Top critical review
340 people found this helpful
Pretty good but not 'great'. 24mm-1,000mm lens, Wi-Fi & GPS but no RAW.
on February 25, 2013
For the price, this is a good camera. Not a "great" camera, but a fairly good one. I would consider it high end for the average consumer, with features superior to other point-and-shoots in its price range: Wi-fi capable (ability to connect to iOS and Android devices for viewing/sharing your photos and videos via the optional WU-1a adapter), built-in GPS (to geotag your photos), 18MP CMOS sensor, a zoom lens with incredible focal range (24mm-1,000mm), and 1080 HD video. For the price, that's a nice set-up, a camera with advanced features with a decent ease-of-use, requiring little knowledge of photographic techniques.
Many of us, however, want to go beyond 'picture-taking' and seek an advanced camera that is not in an advanced price range. And this is where the P520 is attractive but, ultimately, falls a bit short of our desires. For example, there's no RAW: your images are captured in JPEG only. There's a decent pop-up flash but no hot shoe. Also, the impressive zoom is not so impressive with regard to its speed, either its lens speed (f/3.0-5.9) or autofocus speed (fairly slow but not quite horrible). However, it is a nice, glass, Nikkor lens; and, to be fair, it would be quite a feat to bring such a long zoom well under f/3, given the price range. Personally, I would have traded focal length for speed: yes, it's impressive to go out to 1000mm, but I would have taken 800mm with an f/2.8-5.0 lens; though Nikon has built-in stabilization features for both photos and video (called 'Active VR mode' for video), you're not going to do hand-held shots at that 1000mm focal length, especially video.
Other aspects of the camera will please everyone: full manual exposure control along with multiple auto/semi-auto exposure modes, a nice and large tilting Vari-Angle LCD monitor, an excellent CMOS sensor (1/2.3 in.), and a nice weight and feel to the body. This last point is what drew me to the 520 in the first place: I just bought a P310 and although I love it, especially for its small size and portability (shirt pocket), I cannot get used to shooting outdoors with such a small camera. The 520 is just perfect; that solid DSLR feel but with a modest weight (20 ounces).
Yes, I wish the P520 had a few more pro-like features and wasn't so extreme in its focal length, but this is a very good camera overall. I'm giving it 3 stars for the reasons stated above. However, if you're someone not interested in advanced photography and just want a very nice camera with higher-end consumer features, this is a borderline 4-star camera and not bad for the price.