Nikon Coolpix P90 Optics


An powerful 24x optical zoom range, with fair results at wide-angle but better detail and performance at telephoto. Digital zoom performs about average, but has some strong chromatic aberration across the frame.

26mm eq. 624mm eq. 4x Digital Zoom

The Nikon Coolpix P90 features an impressive 24x optical zoom range covering the equivalent of a 26-624mm zoom on a 35mm camera. Results at full wide-angle are fair, with clear detail in the house and foliage, though definition is enhanced by heightened contrast throughout. Some blurring is visible in the corners and along the edges of the frame, with some noticeable coma distortion. At full telephoto, details are much sharper, with better definition even in the mortar between the bricks. Corners are again a little soft, and chromatic aberration is visible in a few spots. The camera's 4x digital zoom resulted in lower resolution and less distinct detail, plus more noticeable CA across the image area. Given the Coolpix P90's 24x zoom, the additional digital zoom seems unnecessary.

A small macro area, with strong detail and high resolution, though yellowish color balance. Flash coverage is too uneven.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Nikon Coolpix P90's macro setting captured a small minimum area measuring 1.10 x 0.82 inches (28 x 21 millimeters), which is a little better than average. Resolution is high, and detail strong in the central portion of the frame, though blurring a bit strong (a common problem with many consumer digital camera macro modes). Color balance is noticeably yellow with the external lighting, which is daylight balanced. The Nikon Coolpix P90's flash results in an uneven exposure, with a strong highlight at the top of the frame, and the rest in shadow. Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the Coolpix P90.

Geometric Distortion
Strong distortion at wide-angle, and less than a pixel at telephoto, though distortion control definitely helps.

Barrel distortion at 26mm eq. is 0.9%
Distortion control works well at 26mm eq.
Virtually no distortion at 484mm eq.

The Nikon Coolpix P90's wide-angle lens setting produced very noticeable barrel distortion, about 0.9%, which is higher than average and quite noticeable. However, enabling distortion control results in practically no visible distortion at wide-angle, showing just one pixel of barrel distortion; if you look in the very corners, however, you can see an abrupt upturn in the red line. At 19x telephoto (the full 24x is too long for our lab), we measured less than a pixel of barrel distortion, about 0.02%, very good. Geometric distortion 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).

Chromatic Aberration
Moderate chromatic aberration levels, more noticeable at telephoto.

Wide: Low, though moderately bright
in the upper left corner.
Wide: Low, also moderately bright
upper right.
Tele: Moderate in pixel count and
brightness upper left.
Tele: Brighter upper right.

Chromatic aberration is low at full wide-angle in terms of pixel count, with about 5-6 pixels visible. However, pixels are moderately bright, particularly the reddish pixels in the upper left corner. At 19x telephoto, distortion is more noticeable, with brighter blue and red pixels; this is amplified somewhat by coma distortion. Chromatic aberration is a form of distortion visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.

Corner Sharpness
Noticeable blurring in the corners of the frame at wide-angle and telephoto, though the distortion doesn't spread too far into the frame.

Wide: Softest in the
lower right corner.
Wide: Sharper at center.
Tele: Noticeable blurring in the
corners (upper left).
Tele: Slightly soft details at center also.

The Nikon Coolpix P90 produced soft corners of the frame at both zoom settings. Though results look quite soft in both crops above, blurring doesn't extend very far into the frame at either lens setting. However, at telephoto, details remain slightly soft even at the center of the frame.


Very good accuracy from the LCD monitor and EVF.

26mm eq., EVF 484mm eq., EVF
26mm eq., LCD 484mm eq., LCD

The Nikon Coolpix P90's electronic viewfinder (EVF) and LCD monitor both showed about 98% of the frame at wide angle, and about 99% at telephoto. Results are better than Nikon's 97% specification, but coverage at wide-angle was difficult to measure accurately, because of the high geometric distortion. Still, very good performance here. See the User Report about image shifting during focusing, though.


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon Coolpix P90 Photo Gallery .

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