Introducing Nikon's take on the ever-popular bridge camera
Nikon has refreshed the basic template of last year’s P80 to make the P90, with the two key changes regarding the sensor and the lens. The former now sees a 12.1MP pixel count from 10.1MP, while the 18x zoom range of the P80 has been expanded to 24x on the P90, stretching from 26mm to 624mm. Thankfully, the image stabilisation system has remained, shifting the camera’s sensor to counter shake.
Nikon P90 Features
The other major upgrade concerns the LCD screen, now standing at 3in in size, and still boasting the capability of being pulled out from the body and adjusted around an angle. Sensitivity is set from ISO 64 to 1600 as standard, with extension settings broadening the range right up to ISO 6400, though at a reduced resolution of 3MP. The full quartet of PASM options facilitate manual control, while a 15fps burst mode can capture up to 45 images in a single burst, at a resolution of 1920 x 1080.
As is a similar story with many Nikon compacts, a range of technologies have been included on the P90 to help improve image capture. The Distortion Control function helps keeps distortion at bay when using wider focal lengths, while Active D-lighting helps maintain detail in shadow and highlight areas. Motion Detection is said automatically detect moving subjects, before adjusting the shutter speed and ISO to help keep them sharp, while the camera’s Blink Detection system takes two images to ensure one will have the subject’s eyes open, should they momentarily blink. Face Detection is also included as standard, recognising up to 12 faces in a shot and prioritising focus and exposure accordingly.
Nikon P90 Design
Although the design of the camera is similar to its predecessor, it has noticeably bulked up. While this may be viewed as a negative point, I actually prefer the more substantial handling offered by the new model. The rubberised grip is adequately sized and the camera feels comfortable to hold, a factor helped by the simple and uncluttered design of the body. All buttons have good travel, and the contrasting surfaces work well with each other to make a fine looking camera.
Performance-wise, the P90 does much to impress. The three inch LCD is the joint largest between the four models, and the fact that you can pull it away away from its body is beneficial – even when not shooting at any awkward angle. Simply pulling it out slightly when shooting at a regular height can make framing and composing everyday shot easier. The EVF is among the best out of the four, with a generous view and good brightness, and the LCD screen reacts quickly and smoothly to changes in brightness. It’s also the brightest and most contrasty out of the four, too. The reasonably sized mode and command dials make changing manual controls easy, and focusing is also pleasingly prompt, too.
If I do have any criticisms it’s with the slightly slow processing times, and there’s no apparent way of disabling the camera’s noise reduction system. You could argue that many will choose to have this activated all the time, but, particularly as there’s no Raw mode, there may be the odd shot where you’ll want to process any noise yourself out later on.
Nikon P90 Image Quality
The one factor present in many of the P90’s images is image softness, with many images needing a good sharpening – this may be done either in camera or in post-production. In terms of colour, the camera produces pleasing and well-coloured images, although sometimes this can lead to some slight issues with blue skies, which can be a little more cyan than with the other cameras. Chromatic aberrations are unfortunately also noticeable, including purple fringing on contrasting edges (particularly noticeable at the tele end). Exposures are fine, and in good light the camera is less prone to underexpose than the other’s on test (tending to veer off towards overexposure). As a consequence, highlights can be lost a little prematurely – fortunately Nikon’s D-lighting system is on hand to help out. Even without the Distortion Correction function on, the P90 does the best job to controlling barelling at the wide end of the lens. Activating the function shows a marked improvement, with almost no distortion.Although images are dfferent in a number of ways to those from the Pentax X70, they are comparable in terms of overall quality.
It’s not perfect, but as an all rounder it’s hard to fault the Nikon P90. It’s only really the price tag that I can see being a deterrent for anyone interested.