Nikon's answer to the G10 has arrived in the rectangular shape of the Coolpix P6000.
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Nikon Coolpix P6000: Specification
- Zoom: 4x optical
- Resolution: 13.5Mp
- Sensor size: 1/1.7in
- Sensor type: CCD
- Image size: 4224x3168
- File type: JPEG, RAW
- Sensitivity: ISO64-6400
- Storage: Internal 48Mb, SD, SDHC
- Focus types: Single AF, full-time AF, face detection, macro, infinity, manual
- Normal focusing: 50cm-infinity
- Close focusing: 2cm-infinity
- Metering types: Matrix, centre-weighted, spot, spot AF area
- Exposure compensation: /- 2EV in 1/3 step increments
- Shutter speed: 8sec-1/2000sec
- Flash: Built-in, hotshoe
- Monitor: 2.7in LCD
- Interface: USB 2.0
- Power: Li-Ion battery
- Size: 107x65.5x42mm
- Weight: 240g
There are suggestions online that the P6000 at £369 has been released as a contender against the Canon Powershot G10 at £421. With a slightly lower resolution and zoom, will the Nikon need to pull out the proverbial rabbit in a world governed by pixels? Another model in the same classification is the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX3 at £318. It has a lower 10Mp resolution and smaller 2.5x optical zoom. All three cameras record in RAW, have a very close focusing capability and are designed as back up models to support DSLRs.
Nikon Coolpix P6000: Features
Released as the replacement to the popular Coolpix P5100, the P6000 design echoes the previous model. As what can only be described as a square with half a tube at one end, why does it look so modern?
The built-in GPS device is found on the left shoulder.
The back of the camera has been shuffled around to accomodate the GPS device.
Smaller details all come together to give it an up to date feel such as the small bit chopped off the bottom corner. It appears to serve no purpose either in design, ergonomically or in practicality. It simply looks unorthodox which, in this day and age, is quite attractive. At the top of the same side is where the built-in GPS system sits sheltered behind a shiny black piece of plastic. To accommodate the GPS and the flash which is a pop-up type on the P6000, the hotshoe has been moved over towards the middle of the camera and now sits more over the lens. This will be better for balancing when you have a Nikon Speedlite on it. These aren't light flashguns and sitting them at one end of a small camera was a badly thought out idea.
The command dial is found next to the hotshoe and because of it's location, is now bulkier so you can get hold of it. A thinner dial such as the one found on the P5100 would have trouble being moved with the pesky hotshoe getting in the way. The dial has also had a shake up with some of the features being moved around while new ones have also been added.
As well as the regular PASM, auto and scene modes found on any prosumer dial, the P5100 also sported a set up, hi ISO and VR setting. These have disappeared and been replaced with GPS, two custom user options and an annoying MyPicturetown option. The latter is for selecting images to upload onto Nikon's own Flickr style website. They're extremely proud of this sharing community they've created and so want to make it easy for you to use by ensuring it's in your face all the time.
Interestingly, the power button has been moved on to the the opposite side of the thumb wheel and has had a small light added to it. This is to signal when the camera is charging as the P6000 has gone down the route of camcorders and has a built in battery charger.
This idea could open up a can of worms. While the lack of a charger means less equipment to carry around, it means that you can't use the camera with a spare battery while the original is charging.
Changes have been made to the layout of the back with the buttons down the left side of the screen being compacted down and now go no higher than the top of the screen to accommodate the GPS. Amusingly, Nikon think that opening a flash and 80's arcade games go hand in hand as they've illustrated the flash pop-up button with a Pacman icon.
The My button will access the quick menu.
The display button has been moved next to the viewfinder and replaced with a "My" button which is a menu filled with half a dozen quick access options. These can be amended in the main menu if you desire. Unfortunately, they've also got a "fn" button which accesses the ISO ratings and a menu system. I think this is overkill and the "fn" button could be got rid of.
A dedicated MF button has been added replacing the delete button which now sits below the D-pad. This button brings up a close-up area of the screen allowing you to manually focus and will only work when MF has been selected in the focus options on the D-pad.
I like the menu system of the P6000. It's clear, concise and easy to understand. There are only three main categories of shooting, playback and the set-up menu missing from the command dial has been put in here. This is not only more convenient but also makes a lot more sense.
The GPS page shows the global positioning along with signal strength. More satellites equals better signal. The position of the transmitting satellites will be shown on the compass to the right.
A built in LAN port offers direct linking to your modem or router for speedy upload of your pictures to MyPicturetown.
Picture control has been added to the P6000 from the DSLRs and it's also adjustable. What this means if you've not read about it before, is that if you choose an option to adjust the picture style of your image such as vivid colour or monochrome, you can enter into the picture style and boost/dampen values such as contrast, saturation, sharpness or simply add a quick adjust option. You can also find access to other features such as distortion control, active D-lighting, metering and resolution.
For those of you who've been living in a cave, you may not have heard of GPS (and it wouldn't have tracked you) but it's a new way of documenting where you go to take your photographs. GPS (Global Positioning System) works by receiving a signal from satellites in orbit and logs your location along with the time and date. It joins that information with the time and date from the EXIF data in your photograph which you can then use on Nikon's ViewNX map.
