Nikon Coolpix P500, Fuji HS20, vs. Canon SX20IS

This is only a vs. review in the sense that the Canon SX20IS was my current camera when I started looking for something new. I have been using superzoom bridge cameras for several years now…the Sony H9 and H50 in their time, and the Canon, having a lot of fun, and getting satisfying results.

The Canon is a wonderful camera. It has excellent image quality at ISOs up to 200 (especially compared to the two Sonys that came before it), decent image quality at ISOs up to 400, and I love the way it handles in the field. The lens is amazingly sharp. I have been totally happy with it…or almost. The only limits of the camera are 1) a 20x zoom range topping out at 560mm equivalent field of view…there are lots of new superzooms with longer zooms at the telephoto end, and many of them better the Canon’s 28mm wide end too, and 2) no rapid capture to speak of…the fastest you can take images with the SX20IS is .8 frames per second (yes that is point eight!) and that is simply very frustrating when shooting active wildlife. Many of todays’ Back-illuminated CMOS sensor superzooms will shoot 5-11 frames per second. Then too, the new BICMOS cameras shoot full HD video and the Canon is limited to 720p.

I was tempted by the Panasonic FZ100. Five fps and all kinds of image processing modes made possible by the BICMOS…but, at 600mm, its zoom is not significantly longer than the SX20IS’ and it got pretty dismal reviews on image quality.

And of course I had a good long look at the Canon SX30IS, with its 35x zoom extending to 840mm equivalent field of view…but again, image quality reviews were disappointing (especially the often mentioned chromatic aberration and purple fringing) and, without a BICMOS sensor, its rapid capture ability was not that much better than the SX20.

I was on something of a self imposed time limit for my shopping. I had two major trips to photo destinations scheduled and coming up fast…1) St Augustine Florida for the Florida Birding and Photo Fest and the Alligator Farm rookery for flight shots, and 2) Ohio for The Biggest Week in American Birding and lots of frantically feeding warbler opportunities along the boardwalk at Magee Marsh.

After a fair amount of research, I bought and shot several hundred images with the Fuji HS20. The Fuji had all the right specs and handling was a dream: 24-720mm equivalent zoom, 8-11 fps, full HD video, extended contrast range, macro mode with special processing for out-of-focus backgrounds, manual zoom and easy button access to common settings, and an ultra solid feel. Unfortunately the image quality from its 16mp sensor was about on a par with that of my original Superzoom…the Sony H9 of several years ago. The Fuji showed a lot of water color effect…fine details were smeared, and smooth color gradients were blocky. While the images look good, spectacular even, at smaller sizes and resolutions, even with every effort to process the files for best effect in Lightroom, they too often looked more like paintings than photographs at anything approaching full resolution…an effect that was obvious in even an 8.5×11 print. Folks who use and love the camera claim that with proper settings (using the camera at 8mp, and tweaking a bunch of other stuff) you can nurse some truly spectacular images out of this camera, but if I had wanted to be nurse I would have gone to school for it. I wanted a camera that I could pretty much use out of the box for satisfying results. I returned the Fuji, with genuine regrets, but few doubts.

View this image at full resolution to see the water color effect…a deal breaker for me.

That sent me to the internet one more time to look at image samples from the remainder of the BICMOS long zoom introductions for this year. The Sony HX100v looks really good on paper, and as a ZEISS employee I am of course attracted by the Vario-Sonnar lens, but it is not really out yet, even at this writing, and samples of the types of images I am interested in capturing are hard to find. I actually had one on order for delivery on release, but my experience with the Fuji made me a bit cautions of cameras that look really good on paper, and that have high pixel count BICMOS sensors (the Sony is also 16mp).

I ended up, after looking at all the samples images I could find, going to my local Best Buy and purchasing a Nikon Coolpix P500 on the day I left for Florida. Not the wisest course of action, but, as you will see if you read on, one that, so far, has worked out pretty well.

