Nikon Coolpix P950 Review: Epic Zoom That’s Easy to Use | Digital Trends

    “The Nikon P950’s 83x zoom lens captures excellent detail, but performance is sometimes sluggish.”

    83x zoom lens

    Bright f/2.8 aperture wide-angle

    Macro mode

    Exposure compensation dial

    Easy-to-use auto modes

    Slow buffer

    Ocassional autofocus misses

    Annoying battery life indicator

    As point-and-shoot digicam bulletins develop scarce, the Nikon P950 sits in a single remaining class that smartphones can’t contact: the tremendous zoom. With an 83X, 24-2,000mm equal lens, the P950 can seize topics you merely can’t see with the bare eye.
    An replace to the P900, the P950 provides 4K video and RAW images, two new options that extra superior photographers will recognize. Despite these updates, the P950 nonetheless does effectively in automated modes for much less skilled shooters, and a brand new publicity compensation management on the lens barrel permits for fundamental brightness changes that anybody can use, even with out understanding how publicity works.
    Not everybody wants an 83x zoom, however for many who do, the P950 delivers an reasonably priced, if imperfect, answer.
    Burly design

    The Nikon P950’s physique is unsurprisingly dominated by that 83x zoom lens. The lens is so massive, you may really feel the burden of the digicam shift ahead in your arms because it extends. At 35.5 ounces, the P950 has the burden of a DSLR (however with a a lot smaller lens). I nonetheless managed to hold the digicam on a 5-mile hike with out being terribly uncomfortable. Unlike a DSLR, I didn’t must haul round a number of lenses to seize each wide-angle and telephoto photographs.
    The physique model mimics a DSLR, which suggests the P950 has a big, snug grip, ample bodily controls, and a sizzling shoe slot on the high. The management scheme is just like the P900, with a mode dial and management wheel on the highest proper and a well-recognized slew of menu controls on the again. 
    Hillary Grigonis/Digital TrendsWhile there’s loads of area for controls, superior photographers must do a bit extra menu digging. ISO, a fairly frequent adjustment in any of the guide modes, shouldn’t be among the many shortcut choices.
    The barrel of the lens is so giant, it homes its personal controls. A zoom toggle provides a second strategy to zoom in utilizing your left hand, whereas a button pulls again the zoom so you may reframe the topic. New to the P950 is an publicity compensation wheel on the lens barrel. This was considered one of my favourite controls, resting proper the place my left hand helps the burden of the digicam, and providing quick access to lighten or darken the images.

    The P950 additionally homes a 2.36-million-dot digital viewfinder. A viewfinder is sort of a necessity with this a lot zoom, since supporting the digicam along with your face retains it a lot steadier than holding it at arm’s size to make use of LCD display screen. That display screen measures 3.2 inches diagonally, however a bit unusually for 2020, it isn’t a touchscreen. The decision of each the viewfinder and the display screen isn’t loopy excessive, however it’s enough and anticipated for the worth.
    The battery is rated for 290 photographs, which was enough for mountain climbing and hen watching. You’ll undoubtedly need a spare for those who plan to take the digicam on any longer journeys. The battery indicator additionally solely has two notches — full and half. That’s annoying, because you don’t know if in case you have 135 photographs left or simply 5.
    Easy-to-use, however sluggish efficiency
    Hillary Grigonis/Digital TrendsThe potential to shoot a RAW photograph is new to the P950. But, whereas there’s extra methods for photographers with a little bit of expertise to regulate the shot, the digicam’s built-in auto modes carried out surprisingly effectively. 
    I spent plenty of time within the bird-watching mode. Combined with the publicity compensation dial on the facet of the lens barrel, this mode would permit nearly anybody to seize good images of wildlife 90 % of the time. I did often want to change into shutter-priority mode and management the settings in order that the lengthy zoom didn’t introduce blur, and it’s a bit annoying the digicam didn’t know to do that robotically. But, the P950 may simply be an efficient software for the hen watcher that has nearly zero photograph know-how.
    Edited RAW photograph Hillary Grigonis/Digital TrendsDespite the addition of RAW recordsdata, the P950 stays a digicam that’s largely designed for informal photographers. The guide settings are restricted. If you need to go sooner than 1/2000 second or slower than 1 second, you need to set the lens to a sure place, the ISO at a sure setting, and may’t be in burst mode.
    The digicam did effectively for sluggish or nonetheless wildlife, however photographing animals in motion was extra of a crapshoot. Between the sluggish autofocus and simply making an attempt to maintain the topic in body (not straightforward at 2,000mm), extra of my motion photographs had been throw-aways than keepers.
    The P950 can shoot at 7 fps, which is respectable for the category, however it may solely deal with ten photographs at that pace earlier than the buffer fills up. Worse, the digicam’s controls are frozen whereas these photographs are writing to the cardboard, so you may’t do issues like modify the zoom till the images have completed processing. A full JPEG burst takes roughly eight seconds to course of earlier than being able to shoot once more, whereas RAW takes round 12 seconds. Despite the lengthy zoom, this isn’t going to be one of the best digicam for photographing your child’s tee-ball sport.
    Using contrast-detection autofocus, the P950 targeted on most sluggish or stationary topics, however autofocus efficiency was a bit inconsistent at full zoom. The digicam grabbed onto some topics that I assumed could be too tough, whereas it often had a tough time getting a pointy shot of one thing I assumed would have been simpler. It grabbed onto a hen by means of a multitude of branches, which is spectacular, however it additionally wouldn’t concentrate on a Sandhill Crane in a grassy subject with the lens absolutely prolonged — maybe as a result of there was much less distinction within the colours.

