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Nikon Coolpix P90 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £260
inc VAT

The massive zoom range and articulated screen are highlights, but image quality is bettered elsewhere.

Nikon has pulled out all the stops with the P90.

It has a 12-megapixel sensor and a 3in screen, but top billing goes to the 24x zoom lens. Being able to take a 26mm wide-angle shot and then magnify a distant speck so it fills the frame is quite a breathtaking experience. Lenses this powerful often come with compromises, though.

Our test shots revealed beautiful colour reproduction, expertly chosen automatic settings and reasonably low noise up to ISO 800. However, artificial light sometimes produced heavy colour casts. The far reaches of the zoom range led to heavy lens distortions. There’s an option to correct these digitally, but it crippled performance.

Pictures weren’t as sharp as those from Panasonic’s FZ28 (see Editor’s Choice, page 32), particularly in low light. However, the higher resolution and extra telephoto extension meant that it remained competitive when shooting distant subjects in bright conditions. It also resulted in chromatic aberrations and purple fringing, though, giving halos of discolouration around high-contrast lines.

The hinged screen can point 30° down or 90° up. We appreciate being able to shoot at elbow height, as it’s much more comfortable than with outstretched arms. There’s also an electronic viewfinder, but its colours are much less accurate than the screen’s. The photographic options are comprehensive and there’s a dial for adjusting settings, but it’s a pity that white balance, ISO speed and drive mode are buried in the menus.

A high-speed shooting mode is well suited to nature and sports photography. It captures 45 3-megapixel shots in three seconds (15fps) and can even buffer and save 10 shots from before the shutter button was pressed. When shooting at 12 megapixels, the P90 takes 2.3 seconds between shots and runs at 1.3fps in burst mode – reasonable, but not as fast as Panasonic’s FZ28.

With a huge zoom and high-speed mode, the P90 has plenty going for it, but Panasonic’s FZ28 is just £10 more and is a better all-round camera.

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