With its easy-to-use controls, nice selection of advanced features, and WiFi connectivity, the Nikon Coolpix P2 is enticing. You get a 3.5X optical zoom, a 2.5-inch LCD with a 110,000-pixel screen, and a 5.1-megapixel sensor.
The P2 includes an 802.11b/g wireless adapter that allows you to wirelessly transfer images to your Mac. To connect the P2 to a wireless network, you have to install and run the Nikon Wireless Camera Setup Utility, which is a pretty simple process. (You need to do this each time you connect to a new network, however—you can’t connect to a new network through the camera’s interface.) You can then wirelessly transfer images to the included Nikon Picture Project photo management software. The wireless setup utility also allows you to print wirelessly, so you can output images over the network to any connected printer. Once you configure the software, the printing process can be done straight from the camera instead of through your Mac.
But while the wireless image transfer is a nice feature, I found the P2’s image quality less appealing. The pictures weren’t particularly bad; they just weren’t that good when examined alongside the images of other similarly priced cameras. The colors were acceptable (if a little dark) though the images were reasonably sharp. As the P2 is a point-and-shoot camera, its lack of a full manual mode is not surprising. You do get some control, though, via an aperture priority mode (no shutter priority) and both white balance and exposure bracketing.
The P2’s case feels well built and robust, yet at 1.5 inches thick it’s a little too chunky to comfortably fit in a pocket. But the P2 is a pretty simple camera to shoot with. It fits well in your hand, with a handle on the right providing a good, solid grip. Its shutter control falls naturally where you would place your index finger, while the zoom buttons fall under your thumb.
A dial on the top allows you to switch between modes, as well as adjust ISO and white balance settings. This design feature is convenient, because otherwise those settings are buried in menus. Accessing the ISO through the on-screen menu took 14 button presses, which isn’t conducive to quick shooting.
The camera includes 11 different scene modes—you access them by putting the Mode dial into the Scene position and pressing the Menu button—and they cover the usual range of shooting situations, such as portrait and night. One interesting mode, Copy, shoots in black-and-white at high contrast for photographing text on a white background. It would likely prove useful if you are on a spy mission and need to shoot secret documents.
However, battery life was disappointing: The P2 lasted only 201 shots in my battery tests.
Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable
|Zoom/Focal Length (35mm equivalent)||3.5x optical (36-126mm, 35mm equivalent)|
|Battery Type||Rechargeable lithium ion|
|Media Slots||SD Card (1)|
|Size (wxhxd)||3.6 x 2.4 x 1.5 inches|
Macworld’s buying advice
Despite the Nikon Coolpix P2’s wireless connectivity and some advanced controls, this camera’s unexceptional image quality and limited battery life fail to justify its price.
[ Richard Baguley is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in PC World, Wired, and JIWire.com. He also maintains a Camcorder blog.]Nikon Coolpix P2