Nikon Coolpix P500 Review


Overview of the Nikon Coolpix P500 Camera

In the past, I have not been really interested in ultra-zoom cameras. The performance of the cameras with the large zoom lenses is common sluggish, which leads to shaky image quality and missed images when you shoot fast-moving subjects.

However, the new crop of ultra-zoom cameras, though, has changed my mind. The excellent cameras can be listed as the Fujifilm FinePix HS20 and the Panasonic Lumix FZ150. Especially, the large 30X and 24X optical zoom lenses does get the attention.

I have reviewed the newly released ultra-zoom cameras, and the Nikon Coolpix P500 may be the best model among them. An impressive point is the very large 36X zoom lens. In addition, the price is about $375, which is lower than with other two zoom cameras.

Summary of the Nikon Coolpix P500 camera


  • The resolution is 12.1 megapixels
  • The optical zoom is 36X (22.5-810mm)
  • The camera use a 3.0-inch LCD which has the resolution of 921,000 pixels
  • The maximum image size are 4000 x 3000 pixels
  • The camera use a Rechargeable Li-Ion battery
  • The dimensions are 4.6 x 3.3 x 4.1 inches
  • With the battery and memory card compartment included, the camera weighs 17.5 ounces
  • The 1/2.3 in image sensor uses the CMOS technology
  • A full HD 1080p (30fps) movie mode is supported


  • Image quality is very good at all zoom levels
  • It has an extremely large lens – 36X optical zoom
  • LCD is sharp and bright, and it swivels and tilts away from camera
  • The performance is excellent, especially for an ultra-zoom camera
  • Price is extremely competitive for an ultra-zoom camera


  • You may feel the camera cheaply constructed when you first hold it, but I had no problems with sturdiness while using it
  • The camera doesn’t automatically switch between the viewfinder and the LCD when you lift the camera to your eye
  • Camera body is large, although that’s typical for an ultra-zoom model
  • Could use a few more resolution options at non-traditional aspect ratios
  • You must charge battery inside the camera
Nikon Coolpix P500 Camera Review

Nikon Coolpix P500 Camera Review

Detailed Review of the Nikon Coolpix P500 Camera

Image Quality

The images with the Nikon Coolpix P500 are of great quality even when you select the full automatic mode.

Some of the images will even surprise you thanks to the inclusion of the large zoom lens on the Coolpix P500. Although the zoom lens is large, you will just occasionally encounter the camera shake. The large zoom range is going to bring you amazing versatility with this camera.

Obviously, you can be very pleased with the overall outstanding image quality with the P500. The images are sharp with the accurate colors and proper brightness. The performance of the Coolpix P500’s autofocus is outstanding. And it’s precise within the camera’s zoom range as well.

The camera includes a popup flash unit centered over the lens. This partly contributes to bring you especially good flash photos. The size of the popup flash unit is larger than that of built-in flash units which you can find among small point and shoot cameras. This is a great advantage of the P500’s flash. Because the flash is not automatically opened as it’s needed, you have to press a button drive the flash to pop up. But don’t worry because the camera will display a message on the screen that instructs you to open the flash, when a flash is required in certain lighting conditions.


The most impressive aspect that I can’t help starting to mention about right from the beginning is its extremely large (36X) optical zoom lens, which has a measurement of 22.5mm to 810mm. With this ultra-zoom lens, you will easily obtain the best telephoto settings in the point and shoot market. Besides, the wide angle options are very nice as well.

The response times with the P500 are very fast, and you see almost no shutter lag for most of the time.

The sharpness and brightness with the 3.0-inch LCD are extremely amazing, which enables you to shoot high-resolution images. There are five brightness levels that you can select with this camera. It is also possible to tilt and swivel away this LCD screen from the camera body, allowing for odd-angle photos, although it would be nicer if the LCD could twist completely around. This would simplify self-portraits.

You can select the LCD screen or the electronic viewfinder to frame photos, although it requires you to switch between these two options by pressing a button. Actually, the camera does not automatically switch these two options each time you lifte the camera to your eye. This is a little bit disappointing.

The performance of the P500 camera is extremely great when you select the full automatic mode. In addition, there are some available options that allow partial manual control (shutter priority and aperture priority) and a full manual mode as well. For backlit, night portrait, and night landscape photos, you can use the mode dial with the included necessary settings.

Finally, the movie mode of the Coolpix P500 camera is excellent, in which both the full HD movie mode and the high-speed movie mode are supported. You can shoot at 240 fps in QVGA quality in those modes.


Despite having a large camera body, the weight of the Coolpix P500 is pretty light. In fact, this lightweight make me concerned about its sturdiness when I used this camera at the beginning, as it brings almost cheap construction feel. The performance is great, though.

One other slight disappointment with the design is that it requires you to charge the battery inside the camera or you have to purchase a separate battery charger.

Without the above drawbacks, the Coolpix P500’s design will be really nice. With a design that is very similar to a DSLR with a large right handgrip, the camera looks sharp. It can be easily operated with one hand, which isn’t common for all ultra-zoom cameras.

In addition to traditionally placing the automatic zoom control near the shutter button, a zoom control has been positioned on the side of the lens. You can move the lens within the entire zoom range of the camera more quickly than the other zoom control, but it isn’t as accurate. It is a handy placement for a second zoom control, though.

There are both a USB slot and an HDMI slot with this camera. In addition, when shooting in low light, the power button (located in the middle of the mode dial) is lit. This makes it easy to find the mode dial. As you turn the mode dial, you will see each setting on the LCD screen. This means you’ll find it easy to figure out which mode you’re using, even when you are in the dark.

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