Nikon P3 Review
Nikon Coolpix P3 Design
At 3.6 x 2.4 x 1.2 in. (92 x 61 x 31mm) and 7.1 oz. (201g) with battery and SD memory card, the Nikon Coolpix P3 won't exactly disappear unnoticed into a pocket. But its smooth edges and slightly curved shape fit the hand like a well-designed power tool. The brushed metal patina has chrome highlights and a control layout that's immediately familiar.
The Nikon Coolpix P3's front panel is dominated by the 3.5x optical zoom Nikkor lens in the bottom right with a tiny microphone tucked just under it to the left. Above it, in the right corner is the flash with the AF-assist illuminator to its left a bit.
On the right side of the Nikon Coolpix P3, the eyelet for the camera strap sits right next to the plastic cover for the USB port. Below them to the left is the cover for the corded "dummy battery" AC adapter.
On the opposite site of the Coolpix P3, the blue WiFi transfer LED sits up top with the speaker at the bottom of the panel.
The Nikon Coolpix P3's top panel hosts the Mode dial in the middle with the VR button embedded in the WiFi antenna to its left and the large Shutter button to its right. Right of the Shutter button is the small Power button with an even smaller green status LED to its left.
The back panel is dominated by the 2.5-inch LCD. To the right of the LCD, the Coolpix P3's controls are laid out. At the top is the Zoom lever with the Menu button just beneath it. The Flash lamp indicator is just to the right of the Menu button. The multi-selector navigator is below that with the OK button at its center. Under the navigator is the Play button on the left and the Delete button on the right.
The flat bottom of the Nikon Coolpix P3 has a plastic tripod socket in the left corner and the battery chamber/memory card slot on the right side. You can open that door without removing the camera from a tripod.
Nikon Coolpix P3 External Controls
Power Button: On the very right edge of the Nikon Coolpix P3's top panel, the Power button turns the camera on or off. A small green LED just to its left indicates the camera's status.
Shutter Button: The large Shutter button sits just to the left of the Power button, locking exposure when half pressed and releasing the shutter when fully depressed.
Mode Dial: In the middle of the Nikon Coolpix P3's top panel, this ribbed dial controls which of the camera's functions is active. Options include Auto, Programmed Auto, Aperture Priority, Scene, Movie, Set Up, Image, ISO, White Balance, and WiFi Transfer modes.
VR Button: On the left side of the top panel, nestled in the WiFi antenna, is the Vibration Reduction button. It toggles between Normal (for camera shake), Active (to handle big bumps) and Off.
Zoom Lever: In the top right corner of the Nikon Coolpix P3's back panel, this rocker button controls optical and digital zoom (when enabled) in any Record mode. In Playback mode, the "W" button activates the index image display mode, while the "T" button controls digital enlargement of the captured image. The "T" side of the control also calls up help information when working with the menu system.
Menu Button: Just below the Zoom Lever, this button displays the settings available in any camera mode. It also dismisses that display.
Multi-Selector Navigator: To the right of the Coolpix P3's LCD, this control features four arrows, one pointing in each direction. In any Settings menu, the arrow keys navigate through menu selections, and the center OK button selects.
In Playback mode, the Right and Left arrows scroll through captured images.
In Record mode, the arrow keys control specific exposure features. The Up arrow controls the Nikon Coolpix P3's Flash mode, producing a popup menu of options (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Anytime Flash, Slow Sync, and Flash Cancel). The Left arrow activates the camera's Self-Timer mode, and the Right arrow activates exposure compensation control (also giving control over aperture or shutter speed in P and A shooting modes), while the Down arrow activates the Focus mode (Autofocus, Infinity, Focusing Limit from six feet to infinity, and Macro). All of these settings are confirmed by pressing the OK button once a selection has been made.
When connected to a computer with Nikon's software loaded, pressing the center button triggers a "one touch" upload of selected images to the computer.
Playback Button: Just below the navigator's left side, this button switches the camera into Playback mode.
Erase Button: Just below the navigator and right of the Playback button, this button displays the Erase menu in Record or Playback mode.
Battery Retention Slider: Inside the battery compartment door, this small orange slider keeps the Coolpix P3's battery in place until you release it.
Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.