Nikon Coolpix B600 Review
What We Love. Having a 60x zoom lens in an easy-to-operate camera like the Nikon Coolpix B600 should appeal greatly to beginners. After all, one of the biggest disadvantages of a smartphone camera is the lack of a high-quality optical zoom lens. Even with such a large zoom lens, the B600, the camera isn't overly heavy or bulky. It fits nicely in the hand. Finally, this model has a lower price point than you may expect at about $330.
What We'd Change. We're not a huge fan of the overall image quality found with the Coolpix B600. As often occurs with tiny 1/2.3-inch image sensors, images aren't particularly consistent from scene to scene. If you'll be shooting while hand-holding the camera, expect some blurry shots from camera shake, especially if you have the zoom lens extended. This camera is easy to use, but it has very few manual control options, including no Program Auto, Aperture Priority, or full Manual mode. Shooting photos in low light with the B600 is a disappointment, as mid-to-high-ISO performance is poor.
Pick This Up If... You want a big zoom lens camera with a reasonable price point. For travelers, this is a nice camera for bringing far-off subjects close enough to see clearly. As long as you don't mind shooting a lot of photos with this camera attached to a tripod, it can provide decent results.
| Auto mode | f/5.6 | 1/200 sec. | ISO 400 | 500 mm |
As you might guess from its name, the Coolpix B600 is a bit of a hybrid between the Nikon Coolpix B500 and B700. The B700 is larger than the B600 and costs more, as the B700 has more megapixels of resolution. The B500 has an electronic viewfinder and a 40x optical zoom lens, while the B600 and B700 both have a 60x optical zoom.
It's that 60x optical zoom lens that's the best feature of the B600. Having such a large zoom lens in a relatively inexpensive camera is impressive.
If you plan to use that large zoom lens regularly, we'd suggest investing in a tripod. From our test photos, it is extremely difficult to hold the camera steady when the zoom lens is extended. You'll end up with a blurry image roughly one-quarter to one-half of the time when shooting over a distance, even outdoors, without a tripod.
We also have to note that the Nikon B600 is one of the easiest cameras to use that you'll find. That's good for inexperienced photographers. However, with that simplicity, you won't have the ability to shoot in advanced manual control modes, even something as basic as Program Auto mode. This will disappoint photographers who have some experience with controlling the settings.
- 16.0MP 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor
- 60x optical zoom NIKKOR ED glass lens, 24-1440mm equivalent, F3.3-6.5
- +/- 2.0 EV, 1/3 EV step exposure compensation
- Contrast detect AF
- 3.0-inch (921K dots) LCD
- Built-in popup flash
- ISO Sensitivity: 125-6400 in Auto; 125-1600 in other modes
- Continuous Shooting 7.7fps for 7 frames
- Video Modes: Full HD 60i/50i/30p/25p, HD 30p/25p, SD 30p/25p
- Creative Styles: Light, Depth, Memory, Classic, Noir, Variety, Selective Color (Red, Green, Blue)
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Size: 4.8 x 3.3 x 4.0 inches; 17.7 ounces
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
- Rechargeable Battery EN-EL12
- AC Adapter
- USB Type-A Male to Type-B Micro Cable
- AN-CP21 Strap
- LC-CP29 Lens Cap
BUILD QUALITY & DESIGN
We liked the feel of the Coolpix B600 while shooting our test images. It has a natural, balanced feel as you're carrying it from scene to scene.
At only a little more than 17 ounces in weight, you won't feel tired after carrying this camera for a few hours continuously. However, don't plan on sliding this camera into a pocket to carry it. With its large lens housing, it has a squarish design that's too big for a pocket.
The B600 has both USB and HDMI ports on the right side panel (as you're holding the camera). Its SD memory card slot and battery slot are both in a panel on the bottom of the camera.
Even if it doesn't have high-end image quality or manual control features like a DSLR, the B600 has a look that will remind you of a DSLR camera. This model has a big right-hand grip, which makes holding and using the camera comfortable. (Unfortunately, the right-hand grip is not enough to prevent camera shake when hand-holding the camera while shooting with the zoom lens extended.)
The camera's control buttons are nicely sized. They're primarily contained on the right side of the back of the camera. The movie recording button is near the thumbpad at the right upper part of the back of the camera body, which is handy.
On the top panel, you'll find the mode dial, which is well-placed. The shutter button is easy to reach with your right index finger. It's surrounded by a zoom ring. The power button is also on the top panel, but it's a little small, so it's difficult to press when you're stabbing at it in a hurry, trying to capture a spontaneous photo.
60X OPTICAL ZOOM LENS
The 60x zoom lens built into the body of the Coolpix B600 is the key feature of this camera. For those who are currently shooting with a smartphone camera, the lack of an optical zoom is a significant frustration. The 60x lens in the B600 alleviates that frustration ... and then some.
