A 60x zoom lens once sounded like a big deal. But now Nikon's gone much farther. The camera maker today (Mar. 1) announced the Coolpix P900, a $600, 16-megapixel camera with an astounding 83x optical zoom, with a full-frame equivalent focal range of 24-2000mm. The vast zoom range covers a host of shooting conditions, from big-group portraits to filling the frame with that elusive bird sitting in a distant tree. You can even try your hand at astrophotography with the P900’s ability to bring heavenly bodies in close. This easily tops the 60X Coolpix P610 that Nikon announced a few weeks back.
Naturally, the camera features lens-shift image stabilization to help prevent blurry photos — an especially important feature when shooting at telephoto ranges. To further keep the P900 steady in your hands, a Side Zoom Control button on the side of the lens makes it easier to smoothly zoom without camera shake. A combination of lens-shift and electronic (aka digital) image stabilization is available when shooting video.
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The P900 is equipped with a 3-inch vari-angle (tilt and rotate) LCD, which is convenient for shooting from low and overhead angles. The camera also has an electronic viewfinder, and an eye sensor allows it to automatically switch between LCD and EVF when you put the viewfinder up to your eye.
In addition to automatic and program exposure options, the P900 has a whopping 19 selectable scene modes for specific situations, such as backlighting, close-up, fireworks, landscape, and yes, pet portraits. Special Effects modes are available, too. For advanced photographers, aperture-priority, shutter-priority and full manual modes are a click of the mode dial away.
A variety of autofocus modes including face priority, manual (spot/normal/wide), subject tracking and target-finding autofocus are available, as well as several metering modes for more accurate exposure.
The P900 shoots full-HD video, and offers slow motion and timelapse options. Notably, when shooting video, the P900 uses its Zoom Microphone function to focus on sounds coming from the same distance that the lens is zoomed to. (This is not a new technology, but it's an important feature for a long-zoom camera.)
The P900 is pretty fast, too, and can shoot up to 7 frames per second. Using the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, you can beam images to mobile devices running Nikon’s Wireless Mobile Utility app for emailing or posting online. The P900's built-in GPS can geo-tag images for tracking your travels and picture taking on a map.
Available in black, the $600 Nikon P900 is slated to go on sale in April.
Model: Nikon Coolpix P900
Lens: 83x optical zoom (24-2000mm equivalent); f/2.8 (wide)-6.5 (telephoto) max apertures
Shots per second: 7
Sensor type: CMOS
Shutter speed range: 1/4000 sec – 15 sec
ISO range: 100-6400 native; expandable to 12,800
Main video resolutions/frame rates: 1920 x 1080 at 60, 50, 30, 25 fps; 1280 x 720 at 60, 50, 30, 25 fps;
High speed 1280 x 720 for slow-mo playback at 60 or 50 fps; HS 1920 x 1080 for 15 or 12.5 fps.
Video file format: MOV
Built-in Flash: Yes
Hot shoe: No
LCD: 3-inch vari-angle
Card type: SD/SDHC/SDXC
Ports: high speed USB, HDMI micro connector
Shots per charge (CIPA standard): 360 stills; 1 hour 20 minutes video
Wireless capabilities: WiFi; NFC; GPS
Image stabilization: lens shift (stills); lens shift and electronic (movies)
Dimensions and weight: 5.5 x 4.1 x 5.5 inches; approx. 2 pounds
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Writer and photographer Theano Nikitas has been covering photography for almost 20 years and has reviewed hundreds of digital cameras as well as other digital imaging hardware and software. Follow her @TNikitas1 and on Google+. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.