The Nikon Coolpix P900 Review: Create Stunning Visual Details in A Snap

nikon coolpix p900 digital camera

The Nikon Coolpix P900 is a simple, yet effective point and shoot camera that is surprising in its utility.

Although it lacks a lot of the sophistication you might expect from many modern digital cameras, it has some great features that make it worth a test-drive. Read on to find out what we all thought at the Camera Center.

The Nikon Coolpix P900: Product Specification

Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera with 83x Optical Zoom and Built-In...
  • 83x optical zoom
  • 166x Dynamic Fine Zoom super telephoto NIKKOR lens
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC (Near Field Communication technology) for wireless sharing
  • Built-in GPS
  • Includes all original accessories
  • Swiveling Vari-angle LCD display
  • 90-day warranty

Lens Performance

Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera with 83x Optical Zoom and Built-In...

At 24 to 35mm, the sides are soft, but by 55mm this gets better and it is virtually gone by 200mm. 500mm looks better for corner to corner sharpness.

By 850mm, the sides are softening once again, but many photos at such a length or longer maybe wildlife or something else that likely does not need sharp corners.

Upon using digital zoom, we found softness deteriorated, however from a distance of two miles I was able to tell who is texting and doing whatever else.

Overall, the lens going from wide to completely zoomed is way much better than I anticipated for a lens with those kind of design demands.

At 24mm equivalent and f/8, you’ll get it all, from inches away to infinity in focus. However, at f/8, sharpness will begin to dropping off, probably due to diffraction. Nevertheless, this was hard to see with no Dummyvision.

Nikon claims that there is a 5-stop vibration reduction. We’re unsure about the numbers, though it worked great for me. A tripod worked out better though, and if you find yourself wanting to use the long end of the zoom range (and naturally shoot in lower light) I suggest it.

When using the close-up mode, Nikon says the lens is going to focus to within one cm of the target. However, I shot Washington's portrait holding a dollar bill with the lens keeping the bill flat against a window, and this was in focus from approximately 1.5mm distance (though the edges were soft).

Besides just how simple it could be to bump the subject or damage the lens, being this close is able to result in the shadow of the camera to partially obstruct your subject.

I have been disappointed with weaker macro effectiveness in some other point-and-shoots, but when I backed up some, the P900 did very well.

Shooting Speed and Frame Rates

nikon focusing

At maximum resolution, the Nikon Coolpix P900 is able to shoot 7fps and you also get a 7 frame burst before the buffer fills. It normally takes up to 4.5 seconds for the buffer to clear.

All the while your LCD or viewfinder will merely show a preview of the final frame shot so that you can’t see your subject momentarily.

Often times I waited for the buffer to finish clearing, only to learn the subject was gone or had even had just completed some opportune behavior that I missed due to the P900s limitations.

The buffer goes all the way to sixty shots for 60fps/120fps burst rates, however, image size unfortunately is reduced to obtain this.

The Pre-shooting Cache is a feature I was extremely eager to take a look at. Anticipating wildlife action could be challenging at best – I have plenty of photos of birds’ rear ends moving out of the frame, when the lag between my mind my finger on the shutter button depression was simply way too long.

The Pre-shooting Cache begins to record frames starting from fifteen fps upon depressing shutter release halfway, but prior to you really pressing it down.

You are able to keep the shutter button in this halfway stage as long as you would like; also the Nikon Coolpix P900 continuously records frames & tosses out everything but the last 5 frames until you click on the shutter.

At which level the P900 saves the 5 frames captured in the 3rd of a second before you pressed the button. You are able to continue recording as much as twenty frames overall before the buffer fills, then naturally you hold out for the buffer to clear.

This works incredibly except for one thing – the image size is reduced to just 1280×960. Needless to say, this feature is only a characteristic of processor speed and of buffer capacity.

This is a great feature that I can see no reason to be applied in Live View on a DSLR.

To me, probably the greatest shortcoming you’ll find on the P900 is most definitely its shutter lag. When shooting any telephoto shots, lag drops to 3/4ths.

For sports or perhaps wildlife, this won’t do. The sole way around this is the aforementioned pre-shooting cache, however, this lowers file size a lot.

Focusing

nikon sensor performance

AF performance seems to be fast but is counteracted by P900's extended shutter lag at greater focal lengths. If it isn’t recognizing faces, the AF usually hones in to whatever is closest to concentrate on.

Like the majority of manual activities with the Nikon Coolpix P900, manual focus is a tiresome process. In case your subject isn't moving anywhere and there’s enough time, you can utilize focus peaking.

This takes parts of sharp micro-contrast within the photo comp, highlighting them in a white shade, indicating they're in focus.

Sensor Performance

Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera with 83x Optical Zoom and Built-In...

And so the lens does admirably, even outstanding for an 83x zoom, but just how does the sensor hold up? The 1:2.3 sensor utilized in the  Nikon Coolpix P900 provides great resolution at 16mp.

Nevertheless, it seems to take a hit from the expected limits of such a tiny sensor. The results of this are poor high ISO performance and a tiny dynamic range.

