Nikon Coolpix P90 Review
The Nikon Coolpix P90 is a full-featured ultra-zoom with a 24X very wide-angle zoom going from 26mm to 624mm and full-manual controls. For the most part, these are the only two specifications that matter. It means that the Coolpix P90 is designed for versatility, making framing and exposure control extremely versatile.
The remainder of the P90 is now standard fare for ultra-zooms models with full-manual controls:
- 12 Megapixels sensor
- 24X Wide-angle optical zoom lens
- Optical image stabilization
- ISO 64-1600 at full-resolution
- ISO 3200-6400 at 3 megapixels
- Shutter speeds from 1/2000s to 8s
- Full manual controls including manual focus
- Automatic, preset and custom white-balance
- Exposure bracketing, 3 frames, 1/3, 2/3 or 1 EV steps
- High-quality movie recording
- Built-in distortion correction
- Tiltable 3" LCD with 230K pixels
Suitability - What is it good for?
The Nikon Coolpix P90 is highly versatile due to its 24X optical zoom which starts at a very wide-angle 26mm and reaches 624mm, in 35mm equivalent terms. This wide range covers most photographic uses, particularly well in the telephoto range for wildlife and bird photography. This super-long reach puts the P90 even beyond the reach of DSLR lenses under $1000 USD. Macro photography is also possible with the Nikon P90 which can focus as close as 1cm (0.4").
The shots below were taken from the same place at both extremes of the zoom. The second shot, at 624mm, is so zoomed in that it is hard to see where it comes from in the wide 26mm shot. As shown in our sample image gallery, even the moon can be decently framed.
The Nikon Coolpix P90 also features full-manual controls for creative and versatile exposures. With a shutter-speed range from 1/2000 to 8s, this digital camera can in theory handle action and night photography. The limiting factor here is the noise and speed performance of this camera. Regardless of the level of performance described on the next review page, it is to be expected that this is where a camera like this one mostly trails digital SLRs.
While it is no longer as compact as its predecessor, the P80, this camera remains reasonably compact relative to the reach of its lens. Its moderate size means that it is easy to carry such a powerful zoom and shoot rather discretely with it. Size is key to versatility simply because a smaller camera gets taken to more places.
With a 12 megapixels sensor, images from the Coolpix P90 are suitable for relatively large prints, up to 24"x18" provided ISO is kept low. Needless to say, any computer display or web-use will not be a problem.
Storage and power options for this digital camera are rather typical of ultra-zooms. The P90 supports SD-HC cards which always means SD too. it is powered by a small proprietary lithium-ion battery.
Capability - What can it do?
As an ultra-zoom, most of the flexibility comes from the P90's huge zoom range. Like most ultra-zooms, this digital camera is equipped with a number of advanced features. Below is a list of its most useful features, followed by explanations, when required.
- Program exposure with shift, shutter-priority, aperture priority and manual exposure
- Metering: matrix, center-weighed, center spot and AF-point spot
- Exposure compensation: +2 to -2 EV, in 1/3 stop increments
- Flash compensation: +2 to -2 EV, in 1/3 stop increments
- Exposure bracket: 3 shots, 1/3, 2/3 or 1 EV steps
- Auto ISO maximum selectable from 100 to 1600
- White-balance: Auto, 5 presets and custom
- Flash: Auto, red-eye, off, on, slow-sync and burst.
- Focus distance: Normal auto focus, macro, infinity and manual
- Focus area: Auto (9-point), Center, Manual (99-point) and Face-Priority
- Drive: Single-shot, continuous, BSS, multi-shot 16, interval timer
- Self-timer: 10s, 2s, Smile, Blinkproof
- Pre-shooting cache, 10 frames, low-resolution high-speed modes only
- Custom image parameters: 5 contrast and sharpness settings, 3 saturation settings
- Optional forced noise-reduction
- Optional distortion compensation
- Optional vibration reduction
- Panorama assist
- Scene-mode auto-detection
A few features here appear in other Coolpix cameras but may not be familiar to everyone. BSS is best-shot-selector which is a drive mode which takes a few shots in rapid succession and stores the least blurry one. Another drive mode is Multishot-16. This mode records 16 ultra-low resolution photographs into a single low resolution image.
Smile timer waits for someone to smile and Blinkproof takes two pictures and chooses one where the subject did not blink, unless he or she blinked twice. Finally, there is an interval timer feature which shoots one image each 30s, 1, 5 or 10 minutes.
Noise reduction can be forced to ON, otherwise it is Auto only. Distortion compensation triggers processing in the camera to compensate for optical distortion inherent to the lens.
