Nikon has announced the imminent release of the Coolpix 8700, Nikon's first 8 megapixel compact camera. The camera features an f/2.8 - 4.2, 8x zoom lens, with a focal range of 8.9 - 71.2mm (equivalent to 35 - 280mm in 35mm format). The camera will be available in March and is priced by Nikon at £765 plus VAT. Nikon Coolpix 8700

The lens incorporates two Extra-low Dispersion lens elements to minimize chromatic aberration and provide clear image reproduction claims Nikon. The company says that the 8700 improves on earlier Coolpix, with faster start-up time, faster data recording, shorter release time lag and a new AF-Assist illuminator for quick AF operation in low light.

The camera has four exposure modes – program, shutter-priority, aperture-priority and manual – as well as auto mode for point-&-shoot operation and twelve scene modes. Metering options are matrix, centre-weighted, spot and spot-AF, and the shutter speed range is 1/4000sec to 10 minutes.

The Coolpix 8700 features saturation control, white balance bracketing, a 5 shot buffer mode and movie capability with audio. The camera will shoot at 2.5fps for full sized images and the lens features a closest focal length of 30mm macro operation.

Optional accessories for the Coolpix 8700 include wideangle, telephoto and fisheye converters, a lens hood that takes lens filter and a number of Nikon's external Speedlight flash-guns. It is supplied with Nikon View Software.