The Nikon Coolpix P6000's front has a nicely textured grip for your hand on the left side, when looking from the front. Opposite it is the 6-24mm f/2.7-5.9 lens. Above and to the left of the lens is the front of the optical viewfinder. Directly below the viewfinder is the auto focus assist lamp. To the left of the lamp is the Infrared Receiver At eight o'clock in relation to the lens is the microphone for video recording.
From the front you see the nicely textured hand grip.
The back of the Nikon Coolpix P6000 is dominated by the 2.7-inch LCD display. To the left of the display is a row of buttons that will be familiar to any Nikon connoisseur. From the top you have the Function, My Menu, Manual Focus, Playback and Menu buttons. Direction above the LCD is the optical viewfinder with flash and auto focus indicators sitting to the right of the viewfinder. To the left of the viewfinder is a flash control button and above the top right of the LCD is a Display button. To the right of the LCD is the 4-way control. Press up for flash controls, left for timer, down for Macro/Manual Focus or right for Exposure Compensation. Below the 4-way is a dedicated trash button.
The back has enough buttons to make a geek smile.
*On the left side of the Canon PowerShot G10 is the GPS module and a lanyard loop, both near the top.
GPS built-in is a big new feature on the P6000
*The right side holds a cover for the A/V out and DC in.
The top of the Nikon Coolpix P6000 is less busy than it's competitor the Canon PowerShot G10. The left side of the top holds the flash, which pops up out of the top. To the right is the hot shoe if you want to use your own flash. On the far right are the Mode Dial, a second dial near the back of the hand grip that allows you to navigate various menus and the Shutter button and Zoom control at the front of the grip. Right behind the Shutter button is the On/Off button.
A hot shoe will be a big plus for the high-end shooters the P6000 is aimed at.
On the bottom of the Nikon Coolpix P6000 you'll find the tripod mount, cover for the battery and memory card and a rubber cover for the Ethernet port.
The P6000 sports an Ethernet port on the bottom.
The optical viewfinder on the Nikon Coolpix P6000 sits just above the LCD display on the back. A viewfinder can be useful to save battery or if the glare of lights is making the LCD ineligible or if your just a traditionalist and prefer it. The viewfinder is not digital, so we've got actual glass here, which means you should not expect to see any overlays or other information when using the viewfinder.
The optical viewfinder can save you battery power.
The 2.7-inch LCD display on the Canon PowerShot G10 is reasonably sized, just a bit smaller than the 3-inch display on the Canon G10. Unfortunately the pixel count is not very impressive, just a pedestrian 230,000 pixels, half as many as the G10.
The 2.7-inch LCD display is smaller and has a lower resolution than the Canon G10's.
The Canon PowerShot G10 flash rises up out of the top of the camera to the right of the lens when looking from the front. The pop-up action results in a flash that sits further away from the lens than the typical point-and-shoot, which should help you get slightly better lighting and reduce red-eye when using the built-in flash. If you prefer to use your own flash the P6000 also sports a hot shoe directly above the lens on the top.
The pop-up flash disappears when you're not using it.
The Nikon Coolpix P6000 has a 6.0-24.0mm f/2.7-5.9 lens with a 4x optical zoom. This is comparable to the Canon G10, with the latter sporting a slightly better focal length and slightly wider aperture at the tele end. As with the G10 you can also add a lens adapter to the P6000.
The retractable lens keeps the P6000 compact, but we wish it had more than 4x optical zoom.
The Nikon Coolpix P6000 has a DC In and Mini USB port on the right side underneath a tethered rubber cover. The Mini USB port handles both data connections and A/V Out. The only other port on the device is the Ethernet port found on the bottom, once again protected by a tethered rubber cover.
The power and Mini USB ports are on the right side.
The Nikon Coolpix P6000 uses a proprietary battery. Nikon estimates that you can capture 260 photos on a full charge. The battery can be found in the compartment found by opening the door on the bottom, it sits right next to the memory card slot. The battery and SDHC card slot are both found on the bottom.**Memory**
The P6000 support SDHC cards, which have a current maximum capacity of 32GB. The memory card slot is found right next to the battery under the door on the bottom of the camera.
One of the Nikon Coolpix P6000's much talked about new features is built-in GPS. We did not have an opportunity to use the GPS, but the idea is simple. Turn the GPS on and any photo you take will automatically be tagged with location information. This is something that many people have been doing by merging GPS information with their photos, we'll be interested to see how a built-in solution compares. In particular the sensitivity, speed and battery impact of the GPS functionality will be in question.
GPS is nice, but we still don't know how much it will impact battery life.
