Nikon P1000 Image Quality


Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Bright colors with slightly below average mean hue accuracy.

ISO Sensitivity
In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Mouse over the links to compare ISOs, and click on them for larger images.

Saturation. The Nikon P1000 pumps blues and reds quite a bit, greens moderately, and most other colors by small amounts, but slightly undersaturates bright yellow and cyans. Mean saturation at base ISO was 114.9% or 14.9% oversaturated, which is slightly higher than average. Interestingly, saturation levels gradually increased as sensitivity climbed, to a mean of 121.5% at ISO 6400, while most cameras decrease saturation to help control chroma noise. Overall, we found the P1000's default saturation levels quite pleasing to the eye. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. The Nikon P1000's Caucasian skin tones looked pretty good when using Auto white balance in simulated daylight, just slightly pinkish but perhaps a little flat. Skin tones with Manual or Daylight white balance were just a bit too exaggerated and orange for our tastes. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Nikon P1000 shifted cyan toward blue by quite a bit (which is very common among the digital cameras we test; we think it's a deliberate choice by camera engineers to produce better-looking sky colors), as well as orange toward yellow by a significant amount, with smaller shifts in reds, yellow and magenta. With an average "delta-C" color error of 6.07 after correction for saturation at base ISO, overall hue accuracy was a little below average (lower numbers are better) but still good, and hue accuracy remained fairly stable across the ISO range. Hue is "what color" the color is.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images


Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Good color with the Manual (Custom) and Incandescent white balance settings, but reddish results with default Auto. Average amount of exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance
+0.3 EV
Auto (Keep Warm)
+0.3 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.3 EV
Manual White Balance
+0.3 EV

Indoors, under normal incandescent lighting, color balance was warm and reddish with the default Auto white balance setting. The P1000 also offers a Keep Warm option for Auto white balance, and as you can see, it produced very warm, orange results. The Incandescent setting was pretty good, producing just a slightly warm but realistic cast. The Manual (Custom) setting produced the most accurate results, if just a touch warm and yellow. The Nikon P1000 required +0.3 EV exposure compensation here, which is about average for this shot. Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

Outdoors, daylight
Bright colors and good exposure, but with limited dynamic range.

Auto White Balance,
+0.7 EV

Outdoors, the Nikon P1000 performed reasonably well for its class, requiring +0.7 EV exposure compensation for our "Sunlit" Portrait shot to keep the mannequin's face reasonably bright. (The average for this shot is +0.7 EV, so the P1000 performed about average in terms of exposure.) We preferred skin tones from the Auto white balance setting as they were a little pinker and healthier-looking than Manual (Custom) or Daylight white balance, which were a bit too orange. Contrast is quite high as you might expect under such harsh lighting, and the camera blew a lot of highlights, but limited dynamic range is expected for this type of camera, and the P1000's Active D-Lighting option (turned off here; see below) helps in harsh lighting like this.

~2300 lines of strong detail.

Strong detail to
~2300 lines horizontal
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2300 lines vertical
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2300+ lines horizontal
ACR processed RAW
Strong detail to
~2300+ lines vertical
ACR processed RAW

Our resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns up to about 2300 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and to about 2300 lines in the vertical direction. Some may argue for higher numbers, but lines begin to merge and aliasing artifacts start to interfere with detail at these resolutions. Extinction of the pattern didn't occur until around 2800-3000 lines where color moiré and other aliasing artifacts swamp it out. We weren't able to do significantly better with the matching NRW file processed through Adobe Camera Raw, perhaps just slightly higher because of a reduction in luminance moiré, though color moiré is more evident in the ACR converted file. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

Sharpness & Detail
Slightly soft images with moderate sharpening artifacts. Strong default noise reduction reduces detail even at base ISO.

Slightly soft definition of high-contrast
elements here with noticeable
sharpening haloes.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast.

Sharpness. The P1000 produces slightly soft images with noticeable sharpening haloes along high-contrast edges as shown in the crop above left. Still, not a bad performance given the target market, sensor size and massive lens. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows significant softening due to strong noise reduction, even at base ISO, smudging or merging many of the individual strands of hair together. This is typical of tiny sensors, though, and the P1000 did a very good job at controlling chroma noise here. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Nikon P1000 does a decent job at capturing fine detail in its JPEGs for such as small sensor, but more detail can often be obtained from carefully processing RAW files, while at the same time reducing sharpening artifacts. Let's have a look at base ISO:

Base ISO (100)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to the matching NRW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 9.1 via DNG Converter 11.2 (right) using default noise reduction with some strong but tight unsharp masking applied in Photoshop (300%, radius of 0.5 pixels, and a threshold of 0).

