Basic Specifications
Full model name: Nikon Coolpix P950
Resolution: 16.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
(6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens: 83.00x zoom
(24-2,000mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 6400
Extended ISO: 100 - 12,800
Shutter: 1/4000 - 5 sec
Max Aperture: 2.8
Dimensions: 5.5 x 4.3 x 5.9 in.
(140 x 110 x 150 mm)
Weight: 35.5 oz (1,005 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 02/2020
Manufacturer: Nikon
Full specs: Nikon P950 specifications
16.00
Megapixels
83.00x zoom 1/2.3 inch
size sensor
image of Nikon Coolpix P950
Front side of Nikon P950 digital camera Front side of Nikon P950 digital camera Front side of Nikon P950 digital camera Front side of Nikon P950 digital camera  

Nikon P950 Review -- First Impressions

by Dave Pardue
Preview posted: 01/06/2020

Quite some time has passed since our friends at Nikon wowed the superzoom world in mid-2015 with the P900, which shattered the previously held notion that a superzoom camera would never reach the 2000mm eq. optical zoom marker. And then in 2018 they wowed us all once again with the P1000, which leapfrogged everyone (including themselves!) and created the first true Ultrazoom Camera, which went to the unprecedented 3000mm eq. optical reach.

And yet, in order to reach such an impressive distance, that camera and lens combination was by necessity quite stout in comparison, weighing in at almost 50 ounces (1415g) compared to the P900's relatively svelte 32.3 ounces (916g). That weight difference can take its toll after a long day of travel while shooting bird and wildlife photography.

And so for those of us in need of a far-reaching superzoom rig here in 2020, but one that still weighs in at just 35 ounces (1005g), Nikon has designed the new Coolpix P950, which is more akin to the P900 in most respects, and yet has some new tricks up its proverbial sleeve.

So let's look first at the particulars, for anyone new to the system in general, and then we'll get into what's new on this model compared to the P900.

The camera

The Nikon P950 is a modern superzoom camera that reaches from 24mm to 2000mm in 35mm equivalent terms, and that equates to an 83x optical zoom factor. Anyone who knows anything about wildlife photography will tell you that in order to get that kind of reach with a traditional DSLR you'll need something larger than you'd ever be able to carry! This is indeed a tremendous amount of reach, and while the P1000 does go even further (125x!), it is also larger, so the P950 represents the current state-of-the-art of going long while still remaining relatively small.

And yet the P950 is styled like a DSLR in terms of its overall shape and ergonomics, and based on our time with the similarly shaped P900, should feel quite nice in the hands. The top deck features a traditional mode dial with full PASM controls, a control dial, on/off switch, zoom toggle, one function button and of course the shutter button zoom controls we've come to expect on a camera of this type. And on the rear, we see a 3.2 inch 912k-dot vari-angle LCD, along with an MF-AF toggle, AE-L/AF-L button, as well as buttons for movie record, playback, display, menu and delete, and a 4-way array with flash, self-timer, exposure compensation, macro and OK.

The chip inside is a traditional 16.79 million pixel 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor. These type chips are not large enough to have historically performed well as ISO rises, but the small size is the only way physics will allow for a lens of this optical reach, and is therefore a necessity in keeping the ergonomically sound overall size. And the P950 does allow for the capture of RAW files in the NRW format, a feature that is relatively new to superzoom cameras and one not found on the P900 predecessor.

ISO ranges from 100 - 6400, but can be extended to 12,800 in certain special effects modes. The shutter speed range is from 1/4000s at the fastest down to 1s at the slowest, but can extend to 5s at ISO 100 in full manual mode and with the aperture is set to f/8. Continuous burst shooting allows to up to 10 shots at a time, at 7fps. And of course, the P950 is capable of recording movies up to 4K UHD at 30p/25p, in addition to the more common file sizes of Full HD (60p/50p; 30p/25p), HD and VGA.

