Oh, a 30x travel zoom? That’s cute. A 50x superzoom? Hmm, quaint. A DSLR with an 800mm lens? A 1200mm lens? How’s your back? All of these zoom cameras and telephoto lenses pale in comparison to Nikon’s latest creation, as they take the all-in-one superzoom category to the next level, following closely on the heels of the recently announced P610 60x zoom camera, with the introduction of the Nikon Coolpix P900.
Indeed, the new Nikon P900 goes way beyond the standard 50-65x superzoom category with a new, massive 83x optical zoom lens. Yes, optical. This means a lens that reaches as far as 2000mm(!) in 35mm-equivalence. And if for some reason 2000mm just doesn’t cut it, the P900 offers a total maximum equivalent of a whopping 8000mm when you factor in full 4x digital zoom (or 4000mm equivalence with Nikon’s 2x Dynamic Fine Zoom)!
In all seriousness, though, having a powerful and versatile zoom capability on your camera — especially telephoto reach — is an attractive feature for many people. Long telephoto lenses and powerful zoom cameras allow you to capture a variety of subjects, such as wildlife and sports, that could otherwise be very difficult or even potentially dangerous if you had to get physically closer with a shorter lens. High-powered superzoom cameras — those with optical zoom lenses around in the 40-60x magnification have maintained a steady popularity in the marketplace with those looking for an all-in-one camera solution with a extremely versatile lens, and the new P900 is the next evolution in this popular, versatile camera category.
With a lens this powerful, reaching to never-before-seen magnifications in a compact, fixed-lens digital camera, it’s not surprising that the Nikon P900 is far from a svelte, pocketable camera. The lens is absolutely massive — especially when zoomed in to 83x — however, in a very brief hands-on with a sample unit, the camera still felt very comfortable to hold and relatively lightweight, which the specifications indicate to be just shy of two pounds (or around 900g) with battery and memory card included.
Not only does the lens provide an enormous amount of zoom range, it’s also quite bright, especially at wide angle. With a 24mm-equivalent focal length at the widest, its aperture is a bright f/2.8, which is a nice step up from the f/3.3 aperture offered at the P610’s widest, 24mm-equivalent focal length. As you zoom, though, the maximum aperture of the P900’s lens falls to rather dim f/6.5, which isn’t unexpected for such a long zoom lens in a relatively compact design. The lens configuration makes use of aspherical and ED elements, including a single Super ED element, which help reduce chromatic aberrations and other optical abnormalities.
As lenses get longer and longer, having of some form of image stabilization becomes more and more crucial. Keeping shots blur-free or even just maintaining a view on your subject at full telephoto — especially at 83x in this case — can be difficult without stabilization. Thankfully, Nikon has introduced an impressive, all-new VR system for the P900. The new Dual Detect Optical VR system, which utilizes accelerometers in the lens as well as analyzing image motion on the sensor, provides a claimed five stops* of stabilization — the highest level vibration reduction ever included in a Nikon Coolpix camera.
Behind the powerful lens, the P900 sports a 16-megapixel 1/2.3-inch type CMOS sensor. Standard ISO range starts at a base sensitivity of 100 and rises to a maximum of 1600 in scene or other automatic shooting modes. The P900 does include full PASM exposure modes for more advanced shooting, and within those modes, ISO range is increased to 3200 and 6400. There is also a special boosted Hi 1 setting for ISO 12,800, however this is reserved solely for a High ISO Monochromatic special effects mode.
Like its less expensive sibling, the P610, the new P900 is able to fire off a burst of seven still images at up to seven frames per second at full resolution. According to Nikon, shooting lag for single-shot performance is approximately 0.12 seconds at the wide-end and 0.75s at full telephoto, which makes the P900 quick and speedy to handle fast-paced shots one after another. As with Nikon’s other superzoom cameras, they keep things simple on the P900 with only JPEG image recording; no RAW support, unfortunately.
For video, the Nikon P900 offers a standard, modern set of features including Full HD recording (1920 x 1080) at 60 frames per seconds, as well as 30fps (or 50p and 25p in PAL mode). 720p resolution is also available at 60p/30p (50p/25p) as is a neat slow-motion video mode that captures at up 120 frames per second at VGA (640 x 480) resolution. Videos are recorded using the H.264 standard in an MPEG-4 container with stereo audio.
