Nikon Coolpix P5000 Digital Camera Review
Read a digital camera review of the Nikon Coolpix P5000 digital camera on DigitalCameraInfo.com.
Testing / Performance
Color* (7.23) *
Colors tend to vary by manufacturer just as different brands of film develop into slightly different colors. We use an industry standard color chart to help us evaluate and compare the many digital cameras that come through our office. We photograph the chart in optimal lighting and run the files through Imatest software, which chooses the most accurately colored image and then renders the following chart. The program modifies the chart so we can compare the colors from the original GretagMacbeth chart (inner vertical rectangles) to the Nikon P5000’s colors (outer squares). The inner squares represent the ideal colors corrected for luminance.
This pop art-like chart can be more easily understood with the graph below. This shows the ideal colors as squares and the Nikon Coolpix P5000’s colors as circles. There is a line connecting these shapes so users know which is which and how erroneous the color is from the length of the line.
Different ends of the spectrum on the P5000 are troubled. The yellows and blues seem to be the most inaccurate, so beware of taking pictures of sunflower fields and blue skies and the like. The Nikon P5000’s mean color error came out to 8.3 and the saturation was nearly perfect at 100.1 percent.
White Balance*(7.35) *
In general, users should avoid using the automatic white balance setting. It was more inaccurate than every preset other than flourescent. We suspect the setting is not optimized for normal white fluorescent light, so the auto setting would be preferable under fluorescent lights. The auto setting was especially inaccurate under tungsten and flash lighting.
The Nikon P5000’s preset white balance modes were generally more accurate and should be used when possible. The only exception to that rule is under white fluorescent light, when the auto setting performed better.
Still Life Sequences
Click for high-resolution images.
**The Nikon Coolpix P5000 boasts a 10.1-megapixel image sensor, which puts it in direct competition with the Canon G7. We’ve put both of these digital cameras through the same tests, beginning with the resolution.
We photographed an industry standard resolution chart at various focal lengths and apertures to find the absolute sharpest image possible. For the Nikon P5000, Imatest imaging software determined that its sharpest image came from a shot taken at f/6, 19mm, and with the ISO set to 64.
The image is sharp, but the edges of the frame are considerably washed out when compared to the center. To quantify the resolution, Imatest output numerical results in units of line widths per picture height (lw/ph), which is a measurement of how many theoretical alternating black and white lines could fit across a frame without blurring.
The Nikon Coolpix P5000 resolved 1793 lw/ph horizontally with 4.7 percent oversharpening. Vertically, it resolved 1670 lw/ph with 3.29 percent undersharpening. Compare this to the 10-megapixel Canon G7’s results: 1903 lw/ph horizontally with 4.8 percent oversharpening and 1695 lw/ph vertically with 13.9 percent undersharpening. The Canon clearly wins out in the resolution test, but the Nikon P5000 still does a decent job of snapping sharp pictures.
Noise – Auto ISO*(1.74)*
When we photographed the resolution chart, we took a shot with the automatic ISO setting just to see what the camera would do. Most digital cameras choose the lowest ISO setting because of the bright lights, but the P5000 produced the amount of noise at the manual ISO 264. This was too much noise and resulted in a poor 1.74 score.
Noise – Manual ISO*(5.79)*
The P5000 has manual ISO settings from 64 to 2000. We photographed the resolution chart in optimal lighting using each ISO setting and let Imatest measure the amount of noise in each image. Below is a chart showing the manual ISO settings on the horizontal axis of the chart and the percentage of the image turned to noise on the vertical axis.
In general, there is less noise in the Nikon P5000’s images than the Canon G7’s. Still, the P5000’s slope jumps sharply from 800 to 1600. When it’s absolutely necessary to shoot in dim lighting without a flash, ISO 800 is about as far as you’d want to go. In optimal lighting, the ISO 64 or 100 settings should be used.
We dimmed the lights and put on some romantic music for this test. We photographed the color chart at 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux to see how well the Nikon P5000 can keep subjects illuminated. At 60 lux, most people’s eyes can adjust and still be able to read comfortably. At 30 lux, you’ll be squinting. At 15 and 5 lux, you’ll put your book down and fall asleep because it’s too dark.
All of the P5000’s images remained properly illuminated but the colors suffered terribly and noise was an issue. At 30 lux, the mean color error was 13.3 compared to the camera’s 8.3 error in optimal lighting.
