The P-series or Performance series of compact cameras from Nikon feature advanced functionalities.
The 16.1-megapixel P510 featuring a 42x optical zoom lens, is the latest in the P-series from the Nikon stable. The impressive zoom range of this camera allows you to photograph anything from landscapes to birds.
Design and Build Quality
The Nikon Coolpix P510 has an outer body made of engineering plastic. It has tiltable LCD screen, though the tilt is only along one axis. The lens has a two-segment construction and does not employ folded optics, which means that it extends considerably while zooming. The positive side of this is that the lens appears sturdier than lenses with more segments. The camera has an auxiliary zoom lever on the lens barrel in addition to the main zoom lever. The hand grip is deep with a textured rubber lining to enhance grip. The tripod mount is metal.
The 16.1 megapixel Nikon Coolpix P510 uses a 1/2.3-inch Type (6.16 x 4.62mm) Back-side Illuminated CMOS sensor for imaging. This, combined with the new EXPEED C2 image processing engine, is capable of delivering superior low-light performance with reduced noise. The camera features a Nikkor 24-1000mm equivalent f/3-5.9 lens featuring Vibration Reduction. This allows you to capture all types of photographs from macro and landscapes to wildlife and birds. The lens is constructed with 14 elements in 10 groups including 4 ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements and uses an electronically controlled 6-blade diaphragm. The camera uses contrast detect autofocus system. In normal mode, the lens focusses from approximately 50cm to infinity at the wide-angle end and from approximately 1.5m to infinity at the telephoto end. In Macro mode, the lens focusses from approximately 1cm to infinity at the wide-angle end. Focus area selection options are Face Priority Auto with 9-area automatic selection, centre, manual with 99 focus areas, subject tracking, and target finding AF. Metering modes available are 224-segment matrix, centre-weighted, and spot. Exposure can be compensated up to +/-2 EV in 1/3-EV steps. The camera has both a mechanical shutter and a CMOS electronic shutter. This allows for higher capture speeds in high-speed mode (a CMOS shutter works by altering the readout time of signals from individual pixels on the sensor and hence it does not have any moving part). Shutter speeds range from 8 to 1/4000 sec and sensitivity of the camera ranges from ISO 100 to 3200, with additional high-sensitivity modes H1 (equivalent to ISO 6400) and H2 (equivalent to ISO 12800). Self-timer can be set to either 2 sec or 10 sec. The built-in flash has a range of approximately 0.5 to 8.0 m (W) and approximately 1.5 to 4.5m (T) when the ISO sensitivity is set to Auto. The shooting modes available are Auto, Scene, Special effects, P, S, A, M, and User settings. The Scene modes are 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, and Backlighting.
Still images are recorded in JPEG format with a maximum image size of 54608 x 3456 pixels, while 3D images are recorded in MPO format. HD Video clips are recorded in MOV format with the best quality of 1920 x 1080 at approximately 30 fps. In Continuous H mode, the camera can capture images at 7 frames per second up to a maximum of 5 frames at a time. The camera has a GPS system, which inserts location information to the metadata tags in the images.
The camera has an electronic viewfinder (EVF) in addition to the display screen. The EVF features a 0.2 inch, approximately 201,000-dot LCD with dioptre adjustment. The monitor is a 3-inch, approximately 921,000-dot wide viewing angle TFT LCD with anti-reflection coating. The P510 has an internal memory of approximately 90MB and accepts an SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card. The device weighs approximately 555g including battery and memory card and has dimensions of approximately 119.8 x 82.9 x 102.2mm excluding projections.
The P510 is easy to operate. The deep and rubber-lined hand grip provides a secure feel and the projected lens barrel allows you to support the camera with your left hand so that it remains steady. The LCD panel can tilt approximately 82 degree downward and approximately 90 degree upwards. Images appear crisp on the screen. The EVF is very useful if you want to reduce camera shake, though it suffers from tunnel vision. We feel the command dial has been placed too close to the hand grip. It would have been easier to access it if it was placed below the mode dial.
It is quite a challenge to design a camera with a 42x optical zoom lens and still maintain image quality throughout the focal length. Let us see how the Nikon P510 performed on our test bench. The lens controlled darkening of corners very well. At the wide-angle end, with wide open aperture, it did not produce any darkening of corners, which is rare. Distortion was well under control. We did not observe any prominent distortion except for slight barrel distortion observed up to 75mm. The lens produced rather heavy flare along with purple fringing. White Balance performed as expected, reproducing colours very well in both auto as well as pre-set modes, except for a slight yellow cast under incandescent light.
Native print size of the images was 11.52 x 15.36 inches at 300 ppi. At 25 percent of this screen size, viewed on a monitor with resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels, images were free of noise up to ISO800. At 50 percent of the screen size, images were acceptable up to ISO 200. At 100 percent of the native image size, noise was observed even at ISO 100, but the images were usable up to ISO 800, depending on your requirement. We are a tad disappointed since we expected better noise control owing to the BSI CMOS sensor. Please note that these are noise levels as observed on our computer screen and it might differ on print, depending on the size of final image, printer, printing paper and the ink used.
The images were sharp at the centre, but the sharpness decreased towards the periphery. As expected, the images were soft beyond approximately 350mm. AF was slow and struggled to lock on to the subject in many cases. All the metering modes performed well as expected.
Value for Money
The Nikon Coolpix P510 retails at an MRP of Rs.23,950. At this price, the camera is good value for money.
+ 42x optical zoom
+ 7 fps High-speed mode
– Sluggish AF
– Performance could have been better
Design and Build Quality 17/20
Key Features 18/20
Noise Control 2/5
Value for Money 8/10
Grand Total 78/100
With a market-leading 42x optical zoom in a compact body, the Nikon Coolpix P510 has raised the standard for superzoom cameras. The camera features priority modes and useful additional features. The slow AF and overall performance, though, are of concern. Recommended.