Nikon Coolpix P510
Category: Super-zoom Compact Camera
Conclusion - Pros:
- Extremely powerful 42x (24-1000mm equivalent) zoom lens
- Very capable optical image stabilization system
- Effective automatic CA/fringing correction
- PASM shooting modes
- Good image quality at low ISOs
- Good performance
- Continuous shooting up to 7fps (but only for 5 frames)
- 100% coverage for EVF and LCD
- Sharp, tiltable 3-inch LCD at 921,000 dot resolution
Conclusion - Cons:
- Small, pokey electronic viewfinder
- EVF/LCD switch is manual, not automatic
- Slow f/3-f/5.9 lens
- Occasional focus hunting at telephoto settings
- Noise levels increase noticeably at ISO 800 and above
- No RAW option
Typically, with 'superzoom' cameras like the Coolpix P510, which offer extreme zoom ranges, we'd expect image quality to take a back seat to versatility. A focal range of 24-1000mm covers pretty much any shooting situation we can think of, and although it comes with caveats (the P510's AF system isn't up to action photogrphy and atmospheric haze will take a huge bite out of sharpness and resolution if you're taking pictures of far-away objects on a sunny day, for instance) it's pretty impressive how few sacrifices we found ourselves making when shooting with the P510. As we'd expect from this sensor, based on our experience with the P310, things start to look rather muddy above ISO 800, but between ISO 100-400 the P510 delivers nice, detailed pictures. Judged purely by its image quality though, the P510 does sit towards the bottom end of the current superzoom field, something which is especially obvious at its higher ISO settings.
A long zoom is about more than bringing distant objects closer, on a camera with such a small sensor it can also be very useful for isolating more close-range subjects against their background, as a way of controlling depth of field. The P510 is a very useful portrait camera towards the long end of its zoom, but naturally, in less than perfect light, going long on a relatively slow telephoto means that you may need to raise ISO sensitivity more than you might like.
In other respects the P510 is a perfectly respectable and agreeable camera, considering its pricepoint. There are enough manual controls and bells and whistles to keep 'hands-on' photographers happy and occupied if they choose to move outside of the boundaries (and simplicity) of automatic and scene modes. The built-in GPS is great for travelers, while some of the extras like slow motion video, interval timer and photo effects will appeal to those seeking something a little different. We wish the P510 had some sort of 'quick menu' of the sort that has become all but standard on cameras in this class, but this is a relatively minor criticism.
Ultimately, the P510 surprised us. It's not perfect, but it did exceed our expectations in some important respects. If you don't need the incredibly long reach of the P510's 24-1000mm zoom, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 is arguably a better buy (it offers superior high-ISO image quality and has the distinction of offering Raw capture) but if you want a small, portable, affordable super-zoom for travelling and everyday photography, and you don't mind being limited to JPEG capture, the Nikon Coolpix P510 should be high on your shortlist.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
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Ergonomics & handling
Exposure and focus accuracy
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Movie / video mode
General purpose daylight photography, where versatility is more important than critical image quality
Not so good for
Low light shooting and more critical work, where image quality is the priority.
The P510 is a well-featured little camera built around an incredible 42X zoom lens. The lens is the P510's main selling point and anyone looking for a go-everywhere camera for travel or general-purpose photography will be impressed by its versatility. Only sub-par image quality at high ISOs and slightly plasticky construction let the P510 down.
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|Nikon Coolpix P510 Samples Gallery (37 images) - Posted July 2012|
|White Knight Photographer's Guide to the Nikon Coolpix P510 eBook||$9.99|