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Nikon COOLPIX P500 12.1 CMOS Digital Camera with 36x NIKKOR Wide-Angle Optical Zoom Lens and Full HD 1080p Video (Black)

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2 new from CDN$ 753.67 1 used from CDN$ 249.99
  • 36x Wide-Angle Optical Zoom-NIKKOR ED Glass Lens.
  • 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor for high-speed operation and exceptional low-light performance.
  • Capture 5 shots in one second at full resolution
  • Full HD (1080p) Movie with Stereo sound and HDMI Output
  • 5-way VR Image Stabilization System

There is a newer model of this item:

Nikon COOLPIX B700 Digital Camera
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Product Details

  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 8.4 x 10.3 cm ; 494 g
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Batteries 1 Lithium ion batteries required.
  • Item model number: P500 Black
  • ASIN: B004M8SVHK
  • Date first available at Amazon.ca: March 15 2012
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #321,480 in Home & Kitchen (See Top 100 in Home & Kitchen)
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Product Description

Nikon COOLPIX P500 12.1 CMOS Digital Camera with 36x NIKKOR Wide-Angle Optical Zoom Lens and Full HD 1080p Video (Black)

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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 280 reviews
301 of 311 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nikon Coolpix P500. Impressive March 9 2011
By AlexL - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Overall, the Nikon Coolpix P500 is pretty impressive. Although there are a few flaws, the camera's features make up for them. Below are the major pros and cons I found after using the camera for a few hours.

- HUGE 36x Optical Zoom (at full zoom I could see buildings 5 miles away as if they were two blocks away)
- Relatively lightweight and compact, much smaller than I expected.(compared to an entry level DSLR)
- Up to 240 FPS video, nice slow motion.
- Manual controls, a must for any experienced camera user.
- Buttons well laid out and simple to find and use.

- Image quality was good but it was pretty much expected, nothing extraordinary for this price range. If you prefer higher quality images over features in this price range, an entry level DSLR such as the D3100 is the way to go.
- If you accidentally leave the lens cap on and turn the camera on, the lens will still try to come out and it will grind the motor. BE CAREFUL! I found this to be the biggest flaw, not having a "lens cap on" sensor or a resistance sensor that would stop the motor if it sensed something in the way.
- No supplied external battery charger. You have to charge the battery while it's in the camera, via USB cable and supplied AC adapter. And while it's charging, it won't let you power it on, so you can't use it as an AC power source either.
- As with all super high zooms, every tiny vibration is magnified so unless you have a tripod or some kind or support, it's extremely difficult to get a clear shot at maximum zoom.

All in all, it is very user friendly. From the novice photographer to the experienced photo geek, the features on this camera are sure to impress. If you can deal with a few minor inconveniences, the Nikon Coolpix P500 is pretty nice camera.
388 of 404 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alaska trip under my belt and it did everything I asked. March 11 2011
By Millersdad - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I just returned from the holidays that I got the camera for. 14 days in Alaska. The camera did nearly everything I asked of it. A couple points I would like to point out. *I used firmware version 1.0 while on holiday, I now see version 1.1 is out, but does not appear to address any of the points I had issue with*

I got to work with the video more, and I had very bad luck getting it to focus. However I did notice if I ran the zoom out and THEN turned on the video, it seemed to be able to grab focus on the subjects much better. Again, doesn't make sense to me, but I will be interested in others that try it and if they have the same experience. I met several folks both traveling with us and at the places I visited that own the P500. Shared experiences with others and got some slick pointers from some too. Almost to the person the folks I interacted with were pleased to very pleased with this camera. Yes, we all shared some of the same gripes. One of the universal ones was the faux pas with a complete lack of filter attachment ability and the lens cap- power on/off.
In the still mode (non-video) this camera will pretty much do whatever you ask of it, IF you've studied the manual and played with it. I promise you that if you are putting it in "AUTO" and expecting it to figure everything out, you'll be disappointed. Experiment, learn the camera. It IS an amazing piece of technology.

