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Nikon Coolpix P510 Digital Camera Review

nikon20120723aa.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Katrina Ferguson


Generally speaking there are a handful of keys specs of compact digital cameras that tend to be the selling point and it’s safe to say megapixels and zoom range are two of them.

Nikon’s Coolpix P510 comes armed and dangerous in both departments boasting some 16-megapixels and a whopping 42x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 24-1000mm) in addition to its ability to shoot full HD video and for the most part, produce quality images be they in bright or low light conditions or when utilising the impressive built-in flash.  

Whilst it’s certainly not the most compact of point-and-shoot cameras available the P510 does offer up a selection of desirable features for a reasonable asking price and bundles it all into a chunky but lightweight unit resembling a semi-shrunken and simplified DSLR.

 

Appearance & Functionality


The P510 weighs in at just under 560g with a plasticky feel and finish and a nice chunky rubberised handgrip (complimented by a small rubberised thumb pad on the unit’s back) that makes general handling and shooting a pleasure and all available buttons and dials are logically placed and labelled for better overall usability.

nikon20120723ab.jpgThis simplicity of design and functioning continues through into the internal menu system where users are presented only with a manageable amount of options and navigation is both straightforward and delightfully no-frills.

The inclusion of two zoom toggles – one adjoining the shutter and the other fixed to the left-hand side of the lens shaft – remains a slight mystery but I suppose being presented with options is in no means a bad thing.

The 11-option mode dial is perfectly definite in its operation making it easy for users to precisely select their desired mode without any difficulty.

Users can choose between auto, scene (with no less than 16 options), night landscape, landscape, backlighting, effects (with nine special effect choices), user settings, manual, program, aperture or shutter priority.

Full manual mode allows for apertures ranging from f3.0 to f8.3 and shutter speeds of eight seconds right up to 1/2000th. ISOs from 100 to 3200 (+ Hi 1) are available though best results occur within the 100-400 range where higher ISOs begin to show a smudging of detail and less vibrant and true-to-life colour (as is the case with almost all compact units in this price range.)

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Basic GPS ability is built in to the P510 that allows users to geo-tag their images if desired, two panorama assist modes exist for those who enjoy compositing full landscape and scenery shots – or at least letting the camera do the hard work for them (yes please!) - and users can utilise numerous creative special effects such as selective colour, high ISO monochrome, soft focus and silhouette etc. should they be inspired to do so.

 

Image Quality / Lens Quality

 

There is simply no discreet way of building a 42x zoom lens into a compact camera and as a result the P510 is almost as deep as it is wide – and that’s before you even begin to utilise the zoom function.

 

At full telephoto zoom the Nikkor VR (Vibration Reduction) lens extends an additional 5.5cm from its housing making the unit somewhat front heavy and anything but inconspicuous.


Add to this the slow and audibly mechanical auto focusing at longer zooms and the difficulty even a pro would have at tracking any moving subject at such a distance and the question must be asked: is there much of a practical application for such significant zoom ability on what is quite a small and affordable compact class camera? (Other than piquing consumer interest at that initial point of sale that is.)


nikon20120723ac.jpgPerhaps it’s slight overkill but with that said, shooting stationary subjects at full zoom can yield some decent results and the overall versatility allowed the user in terms of having access to the full zoom range as a whole is undoubtedly a plus.

Image stability (as a result of the VR lens) works very well in the P510 making hand-held shots – especially in lower lighting conditions and without the use of flash – much easier.

It’s one of those subtle but highly functional features that users generally won’t even notice in practice but will certainly reap the benefits of in their finished image files.

For the most part image quality is really quite good. In ample lighting conditions and when utilising the built-in flash the P510 offers crisp results with good colour rendition and a nice amount of detail.

It performed surprisingly well in lower lighting conditions often producing correctly exposed images that denied the dim and dull previews offered on the LCD. Obviously for best results in such conditions however a steady hand or tripod is ideal.

 

View test images on our Facebook page

 

nikon20120723ad.jpgLCD Screen / Viewfinder


The 3-inch variable angle LCD screen on the P510 offers a fairly nice and bright preview and suffers no clearly discernable lag.

It can be pulled out and away from the unit’s body and subsequently tilted either upwards or downwards (a bonus for over-head or from-the-hip shooting) but unfortunately the screen is unable to be swung out horizontally (for easy self-portrait composition etc.)

An electronic viewfinder (EFV) is also available and users can switch between this and the LCD live view using an easily accessible dedicated one-press button.

The camera’s internal electronics can be heard constantly whirring and working away when using the EVF and the eye piece is not especially ergonomic or gentle on the eye socket but it does extend generously away from camera’s body so a fair portion of external light and distracting elements can be eliminated from your peripheral view.

 

 

 

Video


nikon20120723f.jpgThe P510 comes complete with full 1080p HD movie mode at 30 frames per second which -whilst reporting well on paper - disappoints significantly in practice. When it’s on and in focus there appear to be no issues but unfortunately as soon as you zoom or even recompose, the P510 has a tendency to drop out of focus.

This in itself isn’t entirely uncommon for cameras in this price range but where other units automatically and quickly work to regain focus the P510 is sluggish in its attempts and many times is unsuccessful and thus far too often leaves your moving images either soft or a complete blurry mess.

Particularly when utilising the zoom function whilst recording the P510 struggles to refocus more than any other camera tested here at Buy-n-Shoot.com

 

Conclusion

 

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Whilst I certainly would not recommend the P510 for anyone who regularly uses video record functioning it does most definitely have a number of other redeeming features that are highly desirable in a compact of its class.

