Nikon COOLPIX P1000 Review

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”Nikon’s reached new heights with their latest megazoom bridge camera.”

Introduction

Initially released in the fall of 2018, Nikon’s P1000 is the current flagship model of the COOLPIX lineup. And it’s marketed as a game-changing release for aspiring sports or wildlife enthusiasts with the most extreme zoom Nikon’s release to date. On paper, it promises several notable improvements over its predecessor, the P900.

And it picks up where it left off, now with an extra 1000mm zoom, a better viewfinder, 4K video, and RAW support. And not only does it boast a brand new 125x optical zoom lens, which makes it Nikon’s longest ever, but it also delivers all of this in a package that fits in most backpacks. This all sounds quite compelling on paper for anyone in the market for a “compact” superzoom camera. And it would appear this camera is now in a league entirely of its own. But how does it stack up in the real world?

Nikon aims this megazoom camera at beginners looking for an upgrade over traditional point & shoots or those upgrading from smartphones. As a bridge camera, it’s also designed to be a stepping stone to their entry-level DSLRs. However, the competition in this segment is rather fierce these days. Is Nikon finally ready to take on Panasonic’s FZ1000 and Sony’s RX10 IV with this new release? Today, we address its strengths, weaknesses. And we answer whether or not it’s a worthwhile purchase.

Nikon-COOLPIX-P1000-specs

What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Nikon COOLPIX P1000? 

Pros:

Image Quality

It obtains the same 1/2.3-inch 16MP Backside-Illuminated CMOS sensor from its predecessor and the EXPEED 4 image processor. However, new for this release is an updated 125x optical zoom NIKKOR ED lens, which gives the camera a 35mm equivalent of 24-3,000mm. And it has a variable aperture from f/2.8-8.0, slightly slower than the predecessors 6.5 maximum. However, this lens provides some notable additions, some new and some not. Let’s tackle these changes one by one now.

Firstly, Nikon equipped this camera with a 2x Dynamic Fine Zoom, which doubles its range to 6,000mm with minimal image degradation. And they also include their standard 4x Digital Zoom, increasing the lens to 12,000mm. Secondly, the lens offers Vibration Reduction (VR), Nikon’s image stabilization system that improves image stability by compensating for camera shake.

This Dual Detect Optical VR system now provides 5.0 stops of shake reduction, for supremely stable handheld shots with less blur. And lastly, it obtains the 1 cm macro mode from its predecessor, allowing you to shoot stunning close-up and macro shots.

The result of this incredibly lengthy configuration is image quality that matches today’s smartphones. However, unlike its predecessor, this camera now supports the RAW (NRW) format. The addition of RAW is a significant improvement that dramatically improves image quality. And in good light, its images are excellent for this class of camera. Photos are well-exposed, detailed with vibrant and accurate colors. They also offer a reasonable amount of dynamic range, giving advanced shooters flexibility in post-processing.

As expected, the lens does show barrel distortion, chromatic aberration, and moiré in high contrast scenes. But, these are typical for cameras in this class. Overall, even with its smaller 1/2.3-inch sensor, the image quality matches Nikon’s entry-level DSLRs. And it’s a dramatic improvement over the predecessor.

Like the predecessor, this camera offers continuous shooting speeds of 7 frames per second and a 7 shot buffer.

Video Quality

On the video front, this camera represents a significant improvement in capabilities over its predecessor. New for this release is 4K Ultra HD video up to 30 fps. A nice change over the P900’s 1080p maximum. And it now shoots video to the web-friendly MP4 format using the MPEG-4 codec, a more straightforward setup than MOV for most users.

But, outside of that, it also shoots 1080p full HD video up to 60 fps for slow-motion videos. And it obtains its predecessor’s Hybrid image stabilization system, melds the camera’s optical VR system with electronic stabilization, increasing stability. And this system works incredibly well.

Video quality, overall, is good, though not excellent. Videos remain sharp towards the center of the frame with the same accurate color rendering as stills. Though, like the predecessor, they do lose sharpness and details towards the edges. And this makes its videos more suited towards casual use, rather than professional.

The camera also offers a clean HDMI output for use with external recorders or monitors. However, you can’t have both the rear screen and external monitor active simultaneously.

Focusing Performance

The camera obtains a similar contrast-detect AF system with subject tracking and face priority as the predecessor. And, in good light, the focus remains fast, accurate, and responsive. Like the predecessor, it’s not the quickest system around. But, it’s more than sufficient for most applications.

The camera also obtains focus peaking, which is perfect for ensuring critical manual focusing if you prefer manually focusing.

