Flash Off • Auto Flash • Fill-in Flash • Red-eye Reduction Flash • Slow Sync
With LCD Panel
LCD Panel Size
LCD Screen Resolution
LCD Protected Position
Without LCD Protected Position
USB 2.0 • Wi-Fi
10 Sec. • 3 Sec.
Apple Mac OS X • Microsoft Windows 2000 • Microsoft Windows 98SE • Microsoft Windows ME • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
USB Cable • Video Cable • Lithium Battery • Battery Charger • Strap
8.1 Megapixels with 3.5x Zoom-Nikkor Glass Lens for stunning prints as large as 20 x 30 inches, Bright 2.5 inch LCD for easy composing and sharing of pictures, and 10-step Aperture Priority Mode for creative control over depth of field.
by Robert Burns
The Nikon Coolpix P3 is a lightweight, midrange 8-megapixel compact digital camera, measuring 3.6 x 2.4 x 1.2 inches and weighing less than six ounces. It has a 3.5x optical zoom lens with a focal range equivalent to that of a 36-126mm lens in the 35mm format. It also has optical image stabilization, a 2.5-inch LCD display, and WiFi functionality for image transfer and printing.
Introduction Out of the box, the Nikon Coolpix P3 is a snap to use. Turning on the camera and taking pictures is very easy and the menu system is straightforward and easy to understand. The fully automatic mode allows for easy, successful picture capture, and the Aperture Priority Auto and 16 Scene Modes allow for more advanced shooting. In addition to still image capture the camera has the ability to capture video with sound up to VGA 640x480 at 30 frames per second. I took the camera out on the streets of San Francisco to see how the camera would perform for spontaneous photos and light travel photography.
Single, Continuous, 5-shot burst, Multi-Shot 16 modes
640x480 @ 30fps movie mode with sound, length limited only by memory card capacity
Attach voice memos up to 20 seconds to still images
23MB internal memory and SD memory card slot
Nikon Coolpix P3 Features
The Coolpix P3 is equipped with an f/2.7-5.2 3.5x Nikkor optical zoom lens with a 36 to 126mm focal length (35mm equivalent) and a dedicated Close up (Macro) mode. When the camera is powered down the lens retracts and is protected by a built-in lens cap.
The focus range of the Coolpix P3 is from 12in. to infinity in normal mode. In Macro mode the focus range is 1.6 inches to infinity.
The auto focus can be set to perform in Single-AF or Continuous-AF with Auto area selection, Center-focus area selection or manual area selection. The Coolpix P3 has a Face-Priority AF mode that can recognize faces to focus on. The Face-Priority AF mode did perform well, however I did not test it against multiple faces in the same frame. The auto focus also has a low light AF-assist lamp that helps the camera to focus on a subject in low light situations.
Left: Nikon Coolpix P3 VR (Vibration Reduction) Button Right: Nikon Coolpix P3 WiFi capability and features
The Coolpix P3's most unique and useful feature is the VR (Vibration Reduction). There are two VR modes. VR Normal mode compensates for the minor camera movement commonly encountered when taking handheld shots, and VR Active compensates for more pronounced movements, such as when shooting from a moving vehicle. The VR (Normal mode) is also available when using the Movie mode so you can capture video action with added stability.
The Coolpix P3 has built-in IEEE 802.11b/g WiFi capability that allows you to transmit images wirelessly to a computer or to any PictBridge-enabled printer equipped with the optional Nikon Wireless Printer Adapter (PD-10). Unfortunately, it wasn't as useful as I'd hoped, which I'll explain later.
There are 8 drive modes, including one that captures 16 frames in less than a second and arranges them in a four-by-four grid, and another that captures 30 fps at 640x480-pixel resolution; essentially a movie clip divided into individual frames.
The Coolpix P3 movie mode can record QuickTime video with sound at 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120 - all at 30 frames-per-second. The camera's built-in microphone is a bit too sensitive and would cut out at the end, producing a consistent silence at the end of all my movies. The Vibration Reduction is available during video capture, something I really appreciated.
Nikon Coolpix P3 Design
The camera is well built with an all-aluminum shiny, silver body that feels solid in the hand but a little slippery at the same time.
The Coolpix P3 has a large, high-resolution - 150,000 pixels, 2.5-inch LCD display that serves as the viewfinder and for image, and movie review. The LCD display has a non-glare finish that minimizes reflection when viewing in sunlight.
Left: Nikon Coolpix P3 Mode Dial and top controls Right: Nikon Coolpix P3 Four-Way Controller and rear controls
The main Mode dial on the top of the camera has 9 positions; Auto shooting mode, Programmed auto, Aperture priority auto, Scene mode, Movie mode, Setup, Image mode (quality), ISO Sensitivity mode, White balance mode, and Wireless transfer mode (WiFi). Next to the Mode dial is a VR button to control the Vibration Reduction.
On the back of the camera to the right of the LCD display is a typical four-way controller that provides direct access to flash, macro, self-timer and exposure compensation. The four-way, "Multi selector" is also used to change the aperture in Aperture priority mode. Above the "Multi selector" in the upper right is the lens zoom control. When in playback mode these controls perform a zoom and index function.
