by William Brawley
Preview posted: 07/10/2018
Wildlife, birding and sports photographers, who's ready for the super-est of superzooms? Say hello to the Nikon Coolpix P1000!
Not content with the shockingly-impressive zooming performance of the popular P900, Nikon has now upped the ante with its P1000 successor. While the P900 offered a record-breaking 83x optical zoom range (24-2000mm eq.), the Nikon P1000 goes well beyond that with an astonishing 125x optical zoom lens. Yes, you read right, 125x! In 35mm-equivalent terms, the P1000's lens offers a zoom range from a nice 24mm wide-angle to a mind-boggling 3000mm! (And just wait until we tell you how far digital zoom gets you!)
The P900 was not a svelte compact camera by any means, and the P1000 is even less so. The lens is massive and the camera itself is large, but this means you get some DSLR-like features, including lots of physical controls and dials, as well as a deep hand grip and comfortable ergonomics. With excellent close-focusing capabilities and incredibly powerful telephoto chops, the Nikon P1000 makes for a highly versatile all-in-one camera for those looking to capture images both close-up and far away...far, far away.
Let's dive into the details of this formidable superzoom camera...
As mentioned, this camera is anything but compact. Given the increased zoom ratio, the P1000 is, as expected, larger than its already-sizable predecessor. Weight alone is pretty telling, with the P1000 tipping the scales at over three pounds (1415g) whereas the P900 was about two pounds (916g). As for the dimensions, the width and height of the P1000 are slightly larger than those of the P900, while the length (depth) of the new model is close to two inches greater -- not including the extreme extension of the lens when zoomed to full telephoto. The diameter of the lens barrel has also increased, providing a larger 77mm filter thread compared to the 67mm thread on the P900.
As for the optical layout of the lens, the P1000 uses a lot of lens elements, 17 to be exact, situated into 12 groups (only one more element compared to the lens of the P900). The lens also utilizes a total of five ED (Extra Low Dispersion) elements and one Super ED element to help combat against chromatic aberration and color fringing.
The P1000's 4.3-539mm (24-3000mm eq.) lens uses a variable aperture design much like the P900, offering a bright f/2.8 aperture at the wide angle, before quickly narrowing down as you zoom to the longer focal lengths. With the P1000, the lens' maximum aperture falls to a rather narrow f/8 at full telephoto. While this max aperture may be sufficient for reasonably sharp, well-exposed photos in good lighting, it does make for difficult shooting in lower light or even shaded conditions, as the camera will either need a very slow shutter speed or a big boost in ISO sensitivity if you find yourself without flash or supplemental lighting.
As mentioned, the P1000 offers an impressive 3000mm eq. maximum focal length, but if you somehow need more reach, the camera offers two levels of digital zoom. With Nikon's Dynamic Fine Zoom option, the camera can reach up to 6000mm eq. while standard "digital zoom" will provide up to a whopping 12,000mm equivalent! Note that with both Dynamic Fine Zoom and digital zoom, image quality will be decreased compared to images shots within the optical zoom range; less so with Dynamic Fine Zoom than with standard digital zoom due to enhanced image processing.
Whether or not you shoot with optical zoom or reach into digital zoom range, we are talking about some serious telephoto reach here, and if you shoot handheld -- which is likely with this kind of camera -- you'll be glad that there's some powerful image stabilization on-board. Like the P900, the P1000 offers up to 5 stops of reported shake correction with its Dual Detect Optical Vibration Reduction system. For still photos, the VR system is purely optical, while for video shooting the camera uses a combination of optical VR and electronic stabilization to help steady your clips.
When it comes to the body design itself, the P1000 is, in a sense, a bigger, beefier P900. It sports a similar DSLR-style shape with a deep handgrip and lots of physical controls and dials, as well as finally including a Nikon Speedlight-compatible ISO 518 hotshoe on top. There are two control dials, as before on the P900. There's one on the top deck right above the thumbrest area, and another, a rotary multi-selector, on the rear of the body, which rotates as well as doubles as a four-way directional control. There have been a few tweaks as well, including borrowing the AE-L/AF-L button from Nikon's DSLRs and surrounding it with an AF/MF switch. Most other controls remain unchanged, with the exception of removing the dedicated Wi-Fi transfer button on the rear of the camera.
Like most superzoom cameras, the P1000 offers a zooming toggle switch around the shutter button. There's also a secondary zoom toggle on the left side of the lens barrel that provides a smoother zooming action during video recording. There's also a control ring now around the lens barrel that can be used for manual focus control as well as other programmable functions such as adjusting white balance presets.
