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Nikon Coolpix P510

Nikon Coolpix P510: Review

Short Review:

The Nikon Coolpix P510 superzoom heads up the the brand’s refreshed range for 2012 and is the successor to the Nikon Coolpix P500, increasing the zoom from 36x to 42x.

We went along for an early look at Nikon’s new cam, although the unit that we saw wasn’t powered up, as it wasn’t the final model.

But even without any juice, the P510 still looks set to be a strong contender in the superzoom sector. Naturally, we’ll update our review with more information and a rating as soon as we can get a mitts on a full working version.

Nikon Coolpix P510: Build

The chassis of the Nikon Coolpix P510 certainly feels sturdy, as you’d expect for a camera costing just under £400. Weighing in at 555g, it’s obviously not as hefty as an SLR, but it’s significantly heavier than a compact so that you’re unlikely to forget that you’re carting it around in your bag.

The grip is suitably comfy while the textured finish provides enough grip to keep the camera safely in your hand. What’s more, the textured thumb rest on the back of the unit is placed in a natural spot that most should find comfy and intuitive.

Nikon Coolpix P510: Controls

The most notable difference when compared with its predecessor is that the effects mode on the P510 has been given its own dedicated spot on the top dial, so that you no longer have to navigate your way through a series of menu screens to find it. This is a nice touch for those who want to add a few arty touches to their pics, although possibly not so interesting to serious snappers.

Nikon Coolpix P510: Screen

The P510’s packs a decent-sized 3-inch, 921k dot LCD screen that can be tilted 80 degrees downwards and 90 degrees upwards. This is a very handy feature for shooting in awkward places, such as over the top of a crowd, or shooting very low down on the ground.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to see the screen powered up, but the tilting mechanism certainly felt reassuringly sturdy and smooth to operate.

Nikon Coolpix P510: Battery

The Nikon Coolpix P510 sports an EN-EL5 rechargable Li-ion battery, and offers a quoted battery life of approximately 240 shots per full charge.

We weren’t able to test out the battery life as we were only had a short time with the camera, and more importantly, there was no battery in it, but naturally we’ll be giving it a thorough test once we get a full review unit in.

Nikon Coolpix P510: Picture quality

While we can’t comment on the P510’s picture quality just yet, we can tell you that the camera sports a 16.1 megapixel sensor, along with a focal length of 4.3 – 180mm and a f/3 – 5.9 aperture.

The 510 can also record video up to full HD (1920×1080 pixels) and offers a 3D shooting mode for creating 3D images for viewing on compatible TVs and computers.

It also sports a vibration reduction mode to minimise pesky image blur caused by shaky hands.

There’s also a range of filter effects including a nifty selective colour mode that converts your image to monochrome then adds a splash of colour, after you’ve chosen your specified hue using the dial on the back of the camera and an onscreen colour guage.

Nikon Coolpix P510: Verdict

While we’ve yet to see the final working version of the Nikon Coolpix P510, our first impressions were certainly good. The sturdy chassis is comfortable to hold and didn’t feel too heavy (although it’s worth noting that the unit we saw didn’t contain the added weight of a battery).

The screen’s tilting mechanism also looks like a good selling point for those shooting in tricky situations, while the arty filters will give the beginners something to play around with.

The 42x zoom is the star of the show here, although we didn’t get to try that out for ourselves. Obvisouly we’ll bring you a full review as soon as we have our hands on a test sample.

Brief Review:

Introduction:

Ease of Use

Weighing in at 555 grams, the Nikon Coolpix P510 is slightly heavier than the previous P500 model, but its design is only minimally different. Like most high-end superzooms, the Nikon P510 has the typical bridge camera look, with a chunky hand-grip, large lens barrel, pop-up flash and an eye-level electronic viewfinder. The deep grip is moulded to fit comfortably into your right hand, and is rubberised in a textured material for added comfort.

The other dominant part of the P510 is the 42x zoom lens, which goes from an ultra-wide 24mm to a frankly incredible 1000mm in 35mm terms. Considering that with an SLR, you would need at least 3-4 lenses to cover the same focal range, the single, fixed-mount lens of the Nikon P510 can be described as remarkably compact, even if it does extend quite a bit when zoomed to full telephoto. Superzooms have always had a reputation for having a high “fun factor”, and the P510 is no different. The ability to quickly go from wide angle to ultra-telephoto is something that has to be experienced in order to be fully appreciated. It certainly gives you a kind of freedom you do not feel with any other type of camera.

For its size, the P510’s lens is also respectably fast, with maximum apertures of f/3 at 24mm and f/5.9 at 1000mm. Note that the lens cap has to be removed before turning on the camera – failing to do so will result in an error message being displayed, and you’ll have to turn off the camera before you can turn it on again, which is a bit annoying. Although if you only want to review what’s already on the card, you can also power on the P510 by holding down the Playback button, in which case the lens won’t extend.

