Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for large_P510_BK_front34r_off.jpg
  • 16-Megapixel Backside Illuminated CMOS
  • 42x optical Nikkor zoom lens (24-1000mm)
  • Auto Scene Selector
  • 3.0-inch Vari-Angle LCD with 920,000 pixels
  • 0.2-inch color LCD viewfinder
  • Lens Shift VR Optical Image Stabilization
  • Record movies at full 1080p
  • Up to 6.25fps Burst @ full resolution (up to 5 frames)
  • Easy Panorama 180° and 360°
  • 3D image shooting mode
  • Li-Ion power source
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot
  • HDMI output

Pros
  • Unbelievable 42x optical zoom lens from 24-1000mm
  • dSLR style body is easy and comfortable to handle
  • Fully Automatic and Manual controls
  • Much Improved image quality from previous model
  • Excellent 1080p video recording with full use of the optical zoom
  • Robust shooting performance
  • High quality Vari-Angle 3.0-inch LCD screen, shows amazing detail
  • Powerful built-in flash
  • Lens mounted zoom control is very convenient and easy to use
  • Lens Shift VR stabilization works well
  • Stereo Microphone
  • Built-In GPS
  • HDMI output
Cons
  • At full telephoto, the camera can be very hard to hold steady, even with the optical image stabilization
  • Bad sound with built-in mics
  • No audio input
  • Trouble with our battery
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.8 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 5/10 to 1 and 5/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 1.48   seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 1.86   seconds
  • Continuous High = 6.25fps @ 16M (up to 5 images)
  • Continuous Low = 1fps @ 16M continuous
  • All tests were taken using a PNY Class 10, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
Nikon's CoolPix P510 is the most versatile and longest reaching super-zoom currently on the market. Its great performance and excellent image quality make this a must have for anyone looking for a camera that can handle almost any situation; without needing additional lenses.
Pick This Up If...
...You are looking for the the longest reach on the market without sacrificing any other features that you would normally find on a point-n-shoot. 
Nikon's CoolPix P510 gives new meaning to the expression super-zoom camera. Sporting a 42x optical zoom lens ranging from 24mm - 1000mm, they have provided a lens range that outdoes all other compact cameras. Don't worry, this camera is not all lens either, the P510 also features a 16-megapixel Backside Illuminated CMOS imaging sensor, Lens Shift VR Image Stabilization, Built-in GPS, a 921,000-dot Vari-Angle Clear Color Display; and of course full 1080p HD video capture with stereo sound. It is also loaded with fully automatic and full manual modes, along with a slew of great scene modes; like 3D shooting, HDR and Easy Panorama for 180° and 360° seamless images. Making it as easy to use as possible, the Scene Auto Selector and Smart Portrait system make sure that anyone that uses the camera can capture great images. 

Handling the P510 is easy and comfortable with either one or two hands thanks to the dSLR-like body styling and well-placed controls. While shooting with the longer end of the telephoto zoom, you will definitely need to use both hands to help steady the camera. The longer you zoom, the more your slight movements are magnified. Nikon's Lens Shift VR works well with this lens, but it has its limits. Also while using two hands you can easily zoom with the convenient zoom control on the left side of the lens. Combining this with the camera's EVF gives you a true dSLR feel while shooting. If you are not use to a dSLR, framing and viewing your images can also be accomplished with the 3.0-inch LCD screen. With 921,000-dots, this screen is same quality as most dSLR cameras and the Vari-Angle feature allows you to use it shoot in awkward situations by tilting the screen. The new built-in GPS allows you to create custom logs of your shooting trips, but with our tests, there was not a lot information to look at with the images.

Looking at our outdoor samples, we can see that the camera did an excellent job with exposure and a descent job with color on both sunny and overcast days. The overall image was much better on the sunny day with brighter, more vivid colors. The overcast images were a little dull, and the slight overexposure of the sky caused frequent aberrations in the high-contrast areas. Composing your images with the massive 42x optical zoom lens is amazing, but when you reach the telephoto end it can be very difficult to capture sharp images while hand holding the camera. Our close-up museum sample shows that it is possible to use the full telephoto while handheld, but the light has to be strong enough. Otherwise you WILL need to have a tripod or monopod for these types of shots. None the less, the versatility and reach of this camera is amazing. 

