Nikon Coolpix P90 review: Nikon Coolpix P90

The LCD is pretty good, it has a wide viewing angle and doesn't wash out in direct sunlight. I tend to prefer articulated LCDs found on products like the Canon PowerShot SX10 to the tilting ones used by the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50 and this model, but it's still far better than a fixed display. It's supplemented with an electronic viewfinder; both displays update fast enough so that they don't interfere with shooting, even in low light where some slow down. However, the EVF only displays 97 percent of the scene, compared with 100 percent for virtually everyone else. While the battery didn't conk out too soon, its 250-shot-per-charge rating (CIPA standard) seems underpowered compared with almost all the competition's.

As for shooting speed, Nikon thankfully made significant strides over the unusably slow P80, bringing the P90 into line with what you expect from a camera in its price range. It wakes and shoots in a reasonable 2 seconds, and it focuses and shoots about as quickly as its competitors in bright and dim conditions--0.7 second and 0.8 second, respectively. At 2 seconds, it's a bit zippier from shot to shot than most. While its flash shot-to-shot time of 3.3 seconds isn't great, it's also not unusual. Continuous-shooting performance remains about the same as the P80, 1.4fps, but the burst rate isn't the problem so much as the EVF, which (like all EVFs) blacks out between shots. You just close your eyes and pray. That said, it's still not quite fast enough to keep up with children and pets, as they're in and out of the frame in a shot or two.

Unfortunately, the P90's photo quality generally disappoints; in some ways it's worse than the P80's, and not what you should expect for its price. The colors are vivid, but automatic white balance is a little greenish-yellow outdoors and a lot yellow indoors.

Exposures tend to be good. But the lens displays quite a bit of purple fringing and shots look overprocessed. An excessively noisy blue channel combines with Nikon's aggressive noise suppression and blurs most of the detail away starting as low as ISO 200; if you have a lot of detail in your scene, the photos are borderline at ISO 200 and unusable by ISO 800. So depending upon what you shoot, the P90's photos can range from good to just OK.

For movie capture, the P90 still includes a neat time-lapse mode and a 30fps VGA movie mode; the latter of which produces reasonably good AVI clips at a bit rate of about 1.1 megabytes per second, but it's pretty limited: no optical zoom or optical VR available while shooting.

While it's a perfectly serviceable camera, there are simply better options for the money than the Nikon Coolpix P90.

Shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Smaller bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28
2.3 
1.8 
0.8 
0.6 
Canon PowerShot SX10 IS
1.5 
2.1 
0.8 
0.6 
Nikon Coolpix P90
2 
2 
0.8 
0.7 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50
2.3 
1.8 
1.3 
0.7 
Olympus SP-570 UZ
3.3 
2.5 
1.8 
0.8 
Nikon Coolpix P80
2.9 
2.4 
1.4 
1.1 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in seconds)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Digital camera type Full body
  • Optical Zoom 24 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 12.0 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.33"
  • Lens 26 - 624mm F/2.8