Editors' Choice 2009: Nikon Coolpix P6000 Camera

Backpackers get a made-to-order digital camera with the first affordable GPS-enabled shooter.

There must be a hiker in the R&D department at Nikon. Who else could come up with a camera that treats map coordinates with the same attention as it gives to image quality? The P6000 is simply in a class by itself, thanks to an internal GPS that digitally stamps photos with latitude and longitude data. Translation: It creates geotagged photos that you can easily and instantly download to Google Earth, Nikon Picturetown, or our own site (backpacker.com/postatrip). On our site, just upload the photos into a trip report and watch as the images zoom to the map–and the precise spot on the planet where they were taken.

This camera will also upgrade your slideshows–and not just because you can now integrate maps. The 13.5-megapixel P6000 outperforms most point-and-shoot cameras in photo quality, and even rivals bulkier, more expensive digital SLRs (see the proof above and on page 42). The retractable lens captured crisp, color-rich photos in sun (Arizona desert), snow (Vail, Colorado), and rain (Wales). We also found that the P6000 picked up subtle highlights and shadows that other digital cameras missed. And when the sun was too bright to read the 2.7-inch LCD screen, we loved the old-school viewfinder for framing shots. It also has pop-up flash, full manual options, high-speed Internet port, panorama stitching mode, and optional wide-angle lens.

And how good is the GPS? In the field, whether the camera is on or off, the internal computer periodically updates its location in order to shorten the time it takes to acquire satellite reception (about two minutes from cold start to satellite lock, depending on terrain and weather). We cross-checked more than 200 geotagged photos shot in two countries and three states with a high-end handheld GPS, and each was placed within spitting distance–literally–of the correct location. Our only complaint? That guy in the R&D department must be a dayhiker, or the P6000 would accept lithium AA batteries. Expect about 11 hours with the onboard rechargeable cell. $449 ($350 street price); 8.5 oz.; 4x optical (28-112mm) lens; SD or SDHC expandable memory; lithium-ion battery; nikonusa.com

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. We do not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.