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Conclusion - Pros

  • Generally decent image quality (at lowest ISO settings), though nothing 'special'
  • Consistently accurate metering
  • Useful lens range with true wide-angle
  • Nice use of materials
  • D-Lighting can make the best of difficult situations
  • Icon-based interface is good (and optional)
  • Good range of flash modes and control
  • Sensible number of scene modes
  • AA battery convenience

Conclusion - Cons

  • eVR is no substitute for optical stabilization
  • Soft images with little latitude for additional sharpening in-camera
  • Lens on our test model had softness on left side of image.
  • Sluggish performance
  • ISO range more ambitious than capable
  • Manual control extremely limited
  • Battery life below average (even for AAs)
  • Long flash recycle times
  • Sound STILL drops out before videos end
  • Lots of competition makes P50 look like an 'also ran'

Overall conclusion

The P50 is a no-nonsense little camera. It's fairly compact, has a useful zoom range and doesn't cost very much money. The build quality is good and it is constructed using pleasantly tactile materials. Many people walking into their local store will be able to pick one up, like the way it feels and go off and use it quite happily.

The problem is that, except for the wide-angle lens (which is really useful) and the D-Lighting feature that can pull a bit more detail out of dark areas, there's nothing particularly special about it. The inclusion of a manual mode that gives less control than the program mode is a little misleading even if most P50 buyers will never use it. It also has to be said that the P50's "Electronic VR" is more effective as a marketing ploy than an image stabilization system. (And it's interesting to see that it's been superceded by proper, optical stabilization on the forthcoming P60).

The P50 doesn't fall into the P5100's trap of promising slightly more than it delivers - it's a reasonably well specified camera at a good price that will consistently produce pleasant results with minimal user input. Like most compact camera optical viewfinders, the P50's gives no useful impression of the framing of the image that the camera will record. And it includes a view of your fingers holding the camera when at its widest extent.

Fundamentally, the camera is not bad, just a little under whelming and that's not good enough for a camera wearing a Nikon badge. Nikon built its good name based on a proud history stretching from professional film cameras through to its current competitive DSLRs and includes some exciting and innovative digital compact cameras along the way. And yet, for several generations of camera, Nikon has churned out uninspiring compacts that do nothing to contribute to this reputation. Symptomatic of this malaise is the fact that, despite being widely reported, many Nikon compacts do not record sound during the last seconds of video yet nobody seems bothered to fix it. It's not a fatal flaw by any means but it's hardly redolent of a company committed to making world-beating compacts. Put simply, despite its budget pricing, the P50 simply doesn't have what it takes to compete in the crowded compact camera market. It's by no means a bad camera (and it can reliably take perfectly nice pictures), but it just falls short of a Recommended badge.

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Build quality 8.5
Ergonomics & handling 8.0
Features 7.0
Image quality 7.5
Optics 7.0
Performance (speed) 7.0
Value 8.5

Above Average

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Nikon Coolpix P50 Review Samples

32 images • Posted 11 January 2008 • View album
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