Nikon Coolpix P4 Review
Review Date: April 19th 2006
The Nikon Coolpix P4 is the new top-of-the-range compact digital camera in Nikon's range, offering an 8 megapixel sensor, 3.5x optical zoom lens and 2.5 inch LCD screen. The Nikon P4 is identical to the Coolpix P3, but doesn't have the WiFi capability of the P3 (I have no idea why the P3 has a better specification but lower model number...). The Coolpix P4 is also the first Nikon compact camera to offer image stabilisation technology, with two different Vibration Reduction modes to help you achieve shake-free photos. The availability of Aperture Priority mode means that the Nikon P4 is not just a point and shoot model, while features like 11 wide-area autofocus, In-Camera Red-Eye Fix, Face-Priority AF and D-Lighting aim to intelligently improve your photographs. It looks good on paper, but can the Nikon Coolpix P4 satisfy the photographer in you? Find out now by reading my review.
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The Nikon Coolpix P4 has an 8.3 megapixel, 1/1.8 inch CCD that delivers 8.0 effective megapixels. There are a range of image sizes (3264 x 2448, 2592 x 1944, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480). Images can be recorded as either Fine, Normal or Basic quality JPEGs. The camera's 3.5x optical zoom lens is equivalent to a 36-126mm lens on a 35mm format camera. There is also a 4x digital zoom should you feel the need to use it. Vibration Reduction is available with 2 different modes. The camera has 23Mb of built-in memory - it is not supplied with either an SD Memory Card or MultiMedia Card.
The Nikon Coolpix P4 offers Auto, Program and Aperture Priority exposure modes plus 9 Advanced Scene Modes (Portrait [Face AF], Portrait, Night Portrait, Landscape, Night landscape, Sunset, Dusk/Dawn, Fireworks show, Close up) and 7 Scene Modes (Party/Indoor, Panorama assist, Beach/Snow, Back light, Museum, Copy, Sports) plus a Best Shot Selector option which will choose the sharpest image for you. The maximum aperture is f2.7 (wide) – f5.2 (tele) and the shutter speed range is 1/2000 - 2 secs (maximum of 8 secs in Night Landscape scene mode). There are 4 ISO speeds ranging from 80 to 400 and an Auto option. There are 6 different White Balance presets to choose from (Direct Sunlight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Cloudy, Shade, Flash), plus an Auto setting and White Balance Preset. The camera offers exposure compensation in ± 2 in 1/3 EV steps and auto-bracketing of both exposure and white balance are available.
The Nikon Coolpix P4 has a normal shooting mode, Self-timer (3 secs. or 10 secs.) and 3 different Continuous modes - Continuous H (approx. 1.8fps), Multi-shot 16 (approx 1.7fps, only available at image size 8M) and Ultra HS (up to 100 pictures at up to 30fps). The contrast, saturation and sharpening can all be customised, and there is a Noise Reduction option. D-Lighting is a playback feature which fixes underexposed and backlit images without harming the properly exposed areas of the image.
The Macro setting allows you to focus on subjects that are as close as 3cms at the wide-angle lens setting. There is a choice of 4 different metering systems - Matrix, Center-Weighted, Spot and Spot AF Area. The camera offers 3 auto-focus systems - Auto, Manual and Center - and you can choose from Single or Full-Time focus. There is an AF assist lamp to help achieve focus in low-light situations. The built-in flash offers 5 different modes (Auto, Auto with Red-eye Reduction (In-Camera Red-Eye Fix), Flash Cancel, Anytime Flash, Slow Sync) and has a range of 0.4-4.0m (W) and 0.4-2.0m (T).
To compose your images, you can use the LCD monitor - there is no optical or electronic viewfinder. The Nikon Coolpix P4 has a 2.5 inch TFT LCD Display which has 150,000 pixels. The Nikon Coolpix P4 can record movies at 640 x 480 pixels, 320 x 240 pixels or 160 x 120, all at 30fps with sound. Vibration Reduction is available in the movie mode. Video is recorded in the Quicktime with audio format. The length of the video is only limited by the size of the memory card that you are using. A histogram is available in both shooting and playback modes. The Nikon Coolpix P4 supports the DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) and PictBridge printing standards, and it connects to a computer via USB 2.0.
The Nikon Coolpix P4's dimensions are 92 (W) × 61 (H) × 31 mm (D) mm, and it weighs 170g without the battery and storage card fitted. The camera is powered by a Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, which has an approximate battery life of 200 shots. There is a plastic tripod mount in the left corner of the bottom of the camera.
Finally, the standard box kit contains a Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, Battery Charger, USB Cable, Audio Video Cable, Strap and PictureProject CD-ROM. Note that you can only store 6 images at the highest quality JPEG setting on the 23Mb built-in memory card. You will therefore need to invest in some memory cards to store your images on.
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Nikon Coolpix P4 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.