I was using a grade 6 SD card today. That is the minimum Nikon recommends. It took approximately 13 seconds for the camera to process an HDR photo and a couple more seconds to write it to the card. Camera continues to show practically no lag time when taking standard shots. Only panoramas and HDR slow things down, with HDR certainly taking the longest. Nikon does have a progress bar that appears across the bottom so you don't think the camera is locked up.
While using full (or near full) zoom and in Auto mode, the camera did a fair amount of searching to focus on an item while in MACRO. Since my previous Lumix TZ5 was less than optimal in low light focusing, I am used to using either PROGRAM or Aperture priority on the Nikon to achieve focus on the intended target.
In what i consider "medium light" the camera refused to allow an aperture setting to maintain an narrow field of focus.
I'm certainly not down-grading my rating of the camera. I like it very much.
Just remember it is not a DSLR. In comparison it has a tiny sensor. There are always trade-offs. I am more convinced that this camera will suit my intended uses very well. The VR at extreme zoom still impresses me, as does the low light sensitivity and noise. Yes, there's noise, even at 560 ISO. It's not distracting however. Wait for the camera geeks to test and publish their data (i.e. dpreview.com) to get the hard statistics. My over all impression still stands and I'm glad I took a gamble and pre-ordered this camera and was on the initial round of deliveries from Amazon.
<ORIGINAL POST> I have had possession of my P500 for my second evening to this point.
I've gotten to "play" a bit with it and here are my impressions.
Is it "the perfect camera for everyone?" No.
I personally don't believe such an animal exists nor will likely ever. Important factors to one shooter may be a non-factor or possibly a negative to another.

What is important is for each individual consumer (or gift giver)is consider the features that are most important to you.
Quickly summarizing me and my trigger points:
1)Travel friendly; great for nature shots, scenics, wildlife, architecture and has video capabilities. Do a reasonable job of photographing people when I must.

Size wise, very similar form factor (though a bit smaller)than my previous coolpix 8700. (Though nearly 3 times as thick and heavier than it's immediate predecessor, Panasonic's Lumix TZ5) Unless you have large cargo pockets, this is NOT a pocket-able camera. I have large hands and I find it comfortable to work with with controls placed logically and well. I passed the camera to a female co-worker with small hands and she also felt comfortable handling it, though she didn't take any shots with it. Build quality seems very solid. Some anticipated usage? Panoramas (this one does nice ones very cleanly and simply in both vertical and horizontal directions. It does horizontal in two flavors, 180 and 360 degrees PLEASE NOTE: you can only do the panorama in full wide angle and can not be in any zoom at all ) Catching wildlife in both stills from great distance and capture in slo-motion. Macro shots of flora and fauna. Along with "conventional" shots of points of interest.

Under the USER function, you can set up frequently used settings rather than having to sift through menu options to change settings if you have certain effects you use regularly.
Some (a very few)of my shots appear to be slightly over exposed. Adjusting down .3 to .6 seems to please my eye more. It isn't in all shots and all situations, so let your eye be the judge.

The vibration reduction modes (there are two that minimize operator induced blur) seem to be very effective when taking still shots. Think what you're asking this one pound of engineering to do when you're extended out to an effective 800+mm zoom. Did every shot come out crystal clear? No. I had to cull out maybe every 5th or 6th photo. This was free handing it, using the sharp and clear, tilting 3" display and not the EVF, so it was away from my body and more prone to shake.

I haven't run my camera with ISO's over 800 to this point. I'll get out there and push it's limits more this weekend. So far the noise generated by the camera have been well within acceptable limits for me. I wish the aperture was a touch bigger, but at this price point there is always trade-offs. The wide angle is wide, yet not exhibiting fish-eying.

Color rendering seems to pretty good, though I have seen others photos where there were pretty obvious issues when compared to similar full size sensor DSLR photos. I haven't experienced them and what I did see, can be easily corrected with some doctoring in a photo manipulation program.

