Nikon Coolpix P510 Digital Compact Camera Review - Our reviewer Daniel Bell was impressed with the Nikon Coolpix P500, this has now been replaced with the P510 and he gives his verdict on the new model.
Nikon released the Coolpix P510 in February 2012 and is the successor to the P500, which scored 4.5 in our review last year. The new model has increased its optical zoom from 36x to 42x and is available in black, red and dark silver for £334.30.
Nikon Coolpix P510 Features
The 42x optical zoom lens is a 35mm equivalent of 24 - 1000mm, making it a superb option for shooting landscapes and close-ups of objects in the distance. To minimise the effect of chromatic aberration there are four ED glass elements within the lens. The sensor is a back-illuminated 16.1 megapixel sensor, with advance lens-shift VR designed to reduce the effect of camera shake.
There are 16 scene modes which automatically adjust the camera settings and for the more advanced photographer there are full manual exposure modes (P/S/A/M). Other modes include auto HDR, easy panorama 360°/180°, 3D shooting, high-speed continuous, manual focus and subject tracking AF.
The P510 has a built-in GPS system, which geotags your images with the latitude and longitude of the location. You can also record your route when not taking pictures. The camera is compatible with Eye-Fi X2 (or later) memory cards meaning your images can easily be shared. To edit your pictures in-camera there is a retouch menu which includes a range of filter effects, selective colour and cross screen.
Full HD (1080p) movie recording with stereo sound: a dedicated video-record button makes it easy to begin filming. Advanced movie features: you can use the optical zoom with autofocus when recording, and film in slow or fast motion using speeds of up to 120 fps (VGA). Movies can be recorded in iFrame format and a built-in HDMI connector lets you connect the camera directly to an HDTV.
42x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 24–1000mm)
Back-illuminated 16 megapixel CMOS sensor
Advanced lens-shift VR
Full 1080p HD movie recording with stereo sound
Tiltable 3.0 inch 921k-dot LCD monitor
Built-in Global Positioning System (GPS)
Auto HDR mode
Easy Panorama 360°/180°
3D shooting mode
Advanced movie features
High-speed continuous shooting
Manual exposure modes (P/S/A/M) and User mode
16 scene modes
Subject Tracking AF
EXPEED C2 image processing system
Nikon Coolpix P510 Handling
Aesthetically, not much has changed from the P500. There is a rubber grip where your right hand holds the camera, making it easy to carry around when not in use as well as being comfortable to use when shooting. The side switch for the optical zoom is useful but easily knocked when shooting portraits so care needs to be taken. The image stabilisation is extremely effective when using the full optical zoom and with a bit of practice you will be taking sharp pictures without a tripod, although if you can take your tripod you'll find it useful if lighting conditions are less than ideal.
The menu system isn't difficult to navigate and the buttons are fine to press, even with large fingers. As well as the typical buttons found on the camera there is a dedicated record button and one to switch from the screen to the viewfinder, which can be adjusted by the diopter adjustment control wheel. The button which was used to switch between the various continuous shooting modes has been changed to a Fn button, which can be set to change a range of shooting options. On the top of the camera there is of course the chunky mode dial.
According to Nikon / CIPA the battery is capable of 240 shots, and improvement of 20 on the P500. During testing the camera just kept going on its initial charge, so it's certain you will get at least the 240 shots, although as recommended for the P500, a spare will likely prove handy when out shooting for a full day.
You can view your images without switching the camera on by pressing and holding the playback button. If you left the lens cap on the P500 the camera used to come up with an error message, the new P510 now starts up with the cap attached to the end of the lens, therefore you just need to remember to remove before shooting.
On the rear is a tiltable 3 inch 921k-dot LCD monitor which is ideal for taking pictures at varying angles, particular when shooting objects which are low down. The EVF is really bright although it is a bit frustrating that the camera doesn't recognise your face, you have to press a button instead.
We tested the camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average.
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot (without flash)
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous H: 120 fps vga
Continuous H: 60 fps 1m
Continuous H and L both take 16.1 megapixel images, with the 120 fps and 60 fps recording VGA and 1 megapixel images respectively. The P510 can also shoot at intervals of 30 seconds and 1, 5 and 10 minutes, great for some time lapse photography.
