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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)
  • Intervalometer
  • 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

Overall Conclusion

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.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Nikon Coolpix P510
Category: Super-zoom Compact Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Exposure and focus accuracy
Image quality (jpeg)
Flash performance
Low light / high ISO performance
Optics
Performance (speed)
Movie / video mode
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
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.
Overall score
75%
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.

Review Samples

There are 37 images in this review samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it. Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. Because our review images are now hosted on the 'galleries' section of dpreview.com, you can enjoy all of the new galleries functionality when browsing these samples.

Nikon Coolpix P510 Samples Gallery (37 images) - Posted July 2012

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Comments

Total comments: 5
jayantdole
By jayantdole (1 month ago)

I am using nikon p510 since last 2 years and enjoyed very much making its use. Now I want to in script my name in the photos taken by me. Will you please tell me how I can do it. Thank you.

0 upvotes
Rolfens
By Rolfens (4 months ago)

The 1000mm (equiv) makes a good topic of conversation - it's pretty impressive, and also is a good tool for spying on neighbors and other voyeur activities. To be honest it's also great for taking photos of the moon, setting sun and some other things. I've used this camera on several occasions and the zoom is very impressive, especially for something in this range (not pro DSLR bodies with super expensive tele lenses).
This is probably the best way to take a close-up photo of the moon or setting sun without spending thousands of dollars in gear. The IS is very effective, even at 1000mm, and that is something else that is impressive. The body looks nice, solid (for it's range) and light. The rest of the camera and specs are far from being stellar, though...

0 upvotes
Philipandrew
By Philipandrew (7 months ago)

I have a Coolpix P510 and very pleased with it. However, I notice there is a red box that now flashes with what looks like a figure of a clock (white) inside........and it flashes just above the movie number 1080/30 on the LCD screen on the lefty hand side! Can anyone advise me what this is??? I don't think it was there before and I cannot seem to remove it?? The Guide book doesn't explain and again I would value any information on error messages and where I can source these?
Any help would be really appreciated
Philip Andrew

0 upvotes
ritzmasto
By ritzmasto (10 months ago)

what your suggestion about problem mentioned by Lalljee above. I am considering buy this one. but still confuse at this moment.

0 upvotes
Lalljee
By Lalljee (10 months ago)

I have a coolpix P510, however, the close up ( even at 10 feet distance tend to get skewed to the either ends. I do not see this mentioned in any of your reports, nor any of the other reviews till now. As a result, some of the most precious moments have been lost forever. If this is a known problem, what is the solution that is recommended is also not mentioned

0 upvotes
Total comments: 5