As with many of the Nikon’s recent cameras, the new P900 includes both Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity for use with Nikon’s Snapbridge smartphone companion app. The Nikon P900 allows for wireless transfer of images for quick and easy sharing or mobile post-processing, however the Snapbridge app can also be used as a wireless remote control for even more creative possibilities. (Nikon’s optional ML-L3 infrared remote is also supported.) The Coolpix P900 also includes a built-in GPS to geo-tag your photos during your travels.
The Nikon P900 is scheduled to be available in April 2015 for a estimated retail price of US$599.95 and will come in black.
Now that we’ve had an overview of the camera, let’s take a closer look at the design and physical features of the new Nikon P900…
The Nikon P900 takes style cues from existing superzoom cameras with a large, protruding lens paired with a DSLR-esque body design with fuller, extended hand-grip and a variety of external buttons and control dials. However, in the case of the P900, the lens is definitely front-and-center; taking up a huge proportion of the camera’s overall size and shape.
Starting from the top-view, you can see just how massive the lens assembly is in comparison to the rest of the camera. The lens barrel does, however, provide substantial real estate for a balanced, secure grip.
In terms of top-deck controls and dials, the P900 follows very closely to that of the new P610, with the majority of camera controls clustered around the handgrip. Out front, on the contoured handgrip, the zoom rocker lever surrounds the shutter release button, and behind that sits a function button and the on/off button. Like a DSLR, the P900 features a main command thumb dial for quick and easy settings adjustments. The mode dial, with PASM modes and an array of scene modes, presets and special effects modes, is placed next to the side of the EVF housing. And sitting on top of the EVF itself is a built-in pop-up flash as well as left and right microphones for stereo audio capture and the covering of the GPS unit. Unfortunately, like the P610, there’s no hot shoe for mounting an external flash.
Moving to the back side of the camera, again we see a very similar control layout and design to that of the P610 superzoom. The primary control is the 4-way, rotational dial cluster as well as your typical assortment of buttons, including menu, delete, and playback buttons. The camera also features a Wi-Fi shortcut button to quickly setup and connect to a smart device, a video record button — conveniently placed right next to the textured thumb-rest area — plus the display information and LCD/EVF toggle buttons.
Also on the rear of the camera is a large, 3.0-inch, 921K-dot RGBW vari-angle LCD screen complete with anti-reflective coating and 6-level brightness adjustment. The EVF also shares the same 921K-dot resolution, and includes diopter adjustment and a built-in eye/proximity sensor to automatically activate the EVF when placed up to the eye.
Along the sides of the camera, you get another view of just how dominating the lens on the P900 is. On the left side of the camera, the body itself lacks any buttons or controls, except for the pop-up flash button. However, on the left side of the lens barrel, there’s a secondary zoom toggle switch as well as “snap-back” zoom button. The side zoom toggle button helps maintain a secure grip and control camera shake while providing a convenient thumb-controlled way to zoom the lens. The snap-back zoom button helps re-frame or reacquire your subject, which can be difficult when composing a shot at long telephoto focal lengths. The snap-back button quickly zooms back out to a full wide-angle view and then snaps back to the previous focal length once you’re ready and you let go of the button.
The right side of the camera and lens is devoid of any switches or controls, except the covering for the USB and Type-D Micro HDMI ports as well as the proximity connection area for the NFC chip.
Like the right side, the front view is quite simple. The handgrip area and left front edge covered in a grippy, rubberized material for a comfortable and secure grip. On the front, in the crux of the handgrip and lens is the small self-timer lamp.
For power, the Nikon P900 shares the same rechargeable EN-EL23 lithium ion battery pack as the P610, which is CIPA-rated for this camera to provide about 360 shots per charge. The camera is also compatible with the EH-67A AC Adapter (sold separately) for tethered, constant power. For storage, the P900 uses Secure Digital flash memory cards and is compatible with SD, SDHC and SDXC cards.
|Full model name:
|Nikon Coolpix P900
(6.2mm x 4.6mm)
|EVF / OLED
|100 – 6400
|100 – 12,800
|15 – 1/4000
|5.5 x 4.1 x 5.4 in.
(140 x 103 x 137 mm)
|31.7 oz (899 g)
|Nikon P900 specifications