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Nikon introduces two new affordable amateur cameras

Nikon just announced the Coolpix P50 and the P5100, the two newest members of its amateur photographer-oriented P-series.

Nikon Coolpix P5100
Nikon Coolpix P5100

A few months ago, Nikon released the 10-megapixel Coolpix P5000, a photographer-friendly compact camera with plenty of options for advanced users. Barely half a year after its release, Nikon has unveiled its big brother, the Coolpix P5100. At its heart, the P5100 is simply a 12-megapixel version of the P5000. It keeps the P5000's same basic design, same 35 to 123mm-equivalent f/2.7-5.3 image-stabilized lens, and its same combination of optical viewfinder and 2.5-inch TFT LCD screen. However, the P5100 does feature Nikon's new Expeed image processor, which the P5000 was lacking. This new image processor will hopefully perk up the P5100's performance over the P5000's sluggish numbers. Unfortunately, our other problems with the P5000 won't likely be remedied with this new version; since the P5100 uses the same lens and LCD as the P5000, this new camera will probably suffer from the same amount of lens distortion and sunlight issues as its older brother.

The P5100 isn't the only amateur-oriented camera Nikon announced, though. The Coolpix P50 is Nikon's newest inexpensive, manual exposure control-oriented camera. This 8-megapixel camera lacks the high resolution or new image process of the P5100, but its 28 to 102mm-equivalent f/2.8-5.6 lens, support for accessory lenses, manual controls, optical viewfinder and low price tag make it a very appealing choice for frugal photographers. Unfortunately, it lacks the optical Vibration Reduction feature the P5100 uses; you'll have to settle for the camera's electronic image stabilization.

The Nikon Coolpix P5100 ships in late September, and will retail for about $400. The P50 hits stores in late October, with a suggested price of $250.