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Nikon P530

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Nikon P530 Review -- First Impressions

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If you like to bring your subjects up close, but you've got to stay within budget, the 16-megapixel Nikon P530 might prove to be of interest. Sure, it doesn't have quite as much telephoto reach as does the simultaneously-launched, 60x-zoom Nikon P600, but with a handy 42x optical zoom, Nikkor-branded lens, the P530 still gives you a package that's hard to match even with an interchangeable-lens camera, unless you're willing to carry a lot of bulky, expensive gear.

The Nikon P530's lens offers 35mm-equivalent focal lengths ranging from a generous 24mm-equivalent wide-angle to a powerful 1,000mm-equivalent telephoto. Given the reach available, the maximum aperture of f/3.0 to f/5.9 across the zoom range seems quite reasonable. The optical formula of the lens is less complex than that of the P600, with 14 elements in 10 groups, and four ED elements amongst their number. The aperture diaphragm is the same, though, with six blades. A contrast-detection autofocus system with face-priority, subject-tracking and target-finding functions is employed, and the closest focusing distance is just 0.4 inches (1cm) at the wide-angle position.

If that's not enough telephoto reach, what Nikon calls Dynamic Fine Zoom -- essentially, a more intelligent variation on digital zoom -- will take you out to an effective 2,000mm-equivalent, although fine detail is bound to suffer, and you'll certainly want to shoot on a tripod for good results. Thankfully, lens-shift type Vibration Reduction is included, which will help fight blur from camera shake.

Behind the lens sits a 1/2.3-inch, 16.3-megapixel, backside illuminated CMOS image sensor. Together with the unbranded image processor, this allows the Nikon P530 to shoot at a rate of seven frames per second for a full second. Sensitivities range from ISO 100 to 1600 equivalents ordinarily, and can be extended as high as ISO 6400 equivalent in Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, or Manual modes. Switch to the monochrome-only High ISO mode, and you can extend this still further to ISO 12,800 equivalent.

And yes, we did mention Program, Priority, and Manual shooting. Also catering to those of us who like a little control are a choice of matrix, center-weighted or spot metering, +/-2.0EV exposure compensation in 1/3EV steps, exposure bracketing, and six white balance modes including preset manual. Shutter speeds range from 1/4,000 to 15 seconds, although the actual range available depends on aperture and ISO sensitivity. There's no external flash connectivity, sadly, but a built-in popup flash has a range of 26 feet at wide angle or 14 feet at telephoto, using Auto ISO sensitivity.

Beginners and amateurs are welcome too, thanks to a selection of 19 user-friendly Scene modes, and a Scene Auto Selector function that takes the guesswork out of deciding which scene type is appropriate. A couple of more unusual modes on offer take advantage of the zoom reach: Moon mode and Bird Watching mode.

You'll be framing and reviewing your images and movies either on an electronic viewfinder that helps give the P530 an SLR-like aesthetic, or a fixed-position LCD monitor. The viewfinder is based around a 0.2-inch LCD panel with 201,000 dot resolution, while the main LCD monitor is a 3.0-inch, anti-reflective type with a much higher resolution of 921,000 dots.

As well as stills, the Nikon P530 is a video capture device, capable of recording at up to Full HD (1080p/i; 1,920 x 1,080 pixel) resolution with a rate of 60 fields or 30 frames per second. You can also shoot at a reduced rate of 15 or 12.5 frames per second for accelerated playback, or drop the resolution to VGA (640 x 480 pixel) resolution for frame rates as high as 120fps and slow-motion playback. Videos use H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC compression, and include LPCM stereo audio.

If you want to get your photos off your camera and online as quickly as possible, you'll be pleased to hear that the Nikon P530 is compatible with Nikon's optional WU-1a Wi-Fi adapter. It's not as seamless as the built-in Wi-Fi of the Nikon P600, and you'll need to pay extra for the accessory, but it still lets you get your images to your smartphone or connected tablet, and onto social networks for friends and family to see.

The Nikon P530 draws power from an EN-EL5 lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack, said to yield around 240 shots on a charge, around a third less than the P600 manages. Connectivity includes USB 2.0 High Speed data, NTSC / PAL standard-definition composite video, and Type-D Micro HDMI high-def video. Images and movies are stored on SD, SDHC, or SDXC memory cards, or on 56MB of built-in storage.

Available from February 2014, the Nikon Coolpix P530 ships in only one body color: black. List pricing is set at around US$450 -- only $50 less than the P600. For our money, that makes its more feature-rich, long-zooming, Wi-Fi equipped sibling the better deal.