The P6000’s overall performance is good, although it does have some fairly serious limits. It starts up in well under two seconds, and in single shot mode at maximum JPEG quality its shot-to-shot time is approximately two seconds, which is reasonably quick, although even with a high speed SanDisk Extreme III memory card the buffer filled up after six shots and it was over eight seconds before another shot could be taken. In Raw + JPEG Fine mode the shot-to-shot time is just under six seconds, which is pretty slow.
In continuous mode too the buffer only allows a burst of six shots in just under eight seconds, and then again it fills up and you have to wait. The reason is quite simple; in the highest quality JPEG mode the files average around 5.5MB, which is a lot of data. In the lower quality Normal mode the file size is around 2.8MB and the camera is able to shoot without stopping at over a frame a second.
One major disappointment with the earlier P5100 was the slow autofocus system, but thankfully this has been significantly improved for the P6000. It now focuses quickly and reliably even in low light conditions or when zoomed in. The AF assist lamp is nice and bright, but even so focusing in very low light could be better, but at least it keeps the hunting to a minimum before it beeps.
For a camera with semi-pro pretentions image quality is obviously a vital factor, and here the P6000 scores high marks, although again it does have its limits. At 64-200 ISO image quality is superb, with stunning colour depth and tons of fine detail. Even with the distortion control turned off the lens performs well, with excellent edge-to-edge sharpness and virtually no chromatic aberration. Problems only arise at 400 ISO and above, where image noise and noise reduction effect cause a significant loss in quality, although there is still a fair amount of detail visible in 800 ISO shots.
The P6000 is an impressive camera, with superb build quality, a great range of features, decent performance and excellent image quality. It’s the strongest contender yet in Nikon’s semi-pro P series. It’s not quite strong enough to take on the Canon G10, but it does come in a decent second, and the additional feature of the built-in Geotagging GPS system will appeal to those looking for a robust high-quality travel camera.