Noise was a problem whether the noise reduction system was turned on or off. One would think that a noise reduction system would perhaps reduce the amount of noise in an image; makes sense, right? However, after several rounds of testing and retesting, we concluded that the noise reduction system removes some of the chroma noise (colored splotches), but the monochromatic, granular noise appears more apparent. Imatest confirmed these observations, detecting more noise when the NR setting was on than off. Below is a chart showing our results. The average amount of noise is on the vertical axis and the shutter speed is on the horizontal axis.
To its credit, noise levels remain steady and fairly low on the Nikon P5000. But the noise reduction system is best kept off for long exposures.
If you’ve ever photographed the bright sun rising over dark mountains, then you’ve seen the dynamic range of a camera. We tested the Nikon P5000 by photographing a backlit Stouffer step chart that shows a row of rectangles ranging from light to dark representing 13 exposure values. A camera with good dynamic range shows the details in the mountains and sky, whereas many compact digital cameras would show a blown-out sunrise and a completely black mountain. We photographed the dynamic range chart at various manual ISO settings because the dynamic range typically falls as the ISO increases. The chart below shows the exposure values captured on the vertical axis and the ISO settings on the horizontal axis.
The Nikon Coolpix P5000 performs very well at its ISO 64 and 100 settings when compared to other compact digital cameras. The dynamic range falls off very quickly after ISO 100 though, so avoid anything above ISO 100 when details are important. The P5000 performed better at this test than the Canon G7 and earned a 5.12 score.
Startup to First Shot (7.0)
The Nikon Coolpix P5000 took an entire 3 seconds to start up and take its first shot. The Canon G7 took 1.9 seconds in the same test and many other compacts are even speedier than this. The P5000 aims to be a high-end compact digital camera, so its slow startup time is quite disappointing.
Also disappointing is the burst mode, which isn’t much faster than the single drive. The continuous burst mode only allows 6 shots to be taken at a time. The first 5 shots are 1.3 seconds apart and the sixth shot follows 1.7 seconds later. The camera then took 4.5 seconds to process all the images. In the continuous flash mode, the P5000 snaps 3 shots at the same rate of 1.3 seconds apart and then takes another 2 seconds to process.
When users manually focus or have already auto focused by pushing the shutter release halfway down, the shutter lag is hardly measurable. If snapping candid pictures and the camera isn’t already focused, it takes the camera an average of a half-second to focus and take the picture. This is very slow especially for a "high-end" camera.
It takes a whopping 2 seconds to process one shot. The Nikon P5000 certainly won’t be known for its speed.
**Bright Indoor Light - 3000 lux (3.78)*
In bright lighting, the movie mode produced horribly inaccurate colors. Surprisingly, the yellows that were so inaccurate while shooting still pictures were the most accurate colors in the movie mode. Just about every other color was wandering around the spectrum. The mean color error was an outrageous 30.6 and the saturation jumped to a whopping 143 percent. The video had an average of 0.535 percent noise in it.
Low Light - 30 lux (3.72)
While the bright lights caused the video to oversaturate, dim lights caused it to undersaturate. The colors appear toward the center, indicating undersaturation. Indeed, saturation was only 57.37 percent. The mean color error dropped to 18.3, which is still bad but not as awful as the bright light’s 30.6. The average amount of noise in the movie jumped to 2.4 percent.
*Just as with the still images, Imatest output resolution results in terms of line widths per picture height (lw/ph) for the video. The Nikon P5000’s top video resolution of 640 x 480 pixels was tested by shooting an industry standard video test chart. Some of the video was dark and the information was lost in Imatest so the results are probably better than what shows here. But according to the program, the P5000 resolves 228 lw/ph horizontally with 27.8 percent undersharpening and 290 lw/ph vertically with 17.1 percent undersharpening. This is pretty typical of compact digital cameras’ movie modes.
*Outdoor Motion *
We took a breather from the studio environment and headed outside for a few videos. The Nikon Coolpix P5000’s video isn’t as bad as some point-and-shoot digital cameras, but it’s not that great either. We recorded cars and people going by and noticed a few things. The overall image was soft and hazy. The exposure was in constant flux when capturing moving cars, as was the focus – obviously distracting. When cars, people, and other moving objects left the frame, there was some stuttering too.