Even more impressive, and a lot more useful, is the P1’s Face AF, available in the Portrait scene mode. This clever but slightly unnerving piece of technical wizardry can recognise and focus on a human face anywhere in the frame. Watching it do this is rather spooky. It knows you’re there! It can see you! It seems to be almost infallible in good light, but its success rate drops off noticeably in darker or lower contrast conditions. Still, very clever.
There are 16 scene modes selected via a position on the main dial, including party/indoor, night portrait, landscape, sports, museum, panorama assist, night landscape, beach/snow, sunset, dusk/dawn, fireworks, backlight and close up. Most of them have secondary effects, including things like soft focus, enhanced colours or a starburst effects on point light sources. These modes and sub-settings are selected via the menu button.
As well as scene modes, the P1 offers program auto, aperture priority and full auto “idiot-proof” mode, as well as a very good movie mode. This offers 640x480 resolution at 30 frames a second with audio, a lower res video mode, as well as a time-lapse option that can shoot up to 1800 640x480 frames at pre-set intervals between 30 seconds and 1 hour, and then compile the result into a 30fps movie. This is great for recording natural processes such as flowers growing, ice melting, the tide coming in etc.
I also have to mention that the manual is one of the best I’ve seen for a compact camera, and an object lesson that most of the other manufacturers would do well to learn. Major kudos to Nikon for that.
So, does that fancy wireless technology work then? Well yes it does, but setting it up can be tricky. The supplied wireless utility software has to be installed on a PC or laptop equipped with a wireless LAN network adapter and a profile created and transferred to the camera via the USB cable. This is fairly straightforward but if you use your PC as part of a home network via a wireless router access point, you’ll need to temporarily disable your PC’s network connection and set your wireless adapter to computer-to-computer (ad-hoc) before the camera will successfully connect to it. This isn’t a task for the faint-hearted, so unless you know what you’re doing it’s a good idea to ask someone more knowledgeable to help.
However once the wireless connection is established, it is child’s play to use, and enables easy downloading of recorded images, as well as the ability to shoot an image and transfer it directly to the laptop. Images are automatically displayed using the supplied PicturePerfect software.