Carrying on with the P100 and its 26x zoom lens while competitors Fuji, Olympus and Canon all produced models with at least 30x lenses, Nikon has finally answered back with the Coolpix P500 and its 36x Nikkor ED lens that covers the 22.5 to 810mm focal range in 35mm equivalents.
Here's a look at both ends of that zoom:
Wide Angle, 22.5mm
While its 36x zoom multiplier leads the pack at present, the P500's 810mm telephoto comes up a bit short of the 840mm of some other brands, but offers a bit more on the wide angle end. At any rate, the P500 now has a competitive focal range not enjoyed by the P100 when the newer competitor cameras were introduced.
Camera resolution ramps up to 12.1 megapixels on a same-sized 1/2.3" backside illuminated CMOS sensor as the P100, and features Nikon's EXPEED C2 dual image processor.
ISO range remains at 160 to 3200. The P500's 3.0-inch monitor gains resolution as well, up to 921,000 dots, and internal memory jumps to about 102MB from 43MB in the P100. A 1080 HD video capability is also provided.
Opening the box, the first bit of bad news is that like the P100, the P500 charges the battery in the camera (and battery life has dropped from 250 shots to 220). The MH-61 external charger sells for about $19 at reputable online vendors, and that should be the charger provided with this $400 MSRP camera - the camera is unavailable for any operations during battery charging. Second immediate gripe is that only a quick start printed manual is provided - the complete manual exists only on CD-ROM until you print one yourself.
After that, it gets better. By the time the battery had charged it was dark so few flash shots inside were all I could do the first night. The P500 seems to acquire focus fairly quickly in dim conditions and at telephoto focal lengths. In bright outdoor conditions the camera seemed to acquire focus promptly across the focal range. Shutter lag seems good - on a par with the P100, I'd say. Image quality and color look pretty good right out of the camera.
Video capture may be initiated by a one-button push.
While the P100 remains on the Nikon USA website at this writing, the P500 covers that camera's focal range and more, offers HD video, more resolution and latest generation Nikon image processing for the same MSRP. The P100 proved to be a pretty good camera, and while we've just scratched the surface with the P500 so far, first impressions are that it seems a capable replacement for the P100. Our full review of the P500 will follow in the not too distant future.
Additional Sample Images