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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Nikon Coolpix P90


   

Nikon P90 Review

Review Date: Apr 13, 2009

Category: Beginner Amateur

Nikon Coolpix P90

IMAGE QUALITY

The Nikon P90 is a digital camera targeted to beginner amateur photographers. It has 12.1 effective megapixels resolution on a 1/2.33-inch CCD image sensor. The Nikon lens is a 26-624mm (35mm format equivalent) F2.8(W)-F5.0(T), 24x wide-angle optical zoom.

We find the overall image quality of the Nikon P90 to be good at ISO 64 with good image detail.

24x Optical Zoom
Wide-angle 26 mm Tele 624 mm
Wide-angle 4.6mm
(26mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 110.4mm
(624mm, 35mm equivalent)

The Nikon P90 has an impressive 24x wide-angle optical zoom lens with a CCD-shift Image Stabilization which helps to reduce camera shake at the long focal lengths. In the above pictures, we show the coverage for 26mm [you can barely see the yellow building] and 624mm [now you see it!]. We love the 26mm wide-angle coverage as well as the incredible tele reach! Both pictures were taken handheld.

Super Macro
Macro

9.2mm, Aperture-Priority, Partial
6.78 sec., F8.0, ISO 64, Self-timer, Tripod used

The Nikon P90 can focus in Macro mode to as close as 10 cm (4 in.) or 1cm (0.4 in.), depending on the zoom position. After you've set the camera to Macro mode (DOWN ARROW), you need to zoom in a bit to enter into the correct macro/super macro zones. I recommend you use AF Mode = Area so you can position the AF frame to where you want the focus to lock (in this case, the eye).

Auto White Balance Indoors
AWB One Touch WB
AWB Preset WB

As the above two pictures show, the Auto White Balance (AWB) is not quite accurate indoors under artificial lighting (I have two energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs on the ceiling). The P90 allows WB to also be set manually. Auto WB works well in sunny conditions.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 64
ISO 64
 
ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 400 ISO 800
ISO 400 ISO 800
ISO 1600 ISO 3200
ISO 1600 ISO 3200
ISO 6400  
ISO 6400  

You can set the ISO on the Nikon P90 from 64 to 6400. The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate that noise at ISO 64 to ISO 200 is under control. The smoothening effect of noise reduction is visible at ISO 200, resulting in a slight loss of detail. At ISO 400 to 6400, the presence of noise is clearly visible at full image size and with increasing loss of image detail.

The Coolpix P90 does not offer RAW file format.

Chromatic Aberrations
CA

CA is present in everyday shots. In the above photo, the area delimited by the red square at right center, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom left, shows purple fringing.

Long Shutter Speed
Long Exposure
18.8mm, Shutter-Priority, Partial, 8 sec., F7.1 ISO 64
Manual WB, Self-Timer, Tripod Used
Brightened in Photoshop Elements

The Nikon P90 provides a maximum long shutter speed of 8 sec. in all shooting modes (except continuous). Here I'm checking out the presence of noise at long exposure (noise usually increases the longer the shutter is left open). As usual, I place Bamm-Bamm under my office desk, in the shadows, to obtain a long exposure of 8 sec. at F7.1. To eliminate camera shake, I place the camera on a tripod and use the 2 sec. self-timer. Noise reduction kicks in whenever the shutter speed is slower than 1/2 sec., and doubles the time required to store the shot. The P90 LCD gains up in low-light.

Based on features alone, the Nikon Coolpix P90 seems attractive to both beginner and serious photographers. However, I suspect that today's serious photographers may be more demanding as far as image quality is concerned, preferring the P90 to have less purple fringing and better noise control, and would want the ability to capture images in the RAW file format. Many would also desire the presence of a hot shoe so they can add an external flash for indoor photography. For Point-and-Shoot photographers, I find that using Optimize Image = Vivid produces nicely sharpened and saturated colors right out of the camera. Beginner photographers who are learning about photography and desire a package that comprises manual exposure flexibility, wide-angle coverage as well as long tele coverage will find that the P90 fits the bill nicely.

The pictures in the Nikon P90 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 4000 x 3000 pixels original size (click on the image for the original version).

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 in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended to the file name.

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 bandwidth. Thanks!

 

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