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Nikon Coolpix P520 - More An Incremental Update Than An Entirely New Camera

1/23/2014 11:25:16 AM
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A massive zoom at a competitive price, but it comes with too many compromises.

The P520 is Nikon’s top-of- the-range ultrazoom camera, with a 42x zoom, articulated 3.2in, 921,000-dot screen, electronic viewfinder (EVF) and GPS.

Nikon Coolpix P520

Nikon Coolpix P520

It is one of the cheaper models, and the reasons are obvious: the slim battery lasts for just 200 shots, less than half that of most of its rivals; there’s no accessory shoe for external flashguns; it can’t capture in Raw format; and the 201,000-dot EVF is small and coarse compared to the high resolutions offered elsewhere. .

It’s not much fun to use, either. Autofocus is lethargic, taking at least half a second, and up to three seconds in low light or at full zoom. Even in favorable conditions with a nearby subject, it managed to capture a photo only every 2.9 seconds.

It is one of the cheaper models

It is one of the cheaper models

The controls are slow to access, too. An Fn button can be assigned to various roles, and it’s quick to reassign it to a different task. However, this button doesn’t make up for the scarcity of labeled, single-function controls and lack of a quick-access menu system.

Manual exposure is well catered for, with shutter speed assigned to the dial and aperture on the rear wheel. Moving the autofocus point using the navigation pad is easy.

The P520 made a better impression in our video tests, capturing sharp details and a bright, clean picture in low light. Autofocus was sometimes slow to update, and noises from the lens motors crept into the soundtrack. We also noticed some compression artefacts in fast-moving scenes.

The P520 made a better impression in our video tests

The P520 made a better impression in our video tests

Photos were also mixed. The lens did well at the long end of the zoom, and although focus didn’t live up to the 18-megapixel sensor resolution, the levels of detail compared well with rivals. However, it wasn’t so competitive when shady conditions forced the ISO speed up. The resulting noise reduction made details look smudged and scruffy.

The camera made some very strange decisions about the shutter and ISO speeds, picking shutter speeds as slow as one second rather than raise the ISO speed beyond 800.

We could forgive the so-so image quality at this price, but there are other issues we struggled to ignore, from the poor battery life and performance to the inaccessible controls and lack of Raw capture. If your budget can’t stretch beyond $450, you’re better off picking up the SX50 HS.

If your budget can’t stretch beyond $450, you’re better off picking up the SX50 HS

If your budget can’t stretch beyond $450, you’re better off picking up the SX50 HS

Specifications

·         Rating: 2/6

·         Megapixels: 18 megapixels

·         Sensor size: 1/2.3in

·         Viewfinder: Electronic (201,000 dots)

·         LCD screen: 3.2in (921,000 dots)

·         Articulated: Yes

·         Touchscreen: No

·         Optical zoom: 42x (24-1000mm)

·         Optical stabilization: Optical, lens based

·         Orientation sensor: No

·         Maximum resolution: 4896 x 3672

·         File formats: JPEG; QuickTime (AVC)

·         Video resolutions: 1080p at 25fps, 1080i at 25/50fps, 720p at 25/50fps, 540p at 25fps, VGA at 25fps

·         Slow motion video modes: 720p at 50fps (1/2x), 480p at 100fps (1/4x)

·         Maximum video clip length: 29m 0s

Controls

·         Exposure modes: Program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual

·         Shutter speed range: 8 to 1/4000 seconds

·         Aperture range: f/3-8.3 (wide), f/5.9-8.3 (Tele)

·         ISO speed range: 80 to 6400

·         Exposure compensation: +/-2 EV

·         White balance: Auto, auto (warm lighting), 5 presets with fine tuning, manual

·         Additional image controls: Contrast, saturation, sharpness, Active D-Lighting

·         Manual focus: Yes

·         Closest macro focus (wide): 1cm

·         Closest macro focus (Tele): 1.5m

·         Auto-focus modes: Multi, center, flexible spot, face detect, tracking, target finding

·         Metering modes: Multi, center-weighted, center, face detect

·         Flash modes: Auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction

·         Drive modes: Single, continuous, self-timer, panorama, 3D

Physical

·         Card slot: SDXC

·         Memory supplied: 15MB internal

·         Battery type: Li-ion

·         Battery life (CIPA): 200 shots

·         Connectivity: USB, A/V, Mini HDMI

·         Wireless: No

·         GPS: Yes

·         Hotshoe: No

·         Body material: Plastic

·         Accessories: USB and AV cables, neck strap

·         Weight: 548g

·         Size (H x W x D): 84x125x121mm

Buying information

·         Price: $450

·         Supplier: www.nikon.com

 

 
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