There's a flurry of Nikon point-and-shoot digital camera releases hitting right now, and the highest-end entry is the 10-megapixel Coolpix P5000. It's aimed at those who want more control and quality than the cheapest models but are wary of jumping into a digital SLR just yet. We're intrigued by the P5000's image processing engine, the same one that's inside the more-expensive Nikon D80. Nice improvement, but keep in mind that the D80's much bigger CCD isn't inside the P5000.


There's a glass Nikkor lens with a 3.5x zoom, and there's also optical VR image stabilization. A plus is the ability to hang optional lens converters onto the camera's f/2.7-5.3 lens, giving you a choice of the 35mm equivalent of a 24mm wide angle and a 378mm telephoto. With its optical viewfinder in addition to its 2.5-inch LCD viewscreen and its compatibility with Nikon's sophisticated Speedlight flash units, the $399.95 P5000 looks like it could be an pretty good bridge between the low and high end.