Body and controls

Key takeaways:

  • The gigantic P1000 quickly becomes front heavy as you zoom, making it hard to hold for long periods of time. It will test your tripod, as well.
  • Despite its high price, the P1000 is not weather-sealed.
  • The image stabilizer does a good job through most of the focal range, though there's so much shifting above 2000mm equiv. that it's hard to keep your subject in the frame.
  • While having a fully articulating LCD is nice, the fact that it's not touch-enabled is very disappointing.
  • The CIPA-rated battery life of 250 shots (using the LCD) is well below average for this class.
  • The SnapBridge app does a good job of transferring photos from camera-to-smartphone, its remote capture feature is very basic.

At this point in the review we've established that the Coolpix P1000 is a large, bulky and heavy camera. It's the largest superzoom camera ever made and is very close in size to the large DSLR (with a lens attached).The center of gravity is just under the flash (if you sliced the camera vertically) until 700mm or so, and after that it shifts dramatically toward the front. Because of this you need a robust tripod to keep the camera from 'dipping' downward. We would've thought that Nikon would put a tripod mount under the lens - or offer a tripod collar - but they don't.

Thankfully, the grip is the perfect size, at least for larger hands, and the control dial around the lens can be used to support the camera, as long as you anticipate its lurch forward. You do need to have a solid hold on the camera at long focal lengths, as the tiniest movements will affect composition, even with the image stabilization trying its best. While the zoom lever, main dial on the top plate and Fn button are easy to reach, the secondary dial on the rear of the camera is not.

We would've thought that Nikon would put a tripod mount under the lens - or offer a tripod collar - but they don't.

Build quality on the body itself is very good, though some of the dials and the zoom lever feel cheap. It's a shame that the P1000 isn't weather-sealed given its price, though the only models in this class that are sealed is the more expensive Sony RX10 III and IV.

The layout of the controls is typical of a point-and-shoot camera, with four buttons surrounding a 4-way controller with a control wheel around it. While the size of the buttons are fine, the control wheel is a bit too small for such a large camera. Naturally, there's a dedicated movie record button along with an AE/AF-Lock button (with AF/MF switch around it) and a button for manually switching between the LCD and EVF.

Viewfinder and LCD

The specs of the electronic viewfinder are similar to almost every modern premium superzoom: it's a good-sized EVF that It uses an OLED panel with 2.4 million dots and undisclosed magnification that's similar to the size of the finder on the Sony RX10 III. An eye sensor, which was not included on the P900, switches between the LCD and EVF automatically.

The LCD is 3.2" in size (a bit larger than average) with a resolution of 921k-dots. Frustratingly the screen is not touch-enabled, making selecting a focus point and reviewing photos that much more of a chore. The display is fully articulating making it ideal for tripod work, video and vlogging.

Custom controls

There are four controls on the P1000 that can be customized. They include the Fn and AE/AF-L buttons, the side zoom controller and the control ring around the lens.

While confusing at first, the Fn button opens up a shortcut menu with a default setting which can be adjusted or easily changed to something else. Settings for image quality, Picture Control, white balance, ISO, AF area and Vibration Reduction, among other things, are available in the Fn menu.

The control ring around the lens can adjust exposure compensation, ISO, white balance or nothing at all. The last option might be a good choice, as it's pretty easy to accidentally rotate the dial. Naturally, this ring handles manual focus when in that mode.

Selecting the function of the control ring... ... and the AE/AF lock button

Speaking of which, the side zoom control can be used to either zoom or manually focus. There's is a step zoom feature on the P1000, known as 'zoom memory,' so if you want to jump between common focal lengths be sure to turn that on.

The AE/AF lock options are simple: AE/AF lock, AE lock only, AE lock (hold) and AF lock only.

Battery

The P1000 uses the 8.0Wh EN-EL20a lithium-ion battery. The battery is rated at only 250 shots per charge: quite low for a compact camera. The CIPA test used to derive that number includes 50% flash use, so odds are that the battery will last longer than 250 shots. It is disappointing that, given the size of the P1000, Nikon didn't use a larger, higher capacity battery.

Charging is done via an included AC-to-USB adapter, which Nikon claims takes 3 hour to fill up the EN-EL20a. (In our experience it seems to take a lot longer than that.) An external charger, known as the MH-29, also has a claimed charging time of 3 hours.

Auto ISO

The P1000's Auto ISO feature is good but not great. Regular auto selects between 100-1600 while Fixed range auto gives you the choice of ISO 100-400 or 100-800. The minimum shutter speed can be selected with a range of 1 sec - 1/125 sec.

Note that while Auto ISO can be used in manual exposure mode, exposure compensation cannot be adjusted.

SnapBridge

The Coolpix P1000 has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in and you'll use the slowly (but surely) improving Snapbridge app to control it. Pairing is easy, especially if you have Bluetooth, which also allows for automatic image transfer (at 2MP resolution) as well as time and location sync.

The remote capture part of the app is unimpressive in that you can't really change anything. The focus point is fixed at the center, no exposure or menu settings can be adjusted and there's no way to capture video. Think of it more as a cable release than a way to control the camera.

We ran into a wireless-related behavior worth noting, which is that if you're using 'autolink' for auto image downloads and clock/location sync you cannot format a memory card or reset any camera settings. We hypothesize that this is because the camera stores network information on the memory card and doesn't want to delete it.