Nikon Coolpix P5000 review

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The Nikon P5000 is a serious camera. With its 10-megapixel CCD, a screw-thread for attaching a wide-angle or telephoto converter lens, an optical viewfinder and an uncompromising array of buttons and dials, this is a compact with clear pretensions to the DSLR experience.

Nikon Coolpix P5000 review

Dive into the menus and you’ll find advanced features like shutter- and aperture-priority and exposure bracketing. That’s not to say it’s wholly unsuitable for beginners, though: in fully automatic mode, operating the camera is simple. Its magnesium case lends it a pleasing solidity while keeping the weight down, and the only obvious letdown is the relatively short 3.5x optical zoom.

From a camera that’s aimed at enthusiastic amateurs, you’d expect image quality to be faultless, and in our macro test the P5000 really showed its capabilities, getting close to its subject and producing a picture with sharp detail, rich colour and excellent dynamic range. With more remote subjects, however, slight flaws started to creep in: in our outdoor shot, the P5000 had a little difficulty resolving details in the distance, leading to noise and colour smearing at the pixel level, and JPEG artefacts were occasionally detectable around high-contrast edges. Its 3,648 x 2,736 resolution, however, means in the real world you’re unlikely ever to enlarge your pictures enough to be bothered by imperfections at this scale.

The P5000 takes good movie clips too. While the image was slightly noisy in areas of complex detail, the video was smooth and clear overall. The internal microphone was ineffective, though, capturing a lot of noise and little treble, with the result that speech was quite indistinct.

The P5000’s poorest score was for its night shot. Although it captured a decent degree of detail in both the light and dark areas of the image, the picture was marred by pervasive noise due to the high ISO setting. When the image was printed out at normal photo size, the effect wasn’t too distracting, but it was still outclassed by some much cheaper cameras – even Sony’s DSC-W35 at half the price.

Digital photography enthusiasts will appreciate the P5000’s formula of advanced features in a compact case, and may be able to overlook or work with its limitations. In our view, however, when you’re spending this much on a digital compact you’re entitled to a more intuitive interface, better performance in low light and a longer zoom.

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