As expected, the Adobe Camera Raw conversion contains much finer detail but it is also a lot noisier (default ACR noise reduction used). The P1000's NRW files are quite soft even at relatively wide apertures like f/4, so they require a lot of sharpening which accentuates noise. The in-camera JPEGs appear sharper but sharpening artifacts are much more visible. The in-camera JPEG also has higher contrast and more vibrant colors, but those too can be adjusted to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Bottom line, as is usually the case you can extract better detail from RAW files, but because the sensor is so small producing high noise levels even a base ISO, be prepared to apply copious amounts of noise reduction and sharpening for best results.

ISO & Noise Performance
Typical high ISO performance for its class.

Noise Reduction = On (Default)
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1600 ISO 3200
ISO 6400

As mentioned previously, ISO 100 already shows significant smudging in areas of low contrast as in the above crop, though a fair amount of fine detail is still present and both luma and chroma noise are well-controlled. There's slightly stronger smudging at ISO 200, but fine detail is still pretty decent for its class. At ISO 400, there's another drop in image quality as noise reduction works harder, though some fine detail is still preserved. ISO 800 is noticeably softer and starts to show some objectionable chroma blotching in the hair and darker areas while flatter areas start to take on a watercolor painting effect. Image quality drops off quickly at ISO 1600 and above, with strong blurring, higher noise, and visible noise reduction artifacts.

Overall, not a bad performance for such a small sensor and chroma noise abatement at high ISOs appears to be improved over the P900, but you'll want to keep the ISO sensitivity as low as possible for best image quality.

We're of course pixel-peeping to an extraordinary extent here, since 1:1 images on an LCD screen have little to do with how those same images will appear when printed. See the Print Quality section below for our evaluation of maximum print sizes at each ISO setting.

Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range, and low light tests
Fair amount of detail in both highlights and shadows, with dynamic range for its class. Low-light AF performance is quite good at wide angle (f/2.8).

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

The Nikon P1000 handled the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above reasonably well for a camera with such a small sensor. The +0.7 EV exposure did the best overall job here, producing a fairly bright face without blowing out as many highlights in the brighter areas as +1.0 EV. Yes, some highlights were blown as expected, but overall the image has relatively few clipped highlights. Some shadows are pretty dark and a little noisy, but contain pretty good detail. Be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

Face Detection
0 EV
Portrait scene mode
0 EV
Auto mode
0 EV

Here, we compare Aperture-prioirty mode using default Matrix metering to Portrait scene mode and to full Auto, all with no exposure compensation. As you can see, Portrait scene mode and full Auto mode produced nearly identical results with much brighter images which also employed Active D-Lighting to help preserve highlights and shadows. Nice.

"Sunlit" Portrait Active D-Lighting (+0.7 EV)
ADL Settings:





Nikon's Active D-Lighting
The shots above show the results with Active D-Lighting set to Off, Low, Normal (default) and High, with +0.7 EV exposure compensation. This is different than the touch-up menu's D-Lighting, as it is performed during image capture instead of after. Mouse-over the links to see the differences, and click on the links to load the corresponding full-resolution image.

As you can see from the thumbnails and histograms above, enabling Active D-Lighting resulted in boosted shadows and midtones while at the same time toning down and preserving highlights, and the default Normal setting did a pretty good job overall. A nice feature, especially for cameras with limited dynamic range.

"Sunlit" Portrait HDR mode (+0.7 EV)
HDR Scene



The P1000 also offers an HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode, within the Backlighting Scene mode. It takes multiple images at different exposures (the user manual doesn't say how many) and merges them to a single HDR image. Mouse over the links above to compare thumbnails and histograms, and click on the links for access to the full res images.

Although portraits aren't good subjects for HDR images, you can still see it makes quite a difference to the overall exposure by opening up shadows and toning down highlights, without any artificial-looking shadows around bright objects or haloes and glowing around dark ones. Do notice that the resulting HDR image is at a slightly higher magnification which means after aligning and merging the captured exposures, some of the image is cropped away and image is resized back to normal, resulting in a reduction of fine detail and sharpness. And be aware any movement between or during frames can lead to motion artifacts, so using a static image and shooting on a tripod is recommended.

