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Nikon Coolpix P6000 pushes the advanced compact envelope
by David Rasnake -  8/6/2008

Headlining Nikon's latest batch of pre-Photokina announcements, the manufacturer has taken the wraps off its latest flagship Coolpix compact, the Nikon Coolpix P6000.

Nikon Coolpix P6000

Designed with serious shooters looking for serious exposure control and processing options in mind, the P6000 carries over several key features – including EXPEED processing, manual exposure modes, advanced flash control, metal construction, and seamless GPS integration – from Nikon's consumer and professional DSLR lines.

Contrary to some persistent rumors, what the P6000 didn't get was an APS-C sized sensor from one of its DSLR brethren. Instead, a 1/1.7-inch CCD unit providing 13.5 megapixels of effective resolution is utilized.

Nikon Coolpix P6000

The lens is a 4x Nikkor optic covering a 35mm-equivalent range of 28-112mm. A pair of ED elements control chromatic aberrations, and Nikon's VR image stabilization technology compensates for longer exposures or shaky hands.

Composition is handled via either a 2.7-inch LCD or an optical viewfinder. Additionally, P6000 shooters have the full range of P/A/S/M manual exposure modes as well as standard auto/scene presets at their disposal. On the processing side, Nikon's Coolpix Picture Control System allows users to select from a list of processing mode presets, or manually fine-tune parameters like contrast and saturation.

Nikon Coolpix P6000

While the P6000 provides raw shooting, some uncertainty remains at this point as to what the latest Coolpix's limitations may be in this regard. The P6000 utilizes the new NRW file format for raw images. While NRW shots can clearly be processed in-camera using a version of Nikon's Picture Control System that mimics that found in the company's DSLRs, Nikon's press materials on the P6000 note that the new raw format is "not compatible" with the manufacturer's Capture NX or Capture NX2 raw conversion software. We'll have to wait for full specs to be sure, but it seems as though the latest Coolpix does not also support the more common and powerful Nikon NEF raw format.

If serious shooters may find themselves slightly disappointed by Nikon's raw implementation with the P6000, the camera's integration with Nikon's Creative Lighting System of flashguns should redeem the camera somewhat. Using i-TTL metering, the P6000 can wirelessly control one group of compatible Nikon Speedlights (including the brand new SB-900); an on-camera hot shoe allows for further flash system expansion.

Although it doesn't pack a Wi-Fi radio, the P6000 remains one of the most "'net integrated" new releases so far this year. A wired ethernet port on the bottom of the P6000 allows for fast, computer-less direct image uploads to Nikon's "my Picturetown" file sharing system.

Geotaggers will also be happy to learn that the P6000 integrates an in-camera GPS system, allowing shooters to instantly add shot location information to image EXIF data. A correlating feature on myPicturetown will allow uploaded images to be sorted by location on a map.

From all indications, Nikon has further refined the DSLR-like experience available in its flagship Coolpix P camera. With a suggested price of $499.95, look for the P6000 to rival the likes of the similarly priced Panasonic LX3 when it hits store shelves in mid-September.

Detailed specifications for the latest Nikon cameras have not been provided yet. We'll update this story as information is made available to us.