Display & Viewfinder

It features a 3.2-inch vari-angle TFT LCD, a nice change over the predecessor 3.0-inch screen. This screen maintains the same 921K dot resolution, however. Nevertheless, a fully articulating screen remains a relatively rare feature in this class of camera. But, it’s one that lets you frame tricky high or low angle shots with ease. From a quality standpoint, the screen is good for the class as well. It’s reasonably sharp, with accurate colors, and bright enough for use outdoors.

It features a brand new electronic viewfinder with nice upgrades. It now has a resolution of 2.36M dots, a 150% improvement from the predecessor’s archaic 921K dot screen. This new EVF is also double the size with better magnification. And, overall, the viewing experience is far improved and is now excellent. And like the predecessor, it offers a built-in proximity sensor, which automatically disengages the rear screen to prevent glare.

User Interface

It obtains the standard menus and interface Nikon uses on its COOLPIX lineup. And they remain clear, well-organized, and easy to navigate. Beginners will find them simple and quickly mastered.

It obtains Nikon’s Easy Auto Mode, which automatically optimizes the camera settings for each shot for maximum quality.

It features a user-defined (U) shooting mode on the Mode Dial that allows you to recall a shooting preset.

It features a dedicated Function (FN) button, which you can customize to the several functions offered.

Physical Layout & Ergonomics

The camera’s size allows it to provide excellent ergonomics and build quality. It feels well made and durable, with a large and deep grip. In handling, it very much feels like an entry-level DSLR. It also offers an excellent button layout, which is simple but effective. And the overall ergonomics on this camera are great too. Advanced shooters will also be pleased with the camera’s manual control. With its control and command dials, plus customizable focus ring, exposure changes are effortless.

Speaking of the customizable ring; this camera now features a focus ring around the lens—a missing feature on the predecessor. Nikon even configured this ring to double as a customizable button to control exposure compensation, white balance, or ISO.

The camera also has a dedicated AF/MF lever, a new addition that makes it easier to switch focusing modes.

The camera has the new SnapBack Zoom button, which quickly zooms the lens to wide-angle. This allows you to reframe distant subjects that moved out of the frame.  And when you release the button, the focal length snaps back to where it was. It’s quite a rare feature in this class, but a useful one.

The camera has two dedicated zoom levers for zoom control. One surrounds the shutter and the other on the lens. They also vary in zoom speed for added precision.

Niche Features/Extras

Unlike the predecessor, it now features a hot-shoe for mounting external accessories.

It has a microphone input, which is quite rare for this class of camera.

It has a built-in pop-up flash.

It has built-in time-lapse and superlapse modes.

Like the predecessor, it also supports USB charging via the Micro USB port. And it does so without the need for proprietary cables.

It offers in-camera image editing, allowing you to crop images or apply filters and effects.

It has built-in Wi-Fi for easy sharing of images to a connected smartphone or tablet. Once connected, you can remotely control the camera as well. And the app allows remote video recording, zoom control, and shutter release.

It has built-in HDR.

New for this release are dedicated Moon and Bird shooting modes on the Mode Dial. These are great for beginners to have the appropriate settings for these mediums at the touch of a finger.

Cons:

Image Performance

While the image quality is respectable overall, viewing images at 100% will show below-average detail. And image quality worsens as the lens approaches the telephoto end. Thus, while this camera can supply reasonable quality prints, it’s not ideal for large format work.

At only 7 frames in either the JPEG or RAW format, the buffer on this camera is quite shallow. And when the buffer fills, the camera locks up, locking you out of the menus and playback. Thus, it’s not ideal for sports and action, when a deep sustained burst is required.

Video Capabilities

The camera lacks a super-slow-motion video at 1080p in the form of 120 fps.

You cannot use the Hybrid VR image stabilization when recording 4K video, only 1080p.

Low Light Capabilities

Low light performance is average. The camera features a native ISO range from 100 to 6,400. And even with its backside illuminated sensor, which improves the sensor’s light sensitivity, image quality takes a huge hit following ISO 1,600. This is mostly the result of the camera’s slow lens. At f/2.8 at the wide end, it’s not particularly fast. With that, use a tripod whenever you’re in low light scenes to avoid losing image quality.

Autofocus Performance

Unfortunately, the autofocusing performance starts to struggle after about 1000mm. So much so that you’ll find yourself zooming out to re-acquire focus. And if it doesn’t detect enough contrast in the scene or the light levels are too low, it’ll also hunt for focus. The best practice here is to use manual focus when zooming past 1000mm, when possible. And also be prepared to manual focus when shooting in low light.

