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Gang Warily, Good Points And Bad Points
on 8 January 2014
The very first thing I would advise anyone intending to buy the Nikon P520 is to read both the Techradar and Photography Blog reports that are available freely on the internet. I say that because the P520 is quite a different beast from either a Compact or a DSLR and requires individual handling and having to start from scratch again. I have four Nikon Compacts and two Nikon DSLRs so that I am quite familiar with Nikon nowadays.
I bought the P520 for one reason only and that is the quite extraordinary flexibility of its telephoto facility which is, I believe, 24-1000. To equip a DSLR with that sort of superzoom facility would cost several thousand pounds. I got my P520 from Amazon (in a superb dark silver colour) for £260.
Does the superzoom work? It certainly does, even for a rank amateur like I, but it does take time to get used to. I had it with me in Yorkshire over the Christmas period and in Ireland over the New Year period and I can say that the quality of the telephoto facility is beyond what I had expected. A distant grouse in the North York Moors was no problem and neither was a diving gannet in the North Channel.
That said, while I am very impressed with the camera overall, and especially with the quality of print, the camera does have its limitations and irritations. Whenever flash is required, one has to remember to push the flash light button to take effect for every individual session and that can be a bit of a nuisance. Also, the P520 is far less forgiving than a DSLR and any error or movement can all too easily result in a blurred photograph. And, as yet, I have to get to grips with the ISO speeds.
However, what I disliked above everything else was having to charge the battery with the battery still inside the camera. That is a cumbersome business. I read some where that the P520 takes only 200 stills before discharging completely and the Nikon booklet states that a full charge takes 4½ hours! A solution had to be found and that was the purchase of a standalone battery charger together with two additional batteries. Without those additions (which are minor in cost), I don't think that I would like the P520 quite so much and quite irrespective of its magnificent zoom facility.
Personally, I still prefer a Nikon DSLR but the P520 is an extremely useful supplement.
UPDATE : 10 July 2014. I have had this Nikon P520 for some eight months now and, having taken it with me recently as the only camera for a three week trip to the Western Isles, with nothing else to fall back on, I have ascertained both its
strengths and weaknesses.
Its strengths remain(a)the telephoto facility and (b)the quality of print. Both are outstanding.
I have also discovered two additional weaknesses. The first is that, when taking video (which, admittedly, I don't do often with cameras, preferring standalone video equipment instead), zooming in or zooming out causes blurring that lasts approximately one or two seconds. This is extremely annoying and leaves me much more dissatisfied with the P520 than I was hitherto. My P520 may, of course, be faulty in that regard but it is something that an intending purchaser should be aware of.
The second weakness is that, when using a tripod at long range, the zoom facility is so sensitive that pressing the shutter release can result in gross distortion, making the intended photograph a mess. I found that the best way to take a long-range photograph is to look through the viewfinder as in cameras of old. I understand that Nikon have a wireless receiver on the market for the P520 which is triggered by a Smartphone but, as I have no Smartphone, it is of little use to me.
For those reasons, I revise my opinion of the P520.