There’s super zoom, and then there’s the new Nikon Coolpix P1000. Nikon’s newest release features a built-in Nikkor lens with 125x optical zoom.
And if that’s not enough, the camera has 250x digital zoom on top. So that’s about 6000mm (35mm equivalent). This kind of camera should probably have its own category: binoculars that also shoot pictures and 4k video.
In the world of expensive cinema cameras and even more spendy cinema lenses, consumer lenses and especially super zooms are typically frowned upon as unprofessional. But for documentary filmmakers (and hobbyists of course), a long reach can completely change the way you approach a shoot. And of course, event shooters can always use more reach when they’re shooting from the back of a room or performance hall.
Most superzooms, however, have only so-so IQ, and their maximum aperture drops off significantly when they’re zoomed all the way in. Which often means either a lot of noise, or you shoot only during the daytime, or you use your superzoom with a very nice, low-light sensitive cinema camera like the Sony A7SII, or favorite new camera, the Canon C200.
The problem with most superzoom lenses are they’re either very expensive and humongous if you want something professional (think bird photography here), or you have to go with something very plasticky and cheap. The better solution is to use a camera with a built-in superzoom lens, which is more favorably designed to work with the limited hardware and sensor.
The Canon XC10 and XC15, for example, have a built-in lens that goes out to 280mm or so. The digital zoom – which works quite nicely actually – doubles that to nearly 480mm. And you can still shoot handheld at that focal length, thanks to the superb image stabilization.
But the Nikon P1000 takes the fixed lens superzoom to a whole new level. 3000mm is like taking a wide shot of a cityscape, and then zooming in on someone’s apartment window. Maybe everyone who fears drones are invading our privacy should really be focusing on the Nikon P1000’s threat to our backyard nude me-time.
Nikon’s previous superzoom camera – the Nikon Coolpix P900 – only did up to 2000mm. The quality of the zoomed in pics weren’t Nat Geo level, according to reviewers, but it’s a few hundred dollars. What can one expect?
The Nikon P1000 has a few bonus features that make it stand out, however. One, there’s an optional ML-L7 remote (which should be included, in our opinion), so you can release the shutter or start recording video without touching the camera. The other necessary feature is the image stabilization – which is called Dual Detect Optical Vibration Reduction in the P1000 – up to 5 stops of stabilization.
The LCD screen is articulating and bright, but there’s also an OLED EVF that is handy for shooting zoomed in during bright day light.
For video shooters, the P1000 can record 4k UHD at 30 or 25 fps, and there’s a 3.5mm jack for an external microphone. There’s also an HDMI Micro input for an external monitor. Unfortunately you can’t shoot 24fps, and you’re limited to a number of Shooting Mode presets for your image settings. But it’s a Coolpix consumer camera, so you can’t expect pro features.
Even though it’s a consumer point-and-shoot camera, the Nikon Coolpix P1000 is not a small camera. It’s actually fairly large in hand, and with the lens zoomed out it’s quite noticeable. But then again, you have a telescope in your hands, so there’s only so much you can do with opticals and glass engineering.