Model Design / Appearance
The Nikon Coolpix P6000 is a compact point-and-shoot, albeit at the large end of that range. We liked the P6000's clean lines and light weight. It doesn't have as many knobs and buttons as the G10, but it certainly has many more than your average point-and-shoot. Apart from the size the P6000 probably won't turn heads in any situations, but it's not an ugly camera either.
Size and Handling
The Nikon Coolpix P6000 is smaller and lighter than the Canon G10, measuring 4.2 x 2.6 x 1.7 inches. The weight, in particular, is almost 50% less than the G10 at 8.5 ounces, a bonus of using a lot of plastic in your construction rather than the G10's metal case and frame. The light weight did make it easier to handle the camera, as did the nicely textured hand grip on the right side. We also expect that durability will suffer, however.
The P6000 is slightly smaller and much lighter than its competitor the Canon G10.
The Nikon Coolpix P6000 has several menus that you can navigate to change various settings, so many in fact that even some advanced users that aren't familiar with Nikon cameras may find them a bit confusing. You access most of the menus using the buttons to the left of the LCD, and the options available can change depending on your particular mode and settings. For example in any manual mode the Fn button will allow you to set ISO by default in all manual modes, but this can be reassigned to another feature if you wish. In Auto it does nothing. The My Menu button gives you access to six customizable features, by default these were Image Quality, Image Size, Picture Control, White Balance, Active D-Lighting and Distortion Control.
*My Menu offers a customizable selection of options.
The bottom button on the left is the main Menu button. Like the Fn button this is also dynamic depending on your mode. Pressing the button will take you to a tabbed interface with the first tab a list of options for the mode you are in, so this will change if you are in Manual mode versus Automatic or Movie. Then there are additional tabs for other camera settings. Overall the effect is a can be a bit bewildering, but there is an opportunity for a lot of customization via the Fn button and My Menu feature.
Ease of Use
Despite the various menus on the Nikon Coolpix P6000, we did find it relatively easy to use. It's obviously a camera targeted at more advanced users, but the Auto mode will take care of most things for less advanced users. If you delve into the manual controls, as we're sure most P6000 users will, the learning curve is a bit steep if you're not used to Nikon, but once you get a hang of it most items are just a couple of button clicks away.
We particularly liked the rotating dial that is used for various adjustment that sits at the back of the hand grip opposite the shutter button. We found it easier to use than the G10's rotating dial around the 4-way control. We also liked the menu buttons to the left of the LCD, as using both hands we were able to navigate menus faster than on the G10, which is important on the P6000 as fewer adjustments can be made without the menu. Advanced users may prefer the dedicated exposure compensation and ISO dials on the G10, however.
In Automatic mode the Canon PowerShot G10 offers a limited array of features, which is really what you want. You cannot access ISO settings, but you can change Exposure Compensation by pressing right on the 4-way control. Manual focus is not available either.
In Movie mode only a few options are available. You can choose between using a one-time focus or a continuous focus. Exposure compensation is also available, however the optical zoom cannot be changed while you are recording, an annoying feature. You can capture movies in either 640 x 480 at 30 fps or 320 x 240 at 15 fps. There are also options for time-lapse movies, sepia and B&W. What we're missing is support for 720p video recording, a feature that's found its way into much less expensive cameras.
Despite the little stars we're still dissapointed the P6000 doesn't support 720p.
Drive / Burst Mode
You can set the Nikon Coolpix P6000 to shoot continuously in manual modes by going into the main menu and choosing the appropriate option from the menu. Your choices are Continuous, BSS (Best Shot Selector), which selects the sharpest image out of ten in situations where camera shake may lead to blur, and Continuous Flash, which allows you to take a burst of three shots with the built-in flash in 0.8 seconds. In standard Continuous mode the Nikon Coolpix P6000 manages only 0.9 fps, significantly less than the Canon G10s 1.3 fps.
The 0.9 fps the P6000 can handle is not very impressive.
You can enter playback mode on the Nikon Coolpix P6000 by pressing the dedicated playback button to the left of the LCD display. Once in playback mode images are displayed in full frame on the LCD, you can move between images by using the rotating dial or left/right on the 4-way control. If you want to zoom in on an image or zoom out to see multiple thumbnails this can be managed using the zoom toggle.
Editing features can be accessed in the main menu. Your choices are D-Lighting, which allows you to adjust brightness and contrast, Crop, Small Picture, Rotate, Black Border and convert RAW to JPEG. These are fewer options than some other point-and-shoots offer, but frankly we don't expect many people to be doing much photo editing on their cameras anyways.
