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Nikon Coolpix P90 review




  • Recommended by TR
Nikon Coolpix P90


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User Score:

Apologies for the lower-than-usual quality of the product shots in this review, but my flash gun appears to have passed away. Normal service will be resulmed as soon as possible.

Super-zoom bridge cameras have been getting a lot bigger recently. We've already taken a look at the Canon PowerShot SX10 IS (£300) and SX1 IS (£450), with their 20x zoom lenses, and the Olympus SP-590UZ (£275) with its massive but slightly impractical 26x zoom. I'll be reviewing the 20x zoom Casio EX-FS20 later this week, but today it's the turn of Nikon's variation on the theme, the 24x zoom, 12.1-megapixel Coolpix P90. It's Nikon's first full-size super-zoom since last year's Coolpix P80, and although it bears a superficial resemblance to that model, the P90 has a new body and a much better specification. It doesn't come cheap though; the P90 is currently selling for around £330.

At least you get a great-looking camera for your money. The P90 is the classic super-zoom shape, with a large rubber-coated handgrip, a large aluminium lens barrel and a prominent viewfinder turret with a pop-up flash. The lines of the body are clean and elegant, and the camera is very nicely proportioned. The build quality is up to Nikon's customary high standard, and although the body is made of plastic it feels strong and well made. It is, of course, only available in black.

The P90 is a large camera even by super-zoom standards, measuring 114 x 83 x 99 mm (W x H x D), although at only 490g including its 1100mAh Li-ion battery it's a lot lighter than the 4xAA-powered rivals from Olympus, Casio and Canon. The size and lightness make the camera very pleasant to handle, and the large handgrip and rubberised thumbgrip make it comfortable and secure to hold. The camera has a wide range of external controls, but they are well positioned to fall under the thumb and forefinger and are clearly labelled in white on black.


April 30, 2009, 2:16 pm

Thanks for this review - I'm after a new bridge camera this summer to replace my worthy Fuji S5500. This camera seems like by far the least compromised of all the current crop of mega-zoom cameras, so I think it's going to have to go on the shopping list!


April 30, 2009, 5:21 pm

Are there supposed to be more pictures on pages 2 and 3? Because I'm not seeing any...

Cliff Smith

April 30, 2009, 6:33 pm

My apologies for the late arrival and low quality of the product shots for this review, but my old Vivitar 285 flashgun that I normally use seems to have flashed its last flash. Not bad going though considering I've had it since about 1989. It's great pity that Vivitar was trashed by corporate brand-pirates, and they're not making flashguns or their excellent 3rd-party lenses anymore.


April 30, 2009, 7:41 pm

How do you think the Coolpix P90 compares to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 of last year? I was seriously tempted to purchase the Panasonic but for various reasons have not yet done so... is the Nikon a better buy?


April 30, 2009, 9:28 pm

The Nikon's certainly a far more expensive buy ... I paid a gnat's whisker over 𧶀 for my own FZ28, and have been absolutely knocked out with it. Even if the P90 were the same price, the review suggests it has marginally lower overall IQ, so a 𧴺 premium for worse pictures seems an unwise investment. If you're planning on using the video facility, there's no competition - the FZ shoots in HD and allows full use of the optical zoom. The P90's only real trump card - the extra zoom 'reach' seems not to be a card it can play very often as sharpness appears to drop off considerably when the full zoom is used. Buy an FZ28 and I guarantee you won't be disappointed.


April 30, 2009, 11:00 pm

Just a note a note if you live in the UK, however, that the vast majority of the UK stock of the FZ28 has been sold, with Panasonic apparently not specifying any date for resupply. It's still available in some places, but is generally in short supply so therefore commands higher prices than it did perhaps a few months ago. I bought an FZ28 myself recently, and the cheapest I found anywhere on the high street was 𧷐, with 𧶔 being the cheapest on the web.


May 1, 2009, 6:58 pm

I reckon I will also be going for the Panasonic FZ28 it seems the better option.

Had a look at one instore and was very impressed, needless to say 𧴜 cheaper online so why delay?

Cliff Smith

May 1, 2009, 9:16 pm

Bear in mind that Panasonic are almost certain to upgrade the FZ28 very soon. I'm guessing, but they'll probably go for 20x zoom and HD video, and maybe 12MP.


May 2, 2009, 2:55 pm

Hmm - I had noticed that the price of the FZ28 had shot up somewhat.... I think 𧶨 is about the cheapest I can find at the moment. I may hang on a while and see if any upgrade offers significant improvement... thanks to all for the votes in favour of Panasonic though, I certainly feel I wouldn't be buying a dud if I went for the FZ28 :)

Dave Sebastian

May 10, 2009, 7:43 pm

Thanks for the review. We live in Singapore and were evaluating for bridge camera for the last 3-4 weeks. Almost purchased Panasonic FZ28 as we liked the features, size/handling and good reviews. Until we saw the Nikon P90 & Olympus P-590 in recent IT sale in Singapore. Both cost only slightly higher than FZ28 (practically the same if we include all the freebies) while come w/ bigger zoom and mega pixels. Liked Nikon for the tilt-able LCD and Li-Ion battery. Ended up w/ olympus SP-590 as we liked the design/handling, 26X zoom and picture quality (did many shots at the show w/ the above 3 cameras). The Olympus is also slightly lower price (~S$50 lower) to the Nikon P90.


May 20, 2009, 7:00 pm

"Can the P90 outgun its competitors?" What, like the H&K MP7? Nice reference to the geektastic Belgian gun, bane of Cylons and Jaffa everywhere.


May 29, 2009, 11:33 pm

Why your ratings for Nikon P90 are so high as compared to anybody else in the industry? Some of them have practically trashed Nikon P90 and Olympus SP590 for their poor picture quality - I don't know whom to believe anymore.


June 7, 2009, 11:08 am

I don't see there is any RAW format as written on the specifications. Are there any firmware updates?

Mister C

July 30, 2009, 8:01 pm

Hi first just a quick love your site etc blah blah... But I cannot agree with some of the comments. My main grip is with the build quality, it rattles, it ticks when the power is on. Minor faults you may think but when I received mine (bought mail order because I work for job satisfaction and not financial reward) i cannot express how disappointed I was with its general feel. So much so that I went to a local camera shop to see one of their stock as I honestly thought mine was duff. Sadly it was the same, yes maybe I should have gone to them in the first place, hands on and all that but i needed the discount of online sales. I was soooooo looking forward to getting this as like many people I always wanted a Nikon, well not any more I have just bought some new batteries for my old faithfull Canon S1 IS, maybe I should have got the S10 IS. Hey ho we live and learn. The new Nikon is going on ebay soon if anyone wants it!

Regards to all


August 10, 2009, 9:55 am

hi cliff,

thanks for this great reviews on nikon coolpix p90. I have bought yesterday one and I can't seem to figure out the best settings for p90. I tried to revert everything back to normal but then again the image quality is horrible. Can you please suggest the best settings for both indoors and outdoors shots.


September 6, 2009, 10:37 pm

24X and no optical zoom while shooting? insane! P90 seems to be useless on video mode


November 9, 2009, 8:51 pm

Read the user manual before using P90. Learn to use manual mode as image quality comes from there. Tilting LCD and 624mm telephoto is very useful in certain situation. Very expensive for a 600mm lens. Best for those who wants to learn about photography..

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