Steve's Digicams Forums

Steve's Digicams Forums (
-   What Camera Should I Buy? (
-   -   Nikon Coolpix P4...A comprehensive review please! (

slackmonster Jun 3, 2006 8:58 AM

I'm in the market for a new point & shoot camera... I am a Nikon fan...largely based on my experience with my D70, though the point & shoot compact market confuses me.
Largely from online reviews i am now considering between the Nikon Coolpix P4, Canon Powershot A620 or S80 & the Sony N1.
I'm not a huge Sony fan mostly due to the poor shutter response time ive experienced with their 5meg cameras but maybe they've got better?
i would consider using the LCD screen to frame pics instead of a viewfinder, but i havent ever owned a camera before where this is the only method available.
I'm heading towards the P4 but can't find a comprehensive review anywhere!
My main issues are: Shutter response speed, low light photography quality, flash power & subtlety, red eye reduce, wide angle ability, battery life, ease of auto use, ease of upload to PC
Price isn't the hugest issue for me: I will be buying a 2meg memory card no matter what
Has anyone really used & reviewed the P4 yet & feels qualified to help? :?

Much appreciated!

JimC Jun 3, 2006 9:57 AM

slackmonster wrote:

I'm heading towards the P4 but can't find a comprehensive review anywhere!
Errr, um...

How about the review here?

If you read the Conclusion Section (last page before the sample images in each camera's review here), you'll see comments on things like Startup Speed, Autofocus Speed/Reliability, Cycle times between photos, Flash Usability, Image quality indoors and outdoors, battery life, etc.

In short, the Conclusion Section is where you'll find answers to the questions you're asking about the camera. ;)

We also have sample images from the camera, and some of the same subjects are used in most reviews, making it easier to compare image quality from cameras you are considering.

slackmonster Jun 4, 2006 1:00 AM

:idea: Oh silly me... Mr.Moderator thanks for the excellent P4 review. Clear & comprehensive...You rock!

Let me be more specific about my dilemma & perhaps someone could advise me further PLEASE!

I am currently on business in Beijing, China. There is not the full repitoire of makes/models here compared with US, Japan, UK etc.. The latest range of point & shoot cameras are mostly available from Sony, Canon & Nikon, which also tend to be brands i know & trust to some degree. I accept that all small (P&S) cameras have drawbacks compared with SLRs

The main models i am considering are the Sony N1, Canon Powershot A620 & S80, & the Nikon P4.
Although the P4 has no viewfinder, its quality LCD makes me open minded about composing shots this way & it's not the thing that will determine my decision. Many P4 qualities seem ok to good, but the limited Flash Range, Speed Performance (Power up to 1st shot, Shutter Lag, & shot to shot) sluggishness, Battery Life & Noise at even low ISO ratings makes me suspicious. I accept that with most point & shoot cameras you will get some noise at ISO 200 & definately at ISO 400 but why buy a camera knowing from the 1st second that it has these kind of limitations? Money is not the hugest issue provided i stay under approx $500 US
Q'n: Of the mentioned makes/models: Sony N1, Canon Powershot A620 & S80, & the Nikon P4, which would be the best camera to buy? OR are there any models i'm missing... a lot of reviews ive read are old & i imagine that the more recent cameras are better performing than the 2005 releases. i'm not expecting a "perfect" camera with no Sony has always annoyed me because of having their own brand of Memory Sticks for example but i'll overlook this inflexibility & extra cost if it really is the best performing choice.
I want a point & shoot camera as a real workhorse, &expect to use it for business for upto 500 shots per week, all of which will need easy downloading to PC. i will need to take plenty of night shots & wide angle perfoprmance is also an issue. I'm not taking heaps of fast action shots but reasonable performance in this field would be a bonus. Are there any models that overcome some of the mentioned drawbacks of the P4 (for example) that don't come with just as many of their own bugbears?

Any advise super appreciated!

E.T Jun 4, 2006 4:21 AM

You mentioned wide angle so Canon S80 (like rest of S-"ten" series) would be only of those you listed which has 28mm wide angle, others are between 36-38mm.

For other cameras which have 28mm wide angle check Panasonic FX01.
Also Ricoh R3 and R4 have 28mm wide angle.
Then Kodak V570 has secondary 23mm fixed focal length lens.

As for night shot you're going to need tripod and camera has to be able to take longer exposures... using lowest ISO with longest possible exposure is propably best way for keeping noise low.
But there isn't any small sensor camera which would be noiseless at ISO200, Fuji just uses heavy NR. (although keeping camera in freezer for some time would surely drop down noise until cameras warms again)
As for lower light stationary targets image stabilization would help.