In the few videos I have shot, the camera's vibration reduction can't cancel all my shake at full or near full zoom. Again, this is all free hand, when I was more cautious or used the EVF, drawing the camera to my head and making for a more stable platform for shooting, things improved dramatically.

There is no ability to attach a filter on the lens nor is there a hot shoe. Regarding the filter, I wish I had the option to attach one if i wished, however it wasn't a deal breaker for me. I'm either shooting, or it's hanging down off my neck, on the ready or if I'm done shooting for a few, I snap the tethered lens cover on. Nikon is quiet clear that the cover must be removed before powering up the camera. The camera is very fast in being ready for the first shot. I don't have a stop watch but it's well under 1/2 second from OFF to ready to focus and shoot. There is virtually no lag time between shots unless the camera is stitching together and processing a panorama shot or a few other situations that are clearly outlined by Nikon and I haven't experimented with as of yet. Nikon wants you to use class 6 SD cards or faster, to keep camera write times down and ability to shoot quick.

My overall impression is very positive to this point. I wasn't expecting DSLR results in regards to picture quality and flexibility in various shooting conditions. This camera comes closer on both these aspects than I expected; and I'm carrying a LOT less gear and weight.

Nikon really should provide an external battery charger with the kit. In camera charging takes the camera out of use during the process. Otherwise the only other area I see they really missed the mark was by not adding threads to the lens barrel allowing filters/attachments.
179 of 186 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for What it is March 14 2011
By Adrian - Published on Amazon.com
I've owned the Nikon p90 and p100, so I've got an idea of what these Nikon superzooms are like. I wasn't planning on buying a new superzoom, but the big jump in zoom to 810mm made me plonk down the money again. ( I think I need help, I'm becomeing a camera junkie). While wide angles aren't usually something I look for in most cameras, 22.5mm (35mm format) is really wide! The p500 is once again evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.

The Good:

- Light and easy to hold, which makes it a good travelling camera. Less than half the weight of my dslr with an 18-200mm lens attached.

- Tilting 3 inch LCD screen.

- Humungous zoom. I write before that the Fujifilm HS10 720mm zoom was huge. 810mm is even huger! (This is the zoom range it should have been in the p100 imho, but as they say, better late than never). You will truly see things you'd never thought you'd see when you zoom out to 810mm.

- Easy to use...relatively. Since I've already used several Nikons, I'm more used to it than you might be if you are new to the brand, so I didn't find it especially difficult to navigate. If you are a pure point and shoot person using little compact cameras, you might find the functions available a bit daunting and you'll need to look up both the manual, and a FAQ section of photography terms and functions to know how to alter things like shutter speed and aperture. I use shutter speed sometimes, but not aperture, since it's nothing to shout about. If I want thin sections of focus, I go to my dlsr and f1.4 prime lens :)

- Photo quality is not bad for this type of camera. Definitely not dslr quality. But if you just want that photo (and you'll take heaps with 22.5-810mm on tap) then this will more than satisfy you.

- Macros: macro photo quality have always been quite reasonable in the Nikon p90, p100, and this model too. In some ways, they give dslr's a run for their money because while not in the same league pixel peeping wise, you can get a heck of a lot closer with the p90, p100 and p500, so the colour and detail is quite decent imho. Colour is not as full and bright as some other brands, but is quite acceptable in good light. It's a bit faded indoors or in poor light.

- Now comes is red, as well as black! Ok, this isn't really a big thing, but if you don't want common boring black, you now have a choice. Maybe it will appeal to others :)

The Bad:

- They STILL don't provide an external charger! As I wrote before in the p100 review- I'm lucky- I still have a spare from the Nikon s10. All you poor saps who don't will have to charge your camera battery using the USB cable and supplied AC charger. I don't know how much an external charger and spare battery are, but if you buy this camera, I'd suggest buying these too.

- If you turn on the camera while the lens cap is on, the camera will freeze up and the motor makes this sad grinding/whining noise as it tries to pathetically push the lens out against the lens cap. This is crazy! It was like this in the p90, p100 and they still haven't fixed it!