The generous offering of 16-megapixels helps to produce generally crisp and well-exposed images – and also allows some flexibility in terms of cropping images without degrading image quality - and the built-in flash (paired with a powerful auto-focus illuminator) offers a punchy little pop that renders well-exposed and sharp images often even in less than desirable lighting conditions.

If you’re a believer in all things bigger are better no doubt the whopping 42x zoom lens will certainly tickle your fancy (especially at full zoom) and the flexibility offered by the variable-angle LCD will appeal to many shooters who enjoy the challenge of over-head and/or from-the-hip photography.

 

Accessories Used During Testing:

Tamrac Aero 94 / 3394 Camera Bag  

SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s SD Card 

 

Recommended Retailer:

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View / Buy The Nikon Coolpix P510  

 

Appearance rating 4 stars
Functionality rating 3.5 stars
Image quality
3.5 stars
Video quality
3 stars
Lens quality
3.5 stars
LCD screen (Rear)
4 stars
Value for money 3.5 star
Street Price
$549
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 16.1 Mega pixels
Sensor Type
1/2.3-inch type CMOS
Image Sizes 5 sizes / 4 ratios
Lens 42x Zoom, 24mm - 1000mm, Wide(W) F3.0; Tele(T) F5.9
Lens Mount
-
Resolution Settings: Stills 16MP 4608x3456
8MP 3264x2448
4MP 2272x1704
2MP 1600x1200
VGA 640x480
16:9 12MP 4608x2592
16:9 2MP 1920x1080
3:2 4608x3072
1:1 3456x3456
Resolution Settings: Video HD 1080p(fine) (default): 1920 x 1080/approx. 30 fps,
HD 1080p: 1920 x 1080/approx. 30 fps,
HD 720p: 1280 x 720/approx. 30 fps,
iFrame 540: 960 x 540/approx. 30 fps,
VGA: 640 x 480/approx. 30 fps,
HS 120 fps: 640 x 480/approx. 120 fps,
HS 60 fps: 1280 x 720/approx. 60 fps,
HS 15 fps: 1920 x 1080/approx. 15 fps
GPS Yes, Receiver frequency 1575.42 MHz (C/A code), geodetic system WGS 84
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Yes
Shutter Priority
Yes
Shutter Speeds Auto mode, scene mode, special effects mode 1/4000* to 1 s 1/4000* to 2 s (Tripod in Night landscape scene mode) 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode) P, S, A, and M modes 1/4000* to 8 s (when ISO sensitivity is set to 100 in M mode: including when set to Auto or Fixed range auto) 1/4000* to 4 s (when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 100, 200, or 400 in P, S, or A mode, and when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 200 or 400 in M mode) 1/4000* to 2 s (when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 800) 1/4000* to 1 s (when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 1600, and when set to Auto or Fixed range auto in P, S, or A mode) 1/4000* to 1/2 s (when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 3200 or Hi 1) 1/4000 to 1/125 s (Continuous H: 120 fps) 1/4000 to 1/60 s (Continuous H: 60 fps) * The aperture value is f/8.3.
ISO ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, Hi 1 (equivalent to 6400) Auto (auto gain from ISO 100 to 1600) Fixed range auto (ISO 100 to 400, 100 to 800) Hi 2 (equivalent to 12800) (High ISO monochrome in special effects mode)
LCD Monitor 7.5-cm (3-in.), approx. 921k-dot, wide viewing angle TFT LCD monitor with anti-reflection coating and 5-level brightness adjustment, tiltable approx. 82° downward, approx. 90° upward
Viewfinder Electronic viewfinder, 0.5-cm (0.2-in.) approx. 201k-dot equivalent LCD with the diopter adjustment function (-4 to +4 m-1)
Flash TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes, [W]: 0.5 to 8.0 m (1 ft 8 in. to 26 ft) [T]: 1.5 to 4.5 m (5 ft to 14 ft)
Hot Shoe No
White Balance Auto, Cloudy, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Manual
Self Timer 2 / 12 s Pet auto shutter
Stills Format/s
JPEG
Video Format/s Audio files: WAV, Movies: MOV (Video: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Audio: AAC stereo), 3D pictures: MPO
Video Recording Time/s 29 Minutes / 4GB
Storage Type - External SD, SDHC, SDXC memory cards
Storage Type - Internal
90MB
Connectivity Hi-Speed USB and HDMI
Power Source AC Adapter EH-62A
Battery Options Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL5
Battery Life Approximately 240 Shots
Dimensions 119.8mm (W) x 82.9mm (H) x 102.2mm (D)
Weight 555g (including battery and memory card)
















 


 

 

About Nikon

 

The history of Nikon dates back to 1917 when three of Japan's leading optical manufacturers merged to form a fully integrated optical company. By the end of the century Nikon would have accumulated an immense poll of know-how and experience to become a world leader in not only optics and imaging but also industrial equipment and health and medicine sector.

Today Nikon designs, develops, manufactures and markets a gamut of optical, photographic and optoelectronic products globally. You will find them at work in virtually every corner of the earth. If it has something to do with light, Nikon has something to do with it.

The driving force behind Nikon is technology. Not only in manufacturing and assembling the finest lenses or most comprehensive photography system in the world, but also in making the glass itself. That is why Nikon products have gained worldwide customer satisfaction, and even professional recognition worldwide.

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