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CNET First Look
Nikon Coolpix P500The Nikon Coolpix P500 aims to be the ultimate full-size megazoom with a ludicrous 36x zoom lens and high-speed performance.
-Hi. I'm Josh Goldman, Senior Editor for CNET, and this is a first look at the Nikon Coolpix P500. And when it comes to selling cameras, megapixels have taken a backseat to zoom lenses and you can look at the P500 as proof. Competitors have bumped up their resolutions to 14-- 16 megapixels, but the P500 stays in a fairly same 12 megapixels. A zoom lens, on the other hand, goes from an ultra-wide angle, 22.5 mm to 810 mm or 36X. That's pretty insane given its very compact size and $7400 price tag. Compared to its predecessor, the P100, that's significantly wider and longer. Unfortunately, its maximum aperture is slow at f/3.4 and at the telephoto end, it's f/5.7. I guess it's a good thing then that it has a high-sensitivity CMOS sensor in it which should provide you with better results when you're fully zoomed out or when you're trying to shoot indoors or in dark conditions. Its shooting performance should be pretty fast too; but since this is a pre-production camera we're looking at, I couldn't make any determinations of that or its photo or video quality. So, since I can't talk about that stuff, let's take a quick tour of what else you get besides that wide, long lens. On the back is a high-resolution 3-inch articulating LCD that folds in and out from the body, an electronic viewfinder, some basic navigation and setting controls, and a one-press record button for your movies. You can shoot in full HD at 30 frames per second as well as small high-speed clips at 240 frames per second. On top, you've got a stereo mic and a pop-up flash. No hot shoe for accessories though. The shooting mode dial is nice and big and you get manual and semi-manual shooting modes. There's a thumbwheel here on the back to make fast changes to shutter speed with aperture. So far, the design is a lot like the P100 but there are two exceptions. Right here on top next to the shutter release is a button for quickly changing burst shooting modes, and then on the left side of the lens barrel is a zoom lever that can be used for steadier zooming while shooting video, for manually focusing the lens, or for snapping back the zoom lens to help with framing. There are some new shooting modes too similar that was found on Nikon's S8100 compact megazoom that take advantage of the camera's speed and low light performance. All in all, it looks like a nice camera but, hopefully, its photo quality is improved from the P100 which is one of that camera's weak spots. I'll let you know as soon as we get our hands on a production camera for a full review. I'm Josh Goldman and that's a look at the Nikon P500.