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The Nikon Coolpix P520 was announced in January 2013 and is a bridge camera with a 42x optical zoom lens, 18 megapixel backlit COMS sensor and a 3.2 inch vari-angle LCD screen. It is the update to the P510 and is available in silver, red and black for around £330.
There is a 99 point autofocus system and promises fast and accurate AF. You can also use subject tracking AF which allows you to take sharp shots of moving subjects.
When shooting there is auto mode which adjusts the camera settings automatically for the detected scene. You can also select from 19 scene modes or use the manual exposure modes (P/S/A/M). Other shooting modes include auto HDR, Easy Panorama 360°/180° and the lens has a minimum focusing distance of 1cm for shooting macros. In continuous shooting mode you can record at 7 fps for 7 frames or 30 full resolution shots at 1 fps. When you finished shooting you can edit your photos in the retouch menu, adding effects such as selective colour and cross screen.
The P520 has built-in GPS to geotag your images as well as retrace your route. You can purchase the Nikon WU-1a Wi-Fi dongle to allow you to transfer your images to a mobile device.
Videos are recorded in 1080p/60i full HD with stereo sound, you can also use the optical zoom when recording. You can also shoot in slow and fast motion, up to 120 fps. There is a built-in HDMI connector for connection to a HDTV.
- 18 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor
- 42x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 24-1000mm)
- Advanced lens-shift VR (vibration reduction)
- Vari-angle 3.2 inch 921k dot LCD monitor
- 0.2 inch 201k dot electronic viewfinder
- Built-in GPS
- Full 1080p HD movie recording with stereo sound
- ISO 100 - 12800
- 1cm minimum focusing distance
- Auto HDR mode
- Easy Panorama 360°/180°
- 7 fps continuous shooting
- Available in silver, red and black
On the rear of the camera, but towards the top is a display button, movie record and dial for adjusting shutter speeds and aperture. Other buttons include playback, menu, delete and there is also a rotating dial for cycling through the menu options. This can also be pressed to give access to the flash, self-timer, exposure compensation and focus mode.
The screen is impressive, it's 3.2 inch in size and has a 921k dot resolution. It rotates to make it easy to shoot with the camera in higher or lower positions. The electronic viewfinder is useful for when shooting with the zoom at a long length as it reduces camera shake, but it's quite small and has a low resolution.
The menu system is easy enough to navigate, it looks very similar to the menus used on Nikon's DSLRs. One frustration that has been improved upon since the P510 is that when you switch the camera on with the lens cap attached, no error message appears. You just need to pop it off and start shooting.
Battery life is rated at 240 shots according to CIPA test results, this will be OK for a day of shooting, but if you use the GPS quite a lot, you might appreciate having a spare to hand. We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
|Shutter Response||0.35 secs|
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response||0.75 secs|
|Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response||1.55 secs|
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo||2.3 secs|
|Shot to Shot without Flash||2.8 secs|
|Shot to Shot with Flash||2.8 secs|
|Continuous Shooting H||5.0 fps|
|Continuous Shooting L||1.0 fps|
|Continuous Shooting H: 120 fps||120 fps|
|Continuous Shooting H: 60 fps||60.7 fps|
Both the continuous H and L modes record at full 18 megapixel resolution, with the 60 fps restricted to 2 megapixels and the 120 fps mode limited to VGA size.
Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Nikon Coolpix P520 Sample Photos
Portrait | 1/50 sec | f/3.9 | 13.3 mm | ISO 200
Landscape | 1/800 sec | f/3.0 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
Low Light | 0.6 sec | f/4.1 | 17.8 mm | ISO 100
Pet Portrait | 1/100 sec | f/3.6 | 8.9 mm | ISO 80
Sample Photos - Images are well exposed with good colour reproduction. Portraits have decent skin tones and are free of red-eye when using the flash.
Nikon Coolpix P520 Lens test images
Wide Angle | 1/1000 sec | f/3.0 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
Some Optical Zoom | 1/800 sec | f/4.4 | 27.6 mm | ISO 80
Full Optical Zoom | 1/160 sec | f/5.9 | 180.0 mm | ISO 80
Macro | 1/30 sec | f/3.0 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
Zoom Example | 1/500 sec | f/5.9 | 180.0 mm | ISO 250
Zoom Macro | 1/500 sec | f/5.5 | 160.5 mm | ISO 180
Lens Performance - Images have a good amount of detail at both ends of the lens, but are a little soft. Purple fringing and chromatic aberration does become a bit of a problem at the longest end. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm which allows for impressive macro shots.
Nikon Coolpix P520 ISO test images
1/8 sec | f/3.9 | 13.3 mm | ISO 80
1/10 sec | f/3.9 | 13.3 mm | ISO 100
1/20 sec | f/3.9 | 13.3 mm | ISO 200
1/40 sec | f/3.9 | 13.3 mm | ISO 400
1/80 sec | f/3.9 | 13.3 mm | ISO 800
1/160 sec | f/3.9 | 13.3 mm | ISO 1600
1/320 sec | f/3.9 | 13.3 mm | ISO 3200
1/640 sec | f/3.9 | 13.3 mm | ISO Hi1
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 80, 100 and 200, but there is a slight loss in detail at ISO 400. This loss in detail becomes a little worse at ISO 800 and again so at ISO 1600, with images becoming a little soft at this setting. Again, there is a noise increase at ISO 3200, but image quality is still fairly decent. When shooting in P/S/A/M mode you can use the Hi1 setting, which is an equivalent of ISO 6400, but image quality is poor, so it's best avoided unless you are shooting pictures to share on the web.