Only effective way for preventing red eye is distance between flash and lens, which means pocket cameras are "incompatible" with that, red eye flash mode might help little but not much when flash is simply just too close to lens.

slackmonster wrote:

Sony has always annoyed me because of having their own brand of Memory Sticks for example
There must be about half dozen different versions of it... and don't forget rootkit-virus copy protection.

ELDDJOC Jun 4, 2006 7:31 AM

The ISO issue is not a problem with the Fuji F10, and according to many reviews, it does quite well in low light situations.

The Canon PowerShot S80 is a great allround camera, and its lens is wider than most other P&S cameras of it class, and with above average image quality, is a pretty good choice.

The Nikon Coolpix P4 - great little camera I was going to buy last month, but then I found out that it had noise issues at low ISOs, and its VR was not as effective as that of Canon's IS or Panasonic's Mega OIS, offering only around 1 stop as compared to around 3 for the others.

JimC Jun 4, 2006 9:40 AM

ELDDJOC wrote:

The Nikon Coolpix P4 - great little camera I was going to buy last month, but then I found out that it had noise issues at low ISOs, and its VR was not as effective as that of Canon's IS or Panasonic's Mega OIS, offering only around 1 stop as compared to around 3 for the others.
Found out?

From where?

I've seen nothing to suggest that Nikon's Vibration Reduction System is any less effective than similar systems from other manufacturers, and I've seen P3 and P4 owners report that they're able to consistently hand hold 2 stops slower than they can without it, and sometimes at 3 stops slower.

slackmonster Jun 4, 2006 10:39 PM

Jim C, E.T & ELDDJOC : thanks for the opinions! I expect a forum like this to offer a range of opinions & experience & in my humble 5 days on the 'net sussing the digital camera minefield, 'Steve's Digicams' site rox & is the most sincere (ie. unbiased) & useful around. i especially like the way you've exposed the pseudo-salesman (net-advertisers) so demonstratively!

OK, after a bit more instore hands on sleuthing (which in China with my limited Mandarin & sales "sharks" everywhere, can be quite disconcerting!) i have narrowed my potential choices to the following models... Can the above mentioned contributors (& anyone else interested) please sum up their thoughts & advise me a little further. The applications aren't that Pro where i'll need RAW mode, but i will need to take some steady shots that could fit on a brochure (i'm exporting Furniture from here) & not look amateur (assuming i follow the proper principles of basic photography ofcourse). I'm the Student & you experienced Photo jox are the Masters & i'm here to learn! >>

These are the latest models i'm considering ( though i'm no millionaire i can afford any of these potential options) + i will be purchasing 2GIG of Memory & Spare Battery no matter which option i ultimately run with>>

1. Canon S 80:

2. Canon Powershot 700 IS (or IXUS 800 IS...i think it's the same camera? maybe a European release?):

3. Nikon P4:

4. & ill throw in the Casio EXZ 850 for fun! Leftfield for me 'cos i'm from the generation where Casio Electronics were pretty much 'toys' but looks like a beaudi for the price

<My thoughts to consider please> Wide Angle abilities (The S 80 looks like it wins w/ 28mm), Low Noise, Vibration Reduction/Image Stabilisation, Night Shots & Flash Power Vs Subtlety, Sturdy construction, Easy upload to PC, Speed Performance (Startup, Shot to Shot & Shutter), Reasonable Video Capability & Battery Life.

U may say..."i want it all" well no but i want the best features for my $ like anyone else & can't see the point in not picking the brains of more experienced & avid photographers than myself.

Thanks in advance for offering your opinions.

ELDDJOC Jun 5, 2006 5:27 AM

JimC, it was sometime ago that I saw in a review by a Chinese photo magazine about the P4, and they had photographs that they did test on, testing the VR in both low light and normal situations. They concluded that overall the VR was around 1 stop, perhaps a bit more.

I went into the store to test it out for myself, but I personally felt that its image quality was not as good as the Canon S80 or the Canon SD550. The noise was visible above ISO 80, and with the VR, my feelings were that it was inferior to Panasonic's Mega OIS, if not the Canon IS.

slackmonster - maybe you can check out this review - it has some comparisons which may be useful to you in evaluating the P4

But for a steady shot - the Canon SD800IS would be best. The IS is a must in my opinion (probably because my hands shake quite a bit), and the SD800IS has great image quality. However, its price is quite steep for a 6MP camera .....

By the way - I am a learner just like most people here - JimC is the resident expert master here ...... :)

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 9:50 PM.