Nikon's really going all-out with the newest addition to its P series of compact cameras for amateur shooters. The Coolpix P6000, which replaces last year's P5100, is stuffed full of interesting features, such as built-in GPS, an Ethernet connection, wireless flash and a new Vista-compatible raw format. We're huge fans of integrated in-camera GPS. Seperate add-on solutions, at least from what we've seen on consumer models, can't give you an on-camera interface, which makes them too hard to configure. This is the first camera with built-in GPS that you might actually want to buy.
Though support for wireless flash isn't unique -- Olympus has been including it in its ultrazoom cameras for a couple of years now -- it's still uncommon, and a welcome addition for a camera of this class. It only supports a single external Speedlight, but we don't think that's much of a sacrifice. We're not as convinced about the need for the wired Ethernet port, but someone somewhere may want to connect a camera to a router.
Finally, with the P6000, Nikon introduces the NRW raw format. Unlike NEF, NRW is compatible with Vista's Windows Imaging Component codec API (also available for Windows XP SP2 via .NET), which makes using the raw files more transparent under Windows. The operating system does the format transcoding rather than applications, so you don't have to worry about an application supporting your specific format. Certainly this is good for users. But lest you think this is the start of some unprecedented wave of openness on Nikon's part, don't expect NEF to disappear. Nikon simply doesn't expect users in this market segment will shell out extra for Capture NX 2, its raw-processing software.
As for the more prosaic features, the P6000 will use a 1/1.7-inch 13.5-megapixel CCD that supports sensitivities up to ISO 3,200 at full resolution, sports a 4x 28-112mm optically stabilised lens, and provides a 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD with a wide viewing angle. The company has also incorporated the Picture Controls settings from its dSLRs. And, of course, it still includes the manual and semi-manual PASM shooting modes essential in this class of camera.
With all the good stuff, though, Nikon didn't mention any performance improvements over the P5100. That would be unfortunate, because serious sluggishness has always been the biggest weakness of the P series.
Nikon expects to ship the P6000 in September for a thumping £429. -Lori Grunin