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2008.08.07

Fresh off the press, Nikon Canada presents 5 new additions to its Coolpix lineup to be available this fall:

  • The P6000 becomes the new flagship. It boasts a 13.5 megapixels 1/1.7″ sensor, a stabilized 4X wide-angle optical zoom (28-112mm equivalent), full-manual controls, customizable controls, GPS, an Ethernet port, maximum ISO 1600 at full-resolution and up to ISO 6400 at 3 megapixels.
  • The sleek S60 introduces a touch-screen interface on a wide-screen 3.5″ LCD. Featuring a 10 megapixels sensor and stabilized 5X optical zoom (33-165mm equivalent), ISO 1600 at full-resolution and ISO 3200 at 5 megapixels in a slim body.
  • The S560 is another 10 megapixels ultra-compact with stabilized 5X optical zoom, ISO 1600 at full-resolution, ISO 3200 at 3 megapixels and a 2.7″ LCD with 230K pixels.
  • The S610 is also another 10 megapixels ultra-compact but with a stabilized wide-angle 4X optical zoom (28-112mm equivalent), 3″ LCD, maximum sensitivity of ISO 3200 and ultra-fast startup.
  • The 14.5 megapixels S710 becomes the highest resolution fixed-lens camera to date using a 1/1.72″ image sensor. This sensor is paired with a stabilized 3.6X wide-angle optical zoom lens (28-101mm equivalent), up to ISO 3200 at its maximum resolution, up to ISO 12800 at 3 megapixels and, a rare thing among ultra-compacts, full-manual controls.

The outstanding models introduced today are the Coolpix P6000 and the Coolpix S710. While both these cameras feature ultra-high resolution sensors, they both use larger sensors than most fixed-lens cameras. This is a new development for Nikon. Similarly sized sensors have been used for a while by Fuji who has been producing cameras with superior control over image noise, particularly at high-ISO. Also, Panasonic’s recently announced Lumix DMC-LX3 uses a similar-sized sensor. This does not mean that the P6000 and S710 will necessarily perform better at high-ISO because the size advantage may be canceled out by the increase in resolution compared to the 12 and 10 megapixels offerings from Fuji and Panasonic, respectively, neither is this anywhere close to the sensor-size used in the Sigma DP1.

All these new Coolpix cameras feature stabilized wide-angle lenses which is something we clearly approve of, although the S60 is not as wide. Manual controls are also featured on the S710. This is such a rare feature among ultra-compacts that it alone can make the S710 a hot-commodity. Even though most ultra-compact users prefer point-and-shoot operation, a great number of advanced users and DSLR owners appreciate having an ultra-compact take-anywhere camera but feel limited by the lack of manual controls. To see why, one must understand that the beauty of a picture comes more from composition, lighting and exposure than from its lack of noise or distortion.

The Coolpix P6000 adds a built-in GPS (Global Positioning System), something not seen before on a mainstream digital camera. This is a convenience feature that adds substantial value to the P6000. We will have to wait to see how much this is reflected in the P6000’s price when Nikon announces it. Until now, tagging images with GPS information required at best an extra device and extra batteries sometimes along with an extra charger. The space and weight saved by having a camera which performs both functions is worth adding the GPS’ price to the camera.

An intriguing feature of the P6000 is a built-in Ethernet port. While we know what an Ethernet port is, it is unclear what Nikon will let us do with it but the possibilities are there. Imagine downloading your images from the camera via FTP or HTTP. It could be much faster than USB and could be done from any networked computer. Instead, the camera itself could have a network client and send its images to a file-server or web-server directly. Combine this with GPS data and you could have your pictures displayed on a map somewhere on a web-server soon after connecting your P6000 to a network.

[eminimall]

Of the remaining 3 cameras, the S560 and S610 seem like relatively minor upgrades to existing models. Not that upgrades should be underestimated, they are important to keep these offerings competitive and current with technology. Improvements in speed are particularly welcome as people often miss-the-shot when the camera is too slow for the subject.

The Coolpix S60 is new in that it offers a 3.5″ LCD and uses an almost-entirely tactile interface. Only the shutter-release and power-button are actually buttons. Everything else, including zooming is done via the touch screen. Now, I do not think I’m the only one concerned about this, but the touch-screen trend is not my thing. What I’m thinking about is LCD visibility after putting my fingers all over the display. Things can get pretty bad. I see people with iPhones and the screens are covered in fingerprints. Greasy fingerprints reflect light and make LCDs harder to see. Those who think using a stylus is the solution should try holding a camera, keeping it pointed at a subject, holding the stylus and using it the operate the camera all at once. A lot of people drop their cameras even when they do not have to hold a stylus at the same time!

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