The front of the Nikon Coolpix P60 resembles its predecessor, the P50, which was introduced six months ago. The P60 uses an electronic viewfinder. The P60 still has the comfortable rubber grip the P50 has, but adds a divot in the grip for additional support. At the center is the 5x optical zoom lens that extends into a retractable barrel. The flash and auto assist lamp line the top, with the Nikon logo located at the corner of the camera. The Coolpix logo sits at the bottom right corner.
The back of the Coolpix P60 has a few changes from the earlier P50. The viewfinder has been shifted from the center of the camera to the left corner. The LCD/EVF button has been moved to the top center. The LCD is still flush to the left. The control panel is very similar to the P50. The right hand corner has a zoom toggle for wide and telephoto shooting that doubles as thumbnail and magnified viewing controls in playback. Underneath is a triangle of 10 bumpy dots that form a thumb rest. Below that is the is the four-way controller for flash, drive, exposure, and focus controls, each represented by white icons. At the corners of the multi-selector are three uniform, circular buttons for playback, menu, and delete functions.
**The right side contains one tiny port for the AV connections, housed under a tight-fitting rubber cover. The rubber hand grip wraps around to the side of the camera. Nikon seemed to have solid seals for its ports and grip.
**The P60 puts most of its controls on the top and back of the camera. The left side does not have control functions except for a little girth for left hand support.
The top of the Nikon P60 is clean and simple. The mode dial is located off-center toward the right, and holds the key functions for Scene modes, Automatic and Manual modes, and Movie mode. The mode dial rotates 360 degrees for easy switching between shooting modes. Directly above the right hand grip on the right side is a well-endowed, circular shutter release button and a tiny on/off button with light indicator.
The bottom of the Coolpix P60 is standard fare, with the dual battery/memory card compartment underneath the right hand grip. The compartment is housed under a protective hinged door. There is a plastic tripod socket off axis from the lens. Some point-and-shoots opt for a metal tripod socket, particularly the higher-end ones, for users who want to experiment with long exposures in night time scenes. The P60 uses a plastic one, which may be less reliable for long-term use. On the right side is the product name and serial number.
The Nikon Coolpix P60 uses an electronic viewfinder, which is expected for advanced point-and-shoots. Cameras with manual shooting controls, like those found on the P60, sometimes include the electronic viewfinder to cater to users who like to keep the camera close to their face, instead of shooting via the LCD. The other benefit of having an electronic viewfinder is that it helps conserve battery life, which the LCD usually hogs up. The electronic viewfinder measures 0.2-inches and has a resolution of 201,000 pixels. It is activated by the LCD/EVF button that switches between the viewing modes.
Nikon increased the LCD screen on the P60 with its new 2.5-inch screen with 153,000-pixel resolution, versus the older 2.4-inch, 115,000-pixel screen of the P50. We know 2.5 inches is adequate for viewing, but competing cameras are offering 3- or 3.5-inch screens.
Although the screen has a standard 4:3 aspect ratio, it also has a wide 16:9 viewing mode which adds borders to the top and bottom of the frame; it’s a preview for the panoramic shots the camera is capable of taking. Users can add grid lines, change brightness up to five steps, and elect to display photo information. When selected, the LCD screen shows Photo Info with the following information: autofocus mode, aperture and speed values (in Manual mode), shooting ratio (4:3, 3:2, 16:9), image compression, flash, vibration reduction indicator, and remaining shots. Users can also change the welcome screen, similar to changing the opening screen of a cell phone. Users can switch between the Coolpix logo and a personalized photo taken with the camera.
The Nikon P60 has a built-in flash. At the time of publication, specifications of range and recharge time were not available. Keep an eye out for the full review in the coming months when DigitalCameraInfo.com tests the camera in our imaging lab. There is no hot shoe for external flash connection, which is sometimes found on higher-end compacts.
One of the major upgrades on the Nikon P60 from the P50 is the lens. Constructed of 9 elements in 7 groups, the new Coolpix camera has a 5x Nikkor optical zoom, up from the 3.6x optical zoom of the predecessor. The new lens has a greater shooting range of 6.4 to 32.0mm, equivalent to a 36-180mm in traditional 35mm film terms. The P50 had a 35mm equivalent of 28-102mm, which means that the P60 can't go as wide as the P50, but can get closer with the longer zoom. For extended zoom, the camera has digital zoom for up to 4x, an equivalent focal length of 720mm. Users should note digital zoom is a point-and-shoot gimmick that allows expanded zoom, but at the cost of greatly reduced resolution and image quality.