Nikon COOLPIX P500 12.1 CMOS Digital Camera with 36x NIKKOR Wide-Angle Optical Zoom Lens and Full HD 1080p VideoThe Nikon Coolpix P500 has a 36x zoom, 23mm to 810mm equivalent and I like both ends (as well as pretty much everything in between). I already knew, from my experiments with the Fuji, that 24mm is significantly wider then 28mm when it comes to expansive landscapes, and, of course, 23mm is even wider. Better yet, at 23mm the Nikon lens has less distortion than my Canon SX20 at 28mm. Impressive. And at 810mm the Coolpix has the reach for many birds, even warblers in the woods, and certainly for much of the wildlife you might encounter. Amazingly the lens has very little chromatic aberration at any setting of the zoom. In fact it is the cleanest zoom, by far, that I have seen on any superzoom. Purple fringing (a sensor artifact that often accompanies CA from the lens) is so well controlled as to be practically no-existent. This would be impressive in a shorter zoom, but at 36x it is, as I say, amazing!

23mm equivalent field of view 810mm equivalent field of view

Then too, the P500 shoots 8 frames per second in continuous mode for a burst of 5 shots, or 24 frames at 1.8 frames per second. 8 fps is fast enough to capture even birds in flight or rapidly feeding warblers. Most of the time I end up selecting the best of the 5 shots, but I have captured several 5 shot sequences of birds in motion that are quite satisfying. And if 8 fps is not fast enough, you can even set the camera to lower resolution for up to 240 fps stop motion sequences.

Scarlet Tanager

takes flight: 8 fps, 5 frames

selected shots from 5 taken at 8 frames per second

All that is good…very good…but of course no camera is any better than its base image quality. The P500 has a 12mp BICMOS sensor. I have done some careful side by side testing, and while the Canon SX20IS’ 12mp sensor should, in theory, have very slight edge in fine detail, in fact, the Nikon has at least as good, if slightly different, image quality at ISO 160 as the Canon. And the Nikon  has the best extended dynamic range and image optimization routines of any camera I have used…as well as considerably better high ISO performance. All in all, unlike the Canon SX20IS / Fuji HS20 comparison, in comparing the Nikon Coolpix P500 and the Canon SX20IS, the Nikon comes out the clear image quality winner. The following comparison shots are just as they came from the camera, and are available at full resolution with a click.

Nikon Coolpix P500 vs. Canon SX20IS: ISO 160, subdued light

P500 vs. SX20IS, ISO 800, inside.

P500 vs. SX20IS, ISO 1600, natural light

For extended dynamic range, the Nikon Coolpix’s Active D-Lighting can be set to 3 levels: Low, Normal, or High. It adjusts exposure overall, and selectively processes the highlights and shadows for extended range. In my experience it does a really good job of maintaining natural detail in clouds and opening shadows in the foreground…all without the unnatural effects of much HDR work. It is so good, in fact, that images from the P500 require very little exposure work in post-processing. I have intentionally tested the P500 with scenes that have always proved a challenge for my previous cameras, and there is a very noticeable improvement in the way the P500 renders the scene with Active D-Lighting on.

This scene is particularly difficult to render, with the shadowed trunks in the foreground and the bright sky behind. Active D-Lighting does an excellent job.

Image Optimization can be set to Normal, Softer, Vivid, More Vivid, Portrait, Custom, and Black and White.  Custom gives you direct control over contrast, sharpening, and saturation. The rest of the modes apply some combination of those effects corresponding to their names. Vivid, which is what I use most of the time, produces the same effect out of camera that I have achieved in Lightroom with my other cameras…a bit of fill light, blackpoint slightly to the right, added clarity and vibrance…for an image that has a good deal of pop and drama…but without being so over the top as to call attention to itself. I have not experimented much with the other settings, but I plan on doing so.

Both Active D-Lighting and Image Optimization make the camera do more of the work I would normally do in Lightroom after the fact. I know that makes some photographers really really nervous (and quite disdainful of those who do not share their opinions and habits). They want to shoot in RAW and carefully control all parameters in post-processing for the best rendering of their vision.  I am not that kind of guy. If the camera can do the job, I am perfectly willing to let it. In fact, I am happy to let it. As long as I know what the camera is going to do to the image, and can pre-visualize the result, letting the camera do its thing leaves me more energy to concentrate on seeing and composing. And I really do not need to spend any more time in front of the computer than is absolutely necessary, thank you all the same.

