Nikon recently introduced two new Coolpix cameras and although they show no resemblance whatsoever to each other, they are remarkably similar. Both digicams share identical GPS systems, identical EXPEED C2 image processing engines, indentical 16 megapixel backlit CMOS sensors, the same lens-shift vibration reduction (VR) system, and identical 3.0-inch 921k-dot flip-out LCD monitors. The most significant differences between the two cameras are in their physical sizes and their zoom lenses.
The P310 is a pocketable little camera with a superfast f/1.8-4.9 24-100mm zoom (currently the fastest maximum aperture available on any P&S digicam) while the P510 is a compact DSLR sized P&S digicam with an f/3.3-5.9 24-1000mm (equivalent) zoom – currently the longest focal length zoom available on any fixed-lens digital camera.
Canon has always been the manufacturer most known for developing imaging components and then using them creatively to generate a variety of cameras designed to appeal to different types of photographers. The pocketable little P310, with its super fast f/1.8 zoom, would work beautifully for street shooting and available light photography. The P510, with its monster zoom, can easily handle landscape/scenic photography, wildlife photography, event photography (festivals, concerts, parties, family gatherings), and sports/action photography. It’s nice to see Nikon being more competitive since the ultimate beneficiary of this enhanced competition is the consumer.
I really liked the P510 – a DSLR shooter would need a camera bag full of very expensive lenses to cover the same range as that 42x zoom. In fact, there is only one thing preventing the P510 from emerging as the top dog in the ultrazoom class – the ludicrous viewfinder blackout and one second recording start delay. The Nikon Coolpix P510 would be an almost ideal choice for an aspiring photographer on a budget, and a very good choice for travelers who want a tough, easy to use digicam with lots of reach.