Sunday 12 April 2015

Nikon P900 Review: Some More Thoughts

April 8-10 Various Locations

I picked up the new Nikon P900 24mm-2000mm bridge camera last week. This is my second look at the camera. My first impressions out of the box was the camera was bulky yet lightweight. The front element is quite large and imposing. I felt uncomfortable having it exposed to scuffs so I sprung for a 67mm filter. I am now looking for a hood to give further protection from rain and to control flare from the sun.
I have tried the camera in manual, aperture priority and the bird photography mode. I have used various metering options including the matrix, centre weighted and spot. I also used it out of the box in 'idiot' program mode and it worked fine except for small objects like the Loggerhead Shrike when a small subject against a plain background forced the autofocus to hunt. I have now rectified that by reading the owner's manual and switching to single focus mode
Here are a second series of shots which I am sure with more practice and familiarity with the camera's controls better results can and will be achieved.

 Black-capped Chickadee.
Black-capped Chickadee
Nothing can be more fleeting than a Black-capped Chickadee or the Brown Creeper below. They don't hang around too long so I was happy to get these shots from a burst of four frames a second in Birdwatching mode.

 Brown Creeper Brydon Lagoon.
Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)

The Goldeneye and the Wolf Eel Reflection.
Common Goldeneye
The reflection in this shot reminds me of a Wolf Eel. The camera did a great job of keeping up with the goldeneye as it swam and dove for fish at Brydon Lagoon in Langley

Who needs a view camera anymore.... just joking!
Grant Narrows
The camera can go from shooting scenics to zooming in on birds like the shrike below. Focus is quite fast. Those used to shooting a DSLR will have to adjust to the electronic view finder (EVF). I have tried a number bridge cameras with EVF and the P900 is the best so far.

P900 worked well during the Loggerhead Shrike twitch. 
Loggerhead Shrike.
This bird was about 30 metres (100 feet in English) away from the camera. Handheld at 2000mm or 357mm on 35mm at ISO 400 at F6.7
Normally I wouldn't have used a point and shoot but I knew it would be the perfect test. A number of birders and photographers were frustrated by not being able to get a close shot. The P900 handled the light and exposure perfectly and you might think the shot was taken with a DSLR.

Spot the Northern Shrike.
Just to the right of the telephone pole is a Northern Shrike. Can you see it, the camera did! I have put an arrow on the picture to help you out.

I am not kidding but I took the shot below from across the road from my car seat, how lazy is that but as many of you now the car can make an excellent blind/hide. Can you see the bird in the picture above, look for the arrow? Again I shot at about 2000mm handheld and picked up the two shots below. The shrike moved so I had the chance for different backgrounds which the camera handled both very well.

Northern Shrike with mountainside creating the blueish background.

P900 at 2000mm shot against clouds. The auto exposure underexposed just a little.

From Wide to Telephoto
Can you see a small dark shape in the middle of the frame ?
I stood in the same spot after I saw a turtle in the water. Probably about 20-25 metres aways and obscured by a few branches. The P900 was able to 'see" through the tangle and give me this shot below. The eye isn't quite sharp but to be honest I wasn't expecting anything much so I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I am sure with a tripod and clear view a much better image would be possible. I include it here to show how powerful a reach the P900 has.

Another handheld shot in my garden F2.8 at ISO 400

Macro Mode
Tulip stamens.

Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)
Brydon Lagoon.
In conclusion I believe the bridge camera moniker fits the P900 perfectly. I would love to see a larger chip but that would reduce the 2000mm to 1000mm or so. It would also be nice to have a larger buffer especially after using the birdwatching Mode. However, I must say I haven't had so much fun with a camera since I bought a Nikon D3s the only difference is the P900 is $700, the D3s a lot more.

"It never too late to start birding"

John Gordon

BC Canada


  1. Gorgeous shot of the loggerhead shrike and very interesting post and review.

  2. Glad you liked it. I am really surprised by the quality of some of the shots and for $700 I think a lot of birders will enjoy this camera.

  3. Great review John, I ran into a guy who has one on load and he was showing me some of the video he took with it and WOW! One of the closest loggerhead pictures I've seen, 2000mm is crazy! This review was a pleasure to read. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Tony,
      I am still enjoying the camera. You'll need to buy a second battery and as front filter to protect the huge piece of front lens glass. I am looking for a hood too. I think Nikon have a winner depending on what you are used to. I wrote the review with birders in mind especially those who have never really photographed before.
      Thanks for your interest.
      Where do you bird?

  4. Excellent photos. I have the Sony HX300 and it's fun to use for bird photography. It is slower to autofocus than a dslr but can produce exceptional captures with a bit of tweaking.. I am tempted to get the P900 just for the longer zoom alone. Seems like a worth while investment for nature photography.

    1. I am not familiar with the Sony but the P900 does like any camera have its quirks. The autofocus is not the fastest and in the birdwatching mode the buffer is painfully slow and sometimes the bird is long gone. But as you have seen it does a great job most of the time. It isn't an action camera by any means so I am anxious to use the video and see how that works, especially for birds.
      I just like to make my life easier so that is why I will have it around my waist whenever I go off on a trek just for for magical moment when that rare vagrant is way out in the bay or at the top of a tree.

  5. Thank you so much for your reviews on the P900. I am definitely having this camera shortly, especially after seeing the results you achieved handheld. Thank you also for some wonderful photos. From Jill.

  6. what i can say about like this review really amazing and thank you so much for share with us like this review

  7. How do you create such nice bokeh in the pictures?!

  8. The bookeh is because I am using a very long lens, it is part of the effect when you use a telephoto lens. The P900 is a very long lens (2000mm) at longest so when you focus on a bird or flower or person the background will be out of focus every time. I hope that helps.

  9. Everyone is telling me hat a bridge camera isn't any good for birding, the shots above are throwing doubt on that

  10. Thanks for your fine pics and info,John. For me the P900 is the perfect birding camera when out and about, either handheld or (better) on a monopod. The great pulling power of the zoom enables close study of intimate details as well as basic bird ID. I agree that there are limits to its capabilities, but the P900 is still an amazing piece of kit.

    1. Hi Greg,
      I totally agree. It can be a frustrating camera at times but overall it still has a place in my camera bag alongside my DSLR.

  11. Thank you so much. I confused with bridge camera. I have Canon 1200D with 55-250mm lens. I cant invest more on lenses. Your post clear my all doubts and give new hope. After rainy season first I buy this gear. Once again thanks a lot.

  12. Thanks for the post, it's very useful to see the results when a superzoom is used to take the types of pics I usually take. Sometimes I tire of lugging the 150-600 zoom around. Especially since I'm not trying to earn a living with the pics.

  13. Appreciate seeing the types of shots I might typically take using a camera like the P900. Currently use a Panasonic FZ200 when on long hikes. A fast lens is it's big plus.

  14. looking for John Gordon's email to ask for recommendations for bird touring companies going to Norfolk and around there