Thankfully Nikon has included Vibration Reduction (VR) to help prevent camera-shake, an essential feature on a camera like this. Interestingly, while VR is lens based in the Nikon SLR system, it is of the sensor-shift variety in the P510. Vibration Reduction makes a noticeable difference to the sharpness of the images, as shown in the examples on the Image Quality page, offering a claimed 4 stops of compensation.

Nikon Coolpix P510 Nikon Coolpix P510
Front Rear

You can hear a slight mechanical whirring noise when it is turned on, but otherwise you don’t really notice it, except that that you can use slower shutter speeds than normal and still take sharp photos. Sadly, there isn’t a dedicated button to turn VR on and off – but at least leaving it on did not seem to negatively affect the battery life, with the camera managing around 240 shots using the supplied Li-ion battery. It’s still a good idea to turn VR off (via the menu) when the camera is mounted on a tripod, lest the system itself cause blurring by trying to counter camera shake that isn’t there.

Zooming is done by way of a conventional zoom lever that encircles the shutter release button sitting atop the right-hand grip. It is of the dual-speed variety: rotating it all the way in either direction will adjust the focal length quickly, while rotating it partially will cause the lens elements to move more slowly, enabling you to set the desired focal length more precisely. You can alternatively zoom using the innovative side zoom control on the lens barrel, which is a vertical rocker switch activated with your left hand. It has a slower action than the main zoom lever, and is therefore ideally suited to shooting video when you require a more sedate zoom with less mechanical noise.

There are two different ways of composing images with the Nikon Coolpix P510: you can use either the eye-level electronic viewfinder (EVF) or the rear screen. Unfortunately, there are no eye proximity sensors that would allow the camera to toggle between the two automatically – you need to press a button every time you want that to happen. The EVF is a bog standard affair with 201,000 dots and average magnification; nothing to write home about, especially in 2012. The three-inch rear LCD screen is much nicer to look at, thanks to its high resolution of 921,000 dots. Even more importantly, it’s articulated and able to tilt up or down, giving you some added flexibility in composing your shots. A truly free-angle LCD, which can also be rotated out to the side, would have been even nicer though.

The layout and number of external controls haven’t changed much from the P500. You still get a traditional, top-mounted mode dial with P, A, S and M shooting modes – perfect for the photographer who wants to take full control – as well as full auto, Scene Auto Selector, Night Landscape, Landscape and Backlighting modes. The new Effects mode allows you to apply one of nine different special effects as you shoot with the Nikon Coolpix P510, with a live preview on the LCD screen showing exactly what the final image will look like. There is also a User (U) setting you can use to quickly retrieve a combination of your most frequently used settings. The shutter release, zoom lever and power button are essentially in the same locations as on the P510, joined by a new customisable Function button which replaces the P500’s continuous shooting button.

Nikon Coolpix P510 Nikon Coolpix P510
Top Pop-up Flash

In the Backlighting mode, the P510 captures three consecutive shots at varying exposures and combines them into a single photo with a broader range of tones. Three different HDR settings are available for selection. When the Night Landscape scene mode is selected, the P510 takes several shots at a fast shutter speed and then combines them to create a single optimized photo, allowing you to shoot after dark without having to use a tripod. The Easy Panorama scene mode allows you to take vertical or horizontal panorama photos simply by moving the camera in the direction of the on-screen guides. Multiple shots are then combined into a single panorama photo. The angle of view can be selected from 180° (normal) and 360° (wide).

The rear controls are also laid out very similarly to those of the preceding model. There is a well-positioned control wheel in the top-right corner (when viewed from the back), which makes it easy to change the aperture and shutter speed in A and S modes respectively, but there’s still no second dial on the hand-grip which would have made operating Manual mode much easier. The familiar multi-selector with its centred OK button is similar to the P500, with the same individual functions that are mapped onto the Up, Down, Left and Right buttons. These include the flash and focus modes, the self-timer and exposure compensation, respectively. The multi-selector is now a much nicer rotating wheel with an audible click and a textured surface to aid operation. There is still no obvious shortcut key to ISO speed, which is only accessible from the menu (as is white balance) or by assigning it to the Function button.

The P510’s focus modes include AF, Macro, Infinity and Manual. AF can be centre-spot, user selectable from 99 focus points or camera selectable from 9 points. In Face Priority AF mode, the camera can detect up to 12 human faces and will focus on the one closest to the camera. We found that regardless of AF area mode, auto-focus speed was satisfactory for still subjects, but a little too slow for fast-moving ones. Manual focusing is also possible, though a bit awkward: you get a rudimentary distance scale on the right-hand side of the screen, and can adjust focus via the Up and Down buttons. The centre of the picture is enlarged to aid you with checking focus, but unfortunately this is achieved by  way of interpolation rather than real magnification. The whole process is pretty slow, but can still be a godsend when the auto-focus system starts acting up.