The P60 carries over optical image stabilization from the earlier P50, which Nikon calls "Vibration Reduction." The system uses lens-shifting technology to compensate for picture blur, which some point-and-shoots skimp on. Optical image stabilization is preferable to digital image stabilization.
Zoom is accessed through the wide/telephoto zoom toggle on the back of the camera. Zooming is smooth, but the camera takes a second to focus after the zoom has been adjusted. Keep in mind, the P60 model we handled was a prototype. Readers can expect a full review of the final version of the camera in the coming months.
Model Design / Appearance
While other point-and-shoots today are moving toward super slim bodies in multiple color choices, some manufacturers are keeping a more traditional camera look. The Nikon Coolpix P60 has a prominent right hand grip and dark exterior for a handsome, more professional style. It’s not the most eye-catching camera when compared to flashy pocket cameras like Nikon’s S-series, but the Nikon P60 does a good job of maintaining a consistent, clean design.
**Size / Portability
**The Nikon P60 measures 3.8 x 1.4 x 2.5 inches and weighs 5.6 ounces without battery or memory card. That’s not as lightweight as Nikon’s S-series or competing cameras. Instead, the P60 is marketed as an advanced point-and-shoot without the weight of a hybrid or compact camera. It is still portable enough to carry around in a clutch purse or sweatshirt pocket.
**The Coolpix P60 handles well when compared to other point-and-shoots. It has a right hand grip with rubber padding for hand support. The body also has Braille-like dots on the back of the camera to serve as a thumb rest. The left side could use some work since it lacks room between the LCD and the edge of the camera, though.
Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size
Controlling the Nikon P60 is fairly easy. Most of the buttons are ample size and easy to press. The multi-selector is nicely labeled with icons. The buttons are spread out far enough to avoid accidental depression. Controlling the camera should be easy, both externally and internally.
The Nikon P60 uses a minimalist menu system with simple submenus in a linear column interface. The text is white or black on a gray background, using the Nikon color scheme. When a user selects a menu function, the option is highlighted in yellow. While we love the menu setup, we should warn users the prototype model had severe stalling issues when we tried to navigate through the menu. The menu often kept running through the list of options even when we didn’t hit any buttons. As a result, we often had to turn the camera off completely and restart to resume normal menu browsing. Nikon representatives assured us it was a prototype issue and not representative of the Nikon P60’s true performance. We will more thoroughly test the menus when the final version of the camera comes out in the coming months.
The Main menu is accessed through the dedicated "menu" button on the back of the camera. The menu is missing a few Scene modes, such as Portrait and Landscape, which have been moved to the mode dial on the top of the camera. From the menu button, users can change picture resolution and compression.
Users can’t access the setup tools internally like most point-and-shoots. Instead, Nikon added the Setup menu to the mode dial on top of the camera.
Ease of Use
It is difficult to assess ease-of-use on the Nikon P60 because we only had a prototype version, and one that put up a fight. Like the journalists covering PMA, the Coolpix P60 just didn’t want to work on the last day of the show. But based on our experience of previous P-series Coolpix cameras, we anticipate the camera should do well with a straightforward menu system if its bugs are fixed. Externally, the camera has good handling, solid button layout, and moderate portability. We were disappointed with the prototype version, but anticipate the full version will do much better.
The Nikon Coolpix P60 has two automatic shooting modes, Auto and Program. The Auto mode is represented by a green box on the mode dial. Users can make a few changes in Auto, such as altering Image Size and Image Quality. Users can also control focus (Auto, Landscape, Macro), Self-timer (10 sec. or 2 sec), EV compensation, and flash (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, No Flash, Flash On, Night Flash).
Interestingly enough, we stumbled upon an error in the prototype model. In Auto shooting, the P60 model on display showed f-stop and shutter speed values (at 0.0), which most automatic modes restrict. The Nikon representative we talked to assured us that was a prototype error. The final version of the P60 won’t display aperture or shutter speed values on the LCD or viewfinder, since Auto mode disengages those functions.
