Upon the arrival of a Nikon Coolpix P6000 test sample, it is tested in our DIWA Lab. The technical data from the rigorous tests are processed and translated into understandable data. Inside the lab, testing takes place in standardized circumstances. An environment in which cameras, both compact and system concepts, can be compared without a problem. Besides that, the Nikon P6000 compact camera is extensively used in practice and evaluated as for operation and shooting in practice. This combination of lab tests and the testing in practice, results in a final conclusion that is carefully reviewed.
13,5 Megapixel Nikon Coolpix P6000 camera
Increasing the image resolution is a typical marketing move. The push for sales numbers seems too much of a drive to stay put and fully focus on image quality. It's understandable, certainly in times where every percent of a marketing share is the result of a heavy battle. In 2007, the P5000 started with 10 Megapixels, which was sufficient for the type of work you want to do with a camera like that. Two generations later, the Nikon P6000 features 13.5 Megapixels, which is way too much and a clear overkill.
ISO settings on the Nikon P6000
Firstly, we had a close look at the ISO range from 64 to 6400. This is an extensive range according to the specifications, even though the two highest ISOs can only be used in a lower resolution of 3 Megapixels. Measurements in our DIWA Labs enable testing the actual sensor value. In practice, it is quite normal to see a 20-25% deviation and it's the exception that is equal to the claimed specifications. It turns out that the image sensor of the Nikon P6000 differs a lot over the entire ISO range with peaks like 41%. In practice, the 64 ISO equals 93 ISO and for example ISO 800 equals 1040. Why Nikon adjusted the ISO this much, is only known by Nikon…
Nikon P6000 signal / noise ratio
The actual use of high ISO values depends on the quality of the signal/noise ratio. Shooting in high ISO is no good if noise increases so much that the delete button must be used frequently. Technical tests of the signal/noise ratio show a fine to reasonable result and Nikon has the noise under control. However; high ISO values suffer from a severe amount of noise. In particular 1600 ISO and higher values are not useful. Striking is that noise is even noticeable at the lower ISO values up to 400 ISO. It's not annoyingly visible yet it is still present.
Color retention & Color saturation
The Nikon P6000 camera produces consistent results up to and including ISO 800 and differs slightly when the measurements of color retention are compared to the Gretag Macbeth Color Checker. The Nikon Coolpix P6000 has various color settings: standard, neutral, vivid. The color saturation is strong and even at neutral, visible saturation occurs. It's a pity Nikon has emphasized on saturation because the enhanced photographer likes to stay in control himself.
White balance settings & Dynamic range
The Nikon P6000 is more neutral in handling the white balance. That is to say; up to and including 200 ISO an excellent result stands without any form of color cast. The remaining ISO values are fine although they seem to flourish with a manual setting. The auto white balance works fine, yet has difficulties to get it right under plentiful incandescent light. The dynamic range is well-able to keep up to ISO 800 inclusively. The Nikon Coolpix P6000 does perform reasonably well when it comes to details in the light and dark areas of a picture with high contrast. In general, it is better to work with lower ISO values although the dynamic range is not entirely convincing.
Nikon Coolpix P6000 wide-angle
The Nikon Coolpix P6000 features a 4x optical zoom lens starting at 28mm wide angle. A perfect range and if you need more wide angle, you can use a WC-E76 converter (and UR-E1 adapter ring) to reach a range of 21mm. The sharpness of this lens is outstanding. The lens performs excellently over the entire focal length in the center and towards the edges. The 28mm wide angle suffers slightly from distortion which is quite simple to solve afterwards with the software. The remaining focal lengths perform efficiently and produce excellent results without any sign of distortion, and this also shows from the DIWA lab tests; a superb result.
Nikon Coolpix P6000 vignetting
This is also the case for measurements concerning vignetting, the maximum aperture of wide-angle shows some vignetting but it is negligible in practice. The Nikkor lens does suffer somewhat from chromatic aberration. Wide-angle pictures show purple fringing even at maximum aperture, but it really becomes an issue the more wide open you shoot. Less visible although still present is chromatic aberration in telephoto area. This is a pity, since the lens performs superbly in general.
Built-in GPS functionality
The GPS functionality integrated in the Nikon Coolpix P6000 is unique. Although many will doubt to ever use GPS while shooting, there is a steadily growing group of photographers integrating GPS in their digital environment. GPS data may be a useful addition to digital archives. In practice, GPS works reasonably well, although it doesn't compare to a standalone GPS device such as the Garmin 60CSx. It does what it has to do and that's it.
Activating and using the GPS unit
Activating the GPS unit for the first time takes a long time. You have to count on several minutes, or even to even 10. This happens mainly when the GPS unit hasn't been used for a while, (something to take into consideration for irregular use). The unit uses the so-called reference tables that need an update on a regular base of the locations of the satellites. I learned that this table should not be older than 3 to 4 weeks. While working with the GPS, the tables are adjusted and the next activity will be processed faster. This brings us to the disadvantage of the GPS on the Coolpix P6000; the function slurps up the energy of the battery in no-time.
Nikon P6000 - GPS in practise
Using the GPS functionality is quite simple and fairly precise. Don't expect a precise result as close as one meter; deviations of several tenths of meters are also possible. The latter is mainly the case if you take pictures from a moving vehicle in combination with GPS. Every person will have to decide for himself if the application of a function like this is useful. For now, the option is interesting but for those that want a full and precise GPS solution, should go for an optional GPS unit to use separately from the camera.