The flash of the Nikon P510 has to be popped up manually, using the button on the side of the mock pentaprism housing. You can set the flash mode to auto, auto with red-eye reduction, fill, slow sync and rear-curtain sync via the Up button on the multi-controller, but only when the flash is raised. As there is no hot-shoe or sync terminal on the Nikon Coolpix P510, and it does not offer wireless TTL flash control either, the only way to sync up an external flashgun with the camera is to optically slave it to the built-in unit.

The P510 has a built-in Global Positioning System (GPS) that records the exact location (latitude and longitude) where a picture was taken, recording it in the image’s EXIF data. You can also use it to record your route even if you don’t take any taking pictures. The GPS does take a while to lock onto a sattellite in city centres and it doesn tend to drain the battery if left on all the time. Note that strangely the system isn’t as sophisticated as on the all-weather AW100 model, which additionally can set the camera’s clock, plot points of interest and has a built-in electronic compass. The 3D shooting mode creates a 3D image which can be played back on any 3D-capable TVs and computers. The P510 automatically combines two images taken from different positions to create the 3D effect, with the second shot cleverly taken automatically when the camera detects that you are in the right position.

Nikon Coolpix P510 Nikon Coolpix P510
Front Side

The P510 has the ability to shoot full-resolution stills at up to 7 frames per second (fps), slightly slower than it predecessor. Alas, the camera cannot keep up this speed for long, as the buffer fills up after just 5 shots. In other words, you can only shoot for a bit more than half a second in the Continuous H mode. Thankfully, there is also a slower burst mode, called Continuous L, in which the frame rate drops to 1fps, but you can capture up to 100 full-resolution photos at the Normal quality setting. Note that you cannot use the flash in any of the continuous shooting modes. Disappointingly the P510 doesn’t support the RAW file format, something that all of its main competitors offer, and a prosumer feature that frankly we’d expect on this class of camera.

The P510 can shoot Full HD (1920×1080-pixel) movies at 30 frames per second, with stereo sound and full use of the optical zoom. It also offers a 720p mode at 1280×720 pixels (30 fps) and VGA mode at 640×480 pixels (30 fps). Nikon’s smart designers put the stereo microphone on the top of the camera right behind the flash. A Wind Noise Reduction function is available in the Movie menu. Serving to minimise the noise of wind blowing on the microphone, it is recommended to be turned on in strong wind only, as it may also make other sounds difficult to hear. Sensor-shift VR is not available during movie recording, but you may opt to turn on electronic image stabilisation.

The P510 is also capable of high-speed (HS) movie recording, albeit not at Full HD resolution. VGA videos can be shot at 120fps, VGA movies at 120fps or 60fps, HD (720p) clips at 60fps or 15fps, and HD (1080p) movies at 15fps. When these videos are played back at 30fps, they become slow-motion or super-fast movies. The maximum recording time per clip is limited to 10 seconds in the HS video modes. Sound is not recorded and no form of VR is available. Given the high frame rates, these videos require fast shutter speeds, which effectively means that you need very bright conditions, especially when shooting at 120 frames per second. The P500’s ingenious movie mode switch around the Movie Record button has sadly been removed.

Recording movie clips is very easy on the Nikon P510 via the one-touch Movie Record button on the rear of the camera. By pressing this button, you can start recording a clip no matter what shooting mode you are in. You can use the optical zoom while filming, and full-time AF is also available. In use, we found that zooming in or out sometimes caused the image to go temporarily out of focus, but the AF system usually adjusted itself very quickly in these cases. The maximum clip length is limited to 29 minutes. The Creative Slider and Special Effects can also be used when shooting movies, and they can be played back on a HDTV via the built-in HDMI connector, although as usual there’s no suitable cable supplied in the box. The P510 supports the CEC feature for HDMI which enables playback control using your TV’s remote control.

Nikon Coolpix P510 Nikon Coolpix P510
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s familiar Menu button accesses the usual Nikon menu system, which is clear and easy to navigate. Press this when in any of the shooting modes and there are three menus, Shooting, Movie, GPS and Setup, with two menus, Playback and Settings, available when you’re reviewing an image. A big oversight is the almost constant need to use the menu system for setting the ISO speed, white balance, metering, and AF mode, with at least 4 button presses required to change these often-used features. The P510 is sorely missing some kind of quick menu system, accessible via an external control, to help speed up its general operation.