Our indoor sample images show that Nikon has improved the image quality a little with P510 vs. the P500 that we tested last year. At normal computer scrren resolution (20-25%, depending on the size of your monitor), all of the images throughout the camera's ISO range look good. Zooming in to 100% we can see that there is a little noise in all the images, but from ISO 100 - ISO 800 images show great detail and edge to edge sharpness. After ISO 800, the noise steadily increases while the detail in the images steadily decreases due to noise reduction. Even with the increased noise, these images are still good enough to make small prints.

Assisting you both indoors or outside at night is the pop-up TTL flash. It boasts a surprisingly powerful range of up to 26ft. at wide angle, or 14ft. at full telephoto (ISO Auto). This will allow you to use most of the 42x zoom range while in a small to medium sized room, but don't expect to light a subject from across an auditorium because it will come up short.

Either Scene Auto Selector or Portrait mode automatically turns on face detection and Nikon's Smart Portrait System when a face is detected. These features combine to give you a beautiful portrait whenever a face is detected. Focus, Exposure, White Balance, etc. are all set for the detected face or faces within the frame, giving you the best portrait possible. Our sample confirms this, as we see a crisp image, great exposure and smooth realistic skin tones and colors. We also did not see any instances of redness in the eyes when using the camera's flash. 

Two unique shooting modes that can be found in the Scene menu of the P510 are the Easy Panorama and 3D shooting modes. Both of these modes are designed to take the guess work out of creating these special images. Easy Panorama mode allows you to take a panorama image just by panning the camera. The P510 has settings for 180° and 360° images. The only thing that you have to do is press the shutter release and then start panning the camera right, left, up or down, and the camera will take care of the rest. Our sample came out flawlessly with no visible seams, but the resolution of these images is a little low. 

When it comes to 3D shooting, this camera is not a true 3D camera with dual lenses. It uses a double shot mode to combine two images into one 3D image. Once you capture an image, you will then pan to the right slightly until the image is aligned on the screen. When it is aligned, the camera will automatically capture the next image and create the 3D .mpo (3D image) file as well as saving a .jpg of the image.

Capturing movies with the P510 is as easy as pressing the dedicated video record button on the back; no matter what shooting mode the camera is in. In the normal shooting modes, the camera can capture high quality, smooth videos at 1080p HD, as well as the lower resolutions. There are also several high speed video modes available at the lower resolutions, which are great for slow motion playback for creativity or studying movement. Capturing the sound for your standard movies are stereo microphones built into the top of the camera. While you will get stereo sound, the small microphones are sensitive and will only pick up the sounds that are closest to the camera. An external mic input for higher quality sound would be an excellent addition to this camera.

Our sample video looks great on an HDTV when outputting with the HDMI port, allowing the camera to smoothly play the movie and sound through the TV. The sound is not the greatest as the majority of the sound picked up by the camera is from the air handling system in the pool. Our sample did not play back as well on a computer, It was choppy with both the video and audio. 

Powering the P510 is a 3.7V, 1100mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. Nikon claims that the battery is capable of approx. 240 still images on a single charge. While completing our tests, we had a little trouble with our battery, as it only captured around 50 images before dying. We also had difficulty charging the battery; making us think that we might have a had a bad unit. This should not be taken as the normal for battery life from this camera.

Bottom Line - Nikon's new CoolPix P510 is an amazing super-zoom camera that boasts a class-leading 42x optical zoom lens reaching to a 35mm equivalent of 1000mm! It also sports various other high-end features like the 16-megapixel Backside Illuminated CMOS imaging sensor, Lens Shift VR image stabilization, 3.0-inch vari-angle LCD with 921,000 dots of resolution and slew of creative scene shooting modes. The new larger sensor also brings with it better image quality than the previous P500 model. Performance is also very good, with great high speed burst and high frame rate movie options. With a MSRP of US $429.95, this should be looked at by anyone that is looking for a super-zoom or bridge camera. 

You can check out the price of this camera on Adorama by clicking here

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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