The latest bridge camera, the Nikon Coolpix P950, was unveiled at the start of 2020. It offers an incredible 24-2000mm (equivalent) focal length, the same as its predecessor, the P900, thanks to its 83x optical zoom.
Its focal length makes it one of the longest zoom lenses available for bridge cameras, albeit it falls short of the much longer Nikon P1000 camera’s 3000mm (equivalent) offering.
The 16 megapixel 1/2.3-inch sensor is also unchanged from its predecessor, although there have been some enhancements, such as a better 2.4 million dot electronic viewfinder and 4K video capture. From the previous version of the camera, up to 7fps shooting, support for the raw format, and a native ISO range that tops out at ISO 6400 all remain.
The Nikon P950 is a relatively substantial offering by bridge camera standards. In fact, at first appearance, you’d be excused for thinking it was a DSLR. It has the same capabilities as a DSLR and a backpack full of lenses, but for people who prefer to travel lightly, it still makes sense to use this sort of camera.
Very nothing on the appearance of the camera has changed for those who already had a P900 camera. The front of the camera has a substantial grip, and much of it has a rough covering that adds to the sense of excellent quality.
If you think the Nikon Coolpix P950 is large, wait till you expand the zoom lens; there is very little possibility you will be able to use it discreetly. Yet, if zoom is particularly essential to you—as it is for nature photographers—you will probably be content to think of the camera’s imbalanced design as a worthwhile tradeoff.
The shutter release button and one of two ways to zoom in and out are located at the top of the camera’s handle. To convert from the wide-angle to the telephoto end of the lens, utilize the switch on the left side of the lens, if you’d like.
When the lens is fully extended, tracking a subject might be challenging, especially if the subject is moving. A button on the side of the lens is particularly helpful in this regard. Holding it down will cause the lens to zoom out, allowing you to move your subject. When you let off of the button, the lens will zoom back to its most stretched setting.
Depending on the topic you’re photographing, you may change this option to zoom out slightly, moderately, or completely. For instance, it would probably be easier to have the camera zoom out somewhat rather than all the way out if you were photographing a distant but rather still animal. But, you could be better off using the full zoom out option if the thing is moving considerably quicker, like a bird.
On the side of the lens, there is a little dial that may be used to set different controls, depending on what you would want rapid access to. It will regulate exposure compensation by default, but if you’d rather, you may switch it to ISO, white balance, shutter speed, or aperture. However, if you find yourself prone to bumping the dial, you might decide to deactivate it entirely.
The Nikon P950 has a mode dial on the top panel that you may use to select the exposure setting you want to use. The usual P/A/S/M choices are available, along with completely automated, scene, creative control, birdwatching mode, night mode, and a slot that enables users to save a specific set of settings — useful if you frequently photograph a certain kind of scenario. A secondary dial that regulates shutter speed while shooting in manual mode or shutter priority is also located on the top panel.
As you turn the Nikon Coolpix P950 around, you’ll see a rather recognizable set of buttons, especially if you’ve already used one of Nikon’s bridge cameras. You can alter settings with just your thumb because all of the controls are clustered together on the right side of the camera. It’s not exactly the kind of camera you want to use one-handedly, but given how big it is, it’s wonderful to be able to use your second hand for stabilizing the camera.
A playback button, a video record button, an exposure compensation button, and a delete button are among the buttons on the rear. Moreover, there is a menu button that opens a main menu with a fair amount of options. Perhaps since there aren’t as many options here as there are on a Nikon DSLR, there isn’t a fast menu for often used settings. When you wish to change the focus point across the screen to meet your topic, there is an OK button that is helpful.
Moreover, there are controls for turning on and off the electronic viewfinder as well as enabling exposure and Focus lock. Moreover, the viewfinder has a sensor that, when activated when you raise the camera to your eye, will turn on automatically.
A select few enhancements have been made to the Nikon P950 over the P900, including the viewfinder. Its 921k-dot predecessor had a resolution of 2359k dots, more than twice as much. With a brighter and clearer perspective of the scene, the redesigned viewfinder is significantly more pleasurable to use. This is something that could just persuade you to choose the P900 over the more costly P950 if you’re someone who frequently utilizes a viewfinder.