imageSpeaking of composition, the P500 has two features which I find really useful. The first, and most important, is a flip out LCD so that I can compose near-ground-level scenics and shoot macros without getting down on my knees and stomach. I refuse to buy any new camera that does not have an articulated LCD. The second is a user selected rule of thirds grid in the finder. While every rule is made to be broken, having the the two vertical power lines, the two horizons, and the 4 power points right there imposed on every scene definitely improves my ability to see a better finished image…whether I choose to follow the rule of thirds or to break it. (See The Really Strong Suggestion of Thirds). And, since it is user selected, if you don’t like it there, you can turn it off.

near-ground-level scenic

Macro at ground level, both made easy by the flip out LCD

And speaking of macros, the Nikon P500 can be set to macro focus in almost any of its exposure modes, but it also has a Close-up Scene Mode, which selects several parameters beyond macro focus to improve your chances of good results. The zoom automatically zooms to best length…the setting where you can get closest focus and largest image scale…about 32mm equivalent field of view. Focus switches to continuous center frame, exposure to center frame, and Image Optimization to Vivid. Good to go. Simply flip out the LCD, and hold the camera as close as  3/4 of an inch away from your subject. You can over-ride the zoom setting of course, and shoot full frame macros at out to 810mm equivalent from as close as 4 feet. The results are impressive…the best I have seen from any small sensor camera. I suspect there is some digital trickery going on to maintain good foreground and subject depth of field, while throwing the background well out of focus. At least the images look to me much more like images from a large camera sensor using longer focal length lenses than those from your average small sensor, short lens, P&S.

If you have read other reviews of the P500 you have probably encountered some criticism of the controls. Maybe it is a matter of expectations, but I find the controls, in actual field use, to be among the easiest, most responsive of any camera I have used in a long time. I love the Program Shift wheel right under your thumb that allows you shift the balance between f-stop and shutter speed at will, while maintaining correct exposure. I like the Exposure Compensation control on the control dial, also easily accessible via thumb. I like the separate, well placed, menu button that allows you to get the menus up even with the camera at eyelevel. And, while the menu system might look old-fashioned, it actually works very well, allowing rapid access to most settings, and on the fly changes…again, without removing the camera from your eye or taking your eye off the LCD. And the menu is blessedly fast. There is no lag at all between selection and implementation. with a little practice, you can be into the menus with a press of the button, scroll to your setting with the control dial, make your selection, and be back out of the menus and shooting in less time than it takes to read this sentence. What is not to like?

The P500 has several specialized exposure modes made possible by the BICMOS sensor and its rapid capture ability. I have not experimented with them all, but I particularly like the Night Landscape mode. Night Landscape rapidly captures 3 or more images of the same scene, then stacks them in camera to provide a sharp, richly colored night scene. Though some effort is made to control noise, I have found that more noise reduction in post processing helps…but the final results are pretty amazing.

The crescent moon and Venus in conjunction at dawn, St. Augustine FL. Night Landscape Mode.

St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine, Night Landscape Mode, handheld ambient light only

There is also an backlight HDR mode which shoots and combines several images for extended dynamic range even beyond that available with Active D-Lighting. Unfortunately, unless the scene has extreme contrast, the in camera processing produces a relatively flat image, which has more noise and more jpg artifacts than a single exposure. Fortunately Active D-Lighting is so good, HDR will rarely be needed, and when it is you can always shoot three auto bracketed exposures and combine them in Photomatix or some other HDR software.

There are actually way more scene and program modes than I have yet explored. Smart Portrait and Portrait provide a softer look with an out of focus background. Smart Portrait has face recognition. Beach and Snow provide for extremes of highlight range, etc. etc. It also has a mode in which the camera chooses the Scene mode based on an analysis of the frame. (That is taking camera automation even a bit far for me :)

The P5oo gives you two panorama options. Auto sweep panorama allows you to simply hold the shutter button down and sweep the camera along a horizontal or vertical line while it captures images. The camera then stitches them and evens out exposure. The results are very good, though the narrow dimension of the image is limited to 560 pixels in horizontal panos, and 1024 in vertical panos. The second option is to use Assisted Panorama mode. This provides guides to help you to align a series of full resolution images to be stitched together later in the included Panorama software, or in PhotoMerge in PhotoShop Elements.

Sweep Panorama mode

full resolution, assisted Panorama mode, stitched in PhShEl 9.

