Pros impressive manual control, white balance preset, huge ISO Range(64-3200), great onboard automatic lighting postprocessor and cropper, viewfinder, hotshoe, feels great in hand, fantastic results!
Cons time between focus and shutter is long. could stand to have more than a 3.5x optical zoom.
Summary Wow. Nikon finally brings back the good stuff. Their consumer cameras have been very disappointing for the last few years, and even now this is probably their only good one outside of their DSLRs.
Before a recent overseas trip, I had decided that my D70s and it's lenses were a bit too much for me to bring along. I was looking for something that was compact, not too expensive, and would still give me the manual control I knew I needed. The vast majority of cameras out on the market today do not meet these criteria. It seems like the Nikon Coolpix P5000 and Canon G7 are the only players that fit this bill. At the store I was back and forth between the two, but finally settled on the P5000. Here's why.
I. Great manual control
Shutterspeed: from 1/2000s to 8s
Aperture: 2.7:5.3-7.2 Good for a compact.
ISO: 64-3200, set manually or automatically.
White Balance: Automatic, presets based on lighting categories, and preset based on showing the camera a white sheet. Fantastic.
Sharpness: 5 settings.
I'm just scratching the surface here. There's also exposure compensation, autofocus and metering settings and all sorts of goodies packed in.
II. Scene Modes
I haven't played around with this too much, but I've tried the macro and the panorama assist mode, as well as the voice recorder. The macro and panorama assist are great. I would have liked a better audio recorder, but it's certainly good for notes.
III. On-board post proccessing
Not bad. There is an automatic photo enhancer called D-lighting, which automatically adjusts contrast and brightness, and a photo cropping feature as well. These are pretty good for quick and dirty, and they both preserve the original file.
IV. Movie mode
Good Quality. I was impressed with the fact that you could zoom(albeit digitally) while shooting, but that might just be the fact that with my old camera you were stuck where you started the clip.
Speed: This is not a camera for sports, pets or rambunctious kids. It bothered me at first, when I took the camera to a dog run right after purchasing it. But it seems that the canon G7 isn't much better in this respect, certainly not good enough to spend another hundred bucks.
Metering: I find the metering to be a little off in difficult(high contrast) shots. This is why you have bracketing and manual mode.
Zoom: Nothing special at 3.5x
Battery: I'd get a spare. I think they're $20.
And just one small gripe: It seems that you can't apply both D-lighting and crop, even in separate steps. Specifically: I made a copy of a picture that was adjusted with D-lighting, and then wanted to crop it. No dice. It won't let you crop something that's already been edited. but again, this is minor.
Comparison to Canon G7
I haven't owned the G7, but really was agonizing over which of these two to buy. The G7 has almost twice the upper end zoom, and what I saw of the manual control and the user interface was impressive, though the p5000 is no slouch in those areas either.
On the other hand, the G7 is over $100 more expensive, has a bad viewfinder(you can see the barrel through it on the wide end), is substantially larger and not at all ergonomically designed. I have a feeling I wouldn't shooting as much with the G7 as I am with this camera, just because the P5000 is such a pleasure to hold with it's right side grip.
Of course i would love a hybrid of these two. But it comes down to your priorities. Unless you're really zoom-happy, I'd go for the P5000. Unlike the G7, it's not priced so high that you're almost in DSLR territory, and it's got the features and wonderful quality.Updated
Coupled with my wish to do away with my DSLR completely, the discovery that the G9(and G7) have manual focus led me to take another look at those two, and I ultimately am selling both the DSLR and got the G9. I still think the P5000 is amazing, even better than the G9 in some areas, but I'm willing to deal with the tradeoffs. You can find my G9 review by looking at the list of my reviews.
Pros Very good photo quality, color, metering; pocket-sized yet ergonomic; great lens; good balance of noise control and detail
Cons None so far
Summary This is a great little pocket camera to complement my DSLRs. Buttons are well laid out. There is even a function button. And, of course, full manual controls and features I didn't expect. Photos taken at iso 64 in good light can be blown up to 100% on the screen and look just as sharp and beautiful. Speed is adequate and it seems like a very responsive little camera. No problems focusing. I thought I would use it occasionally, but I am using it daily. The VR stabilization works very well. Surprisingly, iso is usable up to iso 800. It is one of the few pocket cameras to have both an optical viewfinder and a large LCD, and also to come with a neck strap instead of a wrist strap. Though small, it feels very comfortable shooting with room for the fingers. All for a very reasonable price. I have used it almost daily for a month and am very pleased.
Pros Picture quality in all types of lighting, fast start up, 3.5x Optical Zoom, 4x Digital(amazingly clear digital zoom shots), can add lenses, has flash shoe, video benefits from VR also, etc etc etc
Cons Zoom lags when transitioning from Optical to Digital, Choppy Sepia Video
Summary I've owned MANY (at least 7) digital cameras prior to this one, and this is the best one yet so far. The picture quality and color reproduction is bar none. This camera is the closest thing to a DSLR. It has so many features the more expensive DSLRs have.
My P5000 is a keeper!
Pros Excellent picture quality, solid build, high feature to price ratio, image stabilization, compact size, optical viewfinder.
Cons LCD difficult to see in bright sunlight, sometimes slow to focus.
Summary I was looking for a digital companion for my trusty Nikon film camera and this camera fits the bill nicely. It's compact but solidly built - it has a quality feel to it. The body design and rubberized grips make it feel like a mini SLR. Picture quality, especially in fine mode, is excellent! It has features too numerous to mention here. I especially like the many picture modes. The menus are intuitive so it's easy to use to its fullest potential. The manual is well written and easy to follow. The optical viewfinder comes in handy in bright sunlight. This camera does everything I want it to do, in excellent fashion. Nikon has created another winner.
Pros High ISO feature insures more low light pictures
Cons High ISO means noise, noise, noise
Summary I own a lot of digital cameras and the sharpness of Nikon's lens is noticeable. My two Casio cameras have easier to use menus, but the pictures (without flash) are less sharp and the detail loss is much less in the shadows. The Hi ISO feature is great until you begin looking closer at your images. The anti-shake feature is great and seems to allow a lower ISO which produces less noise.