Customer Review

375 of 395 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Camera, But Not Great, April 19, 2013
This review is from: Nikon COOLPIX P520 18.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 42x Zoom Lens and Full HD 1080p Video (Red) (OLD MODEL) (Electronics)
Review of Nikon Coolpix P520 by Nat Napoletano

Everything is relative so I will be comparing Nikon's Coolpix P250 to its main competitor the Canon SX50 (they sell for the same price).


Under ideal conditions, the 18.1 megapixel Nikon creates images with higher resolution than the Canon. My images shot at a resolution chart showed that the Nikon had a real resolution of about 12 megapixels (18.1 advertized) and the cannon resolved about 9 megapixels (12 advertized). But under actual conditions, in daylight, they both perform about the same because the Canon has a much better lens. When zoomed or at in high contrast situations, the Nikon makes larger files that are not as clear and sharp as the Canon and have some purple fringing around the edges when blown up.

The image sensor in the Nikon is a newer technology and really does perform much better in low light.

Nikon has a timer feature that I have found on no other camera. You can set it up to start snapping pictures every 30 seconds, or 1 minute or 5 minutes. This is very cool, you can set it on a tripod and take nature shots all night waiting for a deer to come eat your corn, or you can put together a time laps movie from the frames, or set it up to catch violators in the act. The possibilities are huge! Other cameras, including the Canon, won't do this. (and it would have been so easy in their software)

The viewing screen is big and bright. The best I've seen and much better than the Canon.

Nikon has a built in GPS. I didn't test it; I'll never use it. Canon doesn't have this feature.


The Nikon has focus problems when using the self timer and in movie mode. If you start the movie recording, and then step in front of the camera, it mostly focuses on the back wall and your face is fuzzy. The camera never seems to recover. This is very bad (come on Nikon). I have tried every combination of focus modes. Face detect doesn't seem to work after the movie is recording. I never had a camera this bad. You are forced to use manual focus. This problem does not affect traditional movie recording, focus works fine when you are behind the camera shooting a subject in front of you.

In order to use Nikon's electronic viewfinder, you need to fold and tuck the flip out screen. This is a big nuisance on a sunny day going back and forth. Every other camera in the world changes displays using the display button; the Canon does. (and it would have been so easy to implement in Nikon's software, the button is already there)

The Nikon camera feels cheap. The lens rattles (but doesn't exhibit any problems) and the flip screen doesn't lock in place. The Canon feels solid as a rock.

The charging system that ships with the Nikon uses a cable that charges the battery in the camera. This is a nuisance and I don't need another charging unit with a cord to get tangled in the drawer. So you have to fork out another $30 or$ 40 for a charger and spare battery. The Canon ships with a nice charger that plugs into the wall and holds the battery.

All outdoor images are slightly overexposed. This can be corrected by bumping down the aperture 2 stops when shooting, but what was Nikon thinking. The Canon is right on the mark.


The Canon super zoom is much more powerful, 50X vs 42X. The Canon lens is truly remarkable. You can photograph the moons of Jupiter on a clear night. I tested it next to the Nikon on distant road signs and you could read text from a mile away using the Canon. There was no comparison. The Nikon doesn't have the range and the image was a little fuzzy at the longest extent compared Canon's superior optics.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 1, 2013 10:44:29 PM PDT
I haven't even received the camera yet and yet I feel that you are reviewing the wrong camera.


The P520 has 18.1 MP, not the 16 you state which throws the credibility for the claimed 12 you say it actually has out the window. Not only that but the zoom is not 41x either it is 42x. I doubt at this point you have even used the camera.

The lens rattles due to the feature that compensates for lack of a steady hand.

Self home movies is just weird. If you purchased the camera for making movies for a dating profile then you should be upset.


You obviously love Canon so much that you felt compelled to trash a camera that I have severe doubts of you even using. I would say that I have spent more time with the camera on display at the department stores than you have had time with it. If you want to write a review even to trash a product at least get the product information correct. Nikon COOLPIX P520 18.1 MP Digital Camera with 42x Zoom (Red)

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2013 11:24:49 AM PDT
I certainly own the Nikon P520, and had the Canon SX50 on purchase from Best Buy to be returned. I tested both cameras using an accurate test tool, a resolution chart at a fixed distance. Please educate yourself on how this simple test is performed. It's typical for equipment to perform below a manufacturers claimed specifications; both cameras were below spec. This whole megapixel competition in cameras has become a game, and that's why I test. The Rayleigh criterion is the most dependable definition of limiting resolution for real world optics, camera sellers can use other methods that make their products seem better.

I'll correct the 41/42 X zoom error.

Your comments about my motives are off the mark and your personal slur is uncalled for.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 21, 2013 8:57:47 PM PDT
Great review, thanks!

Posted on Jul 21, 2013 12:20:21 AM PDT
Hey thanks for the review. I have a few questions. I'm looking for a camera(actually will be getting 3 of the same) for a studio interview room setup. Both camera's seem to be able to get the job done but I'm wondering how well each one outputs video through the HDMI. Will they output 1080 quality that I can bypass recording to the cam itself and essentially capture video from an HDMI switch. Also how long are the batteries good for? And if recording to a card what are the record times? I could definitely utilize the zoom for field use but my first priority is getting a good quality picture up close. This is somewhat a new endeavor and money is limited so any suggestions for these or any other cameras I would greatly appreciate.


Posted on Aug 29, 2013 5:17:47 PM PDT
Viggi says:
This was exactly what I was looking for. I do not have enough words to thank you. Thanks a million. My decision is made. Cannon SX50 HS.

I looked at the pics, and realized that Canon has better shots. But still its almost 6 months older to the Nikon, so maybe not many have posted their pics. But this does it. I did go physically to the shop to take pics and at that time the Nikon really felt good enough to match or in my little sisters opinion exceed the cannon. So that is what put me into another research loop.

But this is re assuring enough for me to go ahead with the Canon.

Thanks once again

Posted on Sep 2, 2013 11:48:25 AM PDT
I am so wanting the anon SX50, but want higher MPs...that is why I even came here in the first place. Please Canon, give the SX500 a viewfinder or up the MPs on the SX50! ...grrr...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2014 2:37:27 PM PST
V. Ramirez says:
What do you think of this camera now that you own it?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 28, 2014 9:04:50 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 28, 2014 9:06:52 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 28, 2014 9:05:09 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 28, 2014 9:05:39 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 28, 2014 9:07:14 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 28, 2014 9:07:29 AM PST
Botany414 says:
Classy comeback Nat! And good review.
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