Nikon CoolPix P900 Review…

150421_NAT_019-gimp-c2_LR500-wm

Hand held 1,100mm Focal Length (in 35mm Film terms)

I would describe myself as a Canon girl.  Once I bought my Canon Rebel T2i, I pretty much stuck to the brand.  So when my husband mentioned a new Nikon that boasted a 24-2,000mm lens (Nikon CoolPix P900), I was curious but apprehensive.

I asked the usual questions you might ask if thinking about switching brands.

Q: What new equipment would I have to buy if I bought a Nikon (batteries, memory card, etc.)?

A: The battery would be different from Canon, and need to be purchased if I wanted a backup battery (but I figured that), and the memory card is the same as my Canon.

Q: Would the setting buttons be easy for me to get adjusted to?

A: They would be different, but I could probably figure it out.

I’m not switching brands, by the way.  I’m merely exploring other brands.  And those of you who have been following me since January know that changing to a new system is a challenge I will face and conquer.  Being ambidextrous in many things is a skill I seek out.

So the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to learn.  I know that in general a 600mm lens will cost around $6,000.  So a 2,000mm (two thousand) lens & camera at 1/10th the price is something to explore, especially if it is from one of the big companies (Nikon).

Next I wanted to revisit the definitions of optical and digital zoom.  I didn’t want to be disappointed.  As far as I can tell, digital zoom is basically cropping inside the camera – I don’t want that, I’d rather crop in post.  Optical zoom is zoom like you think, it gets closer to the subject while retaining all the pixels.

The 2,000mm zoom is optical zoom – good. 😀  When looking at EXIF data the 2,000mm focal length is in 35mm Film terms.

Ok… I want it.

When my husband first mentioned it, it was a pre-order for April.  I sat on it, I wanted to read DP Reivew (a second DP Review) and see if it was all it said it was before I spent the money.

Since I waited, I had to wait some more.  All the stores had it on back order.  B&H Photo would have it in stock on April 20, but it’s in New York, so it would then take another week for it to get to me in California.  As an Amazon Prime member my order would be delivered in two days, but it didn’t say when it would be back in stock.  I hedged my bets and ordered it from Amazon.  It arrived on April 16th.

I’ve had it not quite a week and have taken it out four times.  Let’s see how it fares…

Pros

1. You can get up-the-nose shots! (Click to enlarge)

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Photo as-is from camera (only post processing was adding watermark and size reduction for blog). Hand held 2,000mm Focal Length (in 35mm Film terms)

2. Settings are fairly intuitive, which is good because there wasn’t much info in the manual.  [EDIT: A more informative manual can be downloaded from here.]  After turning off the various noises (focus and shutter noise), and figuring out how to make it as manual as possible, I was able to get a really good photo of the hummingbird on my balcony.  This was taken about an hour and a half after taking it out of the box (some of that time was spent waiting for the hummingbirds to approach me).  (Click to enlarge).

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Photo as-is from camera (only post processing was adding watermark and size reduction for blog). Hand held 380mm Focal Length (in 35mm Film terms)

3. Images don’t require much, if any, post processing.

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Photo as-is from camera (only post processing was adding watermark and size reduction for blog). Tripod 600mm Focal Length (in 35mm Film terms)

4. Lightweight.  Some of my Canon lenses are rather heavy (like my 180mm Macro) and I tend to fatigue easily.  This camera was super light and I could shoot much longer.

5. You can turn off digital zoom so that you never have to worry about it.

Cons

1. Only shoots in .jpg so if you forget to alter your white balance you might find yourself in desperate need of post processing.  I found a fairly easy way to fix this, it is my topic for this week’s AB Friday (come back Friday for more info).

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Photo as-is from camera (only post processing was adding watermark and size reduction for blog) White Balance set to Incandescent instead of Cloudy or Sunny (taken at Sunrise). Hand held 950mm Focal Length (in 35mm Film terms)

2. The settings take some getting used to… Metering and Focusing are a bit different from a Canon, but I figured it out in the end.  With some practice I will be more proficient.

3. Aperture only goes from f/2.8 to f/8.0.  The maximum aperture at f/2.8 is variable getting smaller the more zoomed out you get, which I expected.  The minimum aperture at f/8.0 was a surprise though, not being able to set my aperture to f/22 is a strange concept.

4. Doesn’t tell you what your focal length is.  Since I like to shoot in manual, I tend to be aware of my focal length so that I can set my shutter speed accordingly (i.e. Focal Length 100mm = Minimum Shutter Speed 1/100s).  I’m still exploring this, so far I have only been able to find out my focal length once I have the image on the computer and run an EXIF program on it.

5. The battery charger hooks directly to the camera.  I purchased a separate charger so that I could charge the battery without having to plug the camera into the socket.

6. The battery is difficult to find.  Finding a Nikon brand (second) battery for this camera has been harder than I expected, even though this is the same battery that was used for the Nikon P600.  None of the local camera shops, nor Amazon carry it.  I found it at Adorama.com and B&H Photo, both on back order.  I ordered it from B&H Photo, one day it will just arrive on my doorstep.

7. Not super great at macro.  My depth of field was lacking in subjects I was close to (it was superb in far away subjects).

