Customer Reviews: Nikon COOLPIX P520 18.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 42x Zoom Lens and Full HD 1080p Video (Black) (OLD MODEL)
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on April 19, 2013
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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on August 20, 2013
Did a lot of research and read reviews as well as YouTube about this camera. Mostly very good comments.

Now that I have used this camera for a couple weeks I can say that I made a good decision in purchasing it.
I get all the manual control that I had on my old SLR camera,but with this camera it is a lot easier to use and do the the manual settings that I like.
One feature I wished it had is Stop Down Metering, I have found no camera of this type that offers this feature either so I didn't mark it down for this.

My pictures are very good and the video (which was not the reason I bought this camera) works great even at max zoom of 1000mm which allowed me to get fantastic videos at a recent outdoor concert, as long as I had good lighting the focusing worked great and was pretty fast.
The zoom works good and very smooth, the VR (Vibration Reduction) works way better than I imagined at the long Zoom range.

I have read some folks wished there was a button to switch between the EVF and the main viewing screen but I like the fact that when I fold the large view screen flat in it's storage area the EVF comes on automatically and when I unfold the large viewing screen it comes on automatically so I have no extra buttons to push.

I was concerned about the focusing of this camera as some have mentioned in that it sometimes will not focus sharply.
Now that I have this camera and am using it I have found that if I press down the shutter quickly I will sometimes get out of focus photos, but when I press the shutter button part way down (or maybe slowly) the camera has more time to get the correct focus?
I have found this seems to be the best method for sharp photos and I have not had any problems since.
The Nikon P520 menu system only took me about an hour to make all the settings that I prefer to use which I felt was very easy.

Most of all I really like the looks of this camera, it feels great in my hands, very comfortable and not too heavy.
The battery last longer than what I was expecting even with using fill flash for many of my sunny outdoor photos, so I can't complain about the battery life.

Comes with everything needed to copy photos from the camera to the PC and charging the battery.
Same cord that I use to charge the camera battery also copies the photos to the PC as you can remove the AC connector and use the USB end to connect to the PC.

The only gripe I have is that there are no threads in the lens barrel to attach a filter to protect the lens glass, for a camera of this type that should be a no brainer.

I have ordered a slip on adapter kit for this camera that is threaded at one end for adding filters (the kit also comes with 3 filters), I will see how this works and report on this later.

All in all I am enjoying taking photos with this camera, I find myself looking for any reason to go out picture taking, this camera is really fun and I highly recommend it. The price was very fair on Amazon.

I received the lens adapter with 3 filters and one of them being a polarizing filter.
The adapter is a hard plastic and slips over the outside of the camera lens barrel, fits nice and tight.
There is a small recess in the adapter so that it will only let you push the adapter on to the camera lens just a 1/4 inch so this is really nice and very easy to put on the camera lens, feels very snug and firm.
The adapter is threaded on one end where you would screw on the filters, this feels really secure and works well.
So I can say that I'm very happy with the lens adapter and the filters it comes with. So far so good.
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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.
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on December 9, 2013
Ill start by saying I really dont know much about Cameras. Im just the average Husband whos Wife has been saying for the last couple years that she would love a new Camera. So this Christmas Ive decided to take the jump and buy her this Nikon P520. Now I sat here like most of you are doing reading reviews and after about an hour I realized I still didnt know anything. It seems like a good Camera but then there are the bad reviews also. So I decided to contact an Old Friend that I hadnt spoken to in years who actually is a pretty well knowledged person at one of the Top Camera Companies that you see all the time. After sending him the link to this camera we went back and forth and he explained all the bells and whistles that this Camera had and also explained the pros and cons. What I came to realize after a couple days and alot of emails was I still really didnt know much about this Camera. So I left him with 2 last questions. 1) Is this Camera worth the money and 2) Is this Camera a Camera that you yourself with all your Camera Knowledge would actually purchase and enjoy. His answer to both of those questions was a very strong YES. Now thats what I needed. I just wanted to hear from someone who knew all the bells and whistles that it would be a Camera he would trust to take the pictures of his life. So I bought this Camera and without going on and on anymore then I already have I can tell you it was the best decision Ive made in a long time. Of course I gave it to her early so by Christmas we would know what we were doing. The pictures are Vivid and Vibrant. 2 words Ive never used in my life. Its easy enough to use for a guy like me but at the same time is capable of keeping the avid photographer happy with all the things its capable of doing. So after all this I would say yes, buy this Camera. We havent had one issue with it at all and it really seems like we made a good choice. Hope this helps the average Camera Buyer a little more then all the other head spinning reviews I sat and read for Hours.
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on June 9, 2013
I use both a Nikon D80 and a D3, as well as a Nikon FE (film). But, when I go on trips and I am concerned about getting a picture quick I only take my Coolpix P520. The controls and capabilities on this camera have produced some marvelous pictures. And, rather than trying to figure which lens to use and changing out lens, I am able to take the fleeting picture. Sure the Coolpix P520 isn't my Nikon D3. But, it certainly does take some very pleasing pictures. In fact,one of my pictures taken by the Coolpix P520 that was posted on line was even chosen as a "favorite" by a professional photographer. To say the least he was quite surprised when he noticed what camera I used. Sure the Coolpix P520 has its limits when you compare it to a DSLR like my D3. But, as is said: "There is a time and place for everything" - even in photography.
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on July 20, 2013
This camera has been perfect for me. I'm just an everyday user and the camera is easy to figure out, and takes good quality zoom pictures.

