Controls on the Coolpix 7600 have a much roomier layout than on the 7900, thanks to the extra real estate provided by its smaller 1.8-inch LCD. The mode dial is on the back of the camera next to the zoom lever and is easy to ratchet through with your thumb.
As with many Nikon snapshot cameras, the 7600 provides a broad selection of scene modes, and framing guidelines are available for the more common scenes, such as Portrait, Landscape, Sports, and Night Portrait. However, the 7600 falls a couple of options shy of the 7900--there's no underwater mode, for example. The company's Face-Priority autofocus is available in Portrait mode, and red-eye correction and Nikon's D-lighting exposure adjustment are part of the 7600's in-camera postprocessing features. As with the 7900, however, we couldn't summon up any demon eyes in our subjects, making it impossible to test the in-camera fix. D-lighting, which brightens the image after it's shot, worked reasonably well on underexposed and backlit subjects.
Perhaps the most user-friendly aspect of the camera is its built-in help system. Activated from within any of the menu sets, it describes the purpose of each feature and scene. There's little need for it, though; with a nod toward simplicity, there are few imaging options on the 7600. Other than white balance, exposure compensation, color (natural, vivid, black-and-white, sepia, or cyanotype), and picture size, there simply aren't any parameters to adjust. The camera even determines ISO sensitivity automatically.
You can run the 7600 off two alkaline, lithium, or rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride AA cells. Oddly, Nikon has a menu setting to switch among the battery types, ostensibly to optimize performance for each chemistry's power-drain characteristics. Overall, performance is slightly above average for its class. Shutter lag ranges from 0.7 second to 1.1 seconds, depending upon scene contrast, but low-light autofocus is hit or miss, even with the AF-assist lamp, and flash recycling felt a bit sluggish. The camera starts up in a sprightly 2.3 seconds, however.
Image quality is quite good, with naturally rendered colors, accurate exposures, and reasonably sharp focus. We saw little purple fringing or other chromatic aberrations. Noise levels were relatively low, and overall, the auto white balance worked well outdoors. Movie mode--especially with vibration reduction enabled--and macro focus delivered above-average results.
For what it is--a basic, easy-to-use snapshot camera for beginners--the 7600 does a very good job. But if you suspect that it might be a little too lightweight on features, you should check out its slightly more expensive sibling, the Coolpix 7900, before clicking that Submit button on your order.
|Shutter lag (typical)||Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time|
|Frames per second|