are here: Home
Digital Camera Reviews > Nikon Coolpix
Nikon Coolpix P6000 Review
Date: Nov 11, 2008
and Advanced Amateur
The Nikon Coolpix P6000 is a digital camera
targeted to serious and advanced photographers. It
has 13.5 megapixel resolution on a 1/1.7-in. CCD
image sensor, and a 6-24mm (28-112mm, 35 mm
equivalent) 4x wide-angle optical Zoom-Nikkor lens, with
a maximum aperture of F2.7(W)-F5.9(T), and minimum
aperture of F7.2.
We find the overall image quality of the Nikon
P6000 to be very good at ISO 64 and 100. Images at higher ISOs suffer from noise and loss of image detail.
(28mm, 35mm equivalent)
(112mm, 35mm equivalent)
The Nikon P6000 has a 4x optical Zoom-Nikkor
lens. In the above pictures, we show the coverage
for 28mm, and then 112mm. It takes about 1.5 sec.
to zoom from wide-angle to telephoto (I counted
14 steps). [The new Maple Leafs skyrises really mess up the previously beautiful skyline.]
Besides Auto and easy-to-use Scene Modes, the
Nikon P6000 also has full exposure flexibility:
Programmed Auto, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority
and full Manual modes.
(just rotate the Command Dial) works in conjunction
with Programmed Auto mode and allows you to shift
the aperture/shutter speed combinations in tandem
while still keeping the correct exposure.
At the wide-angle
end, you can select an aperture from f/2.7 to
f/7.2; at max telephoto, an aperture from f/5.9
to f/7.7. Unlike some digital cameras that have
only electronic apertures, the Nikon P6000 has
a real 6-blade iris diaphragm, providing 10 steps
You can select
a shutter speed from 8 s to 1/2000 s. At shutter
speeds slower than 1/4 s, the shutter speed indicator
on screen turns red to indicate the presence of noise and recommend using Noise Reduction (or NR will automatically kick in if it is set to ON).
If an over- or under-exposure will result, the
shutter speed indicator flashes when you press
the shutter-release button halfway.
In Manual shooting mode, an Exposure
Display indicates over- or under-exposure. Press
multi selector to right (marked Exp. Comp.) to
toggle between setting the shutter speed and aperture.
Shutter speeds slower than 1/4 s display red on
screen. Shutter speed of 1/2000 s is available
only at max. wide-angle.
Advanced photographers will welcome the following
features: histogram (in Playback only), exposure
compensation (with Auto Bracketing selectable
in the Menu), manual White Balance, manual AF
Area mode and corresponding Spot AF area metering.
6mm, Programmed Auto, Partial
1 sec., F2.7, ISO 64, Manual WB
Macro can be as close as 4 cm (1.6 in.). The
AF indicator dot and AF frame turn green to indicate
successful focus; a blinking red AF indicator
dot and blinking AF frame indicate focus has not
In extreme low-light, the AF Illuminator automatically
(if you've set it on in the Menu) kicks in to
help achieve focus. The AF Illuminator is situated
close enough to the lens such that it is able
to light up a subject even at close macro range. AF is generally fast and works very well even in low-light, but finds extreme low-light challenging even with the use of the AF Illuminator.
Best Shot Selector (Shooting Menu - Continuous - BSS) works by
taking 10 shots in a row (as long as you keep
your finger pressed on the shutter release button)
and then discarding all except the one that comes
out the sharpest. Very cool feature to use when
the camera indicates a slow shutter speed. However, because continuous shooting is only 0.8fps, there is a slight lag between each of the BSS shot which makes it difficult to keep the picture framed accurately when hand held (which is when you would use BSS anyway); a faster continuous shooting would bring out the full potential of BSS.
The Nikon P6000 provides four AF modes: Face priority will locate a face and focus on it. Auto
selects the subject with the most contrast out
of 11 AF areas; Manual (AF area) allows you to
select from 99 AF areas; and Center-focus area.
Manual AF area helps tremendously for off-center
subjects, especially in macro photography. Once
you set this option in the menu, it stays out
of the way until you call for it. Nikon has probably implemented
the most intuitive way to use manual AF area: anytime you wish
to invoke manual AF area mode, simply press the
OK button and use the arrow keys to move the AF
area around the screen to one of 99 possible positions.
When you're done, press OK to set it at its new
position. Some cameras make you go thru hoops
to do what the Nikon P6000 does so elegantly.
As you can notice in the picture above right,
the 4 angle brackets denote the extent of the
selectable area and so these (11 across x 9 down
=) 99 AF areas unfortunately do not go all the
way to the very edges of the screen.