In playback mode, pressing the same Menu button affords access to rudimentary image editing, including Nikon’s exposure adjusting D-Lighting function, Skin Softening and Filter Effects, image slide shows, and the automatic Quick Retouch. A button to the right features the familiar trashcan icon for deleting images on the fly and completes the rear of the P510.

On the right flank of the camera – still viewing it from the rear – there’s a metal eyelet for attaching the supplied shoulder strap and a plastic cover protecting the HDMI port and A/V out / USB port. On the left hand flank is another eyelet. There’s a centrally positioned, metal tripod mount on the bottom of the camera. The P510 is powered by a 1100 mAh lithium ion battery, good for around 240 shots, that slots into the base alongside the SD / SDHC / SDXC card slot. There is a small internal memory too, but it will only hold a few photos at full resolution, so you’ll definitely need a memory card. Note that recharging the P510 is a somewhat convoluted affair, with the battery remaining in camera and requiring the battery cover to be closed.

The performance of the Nikon P510 is mostly satisfactory. It starts up in under two seconds and zooms pretty quickly yet accurately for a power zoom. As noted earlier, its autofocus speed is not the greatest despite the inclusion of a subject tracking mode, but you’ll only notice that when trying to capture fast action. We found the high-speed continuous shooting mode brilliant but sadly limited by a small buffer. The only truly frustrating design flaw is the lack of direct access to ISO speed and white balance. We’d really like to see dedicated buttons for these functions, although the Function button goes some way to rectifying this. In Playback mode, the only notable quirk is the inability to magnify into the image from Histogram view – this is something that ought to be easy to address via a firmware upgrade, although that never happened for the P500.

That concludes our look at the Nikon Coolpix P510’s ease-of-use, now let’s move on to its image quality…

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5.5Mb.

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s image quality is good for a compact camera with a small image sensor. The Nikon Coolpix P510’s dealt fairly well with noise, which becomes obvious at ISO 400 along with some colour loss. The noise, colour desaturation and loss of detail gets progressively worse as you go from ISO 400 to ISO 1600 and finally the unusable 3200 and 6400 settings. The Nikon Coolpix P510 handled chromatic aberrations excellently with limited purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations. The 16 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpen setting and either require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you should increase the in-camera sharpening level.

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s maximum shutter speed is 8 seconds, which is fairly good news for night photography enthusiasts. Macro performance is excellent, allowing you to focus as close as 1cm away from the subject. Vibration reduction is a compulsory feature on a camera like this and one that that works very well when hand-holding the P510 in low-light conditions or using the telephoto end of the amazing zoom range. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure. The backlighting feature increases detail in both the shadows and highlights, although at the expense of some additional noise and loss of fine detail, while the Picture Controls, Special Effects during shooting and Filter Effects during playback offer a lot of creative control over your images.

Noise

The Nikon Coolpix P510 has 7 sensitivity settings ranging from ISO 100 to ISO 6400 at full resolution.

ISO 100 (100% Crop) ISO 200 (100% Crop)
ISO 400 (100% Crop) ISO 800 (100% Crop)
ISO 1600 (100% Crop) ISO 3200 (100% Crop)
ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s 42x zoom lens provides an astonishing focal range of 24-1000mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.

24mm 1000mm

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops – the right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images from the Nikon Coolpix P510 are slightly soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can alternatively change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes.

Original (100% Crop) Sharpened (100% Crop)

File Quality

At full resolution, there are three JPEG quality settings availableon the Nikon Coolpix P510 – Fine, Normal and Basic.

Fine (5.01Mb) (100% Crop) Normal (2.94Mb) (100% Crop)
Basic (1.72Mb) (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

Given the range of the zoom lens, the Nikon Coolpix P510 shows remarkably little purple fringing, with limited effects in areas of high contrast as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop) Example 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Nikon Coolpix P510 allows you to get as close as 1cm to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash card.

Macro Shot 100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Nikon Coolpix P510 are Auto, Auto with Red-eye reduction, Fill Flash, Manual (Full, 1/2, 1/4 1/8, 1/16, 1/32 and 1/64), Slow Sync, Rear-curtain Sync and Flash Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m. Some vignetting and barrel distortion is apparent at the 24mm wide-angle setting, irrespective of whether you use the flash or not.

Flash Off – Wide Angle (24mm) Flash On – Wide Angle (24mm)
ISO 64 ISO 64
Flash Off – Telephoto (1000mm) Flash On – Telephoto (1000mm)
ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Fill Flash or the Auto with Red-eye reduction options caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On Flash On (100% Crop)
Red Eye Reduction Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s maximum shutter speed is 8 seconds in the Manual mode, which is fairly good news if you’re seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 8 seconds at ISO 100.

