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Nikon’s Coolpix P90 is a camera that can not only make you smile but capture them as well … then shoots people only with their eyes open. We hope you find our review of it helpful below.
It looks a little like an interchangeable dSLR but it’s far smaller and lighter (500 grams). Then you look at the lens: a 24x Nikkor zoom — just try and find one for a dSLR!
The zoom at the wide end (as a 35 SLR equivalent) is 26mm and racks out to a tele setting of 624mm.
The CCD captures 12.1 megapixels and can seize a maximum image size of 4000×3000 pixels.
The 7.6cm vari-angle LCD screen rolls through a vertical arc of 135 degrees but does not swivel laterally (bummer!) … The turret finder is also an LCD — not an optical one.
External controls are relatively few, while the viewfinder menu confirms image size, ISO speed etc. The mode dial offers options of auto, Program AE, shutter or aperture priority plus manual. There are two custom positions that can store personal settings like ISO rating, white balance, metering mode etc.
Face detection: The P90 can detect as many as 12 faces in shot, locking in correct focus and exposure. Then there’s the Smile Timer, which releases the shutter only when the subject smiles. A Blink Proof function automatically shoots two sequential frames and saves only the shot with the subject’s eyes wide open.
The P90’s vibration reduction uses an optical system, built into the lens. This works on stills shooting but an electronic method is used to stabilise movie shooting.
Movies? The P90 only captures 640×480 pixel SD quality. A camera at this price level screams out for High Def video.
The ISO range can run up to 6400, but ISO 3200 and 6400 sensitivity can only be used with a smaller image size. At higher ISO levels you may also have to use the P90’s noise reduction feature — supported at shutter speeds of ¼ second or less.
The lens is well-corrected with only a little barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom and no sign of any problems at the tele end. The camera as a clever menu ‘fix’ that can remove this problem in-camera: setting the camera to correct distortion gives you a final shot with the barrel distortion removed.
Continuous shooting of full size images can be made at a speed of 1.4 fps but if you’re happy with a smaller image size you can tap into Sports Continuous mode and shoot 45 1920×1080 pixel shots at 15 fps in the 16:9 aspect ratio. This would deliver impressive High Def movie clips of sports action.
A useful cache continuously stores the 10 frames immediately prior to firing the shutter, so you should never miss the peak of the action.
The P90 is close to a dSLR in style yet brings that experience without the penalties of weight and size.
I found in my tests the zoom’s range a whiz! The only thing you may face is that, in tele, over a long distance that atmospheric haze may spoil your shot.
Our Nikon Coolpix P90 Recommendation/Review: A high quality compact digicam with a magic zoom!