This spring, Nikon's Coolpix P series of compact cameras--a steady, solid, mainstream family of midprice models--will be welcoming its geeky uncle Coolpix P5000 to live in the attic.
With the P5000, Nikon belatedly returns to the the market with an enthusiast-oriented compact. With features such as the full set of manual and semimanual exposure modes and a flash shoe, the black P5000 looks ready to take on the Canon PowerShot G7. And, in fact, it has many similar specs: a 10-megapixel sensor with maximum ISO 1,600 (ISO 3,200 at 5 megapixels), optical image stabilization, a 2.5-inch LCD, the latest and greatest image-processing engine, and support for add-on lenses. The latter is important, given the camera's rather slow (f/2.7-to-f/5.3 maximum aperture) and limited 36mm-to-126mm-equivalent 3.5x zoom lens. The P5000 also incorporates Face-priority autofocus and the host of other user-friendlies such as D-Lighting and red-eye correction.
Of course, there's another thing it has in common with the G7: no raw format support.
On the upside, the P5000 will have a relatively attractive price for enthusiasts craving a second camera--only $399.95 when it ships in March. We'll see then how it measures up.