Night Shot Night Shot (100% Crop)

Vibration Reduction

The Nikon Coolpix P510 has a vibration reduction mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the lens set to the same focal length and ISO speed. The first shot was taken with vibration reduction turned off, the second with it turned on. As you can see, with vibration reduction turned on, the images are definitely sharper than with vibration reduction turned off. Here is a 100% crop of the images to show the results.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length Anti Shake Off (100% Crop) Anti Shake On (100% Crop)
1/20th sec / 24mm
1/15th sec / 1000mm

Backlighting

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s Baclighting mode captures three consecutive shots at varying exposures and combines them into a single photo with a broader range of tones. Three different HDR settings are available for selection.

Off HDR 1
HDR 2 HDR 3

Picture Controls

The Nikon Coolpix P510 has four different Picture Controls, which can be individually tweaked (sharpening, contrast and saturation) to suit your taste.

Standard Neutral
Vivid Monochrome

Special Effects

You can apply nine different special effects as you shoot with the Nikon Coolpix P510, with a live preview on the LCD screen showing exactly what the final image will look like.

Off Soft
Nostalgic Sepia High-contrast Monochrome
High Key Low Key
Selective Colour Painting
High ISO Monochrome Silhouette

Filter Effects

You can apply five different filter effects in-camera to photos that you have already taken with the Nikon Coolpix P510.

Selective Color Cross Screen
Fisheye Miniature Effect
Painting

Easy Panorama

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s Easy Panorama mode allows you to take vertical or horizontal panorama photos simply by moving the camera in the direction of the on-screen guides. Multiple shots are then combined into a single panorama photo. The angle of view can be selected from 180° (normal) and 360° (wide).

Easy Panorama – 180°
Full-size Image
Easy Panorama – 360°
Full-size Image

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix P510 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Image1/1600 sec
f/3.7 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/4.5 | 170mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/3.7 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/4.1 | 90mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/800 sec
f/4.9 | 30mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/800 sec
f/4.8 | 135mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/5.1 | 200mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/30 sec
f/4.7 | 24mm | ISO 110
Sample Image1/2000 sec
f/3.2 | 33mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/125 sec
f/3 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/60 sec
f/4 | 85mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/40 sec
f/4.2 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/200 sec
f/5.9 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/250 sec
f/5.3 | 120mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/30 sec
f/5.3 | 24mm | ISO 200
Sample Image1/800 sec
f/5.3 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/5.9 | 1000mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/5 | 85mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/2000 sec
f/3 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/500 sec
f/5.9 | 1000mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/320 sec
f/4.2 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/160 sec
f/4.9 | 435mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/800 sec
f/4.4 | 75mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/5.9 | 1000mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/80 sec
f/4.2 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/160 sec
f/4.1 | 90mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/4.1 | 100mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/4.3 | 70mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/160 sec
f/4.1 | 100mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/160 sec
f/4.8 | 325mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/640 sec
f/4.9 | 550mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/4.4 | 47mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/250 sec
f/7.6 | 28mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/500 sec
f/4.3 | 135mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/200 sec
f/5.9 | 1000mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/200 sec
f/4.9 | 550mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/5.9 | 1000mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/500 sec
f/4.9 | 435mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/30 sec
f/3 | 24mm | ISO 250
Sample Image1/200 sec
f/3 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/4.4 | 155mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/250 sec
f/3.7 | 55mm
Sample Image1/125 sec
f/3.7 | 55mm | ISO 3200
Sample Image1/60 sec
f/3.7 | 55mm | ISO 1600
Sample Image1/30 sec
f/3.7 | 55mm | ISO 800
Sample Image1/30 sec
f/4.2 | 120mm | ISO 220
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/4.9 | 500mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/320 sec
f/5.5 | 900mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/3.1 | 28mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/80 sec
f/3.6 | 50mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/4.2 | 105mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1600 sec
f/3.4 | 43mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/800 sec
f/3 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1600 sec
f/3 | 24mm | ISO 100

Sample Movie

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1920×1280 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 22 second movie is 51.9Mb in size.

View the sample movie.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix P510
Front of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Front of the Camera / Turned On
Nikon Coolpix P510
Front of the Camera / Pop-up Flash
Nikon Coolpix P510
Isometric View
Nikon Coolpix P510
Isometric View
Nikon Coolpix P510
Rear of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed
Nikon Coolpix P510
Rear of the Camera / Turned On
Nikon Coolpix P510
Rear of the Camera / Shooting Menu
Nikon Coolpix P510
Rear of the Camera / Function Menu
Nikon Coolpix P510
Fold-out LCD Screen
Nikon Coolpix P510
Fold-out LCD Screen
Nikon Coolpix P510
Fold-out LCD Screen
Nikon Coolpix P510
Top of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Bottom of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Side of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Side of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Front of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Front of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Memory Card Slot
Nikon Coolpix P510
Battery Compartment

Specifications

*The aperture value is f/8.3.**Based on CIPA Standards for measuring life of batteries.