The P500 gives you control over both Image Size and Image Quality (compression ratio). I shoot in full size, 12mp, and Fine quality (low compression) almost all the time.

For action, I started out with the Sports Mode, which selects 5 shots at 8 frames per second, continuous focus, center focus and exposure, standard Image Quality, and Medium (8mp) size. While this works, I quickly found that I could still get 8 fps at Full Size (12mp) and Fine Image Quality, so I created a User mode with those settings, along with LCD off, full zoom, and a minimum shutter speed of 1/125 (yes you can set that!). I call that my Flight and Action mode.

My user designed flight and action mode.

By setting up Program with Full Size, Fine IQ, Active D-Lighting Normal, Image Optimization Vivid, I can use that setting on the control dial as my general purpose landscape and scenic mode. I then set my Scene Mode to Close Up (or Macro), and I have my User mode set for Flight and Action as above. That gives me three choices on the control dial for 90% of my shooting. With easy thumb access to Program Shift and Exposure Compensation in all modes, unless the situation is really extraordinary, or I want to shoot a panorama, I never actually have to go into the menus.

The Nikon Coolpix P500 does have some drawbacks. 1) As above, there are times when I can see more processing artifacts in the fine detail of landscapes than I really want to see, 2) The lens, while excellent in all other ways, is not very fast. f3.4 at 23mm to f5.7 at 810mm. 3) perhaps because of the slow lens, the minimum ISO is a rather high 160. Every other camera I have ever owned went down to ISO 100, and most went to ISO 80. (It might be noted that image quality at ISO 160 on this BICMOS sensor is as good as image quality at 100 on most small CCDs I have used, and image quality above 400 is considerably better.) 4) on and off times are not among the fastest. 5) it takes a while, especially when shooting Full Size and Fine, for the camera to write its burst of 5 images at 8 fps to the card. That can mean missing action. 6) focus, while excellent and quite fast, is still not as fast or accurate as the more sophisticated systems in DSLRs, 7) image sensor shift Vibration Reduction, while adequate for most shooting, is not as good as the lens based Optical Image Stabilization in Canon P&Ss. High zoom video, for instance, requires a tripod (and it is noisy!), and finally, 8) battery life, while adequate, is rather short by today’s standards, and the camera does not come with an external charger. To charge you have to plug the whole camera in via proprietary usb cable. Fortunately the P500 uses a common Nikon battery, and both extra batteries and external chargers are available, and relatively inexpensive, on Amazon. (Some users have reported more serious battery problems, with unusually short discharge and discharge while the camera is off…but my camera has been fine…and most who have had the problem returned the camera for one that works. Buyer be aware.)

Conclusion: while no camera is perfect, the Nikon Coolpix P500 is about as versatile a camera as you could ask for. From panorama, to ultra-wide, to macro, to portrait range, to long telephoto…from high dynamic range/high impact landscapes to soft telling portraits, from dawn to dusk, from night portrait to night landscape, from snow and sand to fireworks, from active wildlife to actual birds in flight…the P500 does it all, in a compact package that is easy to carry and use in the field. Like all superzoom bridge cameras it will not equal the image quality of a DSLR and a bag full of lenses, but it is certainly a camera that will bring back satisfying results under the widest possible range of conditions. It certainly does everything I had hoped for and more. It is a fun camera. And at this point in my photographic journey, it is just what is wanted.

This entry was posted in bridge camera, Nikon Coolpix P500, Opinion, Reviews, super zoom. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Nikon Coolpix P500, Fuji HS20, vs. Canon SX20IS

  1. kamera gue says:

    Very clear and nice comparison,
    just a little correction from me, that Nikon P500 has a f/3.4 maximum aperture (not f/3.2 as you type). It’s just almost like a slow DSLR kit lens aperture range , but no DSLR lenses can come close with this P500 lens when we talking about a focal range. Thanks.

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  3. Thank you so much. Since 2002 I use Nikon Coolpix 995, in addition I have wide angle lens.

    It is a very good camera and for 9 years it works without any problems, however 3 Mpx is not enough and the camera rather slow. I am looking for some new device. My daughter has Canon SX3lS. I use it sometimes but I find it not frindly and not convinient for use.