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Photo as-is from camera (only post processing was adding watermark and size reduction for blog). Hand held 220mm Focal Length (in 35mm Film terms)

Verdict

Overall, I am very pleased with the Nikon CoolPix P900.  It will take some more practice on my part to get used to the differences.  And for the most part, the cons can be worked around.  I really wish I could figure out my focal length, though.

The up-the-nose shots were the selling point for this camera, and it did not disappoint!  But my Canon and all my Canon lenses will not collect dust, I will still need them for specific situations like macro work.

Have you switched camera brands before?  Are you as impressed as I am with the 2,000mm optical zoom of the Nikon CoolPix P900?  Have any other comments you’d like to share?  Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 😀

Until next time…
~nic

16 thoughts on “Nikon CoolPix P900 Review…

  1. Thanks for showing me (us?) the larger images. They are pretty darn good. You’ve got me looking at, and pricing, mirrorless cameras now. One item you seemed to glide over is that there is no RAW format. One of the great pleasures for me is post processing in Lightroom and I only shoot in RAW now. That definitely stops me from choosing the CoolPix 900 over others. But your post has really opened my eyes and I am no longer afraid of switching from Canon if I find something I like better. Thank you!

    • I mentioned that it only shoots in .jpg in the Cons section. I mentioned that if you don’t have your white balance correct, you could be in desperate need of post processing. I only shoot in RAW as well, so this was definitely something I went back and forth over when trying to decide if I wanted to purchase the camera. Really the 2,000mm lens is what did it for me. It occurred to me that if I wanted to take pictures of the whales in the ocean my 70-300mm lens probably wouldn’t be good enough. But I wasn’t willing to pay $6,000 for a 600mm lens. A 2,000mm lens (connected to a Bridge camera) for $600 was definitely something I wanted to explore. I am very happy with the range the lens gets. I am still struggling with things like forgetting to set the white balance properly (I have 50 images that I have to try to correct by hand because they were shot on Incandescent/Tungsten WB at sunrise at the beach, so they are super blue). Perhaps because I didn’t say the word RAW I didn’t make it clear, but this camera only shoots in .jpg.

      • No, it wasn’t you. I think I was so excited about your photos from such an inexpensive camera (as cameras go) that I glided right over it. And I’m wondering whether or not it would be worthwhile to purchase this as a second camera. I mean, the price IS amazing for the quality of the photos. And your photos are what made me stop and read! I can’t imagine how heavy a Canon 2,000 mm lens would be.

        • I know right?! My husband and I had a good laugh at the images of the Sigma APO 200-500mm lens (see this photo)… it costs $26,000 and weighs 35lbs! It comes with an attachment that allows it to get to 1,000mm. The behemoth comes with it’s own pelican case!

          So for $600 and a lightweight camera (2lbs) that is able to zoom to 2,000mm, yeah, I was willing to overlook the lack of RAW images thing. 😀

  2. I am considering switching brands but will have to rent before I commit! The photos on your post look great but I would love to see them full size. And since I do print, I would love to see one printed. But that’s just me. I have to admit you captured some great shots. That hummingbird is amazing!

    • Thanks, Emilio! I really like the hummingbird too! 😀 You have a good point on the printing… I haven’t printed anything since January. I used to print images before I put them in my smugmug store, but I took down the buy aspect of the store and haven’t put it back yet. So I haven’t been printing. But I will definitely have to print one of these soon.

      As for the full size image, I generally resize my images down to 500px long side for two reasons; 1. so that my blog page will load faster. 2. so that if someone swipes one of my photos off of my blog it will be too small to print.

      What size are the images on your blog? I noticed that you do not put a watermark on your images, nor is your name in the EXIF data. Is internet swiping a non-issue for you? Because you have some amazing photos that I really think would sell.

      • With technology the way it is I just figured if someone wants one of my images strongly enough, they’ll probably find a way. I was watermarking in the beginning of my posting but didn’t like “ruining” the image. But you have given me an idea that I might play around with. As for the EXIF data, I just never thought about it. Thank you for the compliment on my work, though. I appreciate it. The sized vary but lately I’ve been staying around 1000 px long. And when I remember I link to my web site with a much larger image.

        • You are right that if someone wants it bad enough they will find a way. Which is why I mine are so small, my theme doesn’t have them bigger than 500px, so why not just resize them that way, I think, then my page will load faster too. I figure that if someone were to try to print at 300dpi my 500x333px image will be about 1.5×1 inch and who’s gonna want that? Of course if they put it on the web, then it’s still a good size, which is where the watermark comes in. I do sometimes feel that the watermark takes away from the image, and lately I’ve been reducing the opacity of it so that it is less obtrusive. With mine on the corner though, I suppose someone could just crop it off, if they really wanted to. I just couldn’t get on board with a watermark across the center of the image. When I was using Photoshop and Lightroom I would import my images with my name as part of the copyright info. I haven’t figured out how to do that in GIMP and UFRaw yet, so my EXIF data currently is blank there. 1000px is a good size, the print would only be about 2×3 inches… is there an image in particular that you’d like to embiggen? I could put up a 1000px of it. 😀

        • Also keep in mind that I’m am still getting used to this camera, so the images aren’t as sharp as they would be if I was more proficient with the camera. Looking into a 2,000 mm lens and trying to track and focus on a moving object takes some skill, and I still need practice. 😀

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