- Still has the same form factor as before. That's mostly good, but the small electronic viewfinder remains too. I don't find it easy to use.

I haven't used the video, so can't comment.

Overall, it's more of the same from Nikon, except the lens goes wider and further.
87 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very well engineered camera June 9 2011
By Matthias M. Giwer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
About me. Photography was a serious hobby back in the film days. I had the usual SLRs plus one I had modified for close up work on large format film. I also have an interest in technical illustrations. With digital I went through three low end point and shoots holding off until there was a digital that could do more than I had done with film cameras. This is that camera -- and just as I got used to no viewfinder I have one again.

I first tried to focus this review as between low and high end point and shoots. But low end does not mean fewer features as it did in the film days. Today's low end was yesterday's high end. I found a theme that I think works. This camera takes even old, expected features and expands their limits while perfecting them. At the same time it includes features which simplify doing what the experts do.

That said, I am enthusiastic about this camera. The single disappointment is it does not stitch the interval photos into a time lapse movie clip. But I can do that with free software on my computer so it is not a serious disappointment.

I have tried a little bit to keep my perverse sense of humor under control. I did not completely succeed.

On with the review.


The price is not for one gimmick like the zoom range which is what gets your first attention. Every feature is state of the art. If you want to save $100 you will take a hit in several areas. Sure you really can survive with a lesser zoom range but that camera will have other lesser features such as 720p max instead of 1080p. This is a well-engineered camera. You don't take a hit on one feature to get another. It does not have one great feature on an otherwise mediocre camera. If you are considering buying you can stop trying to find the "gotchas." There are none.

Yes it does have a point and shoot size sensor. The size and cost of the lens is a function of the sensor size. The larger the sensor the more the camera will cost for the same lens features. The good news is the sensor is CMOS instead of CCD. This gives the same performance in lower light so the lower f-stop of the lens is less of a handicap. Related to this the low f-stop is related to the zoom range for the same price range.

Guys! It comes in the same shade of red as that sports car you are going to buy some day. Don't dismiss it as girlie.

In the auto mode it is an idiot proof point and shoot. You don't have to read the fine manual. Turn it on, pop up the flash and press the shutter button. Wife, son, daughter, relative or in-law can take a picture of you with no instructions whatsoever. No more family outings with dozens of pictures of everyone but you. You do not have to carry a simple point and shoot in addition to this camera.

And by idiot proof I mean myself. When in doubt get at least one image in the auto mode before playing around. It is likely to be near the best shot you can get. Trust the camera. The software has all the technical knowledge as well photographic judgement included.

Technical because snow scenes really are bluish as the snow reflects the blue sky so that it technically correct. Photographic judgement because our eyes adjust to snow when out in it and do not see the blue. But it shows up in prints where it shows the real scene not what we saw. So the snow mode takes out the blue. In fireworks we "see" lots of after images that really are not there so the camera makes exposure compensations to produce the image we saw not what was actually there at the time of the exposure. Trust the camera. It knows the tricks of the trade.

Yes that 36x zoom got your attention. You might have missed the 1cm, 4/10", close up macro while thinking about taking pictures of the moon. It means a close-up of a quarter won't fit on a monitor. So you get a low power microscope thrown into the deal. If you can get insects to hold still more power to you. Flowers can't fly away.

Those pictures of a huge rising full moon are done by taking a picture of it at full zoom so it appears much larger compared to objects on the horizon. Do not try this with the sun unless you can comfortably look at it without sunglasses. It can destroy the sensor. You can also do these with interval timing to show the rise and set of the sun. When you can do what the pro's do you have bragging rights.

The 22.5mm with no zoom is wide enough to take a group photo in a small room and gives a good chunk of the landscape without using the panorama mode. The zoom range allows you to take pictures at any distance with subject filling the frame. A zoom lens to do this with a DSLR will cost several times more than this camera if you can find one. Generally you will need several lenses and a 2nd mortgage to pay for them.

