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Nikon CoolPix P60 - Nikon CoolPix P60
The P60 is designed for more advanced photographers who require more manual options than afforded by a point-and-shoot compact. It does offer some manual exposure control, but as with the P50 this is a bit limited. In manual exposure mode both shutter speed and aperture can be adjusted, but the range of shutter speeds from 8 seconds to 1/1200th in 1/3EV increments is rather restricted compared to other manual compacts, and only minimum or maximum aperture can be selected. There is no live preview of the effects of adjusting exposure, and only match-needle metering, so setting an accurate exposure is a bit hit-or-miss. A shutter priority auto mode would probably have been more useful.
The camera's overall performance is about the same as the P50, which is to say not bad, but not brilliant. It starts up rather slowly in approximately 3.5 seconds, and shuts down again in just under three seconds. Shot-to-shot cycle time in single-shot mode is very slow at approximately three seconds, but in fact even this speed is very difficult to achieve, due to one of the most annoying features I've ever encountered on a digital camera. If you press the shutter button too quickly, before the camera has finished processing and saving the previous shot, it fails to register that you've pressed it and doesn't take a picture even after it's finished saving. You have to release the shutter button, wait for a moment, and then press it again before it will shoot. This is doubly annoying because the AF system is actually pretty fast with minimal shutter lag. It could shoot a lot faster if only it wasn't for that ridiculous pause. Fortunately it fares a bit better in continuous mode, maintaining a shooting speed of nearly two frames a second, although it doesn't focus between shots.
One area where one would expect a Nikon camera to excel is image quality, and here the P60 fares rather better. As I mentioned earlier the lens is very good, producing excellent sharpness right across the frame, although with some barrel distortion at wide angle. Exposure and colour rendition are very good, with even bright saturated colours presenting no problem. Dynamic range is surprisingly good for a small-sensor compact, although it does tend to burn out highlights in favour of shadow detail. Image noise is visible in shots taken at 200 ISO, but even at 800 ISO shots still show a fairly high level of detail with good colour balance, and are quite printable. 1600 ISO and the maximum 2000 ISO are pretty terrible, but this is usually the case with high powered compacts.
The Nikon CoolPix P60 is a big improvement over the disappointing P50. It still has its faults, most notably its slow overall performance and the immensely irritating shutter release logic, but the design, handling and build quality are very good, as is the picture quality. The range of features is better than a simple point-and-shoot, but it will still leave a keen photographer wanting more. It is also quite a lot more expensive than its main competitor, but on the whole not a bad little camera.
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