We tried testing Program mode, too. In Program, users can change EV, timer, autofocus, metering, ISO, and white balance. Unlike Auto mode, though, there is no flash control. During Auto mode, the initial look of the auto shooting modes were disappointing since the camera often stalled and had to be restarted. We can more thoroughly test the P60 when it ships in the coming months.
**The Nikon P60 has four movie options: TV 640 **, TV 640, Small 320 **, and Small 320. Users can change focus between Single and Full-Time AF. The display shows the remaining time left on the memory card or internal memory, which is helpful for time-sensitive situations. Users can also zoom during Movie mode, although zooming is choppy while capturing video.
Drive / Burst Mode
Users can select from four Burst modes: Single, Continuous, BSS, and Multi-Shot 16. Adding to the annoying review period, the prototype camera stalled on us. The Nikon representative brought out another version, and it also stalled during Burst mode, requiring us to consistently restart the camera. We will give the Nikon P60 the benefit of the doubt and assume it was tired from working so hard during the show, like the rest of us. We will test the burst in our full review later.
The Playback menu is simple, with few built-in editing options. In Playback, users can view a histogram. The P60 includes Nikon’s D-Lighting and Red-Eye Fix, but those functions didn’t work on the prototype model we handled. When we tried to apply these internal editing tools, we were greeted with an "Image cannot be modified" prompt. Like the Burst mode, we can fully review Playback when we review the final version of the camera.
Custom Image Presets
The Coolpix camera has 15 preset Scene modes: Face Priority, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night Portrait, Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Sunset, Dusk/Dawn, Night Landscape, Close-up, Museum, Fireworks Show, Copy, Back Light, and Panorama Assist. Oddly enough, not all the image presets are available through the menu button. Some modes, like Portrait and Landscape, are only available through the top mode dial. It would be nice to have a comprehensive menu list, but the accessible mode dial works, too.
Manual Control Options
The Nikon Coolpix P60 has a full array of modes, including Program and Manual shooting. Since this compact camera is targeted toward advanced point-and-shooters, the camera includes controls to change aperture and shutter speed for creative control.
*There are three autofocus types: Face Priority, Auto, and Center Focus. The system uses a 9-point system and focuses at 1.33 feet to infinity in normal range shooting. For close-up shots like a wedding ring, the camera can focus at 4 inches to infinity in Macro mode.
The P60 includes Nikon’s face detection system, Face Priority. Nikon’s technology detects up to a reported five faces in a given scene. Users can press the shutter halfway and the camera automatically focuses, showing a green bracket around the focused subject. For moving faces, the camera displays double yellow lines in the form of a box surrounding the face. The face tracking system works to a degree. Angled profiles tend to have limited face detection.
The Nikon P60 is supposed to have manual focus, although neither we nor the Nikon representative could figure out how to access it. We assumed manual focus was not activated on the prototype model we looked at. We expect the manual focus on the final version will work.
Users can change exposure though the manual shooting modes with options to control f-stop and shutter speed values. There is also EV compensation, accessed through the right directional on the four-way controller. EV compensation is displayed as a vertical scale and can be controlled in +/- steps.
The Nikon P60 has the following Metering modes: Matrix, Center-Weighted, Spot, and Spot AF. That's a decent selection of modes that should cover a range of varied lighting conditions, indoors and out.
**The Coolpix camera has different white balance settings for various lighting conditions: Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Flash, and Manual. Some point-and-shoots offer one to three fluorescent settings for mixed lighting, but the Nikon P60 only has one. Instead, the camera has a Manual white balance setting so users can manually adjust it by shooting a white card.
The P60 has a slight change in ISO range from its predecessor, the P50. The P60 has a minimal sensitivity range of ISO 80, while the P50 started at ISO 64. That slight change in the lowest sensitivity setting shouldn’t make too much of a difference. The P60 still has the other following settings: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, and a maximum of ISO 2000.
Users can control sensitivity in three ways: Fixed ISO, to choose Auto or any of the sensitivity values; High ISO, to set the camera for low light shooting; or High Sensitivity, which combines High ISO, BSS, and Vibration Reduction.
**Unlike many point-and-shoots, the Nikon P60 offers shutter speed controls to help adjust for action and shooting. The specifications on shutter speed values were not available at the time of publication, but they will be included in the full tested review on DigitalCameraInfo.com in the coming months.