Yes it is large and weighs a pound. Weight is good because there is less vibration. Size is good because five finger, two-handed grip means less vibration. Besides that the vibration reduction schemes work quite well. Nothing will substitute for a good tripod or for resting against something solid even your own chest with the extended LCD. Nothing will substitute for a steady mount in low light. This is state of the art engineering not magic.

Putting stabilization and higher zoom levels together means you can get pictures of action without having to get close enough to disturb the action. The kids have discovered a new bug or something. You can get pictures of it without getting so close that you get "Daddy, look what we found" changing the scene you wanted.

The other side of the coin is you can be part of the fun using the auto mode without having to think about the camera. Click the flower icon and get a picture of what the kids found so interesting -- maybe it isn't something dead. (And if it is dead you can hide the image from the review menu so mother doesn't see it.) No fumbling with settings and menus. No "hold still while I get the camera ready" or "You're blocking the light." The camera will take care of you.

Want to have a little fun? Put it in smart portrait mode and point it at a TV and watch it finding the faces. This also gives a feel for how it identifies faces so you can learn how focus will work when shooting people. BTW: This takes processing which means it is a battery drain. If other modes do similar amounts of processing this explains why the battery does not last as long as people seem to expect.

Why care? The batteries are cheap enough. I got a charger and three spares for about $10. I have not made note of conditions such as flash/no flash but I haven't gotten less than 120 shots per charge and as high as 250. Outside the camera they take about a hour to recharge. I'm not complaining about battery life in the least. While your at it a spare SD card never hurts. An extra $25 in functional extras for a $400 camera is peanuts.

An 8GB card is over a thousand images at the largest size and highest quality. Unless you want to carry around the family photo album that is big enough for most uses. 8GB is also around five fully charged batteries worth of pictures. If you are not going to carry the spare batteries there is no point to a larger card.

If you do not want to read the manual just put it in auto and forget it. You can figure out what all the commonly used settings do just by pushing the buttons.

The manual on disk is concise. It does cover every feature but you have to read carefully. Each subsection is telling you something. There is a high dynamic range (HDR) mode buried in the camera. One line will tell you the 1cm close up is only at the third step of the zoom. It is all there.

Every feature is covered with a short explanation of what it does. It is enough to try it and see for yourself. Yes, each section could be longer but it is not an education in photography.

If you want to learn digital photography there are books devoted to that. Here is a secret those publishers do not want you to know. 90% of what the books are telling you is the same for both film and digital. What you can find in a used book store is most of what you need and with luck for 10% of the price. If you don't mind doing your own research you can google up all you need to know for free.

And if you have had digital cameras before everything you learned on the low end cameras translates to this camera. The basic buttons are even in the same place and do the same things. What more can you ask?


Yes, autofocus is slow in low lighting conditions. Autofocus works by maximizing contrast. In low light there is little contrast. The red LED is trying to brighten the image enough produce contrast. There are limits to what technology can do. That is why there is manual focus -- use it. Keep in mind if it were not for the capabilities of this camera you would likely not be trying some of these low light pictures. Something is better than nothing.

Which leads to what this camera is beyond point and shoot. It lets you get beyond the point and shoot when the scene modes are not good enough or simply do not get what you want. Sure we can talk about being artistic but are we really artists? Will the next Ansel Adams please raise his hand? We are looking for the best picture or for something interesting that cannot be easily added by computer software such as Gimp dot org -- which google as it is free.

Lets go back a few decades when automated exposure was the latest must have feature in cameras. Before that it was all manual. After the automatic exposure fad wore off the companies introduced aperture and shutter priority modes. Progress and then lets get back to the good old days. So this camera has the four modes one expects cameras to have as options in addition to the full auto, idiot proof mode. But even in these modes the camera tries to warn you if try to do something the software says should not work but it doesn't stop you from trying.

So what has changed? Auto not only sets the proper exposure. It tries to pick the right scene mode. You can choose the scene mode manually or you can trust the camera. Most of the time it is going to work as well as you picking the scene. There are so many scene modes to choose from I doubt anyone can pretend to have tried them all. Here in Tampa, Florida snow scenes are out. For the scenes I have tried there is no quality difference between my choice and auto. They are different but best is a matter of taste.