There are four metering modes:
Matrix (Multi-Pattern), Center-weighted, Spot
and Spot AF area. The latter is interesting because
it will meter at the spot where you have moved
the AF frame. Makes sense.
As the above two pictures show, the auto white
balance (AWB) indoors under artificial energy-saving fluorescent
light is not quite accurate and here gives a slight pinkish color cast. The Nikon P6000 allows WB to
be set manually via the Menu: Preset WB allows
us to correct the colors to real white. AWB works
well in natural light.
You can set the ISO on the Nikon P6000 from 64
to 2000, plus ISO 3200 and 6400 at reduced 3M (2048x1536) resolution. The 100%
crops above (area delimited by the white square)
demonstrate that noise at ISO 64 and 100 are under
control. Note that though noise is not visible at
ISO 200, image detail is already lost. From ISO 400 and up,
the presence of noise (and lost of image detail) quickly becomes apparent
and eventually takes the form of colored splotches.
The P6000 conveniently allows you to select 3 Auto ISO ranges: Auto (64-100), Auto (64-200) and Auto (64-400), depending on your preferences for limiting noise in your pictures.
|7.5mm, P, Multi-Pattern
1/124.5 sec., F3.8, ISO 64
CA is present in high contrast shots. In the shot above, the area delimited by the
red square at middle, and reproduced at 100%
crop at bottom right, shows purple fringing.
|6mm, Manual, Pattern, 8
sec., F3.6, ISO 64
Manual WB, Macro, Self-timer 2 sec.,
The Nikon P6000's slowest shutter speed goes
down to 8 sec. in P, A, S and M modes. This allows
night photography, though we would have preferred
longer shutter speeds. Generally, with CCD image
sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent
at slow shutter speeds.
I take a low-light indoors shot. Light
is from two regular household energy-saving fluorescent bulbs on
the ceiling. To obtain a long exposure, I place
Bamm-Bamm under my desk in the shadows. Some experimenting
and I manually set an exposure of 8 sec. at f/3.6.
Note that in this extreme low-light situation, I was unable to obtain focus lock using any of the AF area modes on Bamm-Bamm's face.
Auto, Manual and Center AF were unable to lock focus anywhere. Only Face-Priority locked focus, and then only on Bamm-Bamm's right arm. Manual Focus was not helpful because the magnified image was not big enough to judge sharpness.
Noise reduction automatically kicks in at this long shutter speed and works quite well here giving dark blacks.
Another feature of the Nikon digital cameras,
D-Lighting, allows you to "rescue" images
that come out too dark. You can set the camera to Active D-Lighting or apply D-Lighting after you have taken the picture (a copy of the picture is made).
Above is an example of D-Lighting coming
to the rescue. This is not without price: depending
on your subject matter, rescued images can exhibit
You can view a histogram in Playback mode only. It is surprising that so many lesser models from competitors can display a Live Histogram -- and Nikon cannot provide this feature in its top of the line consumer digital camera yet.
|6mm, Programmed Auto,
1/8.7 sec., F2.7, ISO 400, Handheld, VR OFF
|6mm, Programmed Auto,
1/8.5sec., F2.7, ISO 400, Handheld, VR ON
Reduction) is Nikon's image stabilization,
the true kind, where a lens element shifts to
counteract tiny camera movements that can cause
blurred images. When tuned on, VR allows you to
handhold the camera at slower shutter speeds than
you would normally be able to without suffering
from camera shake and resultant blurred images.
As the two above handheld images show, the VR
technology in the P6000 is quite effective at shutter speeds as slow as @ 1/8 sec. [How slow can you go? It depends on how stable your hands are, plus the added advantage of VR.] You access VR in SETUP.
The Nikon Coolpix P6000 delivers very
good image quality at low ISOs. It has many practical
features that allow you to face any challenging photographic
situations with confidence.
The pictures in the Nikon Coolpix P6000 Photo
Gallery page provide a good sample of what
the camera is capable of. I have provided samples
at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100
in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 4224x3168
pixels original size (click on the image for the
You can safely assume that most macro shots
and slow shutter speed shots required the use
of a tripod. Any image that is adjusted for levels
or sharpened in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended
to the file name (though the original sized image
is, of course, not adjusted).
I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels.
For those who have their monitor resolution set
to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit
and you should not have to scroll to see the whole
image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels
resolution, start the slide show and then scroll
to the right to position the image within your
screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using
Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode,
and the image should fill your screen nicely.
Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor
display back to normal mode.
To return to this page from the Photo Gallery,
click on the animated graphics of the camera.
Please open and download the original size version
only if you need to and only once
to your hard drive -- and save me some precious