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Nikon Coolpix P3 8 to 10 Megapixel

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MSRP : $449.00

  • Image Sensor TypeCCD
    Resolution8.31 Megapixel
    Optical Zoom3.5x
    Camera TypeStandard Point and Shoot
    Interchangeable LensNot Interchangeable Lenses
    35mm Zoom Lens36 - 126 mm
    Digital Zoom4x
    Focus TypeAutofocus
    Focus Range12 in. to Infinity (w)
    Macro Focus Range1.6 in. to Infinity (w)
    Focal Length7.5 - 26.3 mm
    Camera Resolution8.31 Megapixel
    Image Resolutions640 x 480 • 3264 x 2448
    Video Resolutions320 x 240 (QVGA) • 640 x 480 (VGA) • 160 x 120
    Video Speed30 fps
    Aperture Rangef2.7/f5.2 (w/t)
    Frames Per Second1.8 Frames
    Memory TypeBuilt-in • SD Card
    Built-in Memory Size23 MB
    ISO SpeedsAuto
    Flash TypeBuilt-In
    Flash FunctionsFlash Off • Auto Flash • Fill-in Flash • Red-eye Reduction Flash • Slow Sync
    ViewfinderWithout Viewfinder
    LCD PanelWith LCD Panel
    LCD Panel Size2.5 in.
    LCD Screen Resolution150,000 pixels
    LCD Protected PositionWithout LCD Protected Position
    Interface TypeUSB 2.0 • Wi-Fi
    Video InterfaceVideo Out
    Wireless CapabilitiesIEEE 802.11g/b
    Battery TypeProprietary Lithium
    Battery Life200 Images
    Self Timer10 Sec. • 3 Sec.
    Operating SystemApple Mac OS X • Microsoft Windows 2000 • Microsoft Windows 98SE • Microsoft Windows ME • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
    Width3.6 in.
    Depth1.2 in.
    Height2.4 in.
    Weight0.38 lb.
    Included AccessoriesUSB Cable • Video Cable • Lithium Battery • Battery Charger • Strap
    Product ID30454177

Product Description

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.

Nikon Coolpix P3 Digital Camera Pro Review

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.

Nikon Coolpix P3 Pros and Cons
  • Good image quality at low ISO
  • Compact body
  • Vibration Reduction
  • Built-in 802.11b/g for wireless photo transfer
  • Large, high resolution LCD display
  • Nice, 30-fps movie mode
  • Time-lapse photo and movie modes
  • Images a bit noisy above ISO 100
  • Sound cuts out prematurely in movie mode
  • Poor low-light focusing
  • WiFi abilities limited and too difficult to setup
  • No shutter priority mode
  • No USB 2.0 High Speed support
  • Plastic tripod mount
  • Flimsy battery/memory card compartment cover
  • Bulky battery charger cord
Nikon Coolpix P3 Studio Test Images
Nikon Coolpix P3 Studio Samples ISO 50 Sample >>
ISO 100 Sample >>
ISO 200 Sample >>
ISO 400 Sample >>

Nikon Coolpix P3 Resources
All Nikon Coolpix P3 Photos >>
Nikon Coolpix P3 User Reviews >>
Nikon Coolpix P3 Camera Specs >>
Write a Review >>
Nikon Cameras Resource Page >>
Nikon Web site >>

Nikon Coolpix P3 - front and back
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.
Nikon Coolpix P3 Key Features
  • 8-megapixel effective CCD
  • Nikkor 3.5x optical zoom lens (36-126mm equivalent)
  • Large 2.5-inch glare-resistant color LCD display
  • WiFi 802.11b/g wireless connectivity
  • Vibration Reduction (VR) for images and movies
  • Macro focus with AF as close as 1.6 inches
  • In-camera red-eye removal
  • Aperture priority mode
  • 16 pre-programmed Scene Modes
  • 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.

Nikon Coolpix P3 - VR (Vibration Reduction) Button Nikon Coolpix P3 - Features
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.

Nikon Coolpix P3 - Mode Dial Nikon Coolpix P3 - 4 Way-Controller
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 - LCD Display
Nikon Coolpix P3 Record mode

Nikon Coolpix P3 - LCD Display
Nikon Coolpix P3 Playback mode
Nikon Coolpix P3 - LCD Display
Nikon Coolpix P3 detailed Playback mode display, with histogram

Nikon Coolpix P3 - LCD Display
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
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.
Image Quality

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.

Nikon Coolpix P3 - North Beach Fesitval Banner Nikon Coolpix P3 - Stop Action Nikon Coolpix P3 - Chalking
Click on thumbnails to see photos.

Nikon Coolpix P3 - Bright Sunlight with Shadows Nikon Coolpix P3 - Landscape Shot of San Francisco Nikon Coolpix P3 - Entering to Win Free Gas
Click on thumbnails to see photos.
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.

Nikon Coolpix P3 box contents
Contents of the Nikon Coolpix P3.

  • Nikon Coolpix P3 Digital Camera
  • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL5
  • Battery Charger MH-61
  • USB Cable UC-E6
  • Audio Video Cable EG-CP14
  • Strap
  • PictureProject CD-ROM
Other Resources:
Nikon Coolpix P3 User Reviews >>
Write a Nikon Coolpix P3 Review >>
Nikon Coolpix P3 Sample Gallery >>
All Nikon Digital Camera Reviews >>
Nikon Cameras Forum >>
Nikon Cameras Resource Page >>
Nikon Web site >>
All Digital Camera Pro Reviews >>
Wireless Digital Cameras Guide >>
Digital Camera Buyer's Guide >>
All Digital Camera Sample Images >>

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Other Resources:
Coolpix P3 Press Release
Professional Reviews:
Nikon Coolpix P3 Review at Imaging Resource

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