This lens has a 35mm equivalent measurement of 24-1440mm. It has a maximum aperture of f/3.3 at the wide angle setting and f/6.5 at the maximum zoom setting.
Image sharpness is good throughout the zoom range. You will notice just a bit of softness at both ends of the zoom range. But compared to other inexpensive superzooms, the B600's overall lens sharpness is better than average.
You will notice a bit of purple fringing in scenes with high contrast, but this is typical for cameras with small 1/2.3-inch image sensors. If you only share photos digitally, rather than trying to make large prints, the purple fringing will be less noticeable.
Nikon included two zoom controls with the B600. The zoom ring around the shutter button is accessible with your right index finger. The zoom switch is on the left side of the zoom housing (as you're holding the camera, and as is visible in this photo). The zoom switch on the lens housing runs slower than the zoom ring, giving you greater control over the lens.
As you can see in this photo, when the zoom lens is extended, the camera becomes quite large. When shooting at the widest angle setting, the B600 measures about 4 inches in length. But with the zoom fully extended, the camera's length becomes about 7 inches.
MENUS & DISPLAYS
The Nikon Coolpix B600 has an average quality LCD screen, measuring 3.0 inches diagonally with 921,000 pixels of resolution. It does not tilt or swivel away from the camera body. The LCD does not have touch capabilities either.
With a long zoom camera like this, it would've been really handy to have an electronic viewfinder, so you could hold the camera tight to your eye to steady it while shooting. It's pretty clear looking at the camera that its design had a viewfinder included at one point. However, Nikon likely scrapped the EVF with the B600 to be able to deliver it at a lower price point.
You can select from several shooting modes using the dial on the top panel of the camera. However, most of these are simple scene mode options that really don't help you control the settings. Shooting in Auto mode the majority of the time will give you the best results.
The on-screen menus are pretty basic, which you'd expect for a camera with no manual control features. They're well organized, so you should be able to find the command you want to use relatively easily.
SPEED & AF PERFORMANCE
| Auto mode | f/4.8 | 1/800 sec. | ISO 125 | 95 mm |
We actually were relatively pleased with the operational speed of the Nikon B600. Versus other long zoom cameras and other simple point and shoot cameras, the B600 has above average results. You can record a photo a little more than 1 second after pressing the power button.
That certainly doesn't mean it's perfect, as operational speed is a common problem for cameras like this. Still, the B600 outperforms its peers.
Autofocus is fast and accurate most of the time, again outperforming similar cameras. We were especially impressed with the AF system while recording movies, as we'll discuss in more detail later.
Understand that you will have blurry images more often than you'd like with this camera. But this issue doesn't have much to do with the autofocus system. Camera shake is the far bigger cause of blurry images.
One disappointment: In burst mode, you only can record about seven shots before filling the camera buffer. So the B600's continuous shot speed of 7.7 frames per second isn't really beneficial because the buffer is full in less than 1 second.
| Auto mode | f/3.8 | 1/1600 sec. | ISO 125 | 24 mm |
With the Coolpix B600, you can adjust the exposure manually in 1/3 EV steps up to plus-2 or minus-2. Matrix, center-weighted, and spot metering modes are available.
As far as the camera's exposure accuracy, it was adequate much of the time. We had some sample photos where the sky was completely washed out, while in others, cloud detail was good and the blue of the sky was beautifully captured. As with some other aspects of the B600, proper exposure was a hit and miss prospect.
STILL IMAGE QUALITY
| Auto mode | f/3.5 | 1/400 sec. | ISO 125 | 28 mm |
Image quality with the B600 is about average for a camera in this price range and with a 1/2.3-inch image sensor. As long as the lighting in the scene is good, colors are accurate. This model struggles in low light to create high-quality images, although the flash certainly helps.
There just isn't a lot of consistency from shot to shot with the Coolpix B600, which can be frustrating. One scene will look vibrant with accurate colors, and the next scene will be dull and washed out. Add in the problems with blurry images from camera shake, and you can expect to shoot multiple photos in each scene to find an image you like.
Just plan on using a tripod a lot of the time with this camera, and you'll save yourself some time versus having to shoot multiple photos per scene to combat camera shake.
As with most simple cameras, you're limited to shooting in JPEG format with this Coolpix model. There is no option to shoot in RAW, which is understandable, as the B600 has no manual control shooting modes.
As long as you don't plan to try to make large prints with the B600's images, you should be fine. Share these images on social media or view them on a computer screen at less than maximum size, and they'll look nice.
The Creative shooting mode on the mode dial is a little disappointing. When using this, the camera will automatically record the scene with five or six photos where it randomly applies special effects to all but one of them. It's disappointing that you can't control this feature. You're better served by shooting in Auto mode, editing your photos later, and applying the special effects you want to use.
| Auto mode | f/3.8 | 1/30 sec. | ISO 1600 | 35 mm |
If you plan to shoot a lot of low light photos with your camera, you'll want to skip the B600. You can shoot at an ISO up to 6400 in Auto mode (and 1600 in other modes), but image quality is poor at higher ISO settings than 800.