The Nikon P60 offers aperture control to help depth of field. Aperture opens up to f/3.6 when zoomed out and f/4.5 when zoomed in. Users can control f-stop through the multi-selector by changing the values up and down on the four-way controller.
Picture Quality / Size Options
The Nikon Coolpix P60 has the following picture size options:
The size options allow the user to print large format images or post to their blog with the small 640 x 480 resolution. Users can shoot in all three aspect ratios.
Picture Effects Mode
The Nikon P60 doesn’t have as many built-in picture effects like its competitors Sony and Casio. The Coolpix does include Nikon’s "Innovations," including red-eye fix and D-Lighting, which are post-capture editing tools. Unfortunately the prototype model didn’t operate properly. There are no Color modes, which are often found on point-and-shoots. (Refer to the Playback section.)
The Nikon Coolpix P60 is bundled with the Coolpix Software Suite.
*Jacks, Ports, Plugs
*The Nikon P60 has one tiny port located on the right side of the camera for connecting the camera to a computer, printer, or television display.
Direct Print Options
The Nikon P60 supports PictBridge-enabled printers so users can directly print from the camera without the use of a computer.
The Nikon Coolpix P60 accepts three types of batteries. The camera comes bundled with 2 AA alkaline batteries, the kind most convenience stores keep in stock, which is good for travelers. Nikon upped the battery life on the P60 to a claimed 190 shots per charge, up from 140 shots on the P50, with alkaline batteries. The P60 also supports lithium and oxyride batteries and two rechargeable EN-MH1 Ni-MH batteries, although they are not included in the bundle.
The P60 camera has only 12 MB of internal memory, which is down from 52 MB on the previous P50. Users will have to buy an additional SD memory card to store their images.
Panoramic – In addition to 4:3 and 3:2 shooting, the P60 is capable of shooting wide 16:9 aspect ratio for panoramic photos.
The Nikon Coolpix P60 is an interesting point-and-shoot, geared for advanced shooters upgrading from a strictly automatic point-and-shoot. At a retail price of $229.95, a dual manual and automatic point-and-shoot is a good deal. Users can grow with this camera as they mature in their photographic skills. Buyers should know, though, that the older P50 is nearly identical to the newer P60, except the P50’s retail price has been cut to $199.95. That extra 30 bucks is spent on the slightly larger LCD screen with improved resolution.
**Who’s this Camera For?
***Point and Shooters* – Even within the point-and-shoot demographic, there is a wide range of users. The Nikon P60 suits novice users with its automatic Scene modes and advanced users with its manual controls.
Budget Consumers – The $229.95 price for a manual point-and-shoot is not bad. Buyers should note, though, that some automatic point-and-shoots go for as little as $150 these days.
Gadget Freaks – Not really. There are too many features found on other cameras, such as Wi-Fi and touch screens, that will lure techies away from the Nikon P60.
Manual Control Freaks – The P60 isn’t an SLR, which most manual controllers like. Instead, it retains manual controls for aperture and shutter speed, but in a point-and-shoot. Users adjust those functions with the multi-selector instead of barrel rings like on an SLR. This puts it somewhere between point-and-shoots and SLRs; it has some manual controls, but not enough to satisfy most serious shooters.
Pros / Serious Amateurs – The Nikon P60 really doesn’t suit professionals well, even with its manual controls. Serious hobbyists would more likely lean toward compact SLR-styled cameras or SLRs.
We think the Nikon Coolpix P60 camera will perform similarly to the earlier P50, which is $30 less now. At an original retail price of $229.95, the P60 ups the optical zoom to 5x, and has lens shifting image stabilization. The camera carries over face detection, which Nikon calls Face Priority. These features are key for image performance, but the camera lacks the attention-grabbing specs of rival skinny types with waterproof, wireless, or touch screen features. Instead of targeting trendy point-and-shooters, the Coolpix P60 vies for the attention of advanced users who want manual functions in a portable body. The prototype model on the PMA show floor did not perform well. The initial camera model stalled and had to be restarted often. But if the final camera performs as well as previous Coolpix models have, we anticipate the Nikon Coolpix P60 should make a strong play for this niche market.
Meet the tester
Karen M. Cheung
Karen M. Cheung is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.
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