This causes smaller pixel sites, which gather much fewer photons, and fewer photons equals less information to put together a picture.

Up to ISO 800 appears quite good. At ISO1600 it looks terrible and at ISO 3200 6400 it looks really scary. A great deal of the P900's good picture quality is a characteristic of the software program doing tons of distortion control, sharpening and noise reduction.

With good light, the small sensor gives you sufficient details to create quality outcomes, but when the light becomes dark and ISO demands pushing, results go downhill quickly.

Heading to JPEG mode and also nailing white balance was not easy. Yet another problem apparent was a fall off in color in the shadows at higher ISO. As anticipated, the P900's dynamic range is narrow.

The Nikon Coolpix P900 only creates JPEGs and MOV files, absolutely no RAW whatsoever.

This is unfortunate, though the RAW files would seem really bad, and there is already a great deal of advanced tweaking taking place making the JPEGs look the way they do.

Modes

Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera with 83x Optical Zoom and Built-In...

This particular digital camera is created for any Point-and-Shoot Set, therefore includes tons of scene modes and automatic functions.

What I found is that the Nikon Coolpix P900 is very slow to maneuver in some of the modes. Working through the menus and selecting features you require is quite long-winded and time-consuming. It would be fantastic if this had quick WB and ISO controls.

After spending many days bogged down attempting to take the P900 in manual mode, I provided in and went to the Scene settings.

Landscape Mode takes up a spot on the Mode Dial. Museum mode puts you in a position to shoot inside with no flash and is much easier than trying to do everything yourself.

Unfortunately, the P900 just 2 Pano settings. These are 360 degrees and 180 degrees.

At the low setting, panning has to be done in an awkward great sweep to finish the picture.

You have to provide yourself with some additional room at the bottom and top, as well as a fair bit of leeway upon finishing the sweep as the last file is cropped automatically.

In Birdwatching Mode you are able to arrange a bird inside a slim dark frame, then push ok and the camera will zoom to 800mm. The outcome was dismal and although on paper the P900 looked like an enjoyable camera for bird photography, in the area it was simply frustrating.

The Moon Shot Mode performs great. Simply arrange the brackets over the moon, push alright and the P900 zooms to 2000mm. Click on the shutter release which begins a 2-second self-timer for the digital camera to stop shaking (you’ll want a tripod for this).

Construction and Ergonomics

Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera with 83x Optical Zoom and Built-In...

The build quality appears to be good. It is mostly plastic, but there is absolutely nothing flimsy enough to complain about. The one thing I would be concerned about is breaking the LCD screen. Ergonomically, the P900 felt great, with a secure grip.

The eye sensor which turns off the LCD and turns on the EVF is not hard to block. You will know since your LCD will turn off without warning. We found the EVF to be practical, because it displays the scene along with a lot of relevant details, but is fairly small.

The P900 has a very similar weight and dimensions as a little consumer DSLR. It’s not really a pocket camera and you would need a good size bag or purse to slip it in.

In addition, pairing it with a lightweight tripod is the simplest way to obtain the best from this camera, particularly when shooting landscapes.

Looking Forward

Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera with 83x Optical Zoom and Built-In...
  • 16MP CMOS Sensor 6-level brightness adjustment
  • 24-2000mm 35mm Equivalent Focal Length. Sensor Size: 1/2.3 inch
  • 83x Optical Zoom NIKKOR Super ED VR Lens

The P900 utilizes the Expeed C2 processor, that is honestly a very old processor to have in modern cameras. I would be intrigued to find out what it really might do with a processor equivalent to the brand new EXPEED 5A processor just released in the Nikon one J5.

The optical technology is there, the processor technological innovation is there, sensors continue to get better (but would probably be the weak link).

Throw in RAW capability and it would be an essential purchase, since it would allow for shots not possible with most other cameras.

Of course, the picture quality would not be near something like a D4, but picture quality isn’t an issue you if you’re missing shots altogether.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Shoot close-up photos from an amazing distance
  • Crystal clear photos
  • Lightweight
  • Excellent grip where the control buttons are located
  • Wide range of video options

Cons

  • LCD peep hole makes action photography impossible
  • Poor battery life

Our Final Thoughts

The Nikon P900 is an all-round camera that attempts to go from macro to supertelephoto, and also does an impressive amount of things well. With the 24 to 2000mm equivalent zoom, it does not only stand in for an entire bag of lenses, it replaces much more than that!

Bird watchers that are not wanting to spend a ton of cash on hefty camera gear would be thrilled by the usefulness of the P900.

It is ideal for individuals that are fine with shooting JPEG (no RAW available) and who is main output is for web sharing or perhaps prints no larger than 8×10.

It’s strong points definitely aren’t fast-moving subjects, thus for wildlife or sports, it’s not the camera you want to pick. But for slower long distance subject matter, this is a camera that will definitely get the job done.

For almost anything else, from close-ups of flowers to thorough photos of the moon, it comes up with solid results and also you can forgo the hassle of modifying lenses or taking time to clean sensors.

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