I see an awful lot of digital cameras, most of them the very latest models, but it’s not often that I see something really new and different. However Nikon’s new CoolPix P1 is just that. It’s the first digital compact camera to come with wireless LAN, (Wi-Fi) connectivity straight out of the box. It is designed to connect to any computer, printer or other device equipped with a wireless network adapter, enabling you to download or print your pictures without having to either remove the memory card or plug in any cables.
Even aside from this clever innovation, the P1 is a very nice camera in many other ways too. Available at a high street price of a slightly steep £329, you can find it online as low as £243, although the usual caveats about grey imports apply to some retailers.
I’m not usually given to emotive outbursts, but there’s no denying that the P1 is a beautifully sleek and superbly well-designed camera. It bears a passing resemblance to the excellent CoolPix 7900, although the shape and proportions are slightly different and it has a huge 8.0MP sensor.
Build quality is outstanding, with a tough but light aluminium body available in either black or silver finishes. On the back is a very nice glare-resistant 2.5-inch LCD monitor that looks a lot sharper than its 110k pixel resolution would indicate. The control layout is simple and concise, with a good range of options available without recourse to the menu, including flash mode, macro, self timer and exposure compensation, which are selected via secondary functions of the D-pad. White balance, ISO and picture quality adjustments are quickly accessed via the mode dial on the top plate of the camera.
Delving into the menu reveals all of the above options duplicated for some reason, as well as metering mode, continuous drive mode, auto bracketing and adjustable contrast, sharpness and saturation. Also available is a potentially useful feature called Best Shot Selector. In this mode the camera shoots a burst of up to ten frames when the shutter is held down, and then automatically saves the sharpest one. It’s like a cheaper alternative to image stabilisation.