Custom Image Presets
Custom image presets are available when you change the mode dial to Scene mode. Once there you go into the main menu to select the scene you want, or you can use the Fn menu to select one. Your options are Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night Portrait, Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Sunset, Dusk/Dawn, Night Landscape, Close-up, Museum, Fireworks Show, Copy, Backlight, Panorama Assist and Voice Recording.
There's a scene mode for every... scene?
Manual Control Options
The Nikon Coolpix P6000 offers the full panoply of manual controls including Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and full Manual modes. Aperture and Shutter priority modes obviously allow you to control the named item using the rotating dial found at the back of the hand grip. Full manual mode allows you to control both, switching between the by pressing right on the 4-way control. Using the manual controls was quick and easy, we found it easier to use the dial on the P6000 than the one around the 4-way control as found on the G10.
The Nikon Coolpix P6000 offers a manual focus, which can be turned on in any manual mode by pressing down on the 4-way control and choosing the appropriate item form the menu. To then adjust the focus you press the dedicate Manual Focus button to the left of the LCD and while you hold it down rotate the dial at the back of the grip. There is an auto focus assist that appears, which zooms in on the center of the display so you can better judge the focus.
Manual focus is a nice feature to find.
One of the Nikon Coolpix P6000's most talked about feature is the support for 6400 ISO. We need to note, however, that both 6400 and 3200 ISO are only available if you capture photos at three megapixels. Nikon has made great strides in reducing noise in low light situations in its higher end DSLRs and it will be interesting to see if any of the lessons it has learned will leak down into the high-end of their point-and-shot lineup. We'll have to wait to get the P6000 into our labs before we can tell you, though. The full ISO range of the P6000 for full size shots is 64-1600.
ISO 6400 is impressive, but remember your photos will need to be 3 megapixels or smaller.
White balance options are only available in manual modes. You can choose from Manual, Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy and Flash. You can access the white balance options via the My Menu feature by default, or via the main menu if you remove it.
White balance options can be found in My Menu or the main menu.
Unlike the Canon G10, the Nikon Coolpix P6000 does not have a dedicated button for metering. Instead you'll have to go into the main menu to adjust it. Your options are Matrix, Center-Weighted, Spot and Spot AF Area. The last meters based on your auto focus target.
The typical selection of metering options are available.
The Nikon Coolpix P6000 offers a shutter speed range of 8 - 1/2000 seconds. This is a reasonable range for a camera but not as good as the Canon G10's 15 - 1/4000 second range. You can manually adjust shutter speed in either shutter priority mode or in full manual modes.
Adjusting shutter speed in full manual mode.
Aperture on the Nikon Coolpix P6000 can be set to between f/2.7-7.2 when zoomed out or f/5.9 - 7.7 when zoomed in completely. There is an aperture priority mode available and you can also manually adjust aperture in full manual mode.
Adjusting aperture in full manual mode.
**The Nikon Coolpix P6000 offers optical image stabilization to ensure that shaky hands don't ruin your shots.
Picture Quality / Size Options
Another stand out feature on the Nikon Coolpix P6000 is its support for RAW capture, in addition to the more familiar Fine, Normal and Basic. Images can be captured between 4224 x 3168 on the high end and down to 640 x 480. In between there are six other size options and also 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1 frame options at the highest resolution supported. The support for RAW is the key feature, however. This places the Nikon Coolpix P6000 amongst an elite class of point-and-shoot cameras. RAW support allows you to take the raw data from the image sensor rather than have the data processed into a format like JPEG. This gives you much more flexibility when you are touching up the image later on your computer.
The P6000 offers plenty of size options and supports RAW.
Picture Effects Mode
The only picture effects the Nikon Coolpix P6000 offers are B&W, Sepia and Cyanotype.
The P6000 is Nikon's latest high-end compact point-and-shoot. It offers a variety of upgrades over its predecessor the P5100, including (of course) an increase to 13.5 megapixels, ISO 6400 and allegedly improved low-light performance (we hope) and built-in GPS. The P6000 did take a step back in a couple of spots, however, in particular the optical zoom went from 6x to 4x, a significant downgrade.
With an array of manual features and support for RAW format, the P6000 will compete with the Canon G10 for the hearts of advanced photographers looking for a compact camera. At this point we can't tell you which is better; we'll have to get them into our labs for that. One big difference we can tell you about now is that the P6000 will be retailing for $100 more than the G10, at $599.95.
Our impression of the P6000 at first blush is that it's a very capable camera. It handles well and manual features are in easy reach. We are a little disappointed to see the optical zoom go from 6x on its predecessor to 4x on the P6000. Our hope for the P6000 is that Nikon is able to shift some of their low-light magic from their DSLR range to this camera. Its predecessor, the P5100, did not perform well in low-light situations. We'll also be very interested to find out how effective the GPS capability is, especially its impact on battery life.
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