Nikon Coolpix P5000 - As tough as old boots

I put a lot of store in how a camera feels in my hands when I pick it up. I like it to feel robust, ergonomic and let’s be honest, I like it to look good too! The Nikon Coolpix P5000 ticks all these boxes and then some. It feels pleasingly weighty in my hands and I’m used to handling a meaty SLR most of the time. The Coolpix has superb build-quality and this gave me confidence in a camera I’d never used before.

Looks and feel are not enough though and at the end of the day it’s really about what’s under the bonnet. First of all, we are talking 10 megapixels from a digital compact camera! I’m still a devotee of film but am slowly being dragged towards a fully digital work flow, mainly from an image quality point of view, but having trailed the Coolpix shooting at its maximum capture capacity I was not at all disappointed with the results. For me, looking at what I’ve shoot on screen, be it the back of the camera or my computer monitor, is only a matter of checking the content and exposure details. I still need to be convinced by the print quality at the final output stage of the process.

The results were not perhaps what I had expected when I was asked to test this camera. I thought, digital compact, well that’s not going to give me what I need to put in my portfolio in terms of quality. I have to say that my perception was totally wrong. The 10 megapixel capture provides fantastic results right through to the final printed piece. Also under the Coolpix P5000 bonnet is a full functionality. It’s what you would expect from a good DSLR further up the Nikon range and with a bigger price tag.

Clearly labelled buttons, mode selections and use of the scroll wheel enable you to have complete control over your image capture. From the more ‘point and shoot’ application of the Auto mode, through to a fully manual mode with aperture, shutter speed and ISO control, the camera gives you a full range of options as to how you want to shoot your photographs. The ISO range of 64 to 3200 is more generous than some DSLRs as is the shutter speed of 8sec through to 1/2000sec. For those with shaky hands, the ‘vibration reduction’ option will ensure your image is crisp and sharp. The available focal length with the Coolpix, 36mm-126mm equivalent in 35mm, is adequate for most situations as is its macro facility for those that may want to photograph things such as flowers. Control over the flash options again allows you to be fully creative in your image making.

But for me as a professional photographer, one of the best features of this camera is its option that allows you to ‘bracket’ your exposures. This is an important technique or way of working that allows you to have confidence that you have gained the correct exposure for your image. I’ve used it for many years with my film camera and it can be a bit of a life-saver as regards image capture. The Coolpix P5000 can bracket your exposures for one photograph on a range of plus or minus 0.3 to 1.0 by keeping your finger depressed while shooting the image. This should give you an almost cast iron guarantee that the image you’ve captured will be totally ‘workable’ when you get it printed out or work on it on your own computer later. This is a fantastic asset.

There is more than enough going on under this bonnet to keep even the hardened SLR-user happy. I myself will certainly be having this Coolpix strapped to my belt when I’m out shooting either personal or commissioned work. It may not be my work-horse, but I’d feel totally confident in it’s abilities to help deliver great photographs.