Autofocus modes come in several flavors and varieties on the P950, including face priority, manual spot, manual normal, manual wide, subject tracking and target finding. And as with previous models there is a built-in flash of course, as well as features like HDMI out via the Type-D micro connector. The camera also sports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for connectivity via the popular SnapBridge App. The lithium-ion battery is rated for 290 shots (or 1 hour 20 minutes movie record time) with a charging time of approximately 3 hours.

The lens

The 83x lens out front opens to an aperture of f/2.8 at the widest angle position, dimming to a relatively slow f/6.5 as we get to 2000mm eq. reach. The lens is comprised of 16 elements in 12 groups, including 3 ED glass elements. With Nikon's Dynamic Fine Zoom you can extend the optical reach of the lens digitally up to 2x, taking you out to a 4000mm eq. range, and full digital zoom can increase the range to 4x, or a whopping 8000mm eq. range.

The lens aperture is an electronically controlled, 6-bladed design. Close focus ranges from 1 ft. 8 in. (50cm) at wide angle to 16 ft. 5 in. (5m) at the telephoto end. In macro mode however you can focus as close as 0.4 in. (1cm) at the widest angle, which is really amazing and we'll for sure bring you some examples of that soon once we get a sample in-house.

And, of course, the P950 sports Nikon's highly regarded Vibration Reduction system, which is of course critical for a zoom camera reaching out to these focal lengths, since a steady camera is far more important the further out you zoom. The onboard VR system is rated for 5.5 stops reduction, which should allow much better performance as the light starts to dim and slower shutter speeds become required.

What's new on the P950?

And now for those of you already familiar with the P-series line, here are the particulars regarding what's new on the P950 compared with the predecessor model P900 from 2015:

• The P950 can record RAW files, whereas the P900 could only capture JPEGs.

• The P950 captures video up to 4K UHD, while the P900 topped out at Full HD (1920x1080).

• The P950 is rated to 5.5 stops of Vibration Reduction, yet the P900 topped out at 5 stops.

• There is now full manual recording capabilities in movie mode, which the P900 did not provide.

• The P950 adds a flash hot shoe which the P900 did not have.

• The P950 adds an external mic jack and a wired remote jack, but drops IR remote support.

• The P950 drops built-in GPS and NFC, but adds Bluetooth.

More useful features

The P950 comes equipped with some nice additional tricks up its sleeve. One is "Moon Mode" which we've found quite handy on previous Nikon models. Shooting the moon is a ton of fun with this type camera, and you can read all about that on this page, including seeing lunar shots from both the P600 and P900 cameras. It also sports a Bird-watching mode, a Beach mode, Easy Panorama, Night Portrait, Snow, Sports, Sunset, and many others that we've found handy on other Nikon cameras past.

The P950 also comes equipped with a hot shoe, which allows for compatibility with nifty tools like the optional DF-M1 dot-sight, which assists in subject acquisition at long distance, or a variety of additional hot shoe accessories.

P950 pedigree

It wasn't so long ago that all major manufacturers were still routinely engaged in a sort of long-zooming competition to see who could reach the furthest, and yet still maintain good image quality in the process. We decided during the height of that race to create the end-all, be-all shootout to determine who among them truly shined, and at that time Nikon took top honors with their P600/P610 models, which included the best image quality in the overall field, among other things.

That amazing level of image quality was continued with both the P900 and the P1000 in both our lab and field testing, and so we have little doubt that the P950 will carry on that storied superzoom tradition. Of course, as always, we'll still do our due diligence in bringing you examples from both lab and field once we manage to get our hands on a sample model, and we're certainly looking forward to that as spring will be here soon enough. That means ample birds and wildlife populating the woods and fields once again, and it's a great time to acquire a superzoom like the P950.

Nikon P950 price and availability

The Nikon Coolpix P950 will be available on our Buy pages in February 2020 for a suggested retail price of US$799.99, and will be offered in black.

 

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