Eager to please as many people as possible, Nikon release the Coolpix P60 which, aimed at the keen amateur market, spans the gap from compact to bridge camera.
Nikon Coolpix P60: Specification
- Optical zoom: 5x
- Resolution: 8.1Mp
- Sensor type: CCD
- Colour: Black
- Focal length: 36-180mm
- Aperture: f/3.6-4.5
- Viewfinder type: Electronic
- Screen: 2.5in
- Storage: SD
- Battery model: AA x2
- Weight: 160g
- Size: 95.5 x 63.5 x 36mm
- Minimum focus: 10cm
- Screen resolution: 153,000 dots (51,000pixels)
- Connectivity: USB 2.0
- Image stabilisation: Yes
- ISO min: 80
- ISO max: 2000
Sharing the same arena is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8 at £135 with the same resolution, zoom and screen size. The DMC-LZ8 also takes AA batteries and incorporates an optical image stabiliser but has a slightly wider field of view starting at 32mm. This great, but the top end then loses out on a full 20mm of zoom capability.
Also, the Olympus 780 at £20 less offers the same resolution, zoom and screen size, but has the added benefit of being weatherproof. It also has a better close focusing distance of 3cm and takes a Li-Ion battery as opposed to AA's.
Nikon Coolpix P60: Modes and features
The simple frontage sports the 5x optical zoom lens which sticks out by a few millimetres, AF assist beam and flash which is nothing more than a slit in the casing of the camera.
The camera has a large hand grip for its size and this is covered in a rubber coating for non-slippery shooting.
The top plate of the camera has the mode dial, power button and shutter release which is nestled in the corner of the grip. The mode dial allows access to Auto, Program and Manual modes as well as Video, Set-up menu, Scene modes and the Hi_ISO setting. Pre-programmed modes such as Portrait, Landscape and Night Shot are also on the dial.
Moving to the back of the camera and a small viewfinder is in the top left corner. This may seem impossible, as their is no exit window for the viewfinder on the front of the camera. That's because it's an electronic viewfinder (EVF) which takes the image from the sensor and looks like a camcorder. The advantage of this is that information that would be shown only on the LCD screen is also displayed in the viewfinder if you prefer to use that.
Above the 2.5in screen is the display button and that will scroll through what is displayed on the screen and also flick between the screen and EVF.
Surprisingly the rule of thirds grid, which is pretty much a staple requirement on compacts recently, is absent. After looking through the set up menu, the option of turning the grid on or off is available and turning it on will add it to the information when scrolling through the display options.
The right side of the back also has the zoom rocker in the top corner, a small thumb plate with the Playback button just to the left and the navigation pad below. The pad is used for making your way around the menus, but also doubles up to give access to the flash options, self timer, exposure compensation and macro modes. Saying that, the macro button isn't just for macro at all and also has a landscape focus mode and AF mode in the menu. The icon really should be an AF and not a macro flower sign.
Access to the main menu is done by pressing the menu button at the bottom of the camera. When playing back previously taken images, the delete button is to the right of the menu button.
Nikon Coolpix P60: Build and handling
The plastic casing needs a double take as at first I thought it was metal. It's a solid little camera with sturdy buttons that press in with confidence. The only niggle is on the display button which is pretty unresponsive.
The zoom is quite slow and I would have preferred to see a completely internal zoom. Only one of the three barrels that extend actually move though, so it's not a deal breaker.
The Nikon Coolpix P60 takes 2x AA batteries which is not an overly bad idea as they are more readily available, but I'm surprised that they've combined AA batteries with an EVF as it will drain the power more than an optical one.
The battery bay door is not flexible but has that unsteadiness that all doors have. It doesn't feel as flimsy as some however, care still needs to be taken.
Nikon Coolpix P60: Flash options
The flash on the camera is just a slit, like an archers window on a castle. The P60 boasts six flash options of Auto, Red-Eye, Off, On, Slow Sync and Rear Curtain Flash. Slow Sync uses a burst of flash with a slow shutter speed, so a tripod or support is necessary with this mode. The Rear Curtain Flash takes a shot and fires the flash at the end of the shot instead of the start.
Nikon Coolpix P60: Performance
The shutter lag test proved quite slow in comparison to other compacts. I thought it may have been my reactions, but after several attempts, I received the same result.
The Coolpix P60 gave a result of 0.18sec. Normally, the result is 0.08sec, which may not sound much, but could be the difference between the kids smiling and not smiling.
The continuous shooting mode doesn't give a bad result with 14 images in ten seconds. As an added bonus, the last couple of shots only needed an extra second or two over the ten second threshold to download the information.
Similar to the Coolpix P80 I reviewed recently, the colour test chart shows the blue saturated with the other primaries benefitting from a boost in colour. The skin tone is still a little flat, but the tones are nicely balanced.
The macro facility of the P60 only has a close focus capability of 10cm, which isn't very good at all. The yellow of the rape seed flower is a bit too green, but the background is nicely out of focus.
What I am pleased with is the sharpness of the image. It was a bright and sunny day, but there was a breeze which moved the flowers about. The P60 has kept them sharp with no blur evident.
The landscape image shows excellent detail in the concrete down the side of the lock behind the winch.
Fringing is evident on the white bars as a kind ethereal glow and while the camera has done well to remove it from the roof, some remnants remain with the slanted part of the roof tinged in purple.
Portrait mode has given a better exposed image with more detail showing on the face and warmer skin tone. There's also more detail and colour in the hair than the program mode shot.
The portrait shot with the flash has given nice catch lights which the two previous images are sadly lacking. The skin is also nicely balanced with no heavy shadows. A good result for Nikon here.
All the usual colours are boosted and the tones look nice. The skin tone is a bit flat.
A 10cm macro isn't worth writing home about. The background is nicely out of focus, but the image has a green cast.
Portrait mode gives a decent result with balanced skin tones and a good exposure.
Program mode has come out under exposed and lacks detail in the hair.
A nicely balanced exposure with catchlights in the eyes and no Red-eye.
Excellent detail in the concrete but fringing is apparent. It's more of a hazy glow than a solid line of colour.
Nikon Coolpix P60: Noise test
The Nikon Coolpix P60 has the same noise settings as the Coolpix P80 suggesting the same processor. Despite this, the P60 performs better at the lower ISO stages and noise doesn't really start to show through until ISO400.
Image degradation begins at ISO800, which is a little early by today's standards, and stripes of green and purple are also appearing at this level.
The ISO1600 image is speckled with noise, the same as ISO2000, but there's little between the stages.
Thankfully, the low resolution ISO options found on the Coolpix P80 are absent. These settings don't help many people and only seem to degrade the reputation of the camera.
The ISO80 test.
The ISO100 test.
The ISO200 test.
The ISO400 test.
The ISO800 test.
The ISO1600 test.
The ISO2000 test.
Nikon Coolpix P60: Verdict
For a couple of hundred pounds, this isn't a bad camera. Better performances can be attained with other cameras, but you'll more than likely have to pay more.
I'm still dissatisfied with the noise performance. I think after the release of EXPEED, Nikon have a lot to live up to and need to start fitting it to every camera they can.
Nikon Coolpix P60: Plus points
Good fringing result
Nikon Coolpix P60: Minus points
Slow shutter lag
Still not happy with noise performance
The Nikon Coolpix P60 costs around £200 and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here.