But you do want to try several options. A night portrait in muted incandescent porch light is different from a camp fire which is not a candle. Now think of a night portrait of a subject with a camp fire in the background. There is only so much the software can do. Better than adequate pictures are found in a batch of adequate pictures. Take LOTS of pictures. The camera has features like exposure bracketing to do this all at once instead of asking your subject to hold still for minutes at a time and changing the mood of a very enjoyable evening.

When professional photographers say takes lots of pictures they are not just pushing the shutter a lot of times. They are changing things for each picture. One of the things they are doing is exposure bracketing. There is an automatic feature to do that. The camera has other multiple exposure features to do the other things the professionals try.

I can't think of a reason for a five hour limitation for interval shooting, aka time lapse. That said, five hours will cover most events such as opening flowers. And there is no reason not put push the shutter again for another five hours worth of images. It is not a deal-breaker. It is an added feature. Unless I have missed a menu option some place this does not stitch them together into a video clip. You will need other software for that. There are image sizes compatible with video aspect ratios.

True there is no way to attach filters to the lens. These days there isn't much use for them save to protect the lens as image processing software can do all the effects and dozens more. The only reason left is to protect the lens. This is a glass lens. It is not easy to scratch. I do not worry about it. I have used cameras regularly for over 40 years and have never scratched a lens. If I were to worry about something it would be dust in the zoom mechanism, flour in the kitchen being in the category of dust. That is just a guess. I have no idea if that would be a problem. Given this is from Nikon I doubt it.


Despite another review, the camera I have does in fact have zoom in one power steps. It isn't smooth but it isn't big jumps either. And yes it is a bit slow but if it were faster it would be harder to adjust. It takes a bit of practice to get fine control of the zoom. If it were faster fine adjustment would be harder. Until there is a multi-speed zoom, you can't have it both ways.

A faster zoom would also be a noisier zoom and people love to zoom while making movies. They either do not like the noise of the zoom or complain the sound goes off while zooming. One wishes people would notice how rarely zoom is used by Hollywood. It is rarely used because it rarely works for a scene. Don't do it.

Making movies is a different set of skills than stills. It is better to splice a long and a close shot than to zoom in. It has more dramatic effect. Zooms that do work are so fast they might as well be splices.

Remember you are not making a movie. For movies you are supposed to splice scenes together, change their order, delete scenes. Unless you are doing post production editing you are not making a movie, you are recording an event, warts and all. The bride might want to have the entire ceremony start to finish to relive it at some indeterminate future date. No one else ever wants to see in its entirety not even, or perhaps especially not, the groom.

Keep in mind this is a fancy still camera with movie capability included. If you want to make serious movies you need to get a video camera as much above a Flip® as this is above a simple point and shoot. Videos need much greater stabilization than stills. Tripods are a necessity. When the camera moves a steady cam mount is needed. Never compare your results with those of Hollywood.

Be gentle with yourself.

Your standard for comparison is your neighbor's videos not what you see on TV. Do not expect miracles from the audio. Cardioid mikes pointing forward do not fit in this form factor. Professionals do not have microphones on the cameras. That is for amateur movie makers working alone. The closest professional comparison is your local evening news with $6000 and up video cameras.

Keep in mind it is an added feature just as many video cameras throw in taking stills as a feature. You would not buy a movie camera for its quality stills nor vice versa.

All that said, the videos aren't half bad at all. 1080p, the best HDTV standard, is as good as you have to get and it gives you the smaller formats down to old style TV, 640x480. The file size/recording time specs suggest the finest recording level is about the quality that is used for movies on DVD. It is still going to be video quality not film converted to video. It is more than good enough for family events.

If you grew up on and have bad memories of home movies in Super 8, this is a whole new world. If you don't want to lug around a video camera on the off chance of a couple minutes use this will work. If you go back to the good old days of DAT tape this is still a whole new world.

