Conclusion - Pros
- Good resolution
- Comprehensive feature set
- Vibration Reduction system
- Superb build quality and good handling
- Excellent macro mode
- Subtle, 'unprocessed' results
- Excellent flash performance
- Unique features such as D-Lighting, Face Priority AF, Red-eye removal, Best Shot Selector
- Aperture priority mode
- Good movie mode (though see below) and time lapse movie mode
- Wi-Fi transfer
- Fairly priced
Conclusion - Cons
- Some exposure and white balance errors
- Focus not very reliable in low light
- Some aspects of user-interface are a bit fiddly
- Shutter lag longer than most competitors
- VR not as effective as some competitors
- Noisy at ISO 400
- Some focus errors (only in the default auto area AF mode)
- Soft results
- Sound cuts out before the end of movie clips
- Limitations to Wi-Fi connectivity (can't do much more than send images to a host PC)
- Battery life not great
- Screen hard to see in bright light
The Coolpix P3 offers a reviewer something of a dilemma; am I to judge it based on its potential to produce superb images in the right hands? Or do I rate it on the fact that not only do the default settings result in images that are way too soft and 'flat' for what we presume to be the target users, but that the autofocus and auto exposure systems often get things wrong too? In the end the answer has to be the latter; a camera like the P3 is most likely to be used in good old 'point and shoot' mode, and I'm afraid that Nikon's (admirable in some ways) decision to avoid 'over processed' results will disappoint the typical user.
On the positive side, in pure photo quality terms the P3 is up with the best, and may well be a good choice for the experienced photographer who likes to take a little more control at the shooting stage and - critically - likes a clean image for post-processing. Macro performance is excellent, the Vibration Reduction system useful, and the Wi-Fi capabilities (though limited) will have appeal to some users. If you could send images via FTP to a remote server or control the camera wirelessley the P3 would be a helluva more interesting proposition, but being able to print and transfer images without wires is still a pretty neat trick.
Despite producing some of the finest compact cameras in digital photography's short history, Nikon's recent Coolpix offerings over the last few years have, with the occasional exception, been much less inspired or innovative than they were in the early days. That said I get the feeling that the lull is perhaps coming to an end, and there is no doubt that the P3 is a better designed and more capable camera than the model it replaces. Ultimately though, for the majority of the target market, the images aren't punchy enough, the shutter lag is way too slow for a 2006 model and - most importantly - the number of excellent alternatives from Nikon's competitors, means the P3 will be of fairly limited appeal. A good camera, but unfortunately not a great camera, and one that just misses out on a recommendation, not because the final picture quality is poor, but because it can be quite a challenge getting there.
|Detail||Rating (out of 10)|
|Ergonomics & handling||7.0|
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|Nikon Coolpix P3 Samples Gallery - Posted 16 June 2006|