Nikon Coolpix P5000 Optics


Good performance with the 3.5x optical zoom lens. Digital zoom also performs fairly well.

36mm 126mm 4x Digital Zoom

The Nikon Coolpix P5000's optical zoom covers the equivalent of a 36-126mm range, which is slightly greater than most average digital cameras. Results were quite good at wide angle, with minimal blurring in the corners and low coma distortion in the tree branches against the sky. At telephoto however, there was some decrease in contrast and fine detail, and images were a bit soft, especially on the left side. Most noticeable was the lens flare around very strong highlights. (You can see this is as a diffuse "glow" around the bright white paint next to darker areas in the telephoto shot above. Look in the left side of the bay window near the center of the frame for the clearest view of the issue.) The camera's 4x digital zoom performs pretty well, with tolerable losses in resolution and quality from the digital enlargement. Still, digital zoom is never a good substitute for true optical zoom.

A small macro area with excellent detail and high resolution. Flash was not usable up close.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Nikon P5000's macro setting performed quite well, capturing a very small minimum area of 1.83 x 1.37 inches (46 x 35 millimeters). Detail and resolution were both excellent, though there's a moderate amount of softening in the extreme corners, most likely from curvature of field in the lens. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) The flash had trouble throttling down and blew out most of the exposure. Plan on using external lighting for best results with the P5000's macro setting, at least at the closest focusing distances.

Higher than average barrel distortion at wide angle, almost no distortion at telephoto.

Barrel distortion at 36mm is 1.1%
Barrel distortion at 126mm is less than 0.1%

This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto). The Nikon Coolpix P5000's 1.1% barrel distortion at wide angle is higher than average among the cameras we've tested, and quite noticeable in some of its images. (Most cameras we test average around 0.8% barrel, which is still too high, in our opinion.) At the telephoto end, the P5000's barrel distortion was very low at less than 0.1%, and had little effect.

Chromatic aberration
Moderate, only slightly noticeable effect on images at edges.

Wide: Moderately high and bright,
top left @ 200%
Wide: Moderate,
top right @ 200%
Tele: Low,
top left @200%
Tele: Low,
top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is moderate at wide angle, showing about 5-6 pixels of bright coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) At telephoto, chromatic aberration is much lower, but the lens flare mentioned earlier is visible, particularly in the telephoto example above from the upper left corner of the frame. Overall, chromatic is only slightly noticeable in most of our test shots.

Corner Sharpness
Slight blurring in the corners of the frame at wide angle, moderate at telephoto.

Wide: Slightly soft in the
corners (lower right).
Wide: Sharp at center.
Tele: Moderately soft in the
corners (lower right)
Tele: Slightly soft at center.

The Nikon Coolpix P5000 produced slightly soft corners at full wide angle, with the lower right being the softest. At full telephoto, there's stronger blurring in the corners of the frame, at even the center of the frame is less sharp.


Very good accuracy from the LCD monitor, though the optical viewfinder proved a bit tight.

36mm eq., Optical 126mm eq., Optical
36mm eq., LCD 126mm eq., LCD

The Nikon Coolpix P5000's optical viewfinder was a bit tight, showing approximately 82% coverage at wide angle, and 81% at telephoto. It was also tilted to the left somewhat. The camera's LCD monitor showed about 102% coverage at wide angle, and was about 100% accurate at telephoto.


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon Coolpix P5000 Photo Gallery .

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