The Nikon Coolpix P6000 has a LAN port which is found on the bottom of the camera infront of the battery bay. It's designed for speedy transfer of your images to MyPicturetown. You can use an ethernet cable to plug the camera into a router. The camera will then link directly to MyPicturetown and every customer gets 2Gb of space.
Nikon Coolpix P6000: Build and handling
Build quality is very good with dials and buttons feeling solid and firm. The larger mode dial is firmer than usual but is still possible to move with just your thumb. Giving the camera a squeeze, the flash creaks slightly with the pressure but there's nothing from the main body of the camera. I can't help but think that Nikon read the review of the P5100 and saw my disappointment with the flexibility of the battery door. The new one is firm and solid with not an ounce of play.
Nikon continually fail to put a decent optical viewfinder on their cameras and the P6000 has the same problem. It's small, dark and the same problem found with looking through cheap binoculars when your eyes aren't aligned occurs, creating a vignette.
Nikon Coolpix P6000: Performance
In the burst test, the P6000 managed to "rattle off" six photographs in ten seconds. That equates to a rubbish 0.6fps (frames per second). Start up time is around two seconds with focusing time being pretty fast even if it needs to hunt.
Colour reproduction is nice with the colours boosted but not in a sickly fashion.
Blue has been really saturated in the colour test chart with red, green and even yellow getting a boost too. Orange also benefits and I like the richness of the earthy colours. The skin tone is a bit too pink for me but the rest of the colours look good.
After I'd crashed the ePz pool car, I took a couple of photographs of it. I also took a close up of the underside in RAW simply to see how much detail is lost in JPEG. The RAW file has been converted to a .dng file for easy viewing and can be obtained from the download section. Click on the link to go to and download the macro RAW image for the Nikon Coolpix P6000. I've not compressed the JPEG any further than it would already as I didn't want to lose more information by saving for web.
Despite a cool day in the landscape test, the green of the grass and foliage is quite vibrant. There's noticable fringing on the white bars but only when magnified at full size and only comes up as a slip of a glow.
The detail between JPEG and RAW can be compared using this macro image. Download the RAW file from the link above.
Colour reproduction is nice and there's plenty of detail. Fringing is evident but I've seen worse.
I really like the portrait image from the Nikon Coolpix P6000. The skin tone is balanced and there's no heavy shadows to fool the metering. I'm more unimpressed with the flash image. It's given a slight cast to the picture and flattened the subject slightly.
I took the Nikon Coolpix P6000 down to Cornwall to test the GPS system. On a trip to a beach slightly up the coast from St. Ives, I took some photographs of a body boarder taking care to ensure that the GPS system was working normally.
Back in sunny Sheffield, I downloaded my images and a quick read through the instructions tells me that I have to download ViewNX from the Nikon website. Instructions on how to do this can be found in the quick start guide. The quick start guide tells you to go through the Nikon links on the installation CD. It was a bit of a wild goose chase but I got there in the end.
Downloading the program takes around 10 minutes but the installation is really quick. Once it was up a running, I geotagged the image I wanted and it placed a blue pin on my location at the time of shooting. It was very accurate with my image and that's impressed me.
However, looking closer at the instructions, Nikon say that the GPS will have trouble finding a signal inside, under bridges and even under trees that are close together. This seems a little weak as there are GPS units around that work inside things like bags, such as the Evermore BT-R800.
The signal was found pretty quickly but only after a lengthy data update. The signal can't work inside, even under trees.
The location of the image is indicated by a pin stuck in the map. I only wish I had this when looking for my car.
Nikon Coolpix P6000: Noise test
Low ISO performance is great from the P6000 with noise being kept at bay in the first three settings. At ISO400, it starts to attack with white specks littering the image. Detail also starts to lose out as noise reduction software kicks in. Damage control is excessive as the petals start to smooth out and the image takes on an oil painting effect.
Purple and green blobs start to take over the grey areas at ISO1600 so the cameras knocks down the resolution for the final two settings. ISO3200 looks as bad as ISO1600 but on a smaller scale while ISO6400 is a terrible result. You'd best just hope you never need to use it.
The ISO64 test.
The ISO100 test.
The ISO200 test.
The ISO400 test.
The ISO800 test.
The ISO1600 test.
The ISO3200 test.
The ISO6400 test.
Nikon Coolpix P6000: Verdict
When I took the Nikon with me to Cornwall, I enjoyed using it. The controls are easy to navigate and it has the typical Nikon sturdiness that fans come to expect.
It has interesting features such as the GPS and LAN connector although I feel that while connecting direct to the net is great, there's not enough choice. So far you can only link direct to MyPicturetown but the camera would be much more appealing if it could ask you what sites to upload images to such as ePHOTOzine, Facebook and Flickr.
I don't like the in-camera charger because if I have a spare battery, I use it to take pictures while the other is charging. That's impossible this way and not to mention that the transformer attached to the cable is as big as a charger anyway.
It looks like a camera to rival the Canon Powershot G10 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. While it has the aforementioned interesting features, I don't feel they're enough to take any limelight away from the other two.
Nikon Coolpix P6000: Plus points
LAN connection for speedy uploads
Good colour rendition
Easy to navigate
Nikon Coolpix P6000: Minus points
Instruction manual takes you round the houses
Bad high ISO handling
Slow continuous shooting
Available for £369 at Warehouse Express: Nikon Coolpix P6000.