Nikon Coolpix P80 Optics


Outstanding 18x optical zoom range, with good overall performance. Digital zoom also performs well, with good detail considering the digital enlargement.

27mm eq. 486mm eq. 4x Digital Zoom

The Nikon Coolpix P80's optical zoom range covers the equivalent of a 27-486mm zoom on a 35mm camera, which is really quite impressive. Results at wide-angle are soft overall, with overaggressive anti-noise processing blurring detail. Corners show some coma distortion, but are not bad, at least in these far-field shots (see Corner Sharpness below for more near-range performance). Results at full telephoto are just okay, thanks again to anti-noise processing that obliterates any good that the lens might be doing. Details are a soft and chromatic aberration is visible across the frame, especially high contrast areas such as the white house trim and gutters. The camera's 4x digital zoom only manages to enlarge the already mediocre performance from the Coolpix P80.

A tiny macro area with strong detail and high resolution, though closest focusing distance results in uneven exposures with and without the flash.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Nikon Coolpix P80's macro setting captured a tiny minimum area of 1.03 x 0.77 inches (26 x 20 millimeters), however, the focusing distance is so close that the external lighting results in an uneven exposure with particularly strong highlights on the left side of the frame (this isn't really a fault). Resolution is high and detail is quite strong in the dollar bill. Some blurring is present in the corners of the frame, typical of many digital cameras in macro mode, and some chromatic aberration is visible as well, mainly on the left portion of the dollar bill. As you might expect at such close range, the Coolpix P80's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area, resulting in a dim exposure.

Slightly high barrel distortion and pincushion. Distortion Control option reduces barrel distortion at wide-angle, though.

Barrel distortion at 27mm is 0.8%
Distortion Control On at 27mm, 0.2% Pincushion
Pincushion at 486mm is 0.6%

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 P80's 0.8% barrel distortion at wide angle is slightly higher than average, but not terribly surprising considering the 27mm maximum wide angle setting. The camera's Distortion Control did a pretty good job of correcting for distortion, though it did result in a slight pincushion of 0.2%. At full telephoto, the Coolpix P80's 0.6% pincushion distortion is again higher than average, but also not surprising at the 486mm lens equivalent.

Chromatic aberration
Moderate to high levels at both zoom settings, with bright pixels noticeable in several images.

Wide: Moderate but bright,
top left @ 200%
Wide: Bright,
top right @ 200%
Tele: High and fairly bright,
top left @200%
Tele: High,
top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is moderate but quite bright at wide angle, showing about 10 or more pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. At telephoto, the number of visible pixels increases to 12+, though some blurring in the corners is intensifying the effect. (This distortion is visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) At both zoom settings, the distortion is noticeable in many of the camera's images.

Corner Sharpness
Fairly strong blurring in the corners of the frame at both zoom settings.

Wide: Quite soft in the
corners (upper left).
Wide: Sharp at center.
Tele: Softer in the left
corners (upper right).
Tele: Soft at center.

The Nikon Coolpix P80 produced soft corners of the frame at both full wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. At full wide angle, blurring was strongest in the upper left corners, though still fairly strong in the other three. Softening at the corners is visible in many of the Coolpix P80's images.


Very good accuracy from the LCD monitor and EVF.

27mm eq., EVF 486mm eq., EVF
27mm eq., LCD 486mm eq., LCD

The Nikon Coolpix P80's LCD monitor and EVF showed about 102% coverage accuracy at wide angle, and about 99% at telephoto. Great results!


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon Coolpix P80 Photo Gallery .

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