Wednesday 31 October 2018

Nikon Coolpix P1000 Review

Nikon Coolpix P1000 Road Test
October Birding 2018
Various Locations/Lower Mainland

What better place to try out the Nikon Coolpix P1000 24mm-3000mm super zoom than Piper Spit. There is nowhere else in Metro Vancouver except perhaps Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary where birds can be approached so closely. 
The day of my visit the weather was perfect, there were birds galore and the afternoon sun provided plenty of shutter speed to really test out the capabilities of the P1000. At this point I hadn't read the online guide so I was using the Birding Mode. Normally I use my iPhone for scenics but this time I used the wide angle end of the zoom of the camera. Unlike the P900 the P1000 comes with a lens hood which shields the sun. I strongly suggest adding a UV filter so the precious front element is protected at all times.
I began shooting an overall scene at 24mm.
 All shots are handheld although when I shoot video I plan to use a hefty tripod 

 In the foreground were a small flock of Long-billed Dowitchers, they are often found at Piper Spit. Other species can include grebes, ducks, herons and hawks. Depending on the time of year the trails around the lake can turn up almost anything including an elusive Bobcat or two. During the summer I photographed a Cassin's Vireo and recently American Dippers have returned to feast on salmon eggs in the Brunette River. A few years ago during the Christmas bird count a flock of White-winged Crossbills drew birders and photographers from far and wide. 

Long-billed Dowitchers

 I quite like the painterly feel of this image.
It works for me aesthetically and that's all I can really ask.

Long-billed Dowitcher

Recently a pair of Rusty Blackbirds put on a show at the spit, a 
 treat for everyone who went down to see them. Someone had the bright idea of putting out bird seed and bread crumbs, the birds loved it.
Rusty Blackbird
More on the plight of the Rusty Blackbird at the bottom of the page.

Back to the P1000. I really bought it to shoot 4k video but I am having so much fun shooting stills I have decided to post a few more images. Strangely on both the P900 and P1000 the video files are much better and cleaner at all focal lengths, all the more reason I am stoked about getting the P1000 on a big solid tripod and seeing what it can produce at the 2000mm-3000mm range.

Next up were some of the ducks (some would say sitting ducks) many of which are now coming into their winter splendour. These images show how well the P1000 reproduces when little or no cropping is applied. Even with the stated 128x zoom it's still best to approach as close as possible.

Note: Some pictures have been cropped for better composition with either levels or curves applied. Also some sharpening has been applied in ©Lightroom. Colour rendition is very clean.
All files are shot in jpeg mode as I can't open Raw files with my outdated software. 
Wood Duck
Northern Pintail

Blackie Spit, Crescent Beach 


Greater Yellowlegs
This is a perfect example of a decent enough photograph of a Greater Yellowlegs. I was on a bird count with no intention of photographing when from perhaps one hundred plus feet away I zoomed in on the unsuspecting sandpiper. Note the reflection, the bird's eye is repeated four times. This is the exact situation where a bridge camera is so useful, catching those unexpected moments. 

Cecil Green and Museum of Anthropology

American Tree Sparrow

The above image was taken at close range at about 20 feet with minimal cropping. The image is quite acceptable for blogging (120 DPI at 4x6) or even a larger print. Peter Candido found the bird in a pathway outside the museum and a few of us went down and re-found it.

My original introduction to a 'Bridge Camera' was the excellent Canon SX50. The first time I used it I was hooked. The light weight and long zoom options allowed me when appropriate to shed the tripod, heavy lens and DSLR. My daily walks tripled in distance and I never felt I might miss a shot. My second bridge camera was the Nikon P900 which I have blogged about extensively. See links on main page,

Also see video link for some P900 footage.

White Rock Pier

Next up were a couple of trips to White Rock to scope the bay for grebes, loons and ducks. At the marina a Belted Kingfisher was perched on a sailboat mast and a small flock Black Turnstones flew in. Further out here a raft Western Grebes, I stop counting at 150 birds.

Black Turnstone
Harlequin Duck
This shot was taken from the White Rock promenade over the railway tracks, beach and about a further fifty feet out.

Red-necked Grebe
Below are a few images I shot under early morning filtered sunlight. Shooting downwards at an angle can often make for an unnatural view, however with the lens set at 2500mm-3000mm at F8 there is plenty of depth of field as can be seen by the water droplets on both these grebes above and below.

Horned Grebe
P1000 (300DPI)

 I originally thought this was a Western Grebe. Later I persuaded myself it was a Clark's Grebe. After posting on eBird the experts were quick to point out that is was neither, rather a Western x Clark's hybrid. It would have been a very good year bird for my Metro Vancouver list.
Western x Clark's Grebe
P1000 300 DPI

All I can say about these amorous pigeons is they have beautiful plumage.

Rock Pigeon

A Belted Kingfisher perches on a sailboat rigging

Belted Kingfisher

Common Loon reflection

Harbour Seal

Some miscellaneous images from my ramblings around Brydon Lagoon/Latimer Lake

A few days later I decided to walk Latimer Lake. This Townsend's Chipmunk sat still enough just long enough to capture it backlit. I wasn't able to move in case I spooked it, I opened up to get the correct exposure for the critters face. 
 Townsend's Chipmunk
A Mallard at Brydon Lagoon
Often when rambling/walking /hiking/biking I always take the point and shoot like the P1000 with the idea of taking scenics. I now have an extensive collection throughout the seasons from most of my favourite haunts. If I see a good bird even better. Recently I was at the woodlot on 112th and the cloud patterns was simply awesome, too good to pass up. Because bridge cameras are so light I find I can easily cycle with a small Hummingbird scope, tripod (mostly for scope use) bins around my neck and the P1000 on my shoulder. The wide angle of the P1000 is excellent while the panorama mode is also easy to use for more those expansive scenes.

Stratocumulus clouds I think. Let me know if I am wrong .
Boundary Bay at the Woodlot

A typical P1000 grab shot

Northern Flicker approx. 2000mm
Black-bellied Plovers at Boundary Bay at 104
There is no doubt that the advent of digital photography had changed the face of birding. More birds are being photographed, more birders are photographing and more rarities are being unearthed, often long after the photos were taken. Recently several rarities were discovered only when the photo was posted on a digital platform. 
A good example was the Vermillion flycatcher in White Rock, who would have believed it had it not been for a digital photograph. It also helped greatly that the finder was an excellent birder and was alert to his find.  
 In the past decade a large range of bridge cameras have hit the market, Sony, Canon and Lumix offer similar options, the Nikon P1000 is just the latest iteration. 

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper/Long-billed Dowitcher in foreground.
Reifel Oct 31st

"It's never too late to start birding"
John Gordon
Langley/ Cloverdale 
BC Canada


  1. Great post and beautiful shots i really noticed how on ebird you got an amazing shot of the ruff compared to all of us present with your amazing zoom lens

  2. Thanks for the range of fine shots demonstrating the P1000. I've been using the P900 and contemplating the next camera. My reservations about my trusty P900 is that I get poor resolution with long shots, and low light almost never yields an acceptable photo. If you have a preference for a good wildlife camera with low light capabilities, I'd appreciate your opinion.

  3. John, your birding shots are beautiful.

    Would you be willing to share your settings. Shutter speed, Aperture, ISO, AF settings, VR setting, etc. with the P1000?

    I just got mine. I am used to my optimum settings when phtographing birds with my D7000 but I realize the P1000 is limited regarding settings flexibility.

    Thanks, Michael