Battery Life

The camera’s battery life is well below average and quite weak. It uses the EN-EL20A battery, which is very small for a camera of this size. Nikon only rates the camera to provide 250 shots per charge or 80 minutes of video, both of which are below the industry standard. So, you will surely need extra batteries for prolonged shoots with this camera.

Display

The electronic viewfinder has a bit of lag when changing on-screen settings in the manual mode. This is not a deal-breaker, though, just a fair warning.

The rear LCD isn’t a touchscreen. With that, you’ll have to use physical buttons to navigate this camera. But, more strangely, Nikon reduced the monitor’s frame coverage from 100% to 99%. It means that what you’ll see when reviewing images will differ from what you thought you captured. A bit confusing to see this particular downgrade.

Ergonomics

At 1,415g, the camera’s incredibly heavy. It’s about the same weight as Nikon’s professional D850 DSLR with a semi-telephoto lens attached, and that camera’s heavy. Compared to the predecessor, this is an increase in 516 g, the size of most mirrorless cameras. It’s important to emphasize this camera is bulky and isn’t particularly easy to store. And it will undoubtedly cause hand cramping during prolonged use. Though considering a lens with its focal length wouldn’t be small either, it’s understandable. But, we must point this out.

Also of note, the lens makes the camera quite front heavy. And as it zooms, it makes it difficult to stabilize on a tripod.

Like the predecessor, the camera uses a Micro HDMI port, instead of the Mini size. And this port is prone to damage as it’s not the most sturdy connection.

Like most cameras in this class, both the memory card and battery are in the same compartment underneath the camera. It shouldn’t be problematic for most configurations since the tripod thread is relatively far away. But this typically makes changing either tedious when using a tripod.

Lacking Features

It lacks a headphone output.

Unlike its predecessor, Nikon’s opted to remove both one-touch NFC pairing and built-in GPS.

Is this a good beginner camera?

Yes.

It offers a host of automatic features to help you capture great photos right after turning it on. It provides all of the appropriate scene modes, with a few niche additions, plus the fully automatic and Easy Auto modes. Given these and it’s an incredibly straightforward menu, it’s an excellent beginner’s camera.  And quite a versatile one indeed. Compared to smartphones, it delivers significant upgrades and superior versatility. And it’s also a reasonable alternative to an entry-level DSLR or mirrorless camera, with more flexibility.

What are the best lenses & bundles for the Nikon COOLPIX P1000?

Extra Batteries:

EN-EL20A battery

SD Cards:

SanDisk Extreme PRO 32GB
SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB 
SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB

Tripod:

Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum 5-Section Tripod

Is this a good camera for you?

Yes.

For aspiring videographers, this camera is a reasonable choice. The addition of 4K combined with its excellent zoom lens makes it almost a camcorder in many respects. And coupled with its articulating screen, hot-shoe, and microphone input, it’s undoubtedly capable of capturing footage that would cost thousands on an equivalent DSLR or mirrorless setup. And while not the strongest video-centric camera at this price, it’s focal length does provide a key advantage.

Of course, considering its zoom, it makes an excellent choice for aspiring wildlife, sports, or photojournalism photographers who want to maintain distance from subjects. And for these purposes, it’s an excellent choice.

Current P900 users should consider an upgrade if you want the improvements to these features: the viewfinder, video capabilities, Dual Detect stabilization, and microphone input. And, considering these additions, this camera is a worthwhile successor.

In the end, Nikon’s COOLPIX P1000’s is the most impressive bridge camera to date. In a relatively compact design, it places unparalleled telephone lens capabilities and zoom power into a package that is now the current leader of this segment. Its lens, bar none, is the most impressive and headline-grabbing feature.

And given its versatility, photographers can shoot virtually any medium imaginable, in a single camera. And this becomes its ultimate key selling feature. Yet, it even packs notable improvements over its predecessor. And while the P900 was already very popular, in its own right, this camera creates a new high for the series. Sure, it’s not the most portable bridge camera, but if you want a camera that can always get the shot, here is your camera. To date, it’s the best-in-class megazoom camera and the ideal jack of all trades.

It’s definitely a premium camera, but a worthwhile option and the only game in town in the 3000mm category.

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
3.5

Summary

Nikon’s P1000 sets a new standard in the compact megazoom category. And it currently holds the title as the best in class with an incredibly versatile lens, 4K video, and impressive stabilization. For those wanting DSLR styling controls, in an easy to use, yet enormously versatile package, this is your camera.