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Digital Camera Reviews > Nikon Coolpix P90
Nikon P90 Review
Date: Apr 13, 2009
Category: Beginner Amateur
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
(26mm, 35mm equivalent)
(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.
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
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.
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
The Coolpix P90 does not offer RAW file format.
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.
Partial, 8 sec., F7.1 ISO 64
Manual WB, Self-Timer,
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
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