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Nikon Coolpix P500 review

A 36x super-zoom bridge camera with a 12.1 megapixel back illuminated CMOS sensor

Our Verdict

All things considered, the range of features and excellent low noise at high sensitivities make this a camera worthy of consideration if you're in the market for a super-zoom compact or bridge style camera.

For

  • Hugely flexible zoom range
  • Articulated three inch screen
  • Zoom control on the lens barrel
  • Low noise at high sensitivities
  • High Speed and High Definition video
  • recording

Against

  • Struggles to focus at maximum telephoto
  • Sharpness and contrast drops at telephoto end
  • Continuous shooting burst is over in under a second

As digital SLRs have become more accessible and less expensive, bridge cameras have had to change so they now have larger zoom ranges and more compact bodies than their predecessors.

Nikon's Coolpix P500 sits in the middle of their 'Performance' range of compact cameras, which offer more features than the 'Style' range - including manual control and superior low light performance.

Nikon coolpix p500

In the case of the P500, it offers the largest zoom range of any current Nikon Coolpix camera and manual control, but lacks some more advanced features - such as raw image recording - and is priced at around £300.

The huge zoom lens covers a range equivalent to 22.5-810mm on a 35mm camera. The wide-angle end is wider than most equivalent cameras, which can be useful for shooting in tight spaces and for exploiting the distortion of perspective as you get close to your subject.

Nikon coolpix p500

The 810mm equivalent telephoto is ideal for isolating distant subjects, and may even be suitable for wildlife and other areas of photography that require some distance between the camera and the subject.

Although the 12.1-megapixel sensor may have a modest pixel count by today's standards, its back illumination should ensure the quality at high sensitivities is maintained. Back-illuminated sensors differ from traditional imaging chips because the circuitry is located out of the optical path, allowing more light to be gathered by the sensor, which improves quality at high sensitivities and increases dynamic range.

Sensor-shift and electronic image stabilisation technologies have both been incorporated into the design, which should help to increase the number of sharp shots taken with that 810mm equivalent telephoto.

Nikon's latest Expeed C2 image processor is also included. This promises to improve the responsiveness of the camera, the quality of video and the quality of images taken at high sensitivities when compared to previous image-processing engines.

Videos can be recorded at up to 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second for up to 29 minutes, which is a fairly typical spec for a camera of this level. Alternatively, high-speed video can be captured at up to 240 frames per second, albeit at much reduced resolution. When the footage is played back at 30 frames per second, a smooth yet eerie slow-motion effect is created.

Nikon coolpix p500

Stereo sound is recorded with standard HD footage via the microphone on top of the camera, and there is no way to connect an external microphone. High-speed footage contains no sound.

Zoom and autofocus functions are disabled during recording of high-speed video footage. When recording HD footage, the zoom can be used, but autofocus will only function if the full-time AF function is enabled in the menu.

Along with a wide range of automatic scene modes, the P500 also has program auto, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure modes, which will please enthusiasts who may want to take more control over exposure.

The usual range of automatic assistance is also available - including face detection, blink detection and automatic scene mode selection.

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution12.1 Megapixel
USBYes
Wide AngleNo
PictBridgeYes
Product FamilyCoolpix P
Image StabilizationOptical, Electronic
ColourBlack
Optical Zoom36x
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NameNikon
FeaturesContinuous Shooting Mode, Aperture Priority
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsQuickTime MOV
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)494 g
Flash Memory Capacity102 MB
Minimum Focus Distance10 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4000 x 3000
Maximum Frame Rate240 fps
Number of Batteries Supported1
Battery Built-inNo
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Image Sensor TypeCMOS
Total Camera Resolution12.8 Megapixel
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Height83.7 mm
Width115.5 mm
Depth102.5 mm
Product SeriesP
Focal Length4 mm to 144 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
Audio FormatsWAV
Flash ModesAuto Flash, Flash OFF, Flash ON, Slow Sync, Rear Curtain Sync, Red-eye Reduction
Focus ModesAuto
ManufacturerNikon Corporation
Product ModelP500
Product NameCoolpix P500 Compact Camera
Product LineCoolpix
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberVMA670E1
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.nikon.co.uk
Marketing Information

A superb performer with incredible range, the compact COOLPIX P500 boasts an astounding 36x zoom, a tilting LCD monitor and full HD movie recording. Offering ultra wide-angle to super-telephoto coverage, the impressive 36 x zoom combines with the back illuminated CMOS image sensor to deliver stunning images from anywhere - and in any light.

Battery Life220 Shot/1.33 Hour Video
Package Contents
  • Coolpix P500 Compact Camera
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery EN-EL5
  • Charging AC Adapter EH-69
  • USB Cable UC-E6
  • Audio Video Cable EG-CP16
  • Camera Strap AN-CP21
  • Lens Cap LC-CP23
  • CD-ROM
Display Resolution921000 Pixel
Limited Warranty1 Year