Nikon Coolpix P520 White-balance test images
AWB preset - incandescent lighting | 1/15 sec | f/3.3 | 6.2 mm | ISO 100
Incandescent preset - incandescent lighting | 1/15 sec | f/3.3 | 6.2 mm | ISO 100
AWB preset - fluorescent lighting | 0.3 sec | f/3.3 | 6.2 mm | ISO 100
Fluorescent preset 1 - fluorescent lighting | 0.3 sec | f/3.3 | 6.2 mm | ISO 100
Fluorescent preset 2 - fluorescent lighting | 0.3 sec | f/3.3 | 6.2 mm | ISO 100
Fluorescent preset 3 - fluorescent lighting | 0.3 sec | f/3.3 | 6.2 mm | ISO 100
White Balance Performance - Under our incandescent lights, the auto white balance (AWB) produces a decent image with a very slight colour cast, with the incandescent preset performing a little better. Under the fluorescent lights the AWB does an excellent job, with all three fluorescent presets producing images with a colour cast.
180 Panorama | 1/640 sec | f/3.1 | 4.9 mm | ISO 80
Panorama mode - Panoramas have a decent amount of detail and are well stitched together.
Nikon Coolpix P520 Digital filters
Special Effects - Cross Process | 1/30 sec | f/4.3 | 24.0 mm | ISO 500
Special Effects - High Contrast Monochrome | 1/30 sec | f/4.3 | 24.0 mm | ISO 500
Special Effects - High ISO Monochrome | 1/800 sec | f/4.3 | 24.0 mm | ISO 0
Special Effects - High Key | 1/30 sec | f/4.3 | 24.0 mm | ISO 800
Special Effects - Low Key | 1/100 sec | f/4.3 | 24.0 mm | ISO 400
Special Effects - Nostalgic Sepia | 1/30 sec | f/4.3 | 24.0 mm | ISO 500
Special Effects - Selective Colour | 1/30 sec | f/4.3 | 24.0 mm | ISO 500
Special Effects - Silhouette | 1/50 sec | f/4.3 | 24.0 mm | ISO 400
Special Effects - Soft | 1/30 sec | f/4.3 | 24.0 mm | ISO 500
Digital Filters - The P520 has a number of special effects, with examples of each above.
Video - Below is a video recorded in full 1080p HD. You can also use the optical zoom during recording, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine Youtube page. You'll also find videos shots at 4x, 2x and 0.5x to create super slow and fast motion videos.
Value For MoneyThe Nikon Coolpix P520 is available for around £330. You can get cameras with 50x optical zoom, such as the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS at £350, Fujifilm FinePix SL1000 at £300 and Sony Cybershot HX300 at £400. The Fujifilm FinePix S8500 at £250 has 46x optical zoom and the FinePix HS50 has 42x and is available for £407. The Olympus SP-820UZ is available for £189 and has 40x optical zoom.
You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.
P510, but we're a little surprised to see that the optical zoom hasn't been extended to 50x to compete with those cameras with more zoom from Canon, Fuji and Sony. The sensor has been increased to 18 megapixels and the screen is bigger at 3.2 inch. Other than that, not much as changed, you're still getting a featured packed, DSLR style camera, without the bulk. If you're wanting to shoot fast moving objects far into the distance you may struggle as the focus is a little sluggish at the longer lengths. But other than that, the P520 will take some excellent pictures that you'll be extremely proud of. The Nikon Coolpix P520 comes highly recommended by ePHOTOzine.
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|The Nikon Coolpix P520 packs plenty of useful features and takes good pictures and videos.|
Nikon Coolpix P520 Pros42x optical zoom lens
Vari-angle LCD monitor
Full 1080p HD movie recording with stereo sound
1cm minimum focusing distance
Auto HDR mode
Easy Panorama 360°/180°
7 fps continuous shooting
Plenty of rubberised grip
Decent image quality and colour reproduction
Two year warranty
Nikon Coolpix P520 ConsEVF is quite small and has a low resolution
Battery life expectancy is a little low
Slowish focusing and shutter response
Purple fringing and chromatic aberration in images when shooting at long lengths
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Nikon Coolpix P520 Specifications
|Max Aperture||f/3 - f/5.9|
|35mm equivalent||24mm - 1000mm|
|CCD pixels||18Mp (Megapixels)|
|Sensor Type||Back-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)|
|Sensor Size (width)||6.16mm|
|Sensor Size (height)||4.6mm|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/4000sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||4sec|
|ISO sensitivity||100 - 12800|
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes|
|Box Contents||Camera Strap, Lens Cap LC-CP24 (with cord), Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL5 (with terminal cover), Charging AC Adapter EH-69P, USB Cable UC-E6, Audio Video Cable EG-CP16, ViewNX 2 Installer CD, Reference Manual CD|