Nikon P900 Conclusion

When the Nikon P600 was unveiled in early 2014, it sported the farthest-reaching available zoom length at that time for a fixed lens camera at 1440mm (in 35mm terms). It also ended up taking top honors in our Best Superzoom of 2014 competition. So when Nikon announced the P900 in early 2015, promising a whopping 2000mm-equivalent optical zoom reach at the tele end and listing for a mere $100 more than the P600, we knew a good portion of our enthusiast readers would be eager to find out if this model would live up to its promise.

Nikon P900 Review -- Sample Image

The short answer to that question is an emphatic and wholehearted YES! Given what this camera offers for the $600 price tag, we consider it to be a terrific value, offering a feature set that no other camera can currently match while at a price that's quite frankly causing the production lines to virtually buckle. (Nikon just a few months ago officially apologized for not being able to keep up with the overwhelming demand for this camera.)

It was difficult to focus on the task of fully reviewing this camera because the enticement of a 2000mm optical reach is so compelling for those of us who enjoy wildlife photography, and most everyone who was involved in this review does. Our reviewer Jeremy Gray was the obvious candidate to get the nod for reviewing based on his affinity for wildlife shooting and given his picturesque surroundings in Maine, USA. If you've not yet read his in-depth P900 Field Test, make sure and do so if you're interested in a comprehensive overview from the field. Also, for anyone who craves details about image quality and performance testing you'll want to read our Optics, Exposure and Performance pages to get the full scoop.

What we loved about the P900...

Boiled down, if you're shooting in conditions with plenty of ambient light and can keep the zoom reach to roughly 1800mm and shorter, the P900 can really deliver the goods. We found that the onboard Vibration Reduction system works very well and is a great benefit when shooting at longer focal lengths. And while the camera is fairly large and bulky out of necessity, it has a nice balance and a very secure feel in the hands -- both the weight and balance work to the shooter's advantage when trying to remain stable during handheld shooting.

Nikon P900 Review -- Sample Image

1/160s / f/7.1 / +0.3 EV / ISO 400 / 1800mm eq.
(This photo has been edited. Please click the image to view the unedited version.)

Image quality and video quality are both good for this class of camera, and it's quick to start up and fire off the first shot from being powered down. We found the matrix metering setting to perform well, and also found auto white balance to be effective and reliable outdoors. The built-in GPS works well for those of you needing that feature, and the overall build quality of the camera is also quite good.

And a few things we didn't like...

But you come to us for both sides of the story, and the Nikon P900 suffers from many of the traditional limitations of a smaller-sensored camera. It doesn't record RAW files, which will be a drawback to many from our enthusiast community, and the EVF can struggle at times with action sequences. Autofocus performance also struggles in most low-light situations, and images above ISO 400, or thereabouts, begin to look noisy due the camera's smaller sensor size, making the camera effective only in ample lighting conditions unless using the built-in flash.

Nikon P900 Review -- Sample Image

1/320s / f/6.5 / ISO 400 / 2000mm eq.
(This photo has been edited. Please click the image to view the unedited version.)

Perhaps most important to us in the "not-so-good department" is that the lens is not overly sharp at its full optical 2000mm equivalent reach. Backing off to around 1800mm and less improves sharpness significantly, and that's still a farther reach than any other fixed lens camera currently offers, but it's important to know for anyone wanting critically sharp images and expecting them at full optical telephoto reach.

The bottom line: A great value for its class!

All told, this camera is simply a great value. Yes, it has obvious limitations and trade-offs that accompany any long-zoom fixed lens camera as of this writing, but it does enough well at this price to warrant the "great value" seal from us here at IR. If you're shooting wildlife or similar outdoor subject matter and need the best zoom range currently offered in an all-in-one package at a great price, this is the best option out there and certainly earns a Dave's Pick.

Nikon P900 Review -- Sample Image

1/250s / f/6.3 / ISO 100 / 33mm eq.
(This photo has been edited. Please click the image to view the unedited version.)

 

Pros & Cons

  • Great value for the price
  • Phenomenal zoom range from 24mm wide-angle to 2000mm super-telephoto
  • Fast f/2.8 maximum aperture at wide-angle
  • Good optical performance for its class, especially when not fully zoomed
  • Low geometric distortion
  • Very good vibration reduction
  • Fast AF speeds in certain conditions
  • Can focus very close in macro mode
  • Decent image quality at low ISOs
  • Quick startup
  • Low shutter lag
  • Decent 7fps burst mode (but see Con regarding buffer size)
  • Accurate metering in Matrix setting
  • Reliable Auto white balance outdoors
  • Very good coverage accuracy from EVF and LCD
  • Built-in GPS, Wi-Fi & NFC
  • Lens not as sharp at 2000mm eq.
  • Limited low-light capabilities
  • Autofocus really struggles in low light
  • Not much flexibility in NR settings (3 settings, but lowest still too strong)
  • ISO settings above 400 are prone to noise
  • Lens is quite dim at telephoto (but no surprise given the range)
  • No RAW file support
  • Shallow buffer in Continuous H mode
  • Camera locks up while clearing buffer
  • Overly warm results with Auto and Incandescent white balance indoors
  • No hot shoe
  • Mediocre battery life

 



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