7000 was pretty much built from the ground up, we feel that Nikon did a solid job creating a professional-level compact that holds its own against the well-seasoned competition.