In addition to normal and macro focus, the Nikon P90 has manual focus and infinity focus as well. In macro mode, the center of the image can be magnified to inspect focuss. In infinity mode, focus is locked at infinity. This is useful in low-light when the camera is unable to focus at all.
The Nikkor 24X optical zoom lens of the Nikon Coolpix P90 has a wide range from 26mm to 624mm in 35mm terms. This is 2mm wider than what is considered wide-angle and reaches well into the telephoto range used for wildlife photography and birding. The exact same range is found on the Pentax X70 and Kodak Z980. Olympus does slightly more with its 26X zoom, also starting at 26mm but reaching 676mm.
Vibration Reduction is Nikon's image stabilization. The Nikon Coolpix P90 is equipped with stabilization which compensates for involuntary camera movements, up to 3 stops compared to no stabilization. This helps with the usability of such a long zoom. Recall that the rule-of-thumb is to shoot at 1 over the focal-length. Thus, at the 624mm end, shooting at 1/750s is expected for shots to come out sharp. Considering the maximum aperture is F5 at 624mm and the desire to use low ISO settings, a shutter-speed of 1/750s can be difficult. With stabilization, this requirements is reduced to 1/200s or even 1/100s.
Nikon P90 Facts
Large digital camera
|12 Megapixels Ultra Zoom||ISO 64-1600|
|24X Wide Optical Zoom||Shutter 1/2000-8s|
|Built-in Stabilization||Full manual controls|
|0.24" Built-in EVF 230K Pixels||Custom white-balance|
|1.5 FPS Drive, 14 Images||Spot-Metering|
|640x480 @ 30 FPS Video Recording||Lithium-Ion|
|3" LCD 230K Pixels||Secure Digital High Capacity|
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100 Review
The only premium travel-zoom! 20 megapixels 1" high-speed CMOS sensor paired with a stabilized 25-250mm F/2.8-5.9 optical zoom. 50 FPS Drive, 4K Ultra-HD video, 1/16000-60s Hybrid Shutter, Post-Shot Focus, 4K Live-Cropping, Time-Lapse Video and more. Dual control-dials plus a built-in EVF with Eye-Start sensor.
Canon EOS Rebel T6s Review
Newly designed Rebel with dual control-dials and top status LCD. 24 MP APS-C sensor, Hybrid AF III with 19 all-cross points and on-sensor Phase-Detect AF. 5 FPS Drive and full 1080p HD video capture.
Canon Powershot G3 X Review
Ultra-zoom with a 25X optical zoom lens and large 20 MP 1" CMOS sensor in a weather-sealed body with dual control-dials, a lens ring and efficient controls. Captures full 1080p HD video at 60 FPS with internal or external stereo sound.
Best Digital Cameras of 2015
The best new digital cameras of 2015. Plus, find out which ones of 2014 still lead their category. Compact, Premium Cameras, Ultra-Zooms, Mirrorless and DSLR are all covered.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Review
16 megapixels Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless. 2.4 MP 0.5" EVF with Eye-Start sensor plus dual control-dials. 4K Ultra-HD video, 8 FPS continuous-drive, hybrid shutter with 1/16000-60s shutter-speeds, ISO 100-25600 and Contrast-Detect DFD autofocus system sensitive to -4 EV.
Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm F/5.6E ED VR Review
Nikon constant-aperture super-telephoto zoom with 200-500mm range and the latest Vibration-Reduction effective to 4.5 stops. Built-in super-sonic AF in a sturdy weatherproof body.
Nikon Coolpix P900 Review
In-depth review of the Nikon P900 ultra-zoom with an unprecedented 83X stabilized optical zoom lens paired with a 16 MP BSI-CMOS sensor capable for 7 FPS continuous drive and 1080p HD video at 60 FPS. Built-in 0.2" EVF with 920K pixels and Eye-Start sensor, rotating 3" LCD with 920K pixels, WiFi and a built-in GPS.
Lightroom Architectural Photography
Learn how to process architectural photography images using Adobe Lightroom.
Weatherproof Mirrorless Comparison
In-depth comparison of weather-sealed mirrorless digital cameras. Covers features, capabilities, image-quality and performance of the Fuji X-T1, X-T1 Graphite, Nikon 1 AW1, Olympus OM-D E-M1, E-M5 Mark II, Panasonic GH4 and GX8.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Review
Panasonic flagship mirrorless, the first 20 MP Micro Four-Thirds digital camera. Built-in image-stabilization, 2.4 MP 0.44" EVF with 0.77X magnification. 8 FPS Drive and 4K Ultra-HD video. Fully weather-sealed and feature-rich.