    Now I know what I need. Nikon P500.

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  5. Bill Heck says:

    Thank you so much for such a timely post! Well, timely for me anyway: it’s time for me to move up to a better camera for an upcoming trip, and I had decided on a superzoom. (Like you, I am a birder; even though I expect to take mostly landscape/scenery and some people photos, you never know when a great bird will be there for the shooting, so to speak.) After driving myself crazy with online research, I had settled on the Canon SX30, but was intrigued by the Nikon P500. Your post, which I saw just today, rekindled my interest in the latter, and a review at imaging-resources.com, posted just yesterday, helped push me in that direction as well.

    I’ve appreciated your musings on optics of all sorts in the past, but had not seen your work in a few years. It’s great to see that you continue to provide excellent, practical advice backed by thorough testing, as exhibited in this post.

    Will pick up the P500 tomorrow and post another comment after I have a chance to play with it a bit.

    Thanks again!

    • admin says:

      Thanks Bill. I had not seen the imaging-resources review. I have seen very little chromatic aberration or softness in the corners in my general shooting so far. Maybe I am not as critical.

      • Bill Heck says:

        Sorry to say it, but the P500 did not work out for me as well as I had hoped. The quick summary: I picked up a P500 and took it out in the back yard on a nice sunny day for a few test shots. I immediately saw many positives: lots of options, that incredible zoom range, fast operation. But my reaction to a few of the shots was that something was not quite there yet. I then broke out the Canon SX30 that I had expected to return to the store and took similar shots: both cameras certainly produced respectable images, but in every case in which I saw a difference, the difference favored the Canon. The main issue was in fine resolution, where the Nikon just could not seem to match the Canon in the last iota of clarity. Also, in a few difficult situations (shooting into sunlit foliage, for instance) the Canon was able to focus quickly and reliably; the Nikon almost focused properly — but not quite.

        Now I hasten to admit that the Canon had its own set of issues. For one thing it’s slow — responsive enough on single shots, but fairly slow to recover for the next shot, and with a hopelessly slow burst mode (at least compared to the P500). Yes, the chromatic aberration was more noticeable, although not so bad or so commonly observed as some of the reviews would lead you to believe. (And while it’s annoying to have to remove CA, it can be done pretty successfully.) In addition, to my eye the resolution in tight macros was a bit inferior to the Nikon. No doubt I will find a whole set of additional complaints given a little more time!

        None of this is to say that the P500 is bad; in fact, I would agree with just about all of the positives that you mentioned in your post. I just found the SX30 — for my purposes and my tastes — a little better. And you were comparing to the SX20, not the SX30 anyway.

        Regardless of the outcome, I still greatly appreciate your original post! It was worth more than most of the reviews that I’ve read — real world experience well described. Either of these cameras should be a lot of fun to use. Let’s see — next year we should have the SX40 and the P600 to play around with…..

        • admin says:

          For me the slow sequential shot time on the Canon SX30IS was a deal breaker. Not sure about the resolution issue. I think it probably varies shot to shot, depending on how intensively the image is processed in camera. The P500 equals the SX20IS’s image quality at normal ISOs and exceeds it at higher ISOs, and the SX30IS has, according to some reviewers, lower image quality than the 20IS…still, like I say…I think it has a lot to do with lighting and the actual contents of the shots. I am sure you will have fun with your SX30IS!

          • Bill Heck says:

            Just back from Alaska and trying to whittle down 3000 photos to a more manageable collection! (The curse of digital photography… it’s just too easy to keep snapping away!) A few quick observations:

            I see what you mean about the slow sequential shot time on the SX-30: compared to some older cameras, it’s okay, but that the P500 is way faster. Given my shooting habits, I can live with this, but can understand that others could not. Another negative that I encountered was occasionally strange white balance — not often, but weird when it happened. On the positive side, battery life on the Canon is fantastic, controls and menus are easy to master, focusing usually is fast and accurate (yes, there are occasional exceptions), and image stabilization works unbelievably well. Personally, I love the image quality; then again, there are trade-offs with any small-sensor camera and I guess I just like the SX-30 trade-offs better.