The camera is lightweight. The zoom lens is integrated, unlike the DSLRs that have removable, heavy, lenses. This also means there's less chance of dirt or moisture getting in there. The lens is versatile and I'm loving the 42x zoom.

I like that you can flip and tilt the LCD viewing screen. You can flip the screen out and turn it all the way around so the person being videotaped can see themselves. You can also hold the camera high above your head, or way off to the side, and tilt the screen so you can still see the subject of your photo/video. I like that you can fully close the LCD facing the camera to protect it, or close and keep the LCD facing outwards - whatever your preference. I put a clear protective film on my LCD screen.

I didn't realize the camera doesn't come with a battery charger! Duh! You have to plug the camera into an outlet to charge the battery inside. Make sure you buy a charger with at least a couple of extra batteries.

I was very confused that this and other comparable cameras didn't have Image Stabilization, especially with such a powerful zoom lens. I finally figured out that this camera has something called "VR" Vibration Reduction) which seems to be the same thing.

I love the red color. It's beautiful.
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on August 12, 2013
The Nikon COOLPIX P520 looks like a great camera, and based on the reviews I decided to buy it. It did not take perfectly clear pictures but the camera was complex enough that I thought that it was my problem. I bought the Photographer's Guide to the Nikon Coolpix P520 by Alexander S. White and I would recommend it as useful to anyone who buys this camera.

However, even after working with the manual, trying different settings, autofocus, program, different focus patterns, manual focus, etc. the camera still did not take crisp, clear pictures. It was a disappointment. I did note though that the video camera function seemed to work quite well and actually focus better than the still picture mode.

I was able to use a software program and sharpen the pictures and improve them, but they still were not crystal clear. I compared them to an older Fuji Finepix that I have that is 6MP and has a total 19X zoom. Most of the time whatever it can physically include in its field it can take pictures of clearly. And the macro is very good, better than this Nikon 520. Speaking of the 18.1 MP rating of the Nikon, I have found that 6MP make very clear prints on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of photography paper and don't see the need for such high MP values.

I'm not saying I'm the final word on this camera. There are many that like this camera, and have had success with it. I returned mine and wanted to share this experience since others' reviews have been useful to me.
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on July 8, 2013
Took this camera to Europe and it did an awesome job. Took pictures in low light in cathedrals and at night and all turned out well. Daytime pictures could be controlled with manual exposures, etc. The close ups were sharp and clear despite some shakiness on my part. The battery lasted a day and I was impressed that the camera would go into standby mode or turn itself off if not being used. Love everything about this camera!
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on September 25, 2013
I was in the market for a new digital camera and started out looking at entry level SLR's but after reading great reviews about the Canon Rebel T3i, I got to thinking about searching for camera that have some of the benefits but that are present in a mega zoom camera. My last three camera's are all Panasonic Lumix's and I was looking there but did not see the sense in going from a 20 optical zoom to a 24. So I narrowed it down to the Canon Sx50 based on reviews and youtube videos.

Well after doing my diligent research on the web, starting here of course, I always go into local stores and test drive these babies to see how I feel about it, and although the Canon is a great camera, it's not like I really needed a new camera, I just wanted one. I stumbled into HHGregg and while looking, I noticed the Nikon and thought.... thats a real low price for that type of camera.