***When recording a single movie.

Effective pixels 16.1 million
Image sensor 1/2.3-in. type CMOS; approx. 16.79 million total pixels
Lens 42x optical zoom, NIKKOR lens
Focal length 4.3-180mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 24-1000 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
f/-number f/3-5.9
Construction 14 elements in 10 groups (4 ED lens elements)
Digital zoom Up to 2x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 2000 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
Vibration reduction advanced lens-shift VR
Autofocus (AF) Contrast-detect AF
Focus range (from lens) [W]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 1.5 m (5 ft) to infinity Macro close-up mode: Approx. 1 cm (0.4 in.) (at a wide-angle zoom position beyond the triangle mark) to infinity
Focus-area selection Face priority, auto (9-area automatic selection), center, manual with 99 focus areas, subject tracking, target finding AF
Viewfinder Electronic viewfinder, 0.5-cm (0.2-in.) approx. 201k-dot equivalent LCD with the diopter adjustment function (-4 to +4 m-1)
Frame coverage (shooting mode) Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Monitor 7.5-cm (3-in.), approx. 921k-dot, wide viewing angle TFT LCD monitor with anti-reflection coating and 5-level brightness adjustment, tiltable approx. 82° downward, approx. 90° upward
Frame coverage (shooting mode) Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Media Internal memory (approx. 90 MB), SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card
File system DCF, Exif 2.3, DPOF, and MPF compliant
File formats Still pictures: JPEG 3D pictures: MPO Sound files (voice memo): WAV Movies: MOV (Video: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, Audio: AAC stereo)
Image size (pixels) 16 M 4608×3456 8 M 3264×2448 4 M 2272×1704 2 M 1600×1200 VGA 640×480 16:9 12M 4608×2592 16:9 2M 1920×1080 3:2 4608×3072 1:1 3456×3456
Shooting Modes Auto, Scene (Scene auto selector, Close-up, Portrait, Food, Sports, Museum, Night portrait, Fireworks show, Party/indoor, Black and white copy, Beach, Panorama, Snow, Pet portrait, Sunset, 3D photography, Dusk/dawn, Night landscape, Landscape, Backlighting), Special effects, P, S, A, M, User settings
Continuous Shooting Single (default setting), Continuous H (Pictures are continuously shot at about 7 fps), Continuous L (Up to about 30 frames at about 1 fps), Pre-shooting cache (Up to 20 frames at up to 15 fps), Continuous H: 120 fps (60 frames at about 1/125 s or faster), Continuous H: 60 fps (60 frames at about 1/60 s or faster), BSS (Best Shot Selector), Multi-shot 16, Intvl timer shooting
Movie HD 1080p(fine) (default setting): 1920 x 1080/approx. 30 fps, HD 1080p: 1920 x 1080/approx. 30 fps, HD 720p: 1280 x 720/approx. 30 fps, iFrame 540: 960 x 540/approx. 30 fps, VGA: 640 x 480/approx. 30 fps, HS 120 fps: 640 x 480/approx. 120 fps, HS 60 fps: 1280 x 720/approx. 60 fps, HS 15 fps: 1920 x 1080/approx. 15 fps
ISO sensitivity (Standard output sensitivity) ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, Hi 1 (equivalent to 6400) Auto (auto gain from ISO 100 to 1600) Fixed range auto (ISO 100 to 400, 100 to 800) Hi 2 (equivalent to 12800) (High ISO monochrome in special effects mode)
Metering 224-segment matrix, center-weighted, spot
Exposure control Programmed auto exposure with flexible program, shutter priority auto, aperture-priority auto, manual, exposure bracketing, motion detection, exposure compensation (-2.0 to +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)
Shutter Mechanical and CMOS electronic shutter
Speed Auto mode, scene mode, special effects mode 1/4000* to 1 s 1/4000* to 2 s (Tripod in Night landscape scene mode) 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode) P, S, A, and M modes 1/4000* to 8 s (when ISO sensitivity is set to 100 in M mode: including when set to Auto or Fixed range auto) 1/4000* to 4 s (when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 100, 200, or 400 in P, S, or A mode, and when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 200 or 400 in M mode) 1/4000* to 2 s (when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 800) 1/4000* to 1 s (when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 1600, and when set to Auto or Fixed range auto in P, S, or A mode) 1/4000* to 1/2 s (when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 3200 or Hi 1) 1/4000 to 1/125 s (Continuous H: 120 fps) 1/4000 to 1/60 s (Continuous H: 60 fps)
Aperture Electronically-controlled 6-blade iris diaphragm
Range 10 steps of 1/3 EV (W) (A, M mode)
Self-timer Can be selected from 10 s and 2 s
Range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto) [W]: 0.5 to 8.0 m (1 ft 8 in. to 26 ft) [T]: 1.5 to 4.5 m (5 ft to 14 ft)
Flash control TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes
Interface Hi-Speed USB
Data Transfer Protocol MTP, PTP
Video output Can be selected from NTSC and PAL
HDMI output Can be selected from Auto, 480p, 720p, and 1080i
I/O terminal Audio/video output; digital I/O (USB); HDMI Mini Connector (Type C) (HDMI output)
GPS Receiver frequency 1575.42 MHz (C/A code), geodetic system WGS 84
Supported languages Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
Power sources One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL5 (included) AC Adapter EH-62A (available separately)
Charging time Approx. 4 hours and 30 minutes (when using Charging AC Adapter EH-69P and when no charge remains)
Battery life (EN-EL5) Still pictures**: Approx. 240 shots Movies***: Approx. 1 h 10 min (HD 1080p(fine) (1920×1080))
Tripod socket 1/4 (ISO 1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 119.8 x 82.9 x 102.2 mm (4.8 x 3.3 x 4.1 in.) (excluding projections)
Weight Approx. 555 g (1 lb 3.6 oz) (including battery and SD memory card)
Temperature 0°C to 40°C (32°F to 104°F)
Humidity Less than 85% (no condensation)
Supplied accessories 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
Optional accessories Battery Charger MH-61, AC Adapter EH-62A, H

