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Nikon Coolpix P3 Concise Review

June 2006 | By Simon Joinson


Review based on a production Coolpix P3. Firmware Version 1.1

Announced just before PMA in February 2006, the 8 megapixel Coolpix P3 replaces the P2 at the top of Nikon's compact Coolpix range, adding a few features (the headline change being the introduction of optical image stabilization) and sleeker, simpler styling. Like the P2 the P3 is one of the small, but growing, band of cameras with built-in wireless (802.11 b/g) Wi-Fi capabilities, and like most of Nikon's higher-end Coolpix models it is stuffed to the gills with features, options and controls. Nikon also announced a sister model (the Coolpix P4) that offers exactly the same specification without the Wi-Fi for around $40 less. It is safe to assume that the image quality and handling aspects of this review are equally applicable to the P4.

Headline features

  • 8.1 million effective pixels
  • 3.5x optical zoom (36-126mm equiv.)
  • 2.5" TFT screen
  • Two-mode VR (Vibration Reduction) system (lens-shift)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g) capability
  • BSS (Best Shot Selector) identifies and saves the sharpest image automatically from ten sequential shots
  • Continuous shooting at up to 1.8fps
  • Aperture priority mode
  • Face-priority AF
  • Histogram
  • In-camera red-eye removal
  • 16 Scene modes
  • 23MB internal memory + SD card storage

Key specifications

Street price • US: $396
• UK: £280
Body Material Metal (aluminum)
Sensor • 1/1.8 " Type CCD
• 8.3 million pixels total
• 8.1 million effective pixels
Image sizes • 3264 x 2448
• 2592 x 1944
• 2048 x 1536
• 1024 x 768
• 640 x 480
• 3264 x 2448 (3:2)
Movie clips • 640 x 480 @ 30fps
• 320 x 240 @ 30fps
• 160 x 120 @ 30fps
• QuickTime (.MOV) with sound (WAV)
• Time lapse movie (30s to 30 mins interval, 30fps playback)
Lens

• 36-126mm equiv
• F2.7-5.3
• 3.5x optical zoom
• Lens shift image stabilization (Normal/Active/Off)

Focus

• Contrast-detect TTL autofocus
• Single / Continuous AF
• Manual focus
• Focus lock
• 11-point auto area select
• 99-point manual focus area select
• Center focus
• Face Priority AF
• 4cm minimum focus range (macro)

Metering • 256-segment Matrix metering
• Center-weighted average
• Spot (center or linked to focusing frame)
Shutter

• Mechanical shutter + Electronic shutter
• 8-1/2000 sec

Aperture • F2.7-F7.6 in 10 steps (wide)
• F5.3-F7.3 in 4 steps (tele)
Shooting mode

• Auto
• Programmed Auto
• Aperture Priority
• Portrait [Face AF]
• Portrait
• Night Portrait
• Landscape
• Night landscape
• Sunset
• Dusk/Dawn
• Fireworks show
• Close up
• Party/Indoor
• Panorama assist
• Beach/Snow
• Back light
• Museum,
• Copy
• Sports
• BSS (Best Shot Selector)

Sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 80
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
White Balance • Auto with TTL control
• Direct sunlight
• Incandescent
• Fluorescent
• Cloudy
• Shade
• Flash and White balance preset
Image parameters

• Contrast (3 levels + auto)
• Sharpness (4 levels + auto)
• Saturation (5 levels)
• My Colors (Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, B&W, Positive film, Lighter skin tone, Darker skin tone, Vivid blue, Vivid red, Vivid Green, Custom color)

Continuous • Continuous (approx. 1.8fps)
• Multi-shot 16 (approx. 1.7fps @ 8M)
• Ultra HS (approx. 30fps up to 100 shots)
• 5 shot buffer (approx. 1.8fps)
Flash • Built-in
• Range: Wide 0.4-4.0m (1 ft 4in - 13 ft 1 in), Auto ISO
• Range: Tele 0.4-2.0 (1 ft 4in - 6 ft 7 in), Auto ISO
• Auto
• Auto with red-eye reduction
• Flash cancel
• Anytime flash
• Slow synch
Storage • SD compatible
• Approx 23 MB internal memory
Viewfinder No
LCD monitor • 2.5-inch TFT amorphous silicon TFT transflective
• 150,000 pixels
• Brightness adjustment
• 98% coverage
Connectivity • USB
• AV out
• IEEE 802.11b/g wireless range up to 30m
Power • Rechargeable Li-ion battery EN-EL5
• Optional AC adapter EH-62A
Other features

Orientation sensor
• AF Illuminator
• DPOF
• PictBridge
• Histogram
• AE-Bracketing
• White balance Bracketing
• 4x digital zoom
• Voice memo
• Fixed Aperture option (aperture doesn't change when lens is zoomed)
• 3 and 10 sec self-timer
• D-Lighting function

Weight (inc batt) 200 g (6.6 oz)
Dimensions 92 x 61 x 31 mm (3.6 x 2.4 x 1.2 in)

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2006 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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cuicuicui
By cuicuicui (10 months ago)

Good one:

1 upvote