A brief review of the Nikon Coolpix P950 camera

A brief review of the Nikon Coolpix P950 camera by Robert Allen (click on photos for larger view):

If you had told me years ago that I would be taking closeup photos of birds and airplanes with a Nikon Coolpix, Nikon’s line of point and shoot cameras, I would have said you were crazy. However, here we are in 2020 and that’s exactly what I have been doing. More specifically, I have been putting the Nikon Coolpix P950 through its paces.

As an event and portrait photographer based in Boise Idaho, you can imagine that my business activity of recent has come to a screeching halt due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. I shot my last event on March 9th. This has left me with plenty of extra time to do personal photography projects. One project that has been on my list is to try one of Nikon’s superzooms within their Coolpix line of cameras.

I had my eye on the P900 when it came out but the one thing that held me back was the lack of an option to shoot in RAW mode. When the P1000 came out, finally RAW was an option! I still didn’t purchase the P1000 because I thought it was too large. When the P950 was announced, I thought it was the perfect goldilocks compromise, larger than the P900, smaller than the P1000 and with RAW shooting as a bonus.

I won’t repeat the specs of the Coolpix P950 here, there are only a few million other places on the web to obtain all the specs you would want for this 16 megapixel, 2000mm equivalent zoom camera. What I want to share is my experience using the camera and a few sample photos.

All photos have been lightly edited in Lightroom. Typical camera settings were P mode and ISO was set to auto with a range of 100-3200. Focus was set to center single focus point. All photos were taken handheld.

First, let’s show what it’s like going from its widest angle, 24mm to 2000mm in one zoom motion. Very impressive reach at 2000mm as you can see. The nearly silent shutter comes in handy when photographing wildlife. The sleepy owl just sat there while I took my shots:

24mm, ISO 100

2000mm, ISO 280

Here’s another example, going from 24mm to 1500mm:

24mm, ISO 100

1500mm, ISO 280

One thing to keep in mind and that other reviewers don’t mention very often. When shooting at 24mm, it pushes the scene out further from the camera (as many landscape photographers know), making it look farther away in the photo versus what it looked like in real life. I’m not saying this to diminish the impressive camera’s zoom range, but only to say that at its widest angle of view at 24mm to zooming in to 1500mm, the difference is not as dramatic as it appears in these sample photos.

One consequence of shooting at such extreme telephoto distances is that as the atmosphere warms up during the day, you start to get heatwaves in your shots. As this photo below illustrates, the camera has locked focus and is doing its job on this plane during the final approach, no complaints. However, if you look at the wings closely, you can see that they appear wavy along the edges. There’s not much you can do about this other than shoot earlier in the day when it’s cooler out. The heatwaves became worse as the day progressed, and I had to stop shooting after a while. Heatwaves were only an issue when shooting telephoto long distances. Closer subjects did not have this problem, even when zoomed in at 2000mm.

2000mm, ISO 100

I wanted to see how some of the photos would stand up to printing. I selected these 2 (photos of the prints shot with the Nikon Coolpix A1000) to print on 13x19 Red River Ultra Pro Satin 4.0 paper on my Epson P800 printer. I have no complaints at all! They are sharp, have great colors, and have no noticeable noise. They are both framed and hanging in my gallery at home.

Conclusion:

I have to be honest; I haven’t touched my D850 with my 500mm PF or the 200-500mm since I purchased the P950. The camera is somewhat addicting once you start using it. You just can’t get as close with a DSLR or mirrorless camera as you can with the P950 (or the P1000 for that matter). It reminds me of the classic scene in Raiders of the Lost Arc where a man pulls out a sword (imagine a Nikon camera with the 800mm lens as the sword) and swings it around, threating to kill Indiana Jones. Then, Indiana Jones pulls out a gun (the P950) and shoots him dead.

However, there are limitations to consider. Because the sensor size is exceedingly small, you will run into image quality challenges in some situations. Anything above ISO 3200 starts to lose detail, even when shooting in RAW. If you keep your ISO at or below 3200, you should be OK. Another challenge is that the lens is overly sensitive to flare. If the lens is even remotely pointed in the direction of the sun, your images will be washed out. The P950 comes with a lens hood and it should always be used. Also, the blackout time while shooting is lengthy. I recommend that once you have your subject in the frame and you have locked focus, just spray and prey because you really won’t know what you have until you review your sequence of shots later in post.

Overall, I highly recommend this camera for what it’s intended for, zooming in on a faraway subject. If your subject is in good light, and you make sure AF is locked on, you will be rewarded with photos that are perfectly acceptable for website use, social media and even for making prints to frame and hang in your home.

To see more of my work, please visit my website at www.RobertAllen-Photography.com.

Thanks,
Robert Allen





 
 
 


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The Nikon Coolpix P950 is now ins tock at Adorama | B&H | Amazon | WEX | Park Camera | Calumet

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