Conclusion:

The Nikon Coolpix P510 ups the ante in the ultra-zoom camera stakes by offering an incredible telephoto zoom setting of 1000mm. Remarkably it’s still possible to hand-hold the camera in good light and achieve sharp pictures thanks to the excellent vibration reduction system, although you really need to use a tripod or other support for consistent results. The move to a 16 megapixel sensor hasn’t spoiled the image quality, but it hasn’t improved it either, being merely good, and the P510 still struggles to keep up with fast-moving subjects and lacks support for the raw file format.

The main attraction of the P510 is of course that 24-1000mm equivalent zoom lens, which covers the focal range of at least 4 SLR lenses, but there is a lot more to the Nikon P510 than just an insanely long zoom. It also offers SLR-like handling, manual exposure and focus, an eye-level viewfinder, an articulated and high-resolution LCD screen, built-in GPS and full HD movies with stereo sound, full-time AF and optical zoom as well. The P510 is a very well rounded package that is surprisingly compact and lightweight and which will more than satisfy the needs of many users.

In terms of handling, the P510 unfortunately suffers from some of the same issues as its predecessor. These include a lack of direct access to the ISO speed and white balance (although you can assign one of those to the new Function button), a missing second control wheel and the inability to attach an external flashgun. Generally speaking, however, the Nikon Coolpix 510 offers better handling and ease-of-use than the P500 and some of its competitors, with the inclusion of the side zoom control on the lens barrel a very welcome one, especially for videographers.

Image quality remains something of a mixed bag. It’s not bad for a compact camera, but the ambitious move to a 16 megapixel sensor, despite it still being a back-illuminated CMOS one, hasn’t done the P510 many favours. There is a little too much smearing of fine detail in the full-resolution images, even at the lower ISO speeds, with things starting to fall apart at ISO 400 and getting progressively worse as you go up the range. The P510’s overall image quality is pleasing enough in good light, but simply not as good as its rivals as you move up the ISO range.

Despite retaining similar flaws that also afflicted the P510’s predecessor – namely the so-so image quality, lack of RAW mode, slightly sluggish auto-focusing and some handling issues, this new ultra-zoom is still well worth a look if want the all-in-one convenience of a superzoom that can shoot everything from wide-angle landscapes to close-ups of birds and other small subjects. That 1000mm telephoto setting may sound a little ridiculous on paper, but in reality it is actually a usable setting in good lighting conditions. The Nikon Coolpix P510 may not produce the best photos at higher ISO speeds or focus quickly enough for fast-moving subjects, but it’s a lot more portable and convenient than an SLR with a bag full of lenses and also doubles up as an effective video camera thanks to its excellent movie mode, making it worthy of our Highly Recommended award.

4.5 stars

RATINGS (OUT OF 5)
Design 4.5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 4
Image Quality 3.5
Value for money 4

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Nikon Coolpix P510.

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS Review thumbnail

The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS super-zoom camera has a remarkable 35x lens with an incredibly versatile focal range of 24-840mm. The SX40 also offers a 12 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, 2.7 inch vari-angle LCD screen, electronic viewfinder, full manual controls and full 1080p HD movies. Read our in-depth Canon PowerShot SX40 HS review to discover if it’s the only camera you need.