            But the most impressive thing goes back to the original message of your post: the current generation of ultra-zooms, at least the Nikon P500 and the Canon SX-30, can be serious photographic tools! The results from wide-angle to “normal” telephoto are very good by any standards, and shots at long telephoto are just unbelievable. I end up staring in amazement at pictures of birds and other wildlife that were impossibly far away, yet yielded photos that are sharp and detailed. No doubt I could have done even better with DSLR and an 800 mm lens, but then I wouldn’t have been able to afford the trip!

            And hey, not to worry about the drawbacks: they all will be fixed next year in the P600 and SX-40, right?

            Thanks again for a wonderful series of posts!

  6. Sunny says:

    Nice review ! Thank you

    I recently bopught a P300 ( in addition to a slew of other Canon Digitral Cameras) largely because I wanted a BiCMOS camera with HD video capabilities that felt better holding than a Canon s95 or the new BiCMOS Canon 300HD.

    There seems to be a problem with the focusing of this Nikon P300 camera when Zooming that I am wondering whether this focusing problem occurs with taking movies with the P500. (Auto focus turned off since it has its own limitations)

    Basically if you choose a landscape and select a bright object the size of the focus bracket to focus on while at wide angle in AF-s mode, and then start filming and zoom in, everything in the field of view goes out of focus as you zoom in. I have posted details under the P300 review and have captured and posted HD frames of this problem. Would be interested in your opinion and whether this problem occurs with the P500!

    I have had discussions with customer support, including sending samples of the movies showing the problem. After sending the camera in to the US service department they checked out the focusing and calibrations and told me it was within specifications. END OF STORY ?????

    • Max says:

      Thank you for a great review. It helps me with decision – Canon sx30is or Nikon P500. Now, the great Lumix-fan becomes a Nikon fan.
      P500 isn’t ideal, but it’s very very good camera. In my opinion – advantages and disadvantages:
      – advantages: damn, it’s fast; impressive zoom and wide angle; very good IQ, very good LCD; fast series photos; good handling (light), panorama assistant and great easy panorama mode; very good AWB, minimal noise at ISO 160-200-400; very nice chromatic aberration reduction; good d-lighting mode; user program; cool 120fps movies

      – disadvantages: battery life; if you want to view pictures only, you should remove the cap; no quick menu!; sometimes focusing problems [don’t know why] (even at bright day); focusing problems while taking movies (yes Sunny, same story), poor stabilisation while recording the movies (but only at tele [hand]).

      Sorry for my english :)

  7. Many thanks for the helpful article. May I ask, how did you manage to get 8 fps at Full Size (12mp) and Fine Image Quality?

    • admin says:

      I just set it to fine and full size. I am assuming the 8fps as I can see or hear no difference between that setting and medium and normal.

  8. AlexL says:

    Overall, the Nikon Coolpix P500 is pretty impressive. Although there are a few flaws, the camera’s features make up for them. Below are the major pros and cons I found after using the camera for a few hours.

    Pros:
    – HUGE 36x Optical Zoom (at full zoom I could see buildings 5 miles away as if they were two blocks away)
    – Relatively lightweight and compact, much smaller than I expected.(compared to an entry level DSLR)
    – Up to 240 FPS video, nice slow motion.
    – Manual controls, a must for any experienced camera user.
    – Buttons well laid out and simple to find and use.

    Cons:
    – Image quality was good but it was pretty much expected, nothing extraordinary for this price range. If you prefer higher quality images over features in this price range, an entry level DSLR such as the D3100 is the way to go.
    – If you accidentally leave the lens cap on and turn the camera on, the lens will still try to come out and it will grind the motor. BE CAREFUL! I found this to be the biggest flaw, not having a “lens cap on” sensor or a resistance sensor that would stop the motor if it sensed something in the way.
    – No supplied external battery charger. You have to charge the battery while it’s in the camera, via USB cable and supplied AC adapter. And while it’s charging, it won’t let you power it on, so you can’t use it as an AC power source either.
    – As with all super high zooms, every tiny vibration is magnified so unless you have a tripod or some kind or support, it’s extremely difficult to get a clear shot at maximum zoom.

    All in all, it is very user friendly. From the novice photographer to the experienced photo geek, the features on this camera are sure to impress. If you can deal with a few minor inconveniences, the Nikon Coolpix P500 is pretty nice camera.