With the high-powered zoom on the P1000, it can be challenging to keep the camera aimed at your subject, so Nikon has included its snap-back zoom button on the side of the lens (much like on the P900) that will quickly zoom the lens out some so that you can see more of the scene and help re-acquire your subject -- then simply release the snap-back button and the lens will return to its previous focal length.
Lastly, the Nikon P1000 features both an electronic viewfinder and a vari-angle LCD screen, much like on the P900. The rear TFT LCD maintains a similar 921K-dot resolution as the P900, but its size has increased slightly from a 3-inch display to a larger 3.2-inch panel. The EVF, however, undergoes a more significant refresh, moving up to a larger, higher resolution OLED panel with 2.3-million dots -- a nice change from a 921K-dot-equivalent LCD.
Sitting behind this massive lens is the same 16-megapixel 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated CMOS sensor as found in the P900. However, despite having the same sensor as the previous model, there are some nice photo and video upgrades compared to the earlier model. For example, the P1000 is now capable of RAW image capture whereas the P900 was a JPEG-only camera. For those more advanced photographers who want more control over the final look of their photos, the ability to capture and process RAW files is a big plus. For video shooters, the camera now offers 4K UHD video at 30p, whereas the P900 topped-out at 1080p60. The camera also allows for clean HDMI output as well as manual exposure controls in movie mode for more advanced video creators.
In addition to the typical PASM shooting modes, the P1000 offers a wide variety of scene modes, creative shooting modes and super-zoom-specific image capture modes, such as Moon Mode and Bird Watching Mode in which the camera automatically adjusts settings to suit the scenario. The camera also has built-in timelapse and superlapse video capture modes, as well as an interval timer for stills.
In terms of ISO performance, the P1000 offers a similar range of sensitivities as in the P900. The full ISO range spans 100-6400, however the ISO range available varies depending on the shooting mode. ISO 3200 and 6400 are only user-selectable while in Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or Manual mode as well as Manual exposure mode in Movie Mode -- otherwise, the ISO range is limited to 100-1600. For video, the base ISO available is ISO 125.
The longest exposure in Manual exposure mode (at ISO 100) has been increased from 15 to 30 seconds, and the P1000 adds Bulb and Timer modes which support exposures up to 60 seconds. The top shutter speed remains at 1/4000 second (1/8000s for videos).
Performance specs appear similar to those of the P900, with a continuous burst rate of 7fps for up to seven frames at full resolution. Our lab tests confirmed this 7fps rate on the P900, so we expect to see similar performance here with the successor model. However, this burst rate was with JPEGs only, as the P900 did not capture RAW files. Nikon has not yet provided the continuous shooting rate with RAW images on this model. Like the P900, the P1000 also offers faster JPEG-only burst shooting rates at lower image resolutions: 1920x1080 at 60fps and 640x480 at 120fps.
The autofocus system remains a contrast-detect AF system, much like on the P900. The single-shot AF performance from the P900 in our lab was very fast for a superzoom. Our field tester found the P900's AF performance generally good but noted that it struggled some on low-contrast areas and smaller subjects. Nikon hasn't mentioned any specific AF performance improvements or technical changes to the AF system in the P1000, but we'll be sure to look for any changes or improvements to AF performance with this new superzoom model.
Like most modern cameras, the P1000 offers various wireless connectivity options, utilizing Nikon's SnapBridge connectivity system that incorporates Bluetooth Low Energy to pair and maintain an always-on connection to a smartphone. The P1000 then uses a faster Wi-Fi connection for image transfer and remote shooting capabilities with the SnapBridge app.
Unlike the P900, the Coolpix P1000 does not have NFC connectivity nor does it offer a built-in GPS receiver. However, it does gain the previously mentioned hotshoe, an accessory port (WR-R10 remote compatible) for additional creative control, and a 3.5mm external mic jack. The camera also includes support for a new ML-L7 Bluetooth connected remote, which allows for easy remote control of the camera including video start and smooth zoom control. Unsurprisingly, support for the ML-L3 infrared remote has been dropped.
The P1000 provides a Micro-B USB 2.0 port as well as a Micro HDMI (Type D) connection with clean output for external video capture. The camera uses SD storage media and supports SD/SDHC/SDXC cards. No word yet on whether UHS types are supported.
When it comes to battery life, the P1000 is actually CIPA-rated for fewer shots per charge than the P900, at just 250 shots compared to 360 shots from the previous model despite using a higher capacity 8.0Wh battery pack. The P1000 uses an EN-EL20a rechargeable lithium-ion battery -- the same battery as the Nikon 1 V3 camera -- which is different from the P900's 7.1Wh EN-EL23 battery pack.
The Nikon Coolpix P1000 is set to go on sale later this year in September with an estimated retail price of US$999.95. The new ML-L7 Bluetooth remote control will also be available in September for an estimated retail price of US$49.95