Casio EX-FH25

Casio EX-FH25 Review thumbnail

The Casio EX-FH25 is a super-zoom camera with a difference – its high-speed capabilities mean that it can take 30 still photos every second and even shoot 1,000fps video footage. The 10 megapixel EX-FH25 has a 20x lens with a focal range of 26-520mm, large 3 inch LCD screen and a wealth of automatic shooting modes to make your life easier. Read our comprehensive Casio EX-FH25 review to find out if this is the right high-zoom camera for you…

Fujifilm FinePix HS20 EXR

Fujifilm FinePix HS20 EXR Review thumbnail

The Fujifilm FinePix HS20 EXR is a brand new bridge-style camera with a massive 30x zoom lens and a long list of stand-out features. The HS20EXR boasts a 24-720mm focal range, full 1080p movies with stereo sound, a 3 inch tilting LCD screen, 8fps burst shooting and a 16 megapixel back-illuminated EXR sensor with JPEG and RAW support. Is this the only camera you’ll ever need? Read our Fujifilm FinePix HS20 review to find out…

Kodak EasyShare Z990

Kodak EasyShare Z990 Review thumbnail

The Kodak Z990 is a new ultra-zoom digital camera sporting a 28-840mm, 30x optical lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and optical image stabilization. Other stand-out features of the Z990 include a 12 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, ISO range of 125-6400, PASM shooting modes, RAW support, and a 3 inch LCD screen. Read the world’s first in-depth Kodak EasyShare Z990 Review.

Nikon Coolpix P500

Nikon Coolpix P500 Review thumbnail

The Coolpix P500 is Nikon’s new super-zoom compact camera for 2011, offering a massive 36x zoom lens with a focal range of 22.5-810mm. The 12 megapixel bridge-style Nikon P500 can capture full 1080p high-definition movies in stereo sound, has a back illuminated CMOS sensor, 3-inch 921K-dot tiltable LCD screen, electronic viewfinder and fast 8fps burst shooting. Priced at £399.99 / $399.99, read our Nikon Coolpix P500 review to find out if it can challenge the likes of the Fujifilm HS10, Canon SX30 IS and Panasonic DMC-FZ100.

Olympus SP-810UZ

Olympus SP-810UZ Review thumbnail

The Olympus SP-810UZ is a brand new bridge-style compact camera that boasts a 36x zoom lens with an incredible focal range of 24-864mm. The 14 megapixel Olympus SP-810UZ also offers a 3 inch, 16:9 ratio LCD screen, 720p movie recording and 3D shooting mode. Matt Grayson goes zoom-crazy in our in-depth Olympus SP-810UZ review.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Review thumbnail

The super-zoom compact camera market is a hotly-contested one, with offerings from all the big manufacturers. Panasonic have updated their range for 2010 with the introduction of the DMC-FZ100, an all-singing, all-dancing successor to the popular FZ38 model. Key highlights include a 24x zoom, large free-angle LCD, full HD movies, 11fps burst shooting, fast RAW mode and a 14 megapixel sensor. Read the world’s first online Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Review to find out if it can beat its rivals.

Pentax Optio X90

Pentax Optio X90 Review thumbnail

The Pentax Optio X90 is a brand new super-zoom compact camera featuring a 26x image-stabilized zoom lens with a focal range of 26-676mm. Successor to the X70 model, the X90 has a 12 megapixel sensor, 2.7 inch screen, full range of creative shooting modes and can record 720p HD movies. Retailing for £329.99 / $399.95, does the Pentax Optio X90 offer enough to match its super-zoom rivals? Gavin Stoker finds out in our Pentax Optio X90 review.

Samsung WB5000

Samsung WB5000 Review thumbnail

The WB5000 / HZ25W is Samsung’s first entry into the big boy world of all-in-one super-zoom cameras. Offering a 24x zoom lens with 26mm wide-angle setting, the WB5000 literally has most photographic subjects covered, for both 12 megapixel stills and 720p movies. Throw in a range of hand-holding smart modes for beginners and RAW format and Manual mode for advanced users, and Samsung could be onto a winner at their very first attempt. Read our expert Samsung WB5000 / HZ25W review to find out if Panasonic, Olympus et al have anything to fear…

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 Review thumbnail

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 is a super-zoom camera with some rather unique features up its proverbial sleeve. These include a 20x zoom lens and 9 megapixel CMOS sensor, both of which utilise Sony’s DSLR technology, 3 inch tiltable LCD screen, and fast 10fps burst shooting mode. Going up against the likes of the Canon Powershot SX20 IS, Panasonic FZ38 and Olympus SP-590UZ, we find out if the £480 / $500 Sony HX1 hits the right spot…


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