Alaska trip under my belt and it did everything I asked.
12 March, 2011
I just returned from the holidays that I got the camera for. 14 days in Alaska. The camera did nearly everything I asked of it. A couple points I would like to point out. *I used firmware version 1.0 while on holiday, I now see version 1.1 is out, but does not appear to address any of the points I had issue with*
I got to work with the video more, and I had very bad luck getting it to focus. However I did notice if I ran the zoom out and THEN turned on the video, it seemed to be able to grab focus on the subjects much better. Again, doesn't make sense to me, but I will be interested in others that try it and if they have the same experience. I met several folks both traveling with us and at the places I visited that own the P500. Shared experiences with others and got some slick pointers from some too. Almost to the person the folks I interacted with were pleased to very pleased with this camera. Yes, we all shared some of the same gripes. One of the universal ones was the faux pas with a complete lack of filter attachment ability and the lens cap- power on/off.
In the still mode (non-video) this camera will pretty much do whatever you ask of it, IF you've studied the manual and played with it. I promise you that if you are putting it in "AUTO" and expecting it to figure everything out, you'll be disappointed. Experiment, learn the camera. It IS an amazing piece of technology.
I was using a grade 6 SD card today. That is the minimum Nikon recommends. It took approximately 13 seconds for the camera to process an HDR photo and a couple more seconds to write it to the card. Camera continues to show practically no lag time when taking standard shots. Only panoramas and HDR slow things down, with HDR certainly taking the longest. Nikon does have a progress bar that appears across the bottom so you don't think the camera is locked up.
While using full (or near full) zoom and in Auto mode, the camera did a fair amount of searching to focus on an item while in MACRO. Since my previous Lumix TZ5 was less than optimal in low light focusing, I am used to using either PROGRAM or Aperture priority on the Nikon to achieve focus on the intended target.
In what i consider "medium light" the camera refused to allow an aperture setting to maintain an narrow field of focus.
I'm certainly not down-grading my rating of the camera. I like it very much.
Just remember it is not a DSLR. In comparison it has a tiny sensor. There are always trade-offs. I am more convinced that this camera will suit my intended uses very well. The VR at extreme zoom still impresses me, as does the low light sensitivity and noise. Yes, there's noise, even at 560 ISO. It's not distracting however. Wait for the camera geeks to test and publish their data (i.e. dpreview.com) to get the hard statistics. My over all impression still stands and I'm glad I took a gamble and pre-ordered this camera and was on the initial round of deliveries from Amazon.
<ORIGINAL POST> I have had possession of my P500 for my second evening to this point.
I've gotten to "play" a bit with it and here are my impressions.
Is it "the perfect camera for everyone?" No.
I personally don't believe such an animal exists nor will likely ever. Important factors to one shooter may be a non-factor or possibly a negative to another.
What is important is for each individual consumer (or gift giver)is consider the features that are most important to you.
Quickly summarizing me and my trigger points:
1)Travel friendly; great for nature shots, scenics, wildlife, architecture and has video capabilities. Do a reasonable job of photographing people when I must.
Size wise, very similar form factor (though a bit smaller)than my previous coolpix 8700. (Though nearly 3 times as thick and heavier than it's immediate predecessor, Panasonic's Lumix TZ5) Unless you have large cargo pockets, this is NOT a pocket-able camera. I have large hands and I find it comfortable to work with with controls placed logically and well. I passed the camera to a female co-worker with small hands and she also felt comfortable handling it, though she didn't take any shots with it. Build quality seems very solid. Some anticipated usage? Panoramas (this one does nice ones very cleanly and simply in both vertical and horizontal directions. It does horizontal in two flavors, 180 and 360 degrees PLEASE NOTE: you can only do the panorama in full wide angle and can not be in any zoom at all ) Catching wildlife in both stills from great distance and capture in slo-motion. Macro shots of flora and fauna. Along with "conventional" shots of points of interest.
Under the USER function, you can set up frequently used settings rather than having to sift through menu options to change settings if you have certain effects you use regularly.
Some (a very few)of my shots appear to be slightly over exposed. Adjusting down .3 to .6 seems to please my eye more. It isn't in all shots and all situations, so let your eye be the judge.
The vibration reduction modes (there are two that minimize operator induced blur) seem to be very effective when taking still shots. Think what you're asking this one pound of engineering to do when you're extended out to an effective 800+mm zoom. Did every shot come out crystal clear? No. I had to cull out maybe every 5th or 6th photo. This was free handing it, using the sharp and clear, tilting 3" display and not the EVF, so it was away from my body and more prone to shake.
I haven't run my camera with ISO's over 800 to this point. I'll get out there and push it's limits more this weekend. So far the noise generated by the camera have been well within acceptable limits for me. I wish the aperture was a touch bigger, but at this price point there is always trade-offs. The wide angle is wide, yet not exhibiting fish-eying.
Color rendering seems to pretty good, though I have seen others photos where there were pretty obvious issues when compared to similar full size sensor DSLR photos. I haven't experienced them and what I did see, can be easily corrected with some doctoring in a photo manipulation program.
In the few videos I have shot, the camera's vibration reduction can't cancel all my shake at full or near full zoom. Again, this is all free hand, when I was more cautious or used the EVF, drawing the camera to my head and making for a more stable platform for shooting, things improved dramatically.
There is no ability to attach a filter on the lens nor is there a hot shoe. Regarding the filter, I wish I had the option to attach one if i wished, however it wasn't a deal breaker for me. I'm either shooting, or it's hanging down off my neck, on the ready or if I'm done shooting for a few, I snap the tethered lens cover on. Nikon is quiet clear that the cover must be removed before powering up the camera. The camera is very fast in being ready for the first shot. I don't have a stop watch but it's well under 1/2 second from OFF to ready to focus and shoot. There is virtually no lag time between shots unless the camera is stitching together and processing a panorama shot or a few other situations that are clearly outlined by Nikon and I haven't experimented with as of yet. Nikon wants you to use class 6 SD cards or faster, to keep camera write times down and ability to shoot quick.
My overall impression is very positive to this point. I wasn't expecting DSLR results in regards to picture quality and flexibility in various shooting conditions. This camera comes closer on both these aspects than I expected; and I'm carrying a LOT less gear and weight.
Nikon really should provide an external battery charger with the kit. In camera charging takes the camera out of use during the process. Otherwise the only other area I see they really missed the mark was by not adding threads to the lens barrel allowing filters/attachments.