Nikon Coolpix P500 Review

4.0
April 4, 2011 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4.5Mb.

The Nikon Coolpix P500's image quality is good for a compact camera with a small image sensor. The Nikon Coolpix P500's dealt fairly well with noise, which becomes obvious at ISO 400 along with some colour loss. The noise, colour desaturation and loss of detail gets progressively worse as you go from ISO 400 to ISO 1600 and finally the unusable 3200 setting.

The Nikon Coolpix P500 handled chromatic aberrations excellently with limited purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations. The 12.2 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpen setting and either require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you should increase the in-camera sharpening level.

The Nikon Coolpix P500's maximum shutter speed is 8 seconds, which is fairly good news for night photography enthusiasts. Macro performance is very good, allowing you to focus as close as 3cms away from the subject. Vibration reduction is a very useful feature that works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or using the telephoto end of the zoom range. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure. The backlighting feature increases detail in both the shadows and highlights, although at the expense of some additional noise and loss of fine detail.

Noise

The Nikon Coolpix P500 has 6 sensitivity settings ranging from ISO 100 to ISO 3200 at full resolution.

ISO 160 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix P500's 36x zoom lens provides a focal length of 22.5-810mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.

22.5mm

810mm

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops - the right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are slightly soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can alternatively change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

File Quality

At full resolution, there are three JPEG quality settings available - Fine, Normal and Basic.

Fine (5.28Mb) (100% Crop)

Normal (2.55Mb) (100% Crop)

   

Basic (1.31Mb) (100% Crop)

 
 

Chromatic Aberrations

The Nikon Coolpix P500 shows remarkably little purple fringing, with limited effects in areas of high contrast as shown in the example below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Nikon Coolpix P500 allows you to get as close as 3cms to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash card.

Macro Shot

100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Nikon Coolpix P500 are Auto, Auto with Red-eye reduction, Fill Flash, Manual (Full, 1/2, 1/4 1/8, 1/16, 1/32 and 1/64), Slow Sync, Rear-curtain Sync and Flash Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m. Some vignetting and barrel distortion is apparent at the 24mm wide-angle setting, irrespective of whether you use the flash or not.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (22.5mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (22.5mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (810mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (810mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Fill Flash or the Auto with Red-eye reduction options caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Nikon Coolpix P500's maximum shutter speed is 8 seconds in the Manual mode, which is good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 8 seconds at ISO 160.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Vibration Reduction

The Nikon Coolpix P500 has an vibration reduction mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the lens set to the same focal length and ISO speed. The first shot was taken with vibration reduction turned off, the second with it turned on. As you can see, with vibration reduction turned on, the images are definitely sharper than with vibration reduction turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether. Here is a 100% crop of the images to show the results.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)
1/5 sec / 22.5mm
     
1/6 sec / 810mm

Backlighting

The P500 captures three consecutive shots at varying exposures and combines them into a single photo with a broader range of tones. Three different HDR settings are available for selection.

Off

HDR 1
   

HDR 2

HDR 3

Special Effects

You can apply six different special effects as you shoot, with a live preview on the LCD screen showing exactly what the final image will look like.

Off

Soft
   

Nostalgic Sepia

High-contrast Monochrome

   

High Key

Low Key

Filter Effects

You can apply four different filter effects in-camera to photos that you have already taken.

Cross Screen

Fisheye
   

Miniature Effect

Painting

Easy Panorama

Easy Panorama allows you to take vertical or horizontal panorama photos simply by moving the camera in the direction of the on-screen guides. Multiple shots are then combined into a single panorama photo. The angle of view can be selected from 180° (normal) and 360° (wide).

Easy Panorama - 180°
Full-size Image
 
Easy Panorama - 360°
Full-size Image

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, 1080p, 12 megapixel, nikon, super-zoom, coolpix, EVF, 8fps, 36x zoom, p500, Nikon Coolpix P500 Review, coolpix p500, nikon p500

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