Low-Light AF:
The P1000's contrast-detection autofocus system was able to focus on our legacy low-contrast AF target down to about -3.6 EV and on our new high-contrast AF target down to -6.0 EV unassisted with the lens at wide-angle and f/2.8. That's fantastic for its class, but keep in mind depth-of-field is quite deep and the lens gets dimmer as you zoom in so low-light focusing will not be nearly as good at long focal lengths. (We always test low-light AF at f/2.8 for comparable results, however that forced us to use the wide end of the P1000's lens.) Also note that this test is performed on a sturdy tripod which helps achieve focus lock reliably, especially important for contrast-detect AF. Results when hand-held may vary. The Nikon P1000 is able to focus in complete darkness with the AF assist enabled, as long as the target is in range and has sufficient contrast.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) Digital SLRs and mirrorless cameras do much better than point & shoots, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects.

Built-in Flash
Very good performance for a pop-up flash.

ISO 200
f/4, +0.3 EV
Auto ISO (200)
f/4, +0.3 EV

Exposure. Indoors under incandescent background lighting, the P1000's flash only required +0.3 EV of flash exposure compensation for our standard indoor portrait scene at ISO 200 and f/4, while +0.7 EV is about the average needed for this shot. And with Auto ISO, the camera selected the same ISO of 200, so it didn't have to boost ISO at all to make up for a weak flash. Very good performance for a pop-up flash.

Output Quality

Print Quality
A very nice 13 x 19 inch print at ISO 100; a pleasing 8 x 10 at ISO 800; a usable 4 x 6 at ISO 3200.

ISO 100 images display a pleasing amount of sharp detail and vibrant colors, allowing for a nice print up to 13 x 19 inches. Given the P1000's tiny 1/2.3-inch sensor, the camera, even at base ISO, simply can't resolve the level of detail needed to make larger super-crisp prints. That said, one can print a 16 x 20 inch for wall display.

ISO 200 prints look very similar to those at ISO 100, though upon close inspection, we do see a very mild amount of detail loss starting to appear thanks to noise and noise reduction. However, it's very minor, and you'd only really notice if you have an ISO 100 print side-by-side to compare. At ISO 200, the P1000 is also capable of a pleasing 13 x 19-inch print.

ISO 400 images begin to show more effects of noise and the downsides inherent with these small sensors; even at ISO 400, we already see a drop in fine detail due to noise reduction. Images aren't so much as "noisy," but rather begin to show increased softness and a decrease in detail compared to lower ISOs. Here, we're fine with prints up to 11 x 14 inches, which is still a decent sized print for this kind of camera. Given that the P1000 allows for RAW capture, you might be okay with a 13 x 19 inch print for less critical applications and with careful post-processing.

ISO 800 prints just pass the mark for classic 8 x 10-inch print. Noise has definitely increased here, and we see a noticeable decrease in fine detail, especially in lower contrast areas.

ISO 1600 images top-out at 5 x 7 inches for acceptable prints. Although there's still some okay detail in high-contrast areas and on vibrantly colored such as fabric threads in our test scene, noise is quite strong across the image and really takes its toll on detail in general.

ISO 3200 prints are very noisy and lacking a lot of detail now, making a 4 x 6-inch print the largest we're willing to accept at this ISO.

ISO 6400 images are much too noisy and way too soft with a lack of detail to make a usable print at this sensitivity setting.

Sharing the same 16MP 1/2.3-inch sensor as its P900 predecessor, the Nikon P1000 has a similar performance when it comes to print quality. As long as you keep the ISO down as much as possible, you can make some pleasing and fairly large prints from this camera, despite the small sensor. At base ISO and ISO 200, the P1000 is capable of nice, fairly detail-rich 13 x 19-inch prints. One could potentially squeeze out a 16 x 20 inch print for wall display or less critical applications. Once you hit ISO 400, you can also see the effects of noise and noise reduction processing beginning to soften detail. By ISO 800, we're hitting the limit for an acceptable 8 x 10-inch print. Noise and general image softness really become problematic as you climb higher in ISO sensitivity, with a usable 4 x 6 at ISO 3200. For the camera's highest ISO of 6400, we don't recommend making prints at that sensitivity level.


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon Coolpix P1000 Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Nikon Coolpix P1000 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

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