    Hillary Grigonis/Digital Trends

    Hillary Grigonis/Digital Trends

    As a budget-friendly superzoom, the P950’s slower efficiency isn’t surprising, however it may nonetheless be annoying.
    Sharp, vibrant photographs

    The Nikon P950 sports activities a 16-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch sensor, the fundamental measurement for a point-and-shoot. That small sensor, nevertheless, is what makes the 83x zoom doable. And zoom energy isn’t the one factor the lens has going for it. It additionally provides a vibrant f/2.8 aperture on the widest angle — which is superb for a point-and-shoot with this a lot zoom.
    The story adjustments as you zoom in. At the telephoto finish, the aperture drops to f/6.5. Given that you simply’ll probably solely ever use that a lot zoom outside below daylight, this won’t be too massive of difficulty. A macro mode additionally makes the lens extra versatile by capturing topic as shut as 0.4 inches from the entrance of the lens within the wide-angle place.
    Images come out of the digicam with a shocking degree of element: sufficient to see the feel in animal’s fur and water droplets clinging to whiskers.
    That element is helped by a stable quantity of sharpness in real-world checks. While the P950, in fact, can’t compete on pure picture high quality with a mirrorless digicam or DSLR, which use a lot bigger sensors, these cameras don’t supply something near an 83X zoom.
    Subjectively, the P950’s picture high quality received’t be essentially the most pleasing. At full zoom, the out-of-focus areas look both like a blotchy mess or a painterly impression, relying on the way you take a look at it. Instead of easy bokeh, the background seems a bit extra like gobs of oil paint.
    Color is essentially correct from JPEGs straight from the digicam, with out being oversaturated, or, on the flip facet, overly muted. Even the white stability didn’t appear to skew towards inexperienced, like most Nikon cameras tend to do. Indoors, nevertheless, some photographs did tackle a magenta hue. One of the advantages of having the ability to shoot RAW is that you may now repair the white stability after the very fact, which wouldn’t have been doable on the P900.

    Sample artwork filters
    Image stabilization additionally performs a task within the potential to seize detailed images with such an extended lens. With 5.5 stops of stabilization, I used to be ready to make use of the 83x zoom handheld for many photographs. Low mild continues to be an issue, nevertheless. Shooting an hour earlier than sundown, I needed to max out the digicam’s capabilities to get a pointy shot at full zoom, leading to a picture that was simply too darkish. If you don’t must full lengthen of the zoom, you will get higher outcomes taking pictures on the huge finish of the lens with its brighter aperture.
    With the smaller sensor, the P950 struggles at excessive ISOs. Noise creeps in early, and images are greatest at or below ISO 800, whereas ISO 1,600 and 3,200 are simply okay. The most ISO 6,400 needs to be averted. None of that is shocking for some extent a shoot, however keep in mind that simply because the P950 seems like a DSLR doesn’t imply it performs like one.
    As for video, the 4K decision is an enchancment over the P900. Even with all these further pixels, nevertheless, video nonetheless isn’t terribly detailed, although the colours are in step with high quality from nonetheless images. And if you wish to shoot video at 2,000mm, be sure to deliver a tripod. There’s simply no strategy to maintain the digicam regular sufficient for a easy video shot at such an extended zoom.
    Our Take
    The zoom on the Nikon P950 is principally telescopic, making the digicam splendid for photographing topics which are sometimes distant, like birds, wildlife, or the moon. Images are sharp, although the background at full zoom is muddled. RAW images and 4K are good upgrades from the P900, together with the brand new publicity compensation wheel on the facet of the lens.
    While there’s no arguing the advantages of such an extended zoom lens, the P950 has some sluggish efficiency and autofocus that often misses. And whereas including RAW is a begin, altering settings like ISO nonetheless requires digging into the menu. Low-light images are unimaginable at full zoom, although the intense aperture salvages some usability at huge settings.
    Is there a greater different?
    As one of many few sorts of point-and-shoot cameras providing perks smartphones can’t compete with, the super-zoom class provides many rivals. Outside of spending $1,000 on the 125x Nikon P1000, the P950 will get you the closest to your topic. The Panasonic FZ3000 provides sooner efficiency and a brighter lens, however with solely a 25x zoom. The Canon SX70 provides 20 megapixels, however the 65x zoom lens isn’t as vibrant at f/3.4 to 6.5. With its bigger sensor, the Sony RX10 IV provides higher picture high quality and sooner efficiency with a 25x zoom — however at twice the worth, isn’t actually making an attempt to compete with the likes of the P950.
    How lengthy will it final?
    Point-and-shoot cameras are inclined to have shorter lifespans earlier than changing into outdated — and the 16-megapixel sensor might outdate the P950 sooner. But, the digicam simply launched in the beginning of 2020, so it ought to supply a couple of years of use.
    Should you purchase it?
    Buy the P950 for those who completely want its unimaginable zoom. If you need to {photograph} motion, hold trying. The P950 is respectable, however it’s a distinct segment digicam for birdwatchers and wildlife lovers, whereas sluggish efficiency and restricted usefulness in low mild stop it from being a fantastic do-it-all digicam.

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