Nikon Coolpix P510 Performance
The P510 takes images which are well exposed with very pleasing colour reproduction. Detail is good throughout the images, whether shooting wide or with the optical zoom, except in the corners where there is a hint of softening. With a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm the camera takes superb macro pictures.
Nikon Coolpix P510 Lens test images
There isn't any noise at ISO 100, with only a small amount appearing as you go through the ISO range from ISO 200, 400 and then 800. Noise at ISO 1600 is significant enough to cause a loss of sharpness. Noise is very significant at ISO 3200 and Hi1 (ISO 6400) but images produced are certainly good enough for use on the web.
Nikon Coolpix P510 ISO test images
The first two of the following images have been taken using landscape mode, great for emphasising the blues and greens in an image. Portrait mode takes pictures with pleasant skin tones and are free of red-eye.
Nikon Coolpix P510 Scene modes
Below are examples using the camera in shutter and aperture priority modes. You can of course switch to manual mode for even more control over your shots.
Fast Shutter Speed | 1/1000 sec | f/4.4 | 25.8 mm | ISO 400
Large aperture | 1/125 sec | f/3.7 | 10.7 mm | ISO 100
When in backlighting mode you can also activate HDR mode, which has three different levels.
HDR Level 1 | 1/1000 sec | f/3.0 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
HDR Level 2 | 1/1000 sec | f/3.0 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
HDR Level 3 | 1/1000 sec | f/3.0 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
The first image underneath is another example using the shot at its longest length. The second one has been combined using three images taken using exposure bracketing, with exposures of +1, 0 and -1.
Zoom Example | 1/60 sec | f/5.9 | 180.0 mm | ISO 800
HDR - combined from three images using exposure bracketing
For images with large areas of shadow you can use Active D-Lighting, which also has three different possible settings.
Active D-lighting Low | 1/1600 sec | f/3.3 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
Active D-lighting Normal | 1/1250 sec | f/3.0 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
Active D-lighting High | 1/1000 sec | f/3.0 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
The P510 takes really good panoramic images, whether 180° or 360°.
360° Panorama | 1/500 sec | f/6.8 | 4.9 mm | ISO 100
180° Panorama | 1/800 sec | f/4.8 | 4.9 mm | ISO 100
There are two different auto white-balance (AWB) settings, normal and warm lighting. The normal setting works fine for the majority of shots, which can be seen in the example pictures when using our studio lighting. The incandescent preset has also worked fine under the incandescent lighting. There are three different fluorescent presets, none of which have coped as well with the fluorescent lights as the AWB setting.
Nikon Coolpix P510 White-balance test images
There are two methods to add an extra touch of creativity, with picture control or special effects, with examples of each below. Images can be edited in playback with quick retouch, d-lighting, skin softening and filter effects (selective colour, cross screen, fisheye, miniature and painting). Selective colour is hit and miss, it only works well on strong colours.
Nikon Coolpix P510 Digital filters
Here is a test video shot at full 1080p HD. You can use the optical zoom during recording but the focusing really struggles to keep up during movement.
The differences between the P510 and its predecessor are very subtle, but Nikon have boosted the lens to 42x optical zoom and upgraded to a 16.1 megapixel sensor. It is a feature packed camera, which delivers impressive results. This is a fantastic option if you are looking for a DSLR style camera, as it has many of the features and appearance, without you requiring to carry around a bag full of lenses, although if you are a current P500 user, it's unlikely you get value for money by upgrading.
The Nikon Coolpix P510 has a DSLR feel, is featured packed and takes great pictures.
Nikon Coolpix P510 Pros
42x optical zoom
Manual control modes (P/S/A/M)
Full HD movies
5fps at full 16.1Mp
Excellent panoramas at both 360° and 180°
Superb macro pictures
Nikon Coolpix P510 Cons
Battery life is quite short
Difficult to shoot moving subjects using lots of optical zoom
Struggle to focus when using zoom in videos
Not a lot different from the P500
Read our full review of the Panasonic Lumix GH5 - the ultimate video and stills camera - with FullHD video at 180fps, 4K video at 60fps, 6K photo at 30fps, and 20mp stills at 12fps - the camera offers everything you could possibly want.
17 Feb 2017 7:04PM