Above all, do not forget you can take videos. Use it for any kind of action. You may trash it later but it might be pure gold. You never know what people are going to do when they are having fun. The button is placed conveniently where you don't have to think to start recording.

I find it surprising that people will take dozens of pictures of their kids at action events like little league or soccer and not have one video clip. There is software that will let you pull stills out of a movie clip. Far from the best but more than good enough for the internet.

A word of advice. Do not try video of action at extreme zoom. You can't follow the action like the highly paid professionals for major league games. They practice more hours every day than you spend at a game once a week. And the networks have more than one cameramen trying to get the same action. It is not uncommon for all three cameramen to fail to get a close up. If you succeed, congratulations. If you fail, don't kick yourself, practice -- a lot.
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little camera May 27 2011
By M. Dobyns - Published on Amazon.com
As an advanced amateur photographer I was looking for a lightweight camera to take on vacations that not only took great pictures but had some advanced features not available on the typical point and shoot. I also wanted a viewfinder for those shots in very bright sunlight where the LCD viewfinder washes out giving true meaning to the term "point-and-shoot."

I am a long time Nikon user and presently I have a D90 for serious photography. The controls on the P500 are very similar to Nikon SLR's and so I was good to go right out of the box. I do not recommend this camera for a novice, because it has many features you will not understand and will only confuse you. Even so, if you just put it on automatic and forget about everything else the camera will do the work and you will take great pictures. I do recommend that you get a fast SD card, at least a class 6, but a class 10 would be better. A 16 gig card is perfect unless you plan on taking alot of video.

What I like about this camera:

X The pull out and tilt LCD lets you compose pictures at waist level. No need to hold the camera at eye level for every shot. This allows you to watch events with your eyes and not on a little LCD screen as you wait for the next good shot. Over head shots at air shows are easy without tilting your head back. Video can be taken with your arms at you side and bent at the elbow which provides for better stability and less fatigue on those long takes.

X A viewfinder for those shots where the sun is behind you and the LCD washes out. (The P500 has 5 levels of screen brightness and I found that on level 5 the screen still displays a readily usable image even in the brightest light so I may never need the viewfinder after all.)

X The camera is small and lightweight and takes excellent photos and videos in 1080p. This makes it not only much easier to carry around than my D90, it is much lower in cost so if it gets stolen while on vacation I can get over it easier.

X Controls and settings are typically Nikon and very user friendly.

X A real-time histogram display can be added to the screen so you can see if the exposure is balanced before you take the picture so you don't have to take it twice. Very cool and something my D90 can't do.

X There is a manual exposure override button on the top of the camera at your finger tip so adding or subtracting exposure is quick and easy.

X The lens cap has a slot molded into the side and comes with a cord so you can tether your lens cap to your camera strap. A very nice idea. No need for those adhesive backed lens cap holders that are ugly and always come off.

What could be better on this camera:

X The USB cable is not the standard mini plug that is very common and available at any large drugstore. This is needed to connect the camera to the computer to download pictures (unless you have a SD card reader)and for charging the battery. If you are away from home and you lose the cable you are out of luck. What were they thinking? Get an extra battery and the Nikon charger.

X The camera has no hot shoe. The pop-up flash does a good job at 12 feet or less, but it would be nice to be able to put my Nikon SB400 flash on it for a bit more oomph. Not even a sync socket, so this limits your picture taking ability in very low light.

X The lens will not come out with lens cap on but you get a warning sound and a message on the screen to tell you to take the cap off so I don't think this is an major issue

X Last but not least: No threads on the lens for mounting filters such as a skylight filter to protect the lens, or more importantly, a polarizing filter. Again, what were they thinking?

All things considered this camera is almost perfect. If you are more than a novice photographer you will appreciate the many features and capabilities of this lightweight and compact little guy. I for one am very satisfied with my purchase and can't wait to take it on vacation.

BTW, the Case Logic DCB-304 High/Fixed Zoom Camera Case (Black) ($15.00 on Amazon) is the perfect case for the CoolPix P500 or the CoolPix P100.