The image listed here was shot at ISO 1600, and it's image quality is very disappointing when viewed at full size. As you can see in our sample images, ISO settings beyond 1600 deliver even worse quality.
The popup flash works adequately, so we'd suggest sticking with the flash when shooting in low light, rather than trying to bump up the ISO. Unfortunately, Nikon did not give the Coolpix B600 a hot shoe to attach an external flash, which would've delivered even better performance.
Certainly, most cameras with a small 1/2.3-inch image sensor struggle in low light and with higher ISO settings. But the B600's issues in low light seem to be even worse than what's typically found in these types of cameras.
Video quality is surprisingly good with the Nikon B600. The camera shake issues that plague this model when shooting still images with the zoom lens in use are not as big of a problem when shooting video.
Unlike some other budget priced, simple point and shoot cameras, the B600's autofocus when shooting videos is accurate and works fast. This is especially helpful when you're shooting video and moving the zoom lens back and forth often.
We'd recommend using a tripod for video recording when you're using the zoom toward the maximum setting in the range. When recording movies at maximum zoom, the scene will jump around without a tripod. But it's possible to record good video quality while hand holding the camera if you stick toward the middle of the zoom range.
You cannot shoot at a 4K video resolution with the Coolpix B600, which will be a deal-breaker for some people. However, you do have a few options for recording high speed video at up to 120 frames per second at a limited resolution.
| Auto mode | f/4.2 | 1/1600 sec. | ISO 125 | 60 mm |
The Nikon B600 offers both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Both are easy to set up and work nicely. There is no support for NFC technology with this camera.
As with other Nikon cameras, you can use the B600's wireless connection to operate the camera remotely. Just download the SnapBridge app to your smartphone to run the camera remotely.
Using the wireless features in this camera will drain the rechargeable battery faster than general photography. Under typical conditions, you can expect about 250-300 shots per charge.
NIKON COOLPIX B600 VS SMARTPHONE CAMERAS
In terms of image quality, the B600 and a decent smartphone camera will be very similar. A high-quality smartphone camera even will outperform the B600 in multiple areas. Some images with the B600 will look great; some will look dull and washed out. However, there is one huge difference between this Coolpix camera and a smartphone camera: The B600's 60x optical zoom lens. Smartphone cameras have no optical zoom capability. The B600's large popup flash gives it an advantage over a smartphone camera's flash too. However, you will not be carrying the large B600 in a pocket like you can a smartphone.
PROS & CONS
| Auto Mode | 40mm | F/3.8 | 1/640 | ISO 125 |
- Huge optical zoom lens at 60x
- Camera feels well-balanced
- Buttons are large and easy to press
- Very easy to use
- Lower price point than some other superzoom cameras
- Autofocus is accurate most of the time
- Video recording AF works well
- Popup flash unit delivers good results
- Good battery life for general photography
- Two zoom switches for greater control
- Problems with blur from camera shake are common
- Low light performance needs to be better
- Using high ISO settings doesn't result in usable photos
- Need to carry and use a tripod for the best results
- No 4K video recording option
- No manual control shooting modes
- No RAW shooting option
- No viewfinder or tiltable LCD
| Auto mode | f/4.2 | 1/1600 sec. | ISO 125 | 24 mm |
Nikon certainly delivered a couple of important features in the Coolpix B600. Its 60x optical zoom lens is impressive, giving you the ability to see far off subjects clearly. You can see the impressive magnification of this camera in our sample images.
Nikon also reached a really desirable price point with the B600. This model has a suggested retail price of about $330, and you probably can find this camera for less than $300.
However, it just feels like Nikon had to sacrifice quite a bit of functionality and performance in the B600's design to reach such a low price.
Image quality is not good enough in low light with this camera, and you can't do anything to fix the issue manually, as Nikon didn't give the B600 any manual control shooting modes. There's no EVF or tiltable LCD, both of which would've been helpful in avoiding problems with camera shake that occur far too frequently.
If you just want a big zoom camera that produces nice image quality when the light is adequate, the B600 is well worth considering. But if you want more of an all-around camera that can handle any shooting situation with success, you'll be frustrated with this model.
Our recommendation: The Nikon Coolpix B600 definitely will cause some frustrating situations for you. Image quality is hit and miss, which is problematic. Blur from camera shake occurs too frequently when hand-holding the camera. However, if you don't mind using a tripod regularly with this camera, its 60x optical zoom lens is a great feature. The B600 is worth considering for someone who primarily wants a big zoom at a reasonable price and can live with some other issues.
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