It looks a lot like the Canon with the pivoting swing out LCD screen but it was priced like $160 less than it sells for. Someone had mis-priced it on the floor. I had not heard of the camera before and knew nothing about it. So once the manager agreed to sell it to me for the incorrect price, I got comfortable, whipped out my cell phone and came here and started reading reviews. YES, I still needed to do my research. I purchased the camera! Here is my take after having it for a couple of days:

- Great pics
- Has wi-fi enabled feature (that's next for me to try out once I get the adapter) It only works on Apple and Android phones I have read.
- Has GPS (although I opted not to turn that on to save battery life, but I guess I should test it)
- Great feel with the rubber handle grip. I found it very sturdy.
- I love the LCD flip out monitor. You can do so many things with it, and it's only available in a few models in this price range.
- Similar to the Canon Sx50 but cheaper

- It is not a out the box point n shoot camera. I had to tweak it in the "P" mode and selected AF-F (Full-time AF) to get clearer pics on zoom (Thx for great customer service Nikon)
- It makes more noise when engaging the zoom than I like. I was told by CS to return it for an exchange and I plan to do that tomorrow. However, I'm not sure if this is just the way they are. Will see....
- It is not a clear shot camera, you will need to wait a sec for it to autofocus which can cost you quick shots in a pinch or pics maybe being fuzzy.

That being said, it is still a great camera, especially since I got it new at such a reduced amount due to in-store pricing error. I didn't want to pay the $450 in the store for the Canon and with the mispriced Nikon since I did not have to. It does not have the same extended zoom as the Canon camera but long is never enough, if you can get longer I guess. ( sells the Canon for $369 right now. )

I've taken some really awesome pics both indoors and outside, but price being equal, I would suggest the Canon Sx50 at $369 here on Amazon because I think it takes better pics without the tinkering and has more versatility with a better zoom,( has a horse shoe and it takes pics in Raw. Not that I would actually use those features).

Finally, shop around if paying more is going bug you when you find out later. Right now here on Amazon the Nikon sells for $376.

P.S. I don't know if anyone has tried the Eye-Fi wireless sd cards, this might work in the Canon, which would bridge that whole wireless feature gap.

SD Card Tip: if you have a SD card laying around the house, do yourself a favor and Format it before you use it. When I put my old SanDiskHC 4 GB size card into the Nikon it showed that I only could take 91 pics before formatting, then after formatting it, it went up to like 3,000 or something. Lol

These are the SD cards Nikon recommends
SD memory card--- SDHC memory card 2--- SDXC memory card 3
SanDisk 2 GB 1 /4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB /64 GB, 128 GB
TOSHIBA 2 GB 1 /4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB /64 GB
Panasonic /2 GB 1 4 GB, 8 GB,16 /GB, 32 GB 64 GB
Lexar -- /4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB /64GB, 128GB
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on August 17, 2013
My Nikon P520, Firmware Version 1.0, will be returned for credit first thing in the morning --

After shooting over 1,500 images, I have had it with this camera!
I have owned several other Nikon and Kodak digital cameras that worked much better than this one...

What Nikon did well on the P520:
Low-light performance.

What Nikon needs to work on IMMEDIATELY:
Autofocus: Often fuzzy, almost always slow, somewhat unpredictable, sometimes balky.

Frequent Software Lockups: The P520 will lock up frequently when in use, often when "just sitting" there between shots. In these situations, no combination of controls including Power On/Off will unlock -- you must open the battery door, and physically remove and replace the battery.

Short Battery Life: The P520 will unpredictably, and very quickly, run out of power; and IT CANNOT BE RECHARGED WHILE POWERED ON. This means that any sort of time-lapse photography is out of the question. Nikon must come up with better power-management software, and/or higher-capacity batteries -- and provide for live charging.

Ergonomics: The method of switching display between the LED and the eyepiece is clumsy at best.
The menus are also seriously in need of work!

Outdoor overexposure: The P520 does not handle daylight well, and even with flash does not handle backlit scenes as well as my other Nikons, or Kodaks.

The GPS: Software is flaky and hard to manage -- this feature set must be reworked.

Will I try another Nikon soon?

I suppose so -- but this one really leaves me wondering if the Nikon people care about the quality of their software!

Come on Nikon, step up to making a quality product before you release it to the consumers!
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