Reviews say the Nikon Coolpix P500 boasts an impressive feature set, but the highly versatile zoom lens is this camera's main attraction. With a broad focal range that spans 22.5 mm to 810 mm, the P500 trumps the wide-angle coverage of its compact rivals including the Canon Powershot SX30 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 . The P500's "insanely long" focal range allows great flexibility for wide landscapes and extreme close-ups, says PhotographyBlog.com's Mark Goldstein, who notes "you would need at least three to four lenses" to cover the same range on a digital SLR.
Behind the P500's wide super-zoom lens is a 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor optimized for better low-light images and speedy performance. Other features include an electronic viewfinder, full 1080p HD video with optical zoom and stereo sound, hybrid image stabilization and a vibrant 3-inch LCD that tilts for easier viewing. But like its smaller-lens Nikon Coolpix P100 predecessor, the P500 omits RAW support and direct access to settings such as ISO speed and white balance. However, the P500 adds a zoom-control lever on the lens barrel for greater stability in telephoto mode, though Shawn Barnett at Imaging-Resource.com warns that "shooting at extreme ends of this zoom" results in photo distortion.
Otherwise, reviews find that the P500 delivers suitable images, though CNET's Joshua Goldman reports that despite bright colors "photos are just really soft and lack fine detail," especially in shots above IS0 400. Softness is also present in the P500's video mode, and Goldman detects camera judder while panning. However, critics find that the camera's one-touch button and ability to zoom while recording make the P500 easy to use while shooting clips.
Measuring 4.6 inches wide and 4.1 inches deep, the P500 is a bit larger than the P100, but reviewers don't have a problem with the size and say the P500 fits comfortably in your hand. They also praise the camera's zippy shot-to-shot times, negligible shutter lag and continuous burst mode of 8 frames per second (fps), though for action shots the Fujifilm FinePix HS10 offers 10 fps as well as RAW support.
We found thorough expert reviews of the Nikon Coolpix P500 on enthusiast sites such as PhotographyBlog.com, Imaging-Resource.com, PC World and CNET, all of which provide results on performance as well as sample photos. A great number of user reviews detailing owner experience are posted on Amazon.com.
Although it lacks RAW support and doesn't produce great images at high ISOs, the Nikon P500 remains "a good choice for those who want the convenience of a superzoom" but the creative control of a high-end camera, says Mark Goldstein, who finds the P500's extensive focal range "a lot more portable and convenient than an SLR with a bag full of lenses." But the inability to quickly access menu settings frustrates. Still, the P500 merits a Recommended rating.
Review: Nikon Coolpix P500 Review, Mark Goldstein, April 4, 2011
With a long, wide 36x zoom lens and plenty of photo features, the Nikon Coolpix P500 offers point-and-shooters "room to experiment," says Joshua Goldman. The "gorgeous" 3-inch LCD and "excellent" image stabilization rate well, as does the fast shooting performance. But Goldman finds that photo and video quality don't measure up to the rest of the camera, with soft images at high ISOs. However, his main gripe is that the P500 lacks menu shortcuts for ISO and white balance settings.
Review: Nikon Coolpix P500 (Black), Joshua Goldman, March 25, 2011
3. PC World
Theano Nikitas finds the Canon PowerShot SX30 no match for the Nikon Coolpix P500's super-wide zoom lens, which achieves "a feat that has yet to be equaled by any other non-interchangeable lens camera." Nikitas is also impressed with the P500's telephoto mode, though he says the camera struggles when the lens is fully extended. Lab results turn in good images but render slightly soft corners and disappointing low-light video performance.
Review: Nikon Coolpix P500 Review: 36X Superzoom Has Far-Reaching Features, Theano Nikitas, June 14, 2011
"An extremely wide and long zoom, an easy interface and very fast autofocus combine to make the Nikon Coolpix P500 an excellent companion camera," says Shawn Barnett. But he advises users to avoid shooting portraits at extreme ends of the camera, particularly wide-angle which "stretches heads and distorts bodies with unflattering results." He also notes image softness, but says the P500 tests well enough to make an "enthusiastic" pick.
Review: Nikon Coolpix P500 Review, Shawn Barnett, May 25, 2011
Over 70 owners weigh in on the Nikon Coolpix P500. Most are pleased with its zoom lens, handling and plethora of controls. One reviewer notes that image quality is not on par with a DSLR, while another says it's "virtually impossible to get a shot that's in focus at maximum zoom without a tripod." Other complaints include inattentive customer service and dismal battery life.
Review: Nikon Coolpix P500 (Black), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of July 2011