Coolpix P1000

We get hands-on with the in­cred­i­ble Coolpix Nikon P1000 mega­zoom and its all-see­ing lens

NPhoto - - CONTENTS -

The press re­lease for the P1000 made for en­ter­tain­ing read­ing. A fixed lens bridge cam­era with 125x op­ti­cal zoom, equat­ing to 24-3000mm in 35mm terms? “Tell me more!” Weight: 1.42kg, Length: 181mm. “Yikes, this thing is huge!” See, the P1000 isn’t blessed with a big sen­sor. Deep within lies a tiny 1/2.3-inch 16Mp chip, the same size you’d find in a bud­get com­pact or a smart­phone, and un­likely to set any im­age qual­ity records. Then my al­ready slack­ened jaw de­scended into freefall. RRP: £1000/$1000.

You do at least get a lot of cam­era for your money. The P1000 is roughly as bulky as a D750 with a 24-70mm f/2.8 at­tached, but with much more girth around what would be the lens mount. It’s a com­fort­able cam­era in the hand though, with a well sculpted grip, even if build qual­ity doesn’t feel quite as ro­bust as a Nikon DSLR.

The se­lec­tion of rear but­tons (and ba­sic menu in­ter­face) are also more in keep­ing with a Coolpix com­pact than some­thing like a D3500 DSLR, but there is a PASM mode dial, and a con­trol wheel for ad­just­ing key set­tings. The flip-out 3.2-inch, 921k-dot mon­i­tor is a match for an en­try-level DSLR for clar­ity, but it lacks touch-sen­si­tiv­ity, which stings con­sid­er­ing the P1000’s price tag. Thank­fully Nikon hasn’t skimped on the 2359k-dot OLED EVF, as this is a real plea­sure to use.

Per­for­mance

Fire up the rather podgy P1000 and first im­pres­sions are quite pos­i­tive. De­spite not hav­ing any phasede­tec­tion points, the AF is near in­stan­ta­neous and re­li­ably ac­cu­rate at shorter fo­cal lengths, and it rarely strug­gles to lock on even when the zoom reaches an equiv­a­lent 1000mm. But plough on to 2000mm and beyond and the AF can miss its mark, some­times hunt­ing sev­eral times for an ac­cu­rate fo­cus lock on.

The lens could ben­e­fit from a fo­cus lim­iter switch to lock out short fo­cal lengths when you’re zoomed in. But there’s a snap-back zoom but­ton that en­ables you to zoom out to re­lo­cate a fleet­ing sub­ject and zoom back in, all at the touch and re­lease of but­ton. There’s also a cus­tom­iz­a­ble con­trol ring around the front of the lens bar­rel, but an­noy­ingly this can’t be used for man­ual fo­cus to over­ride any AF un­cer­tainty.

It’s not just the AF that strug­gles to cope with the im­mense zoom reach. The P1000 packs an ex­cel­lent lens-shift VR sys­tem that per­forms ad­mirably up to around 1500mm, but beyond this you’ll need a stat­uesque stance – or tri­pod – to en­sure a sharp shot. Bright con­di­tions are also es­sen­tial, as the lens stops down to a max­i­mum f/8 aper­ture at the longer fo­cal lengths.

This wouldn’t be a prob­lem if you could keep shut­ter speeds high via in­creased ISO sen­si­tiv­ity, how­ever do this and im­age qual­ity takes a tum­ble.

The P1000’s sen­si­tiv­ity range tops out at ISO6400, but the tiny 16Mp sen­sor strug­gles to main­tain good de­tail and dy­namic range even at ISO800. We com­pared the P1000 to a Google Pixel XL for wide-an­gle im­age qual­ity, and though the big Nikon comes close in day­light, the smart­phone trounces it in dim­mer con­di­tions, re­solv­ing far more de­tail de­spite only pack­ing a 12Mp sen­sor.

05 02 For­get just shoot­ing the moon – the P1000 could prob­a­bly zoom in on Aldrin and Arm­strong’s flag and de­bunk the con­spir­acy 04

80mm At 80mm-equiv­a­lent fo­cal length, the cam­era has al­ready zoomed beyond a 3x DX DSLR kit lens

24mm De­spite the P1000’s reach, the lens can still go as wide as 24mm-equiv­a­lent, good for city streets

06 03 01

3000mm Shoot from an el­e­vated spot when zoomed all in, or the cur­va­ture of the earth may block your sub­ject!

500mm 500mm equates to nearly 21x zoom – eas­ily enough reach to fill your frame with most far-flung sub­jects

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