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Nikon Coolpix P900 review: The camera that’s all zoom

Our Rating :
£449.99 from
Price when reviewed : £449
inc VAT

Technically impressive and capable of good results, but it isn't easy to achieve them


  • Reasonable sharpness over a huge zoom range
  • Wi-Fi and GPS


  • The 2000mm zoom position is unwieldy
  • Too much reliance on menu navigation
  • Odd automatic ISO settings

Nikon Coolpix P900 review: Video

As for video footage, that’s recorded at 1080p and frame rates from 25fps to 60fps. There’s no manual exposure option but it’s possible to lock the exposure while recording. Video quality was okay rather than great, with slightly coarse details and a smudged appearance to low-light clips.

As with photo composition, the optical stabilisation did a fine job of keeping handheld telephoto shots steady, but there was the occasional jolt of movement as the camera struggled to differentiate between accidental and deliberate movement.

^ The massive zoom means this blue tit fills the frame but it’s hard to keep it centred when shooting handheld. The zoom motor is quite noisy, too

^ Shooting into the shade pushes up noise levels, and the result is smudged details

^ The best results come at more modest zoom positions

Nikon Coolpix P900 review: Image quality

Photo quality was broadly similar. Colour reproduction was excellent with well-judged automatic exposure levels. However, close inspection revealed coarse details in brightly lit conditions and a smudged, grainy texture as the JPEG engine struggled with noise in low light. Photos generally looked excellent when resized to fit a computer monitor or tablet, but I had to manage the shutter speed carefully in low light to avoid blurry shots.

This camera is all about its 2,000mm (full-frame equivalent) maximum focal length and it’s important that the lens delivers the goods. Photos at that setting looked reasonably sharp but there was a lack of contrast and fine detail compared with shots at 1,000mm and shorter focal lengths. It was by no means disastrous, but combined with the significant difficulties involved in composing shots at 2,000mm, I rarely had the urge to use this setting.

Still, direct comparisons with the Panasonic FZ2000, each at their full zoom extensions, showed the P900’s 2,000mm lens and small sensor could capture more detail than the FZ2000’s more modest 480mm lens and bigger 1in sensor. The FZ2000 was sharper pixel-for-pixel, but after resizing the P900’s output down to the same size it came top for detail.

P900 vs FZ2000 #1

^ Details at ISO 800 and the full zoom extension (left) are pretty messy, but after reducing to 30% magnification (centre), there’s more fine detail than the same shot taken with the Panasonic FZ2000 (right) taken at its full 480mm telephoto zoom position

P900 vs FZ2000 #2

^ Here’s another example of the same effect, even after taking into account the Panasonic’s wider aperture that allows a slower ISO speed. There isn’t a huge amount in it, though

Nikon P900 sample 1

^ Sharp focus and superb colours in this wide-angle shot, although fine details are slightly smudged (1/2000sec, f/3.58, ISO 100, 24mm equivalent)

Nikon P900 sample 2

^ Another respectable result. There’s a bit of noise in the darker areas of the frame, by the black boots (1/500sec, f/4.5, ISO 100, 185mm equivalent)

Nikon P900 sample 3

^ Sharp focus on our subject against the blurred background, and exposure levels are spot on (1/400sec, f/5, ISO 100, 450mm equivalent)

Nikon P900 sample 4

^ The full 2,000mm zoom extension has let me frame distant subjects, but details look vague (1/500sec, f/6.5, ISO 200, 2,000mm equivalent)

Nikon P900 sample 5

^ Telephoto shots in overcast weather pushes the ISO speed up, but these skin tones at ISO 500 aren’t too shabby (1/60sec, f/5, ISO 500, 450mm equivalent)

Nikon P900 sample 6

^ The 2,000mm (equivalent) zoom position means shots of the moon virtually fill the frame (1/500sec, f/6.5, ISO 220, 2,000mm equivalent)

Nikon P900 sample 7

^ Here’s one of the best shots I got at 2,000mm. Evidently, sharp details are possible (1/500sec, f/6.5, ISO 250, 2,000mm equivalent)

Nikon P900 sample 8

^ A rare sighting of a green woodpecker, and a great chance to take advantage of the massive zoom. Sadly, all 52 shots I took were focused in front or behind the subject (1/200sec, f/6.5, ISO 400, 2,000mm equivalent)

Nikon P900 sample 9

^ I’ve set the shutter speed to 1/250sec here to freeze motion. The resulting fast ISO speed means detail-smudging noise reduction (1/250sec, f/6.5, ISO 1600, 2,000mm equivalent)

Nikon P900 sample 10

^ This is a better result in similar light with slower shutter and ISO speeds. Focus looks sharp but there are clipped highlights on the swan’s back, with a halo of purple fringing just above (1/125sec, f/6.5, ISO 720, 2,000mm equivalent)

Nikon Coolpix P900 review: Verdict

There are various ways to evaluate the P900. To match its 2,000mm equivalent focal length by any other means would involve spending more than £5,000 on a cropped-sensor SLR, 800mm lens and 2x teleconverter. However, take the P900’s relatively low 16-megapixel resolution and slightly soft details into account and you could capture significantly more detail – and have a far more agreeable shooting experience – with a camera such as the Nikon D3400 and Sigma 150-600mm lens, whose total cost is £1,220.

The other thing to bear in mind is that (equivalent) focal lengths beyond about 600mm are only useful for static subjects. It simply isn’t realistic to track moving subjects with such a narrow field of view. With the P900, even static subjects can be hard to frame when shooting handheld. The lens is technically impressive but, in practice, it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense, especially when you factor in the lack of RAW and the hard-to-reach controls. I’d be just as happy with the much more affordable Nikon B500.

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Sensor resolution16 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3in
Focal length multiplier5.6x
ViewfinderElectronic (921,000 dots)
Viewfinder magnification (35mm-equivalent), coverage100%
LCD screen3in (921,000 dots)
Orientation sensorYes
Photo file formatsJPEG
Maximum photo resolution4,608×3,456
Photo aspect ratios4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1
Video compression formatQuickTime (AVC) at up to 28Mbit/s
Video resolutions1080p at 25/30/50/60fps, 720p at 25/30/50/60fps, VGA at 25/30fps
Slow motion video modes720p at 60fps (1/2x), VGA at 120fps (1/4x)
Maximum video clip length (at highest quality)15m 5s
Exposure modesProgram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed range15 to 1/4,000 seconds
ISO speed range100 to 12800
Exposure compensationEV +/-2
White balanceAuto, 5 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
Auto-focus modesMulti, flexible spot, face detect, tracking, target finding
Metering modesMulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash modesAuto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modesSingle, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, interval
Optical stabilisationYes
Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths)83x (24-2000mm)
Maximum aperture (wide-tele)f/2.8-6.5
35mm-equivalent aperturef/16-36
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus (wide)1cm
Closest macro focus (tele)5m
Card slotSDXC
Memory suppliedNone
Battery typeLi-ion
ConnectivityUSB, micro HDMI
WirelessWi-Fi, NFC
Body materialPlastic
AccessoriesUSB cable, neck strap
Dimensions (HxWxD)104x140x153mm
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price including VAT£449
Part codeVNA750E1

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