Nikon COOLPIX P6000

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Nikon COOLPIX P6000
  • Nikon COOLPIX P6000
  • Nikon COOLPIX P6000
  • Nikon COOLPIX P6000

Pros

  • Easy to use manual features, small size, hot-shoe, built-in GPS module, vibrant and clear photos

Cons

  • Built-in GPS module failed to find satellites, lens has noticeable distortion, slow shot-to-shot performance

Bottom Line

The P6000 is capable of taking some wonderful shots, but it is also slow camera and one of its hallmark features — the built-in GPS — didn’t work during our tests. These problems, along with a high asking price, dampen our enthusiasm for what is otherwise one of Nikon’s better compact camera offerings.

Would you buy this?

Nikon’s CoolPix P6000 is a small and sturdy compact camera that harbours plenty of advanced features. It has a comprehensive manual mode, in-camera editing, face detection and the ability to shoot in RAW mode. But that’s just the start.

Geo-tagging is one of the P6000’s main features, and with its built-in GPS module, the camera will theoretically be able to point to the location (or the last closest location if the camera can't get a GPS signal) where your shots were taken. It’s not an easy feature to use, however. Turning the mode dial to GPS brings up the signal strength and your current position. In our tests, even after giving the camera more than an hour to find satellites, and trying this in multiple locations, it could not find a usable signal.

We had more success using the other feature seldom seen in a camera — a built-in 10/100 Ethernet port. This port can only be used to connect to a router and upload images from your camera to Nikon’s Picturetown. It can be done by creating an account on the site, entering your details into the camera, and then confirming the upload by giving the site a four-digit key that can only be found in the P6000’s menu setting. It takes a while to set up all this, but we found it useful when we needed to get images off the camera’s internal memory and didn’t have the data transfer cable to hand. Picturetown is definitely not a replacement for Flickr, but we like the fact that it gives you 2GB of storage space and the ability to upload and download full-resolution photos without having to pay for the privilege.

The P6000’s body features a 2.7in LCD viewfinder, and as well as the usual mode dial and thumb-controls it has a programmable function button and a dial for changing settings. The dial can be used to quickly change the aperture and shutter speed in manual mode, and it can work in conjunction with the function button to quickly change the ISO speed. The function button is programmed to bring up the ISO settings by default, but it can be customised to control almost any setting you wish.

The business end of the P6000 features a 13-megapixel sensor and a 28mm, 4x zoom lens. The lens has an aperture of f/2.7 at its widest point and f/5.9 when zoomed in to 112mm. It doesn't have a lot of range, but it is a small camera and 112mm is fine unless you plan to take photos of the monkeys at the zoo or planes landing at the airport.

One thing that was immediately noticed in our first pictures was the lens’ dramatic distortion. Tall buildings looked like they were sucking in their stomach when they should have had dead straight lines, and the vertical axis wasn’t the only one affected: there was plenty of curving on the horizontal axis, too. For this reason we don’t recommend this camera if you plan to use it for taking photos of products and buildings, unless you are after that arty curved effect. There is a distortion correction feature in the camera's menu; this somewhat but not entirely alleviates this problem.

But the good news is that the lens barely suffers from purple fringing, unless scrutinised in a 100 per cent crop. Even in the highest contrast areas of our shots, colours were well separated at their edges. Noise was also minimal in our test shots, except at ISO 400; at this speed and above images looked over-sharpened.

We observed vibrant results and good clarity when scrutinising our shots at scaled-down resolutions to fit our monitor (1920x1200); but when zooming in to view photos at their full size (a 100 per cent crop) images looked soft and edges where colours met were feathered dramatically. If you plan on heavily cropping your photos to focus in one particular detail, this will be very noticeable. If you only crop minimally, and view your photos at a resolution lower than 13 megapixels then you won’t notice the softness and feathering.

The P6000 has built-in vibration reduction. In our tests, this helped reduce severe blur when taking hand-held shots with a shutter speed as slow as 1/6. It performed commendably but it’s still no match for Canon’s PowerShot G10.

The P6000 was most enjoyable when shooting macros. It can focus at approximately 1cm away from an object; it has a very shallow depth of field and a very narrow focus area. This means that you can get beautiful blurring effects around the in-focus area of your shots.

Overall, while the P6000 is capable of taking some wonderful shots, it is also a slow camera and one of its hallmark features — the built-in GPS — didn’t work during our tests. These problems, along with a high asking price, dampen our enthusiasm for what is otherwise one of Nikon’s better compact camera offerings.

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