Below the "Multi selector" is a button with a blue arrow that turns on the Play mode. Next to the playback control is a "trashcan" button for deleting images.
There is an dual-purpose connector on the side of camera for connecting the USB 1.1 cable to download images to a computer, or for connecting the Audio-Video Out cable to a TV set for playback.
Nikon Coolpix P3 Record mode
Nikon Coolpix P3 Playback mode
Nikon Coolpix P3 detailed Playback mode display, with histogram
Nikon Coolpix P3 Scene mode menu, with Portrait (Face AF) mode selected
Camera Experience The Nikon Coolpix P3 disappointed me with its lagging shutter and poor shot-to-shot time. When shooting on the street many opportunities passed me by while I waited for the camera to shoot and process a photo. When taking consecutive shots the slow performance was even more apparent with 3 seconds of lag between shots. When using the Continuous mode I was pleased with the camera's ability to capture 4 Large Fine JPEG images in 1.5 seconds. However, it took the camera about 5 seconds to clear the buffer and be ready to shoot again. In bright sun the display suffers from glare. I also wish the LCD was brighter since it's very difficult to see the displayed information in daylight. I liked the Coolpix P3's overall layout and the positioning of the power button, Mode dial, Multi selector four-way controller, and 2.5-inch LCD. It was easy to get comfortable with the P3 and I was able to navigate the buttons and menus with ease.
The size of the P3 is nice - not too big and not too small. A contoured grip would make it more comfortable and easier to hold as it felt a bit slippery in my hand. I did not feel comfortable holding the camera without the strap. The body isn't as slim or as small as other ultra-compact digital cameras. Being a little larger actually makes the P3 an easier camera to hold and use - and it did easily fit in my pocket.
The P3's exposure metering performed nicely. The auto focus system did well in low light situations, with the help of the AF-assist lamp. The P3's Vibration Reduction feature did provide some sharper images at 2 stops slower then I would normally expect without a flash. This was the first time I've had the opportunity to use image stabilization in a compact camera and I think Nikon's VR Vibration Reduction is the best thing about the Coolpix P3. The 36-126mm (35mm equivalent) optical zoom range is versatile and works well in
Nikon Coolpix P3 Vibration Reduction comparison: click to compare.
many photographic situations. The P3's WiFi feature is not as useful as I had hoped. It's limited to a local computer running the included Nikon software, and the setup is not as easy as it should be. Once setup, downloading the images wirelessly did not seem to be a useful tool since I could simply download my images via USB much faster.
The Nikon Coolpix P3's image quality is generally very good. Images photographed at ISO 50 and 100 are good but at ISO 200 and 400, digital noise makes the images unusually soft and disappointing.
Out of the camera, low ISO photos had a balanced sharpness, across the entire frame, with little or no digital artifacting. I have used some digital cameras that were soft in the corners or had trouble sharpening certain colors or objects. The Coolpix P3 had none of these problems. And the Vibration Reduction feature did help produce sharper images in most situations, especially when zooming in on a subject.
Colors are rich and pleasing. Sharpness and resolution are high at all subject distances. Purple fringing that usually appears on the edges of high contrast edges was good and only appeared in situations of extreme backlight.
Click on thumbnails to see photos.
Click on thumbnails to see photos.
Conclusion Nikon's Coolpix P3 is a proficient compact digital camera that produces pleasing 8-megapixel images at low ISO's and good quality movies. Beginning digital photographers will enjoy the P3's Auto and Scene modes. More advanced users will likely be disappointed with the camera's lack of manual control and image quality at higher ISO's. The WiFi and VR are a nice additions but I wouldn't recommend purchasing the camera based on those features.
Who Should Buy The Nikon Coolpix P3 Beginner's new to digital photography will enjoy the Nikon Coolpix P3 digital camera for its small size and ease of use. The Auto and Scene modes make the camera very simple to use. It has a very large LCD display and a good menu system.
Those who are looking to upgrade your existing digital camera will want to look at cameras that offer better ergonomics and a richer feature set.
Our pro review for the Coolpix P3 digital camera with WiFi is live. The Nikon Coolpix P3 is an 8-megapixel compact digital camera with a 2.5-inch LCD screen, Nikon's VR optical Vibration reduction, a 3.5x optical zoom lens, and wireless capabilities. The pro review covers features, image quality, ca ... Read More »
[B][FONT="Garamond"][SIZE="3"]i just wanted to whether i should buy the Nikon Coolpix P3 or the P1... and if u could tell me the major differences between the two. budget is not the problem.. i would appreciate all the help.
thank u[/SIZE][/FONT][/B]Read More »
[CENTER][B]Higher performance, further functionality and extended photo enjoyment in attractive body.[/B][/CENTER]
TOKYO – Nikon Corporation is pleased to announce the introduction of the COOLPIX P3 and COOLPIX P4. Two compact digital cameras combining an exceptional 8.1 megapixels of resolution ... Read More »