  9. John says:

    I enjoyed the article. I am a long time Nikon SLR/DSLR user but generally been unhappy/unimpressed with performance of most of Nikon P&S cameras. I had P90 but I felt that did not perform as well as Panasonic DMC-FZ28. I’ve given P90 to my son and he seems to be happy with it. But reading your article, I may reconsider, especially about the usefulness of Active D-lighting.

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  13. Prashant says:

    Thanks for the review ,but at last i would like to know that which is better deal Nikon P500 og Sony HX100v .

  14. Todd Beall says:

    Hi,

    Your review caused me to purchase the p500. I liked so many things about this camera; however, there was one major problem for me (not the short battery life–goodness, I can buy several batteries and a charger for under $10!). That is, especially at longer tele ranges, I could not get it to focus. Anything over round 500mm. Very rarely would it focus. Admittedly many of these were my photos indoors, but still….I expected better than this. I tried manual focus and I still couldn’t get sharp pics at around 600mm and beyond. This included setting it on a table to avoid camera shake. Outside it fared better, but it still was not exceptional.

    So, yesterday I bought the Sony HX100V. Its focus was 100% better. It had problems of its own: the reddish tint to the pics in the viewfinder–but not on the computer; the crazy pop up flash that wanted to pop up all the time, even in P mode! [yes, I could set it to “no flash” to eliminate that problem]); the crazy musical sounds set with every menu change [yes, that can be turned off, but then you lose the little beep when the focus is correct–and I use that little beep!]; and the lenscap that comes off way too easily.

    But overall it seems to be able to focus in far more situations than the p500. I haven’t decided yet which camera I am keeping (the Nikon is smaller and lighter, which I like–and has a 100 mb internal memory, whereas Sony only has 8 Mb). Do you have any hints as to how to focus better in the extreme zoom settings? Or do you find focusing with the p500 frustrating as well? (you didn’t mention that in your review). It’s not just that it can’t focus–it hunts forever trying to focus.

    Thanks for any help in advance.

    Todd

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  16. Eric says:

    I have used this review again and again as I am now a P500 owner. You have been enormously helpful in my buy decision as well as my setup decisions. The fact that your typical applications (landscape and wildlife) are the same as my own has helped a great deal.

    One question. I don’t fully understand how you achieved your user-defined flight and action mode. I can get all of the shooting settings you recommend in the “U” mode, but I don’t understand how you get the “Sports” 8fps incorporated into the “U” settings.

  17. abhay says:

    dont know folks, but i have ordered a P500 based on these reviews..so it better be good

  18. kre says:

    Hello, Steve
    I appreciate you work and want to thank you. You wrote nice ‘versus’ article but one of your ideas is seemed wrong to me: “View this image at full resolution to see the water color effect…a deal breaker for me.”
    So-called ‘full resolution’ is not valid criteria to measure any objective or even subjective qualities of photo.
    If you take photo from Canon EOS 300D with native resolution 3072 x 2048 and interpolate it to double linear resolution (6144 x 4096) then look at it at ‘full resolution’ you will find the image is too much soft and lack of fine details.
    And opposite. If you take photo from mobile phone and artificially interpolate it from 1600 x 1200 to 400 x 300 you will find that image crisp and well detailed at ‘full resolution’. So imagine you print both images 20 × 30 cm photo paper. Guess which will look more detailed? 😉

    So it really bad idea to look at image at as you called it ‘full resolution’ because it say us almost nothing. No matter how many megapixels camera have, more MPs means almost nothing. For example old DSLRs have fewer MPs than most of recent ‘super-zoom’ cameras but they capable to capture (with appropriate lens) far more fain detail than super-zoom.

    • Steve says:

      By full resolution I mean one screen pixel to one image pixel. That view is consistent across different pixel counts. I agree though, that it does not always tell you everything about how an image will print or be viewed at “normal” sizes.

  19. Terry Hardwick says:

    Hi There, for the Nikon P500 could you please let me know what settings you are using for your bird pictures, I have had mixed results thus far and been very frustrated with the accuracy of focusing for birds and wildlife in general. So any hints and tips in this department would be most welcome. All in all happy with the camera given that to buy the same range of lenses in DSLR land would cost around 10-20 times…..

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