Nikon Coolpix P1000: what you need to know

Nikon Coolpix P1000: what you need to know

Nikon's new Coolpix P1000 boasts an extraordinary zoom range and a suite of powerful stills and video features in a (relatively) compact body. We loved the original P900 for its sharp lens and effective stabilization, but its unimpressive EVF and lack of Raw capture mode made it less fun to use than it could have been.

The P1000 addresses both issues and greatly expands the zoom range, which now caps out at 3000mm (equivalent). Take a look through this slideshow for a detailed overview of this powerful compact's key features.

All images supplied by Nikon and used with permission.

125X optical zoom (24-3000mm equivalent)

The headline feature of the P1000 is undoubtedly its zoom lens, which covers an astonishing (but no longer incredible) range of 24-3000mm (equiv). That's wide enough to capture landscapes or interiors at the wide end, and closeup shots of the moon at the telephoto setting.

Notice we said closeups of the moon. The shot above (supplied by Nikon) was taken at ~2600mm (equiv) and as you can see, the moon almost fills the frame, even before the zoom is racked in to its maximum extent. Just to really hammer the point home, Nikon has even included a dedicated 'moon mode' on the main exposure mode dial.

125X optical zoom (24-3000mm equivalent)

Optical construction of this complex zoom is composed of 17 elements in 12 groups (including five ED lens elements and one super ED lens element) but there are tradeoffs. A decidedly slow maximum aperture of F8 at the long end is the most obvious one, and we'd also expect diffraction to take a significant bite out of sharpness towards the long end of the zoom (alongside heat haze and the effects of atmospheric pollutants when shooting distant objects).

Still though - the moon. That's pretty cool.

The lens can be zoomed with a conventional W-T rocker switch surrounding the shutter release, or with a video camera-style switch on the lens housing itself (not visible in this image). This shot shots off the P1000's generously-sized grip - a near-necessity for a camera with such a long zoom. At full extension, the P1000's lens almost doubles the total length of the camera.

1cm macro focus

As well as the ability to shoot celestial bodies, the P1000 offers a 1cm minimum focus distance for macro shots. Such a short minimum distance is of limited use in most situations (the shadow of the lens becomes an issue at very close distances) but such a close focusing range should open up some fun creative possibilities for closeups.

Dual Detect Optical VR

You can't really have a 24-3000mm equivalent zoom without stabilization, and the P1000 boasts a claimed 5 stops of stabilization thanks to its Dual Detect Optical VR (Vibration Reduction) system, inherited from the P900. Dual Detect Optical VR uses accelerometers and corrective elements in the lens and analyzes the scene recorded by the camera's sensor to reduce the effect of camera shake.

16-megapixel BSI-CMOS 1/2.3" sensor

Like the P900, the Coolpix P1000 uses a small, 1/2.3"-type BSI-CMOS sensor. We don't expect miracles from sensors this small (1/2.3" used to be the standard format for pocket and travel-zoom compact cameras) but image quality from the P900 wasn't bad, and aside from the possibly issues caused by an even longer lens, we'd expect the P1000 to be capable of delivering decent images in favorable conditions.

The addition of Raw mode (using the .NRW format) to the P1000 is very welcome, but it remains to be seen just how much extra resolution it's possible to eke out of the camera's Raw files. It's likely that all of that glass - especially diffraction and haze-related issues at the long end of the zoom - will place a hard limit on absolute sharpness.

4K UHD video

The P1000 can shoot video as well as stills, at a maximum resolution of 4K UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) at 30p. A stereo microphone is built in, and there's a socket for an accessory mic if you need better sound.

Video can be recorded in clips up to 4GB in size or 29 minutes in length - whichever comes first. If a clip exceeds 4GB, another will be created, allowing uninterrupted filming (up to a total of 29 minutes), though Nikon warns there's a possibility the camera may overheat before that 29 minute limit is reached.

EVF and LCD

The Nikon Coolpix P1000 is a DSLR-style compact, of the kind that we used to call 'bridge cameras' (since they represented a 'bridge' between conventional compact cameras and SLRs). As such, it features a 2.3 million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder in addition to a rear-mounted, 3.2" 921k-dot LCD.

The EVF is a significant upgrade compared to the 921k-dot viewfinder of the older P900, but the P1000's rear screen is unchanged compared to its predecessor. It's fully articulated, which should prove very handy for all those macro and astro shots you'll be taking, but it is not touch-sensitive. Also visible in this shot is the P1000's conventional cluster of rear controls, and the shoulder-mounted rear control dial.

Size, weight and battery life

Despite its tiny sensor, the Coolpix P1000 is a big camera, even alongside its predecessor (shown here on the right). Weighing in at 1,415g (3 lb, 2 oz) it's pretty weighty, too, tipping the scales at about nearly half a kilo (~one pound) heavier than the older P900 (and around $400 pricier at launch). That's reassuring in a way (clearly there's a lot of expensive and heavy glass inside that massive lens!) but it could make the P1000 a less enjoyable travel companion unless you really need its extraordinary zoom range.

A CIPA rating of 250 shots per charge is about what we'd expect from a camera of this type, and USB charging is always a welcome feature.

We're looking forward to getting hold of a reviewable P1000 in the coming weeks, and in the meantime we'd be interested in hearing your thoughts - let us know what you think in the comments.