A 3.2-inch articulating screen with 921k dots joins the viewfinder and is somewhat bigger while maintaining the same quality as its predecessor (3.2-inches, compared to 3.0). It seems strange that a touch-sensitive screen has not yet made an appearance on the market in 2020, and it would be disappointing to miss this advancement over the previous design. Even so, it’s convenient to be able to set the screen whatever you wish. This is especially useful for selfies and video recording. It’s also advantageous to have the option of turning the screen inwards to shield it while moving.
In comparison to the previous generation, battery life has somewhat decreased; it now offers 290 photos per charge as opposed to 360. This may be due to the new better resolution viewfinder, but it’s important to keep in mind that this is only the official rating and that you’ll probably get much more usage out of it in practice. We discovered that with normal use, it could easily last a whole day. There is USB charging available, which is great for fast power bursts when traveling and eliminates the need to bring an extra external battery charger.
There is only one SD UHS-I memory card slot on the Nikon Coolpix P950. To increase the frame rate beyond the 7fps supplied, it could have been good to have some UHS-II support here.
Focusing rates are swift and, generally speaking, accurate in excellent lighting. Sometimes there is some back and forth before the lens latches onto the object in low light. Seldom does a false confirmation of focus appear in such circumstances, but occasionally the lens fails to reach the desired location entirely.
The 16 megapixel Fine JPEG preset, which results in an average image size of about 7Mb, was used to capture all of the sample photographs included in this study.
The Nikon Coolpix P950 employs the same sensor and lens setup as its predecessor, the P900, so we weren’t expecting any surprises in terms of image quality.
This results in visuals that are pleasingly vivid and realistic to a fair extent. The greatest results may be observed while shooting in bright light, as we could anticipate from a tiny sensor.
The Nikon P950 has been improved by adding support for raw format recording. This gives you greater freedom to edit photos after the fact, which is probably good news for avid photographers.
As we’ve seen before, when seeing photos straight out of the camera at standard web or printer sizes, they give off an overall positive sense of detail (A4 or below). Even at very low or mid-range ISOs, such ISO 400, it is possible to discern some evidence of picture smoothing when viewing photographs at 100%, although it only becomes really noticeable at standard viewing sizes from ISO 800 onward.
For the finest image quality, it’s ideal to stay below ISO 3200, or even ISO 1600 if it’s at all feasible. The aperture opens up as quickly as f/2.8 at the wide-angle end of the lens, which is good news for keeping ISO settings as low as possible.
It’s crucial to talk about the zoom’s performance because it has an optical zoom range of up to 83x. The major issue is that, because the aperture narrows to f/6.3 at the farthest reach, poor lighting conditions may result in noticeable picture quality degradation, even at fairly modest sizes.
On the plus side, picture stabilization performs a respectable job of preventing blur in the majority of shots. With 83x available, it’s questionable if you even need the digital zoom, which is why we’d definitely advise against using it.
The general-purpose metering option often performs a decent job of creating exposures that are well-balanced. Being able to adjust highlights and shadows in post-production is a good feature now that it is possible to shoot in raw format, in case a high-contrast scene throws things off. A little amount of exposure adjustment may be dialed in to help enliven certain flat scenes for photographers who want to get it right in-camera.
Like previously, automated white balance does a great job of creating correct colors in a range of lighting situations. Although there are precise white balance settings available, you might not find much use for them—especially now that raw format photography is supported.
For both JPEG and Raw file types, the Nikon Coolpix P950 provides 7 sensitivity levels at full resolution, ranging from ISO 100 to ISO 6400.
The Nikon Coolpix P950 has seen comparatively few improvements when compared to its predecessor, the P900, at first glance. The inclusion of 4K video recording and the capacity to shoot in raw format, though, are at least two of those changes that are significant. The former was one of the P900’s most regrettable omissions and is especially significant for hobbyist photographers.
If you don’t frequently capture movies, 4K might not be as crucial to you, but it’s still a good idea to have it available for family films and travel/holiday recordings.
A higher viewfinder resolution represents a further advancement. The viewfinder is now much more enjoyable to use, which will be hailed by fans once again.
However it would have been nice to see some further advancements made elsewhere. While significantly bigger than its predecessor, the screen is still not touch-sensitive. A strange choice in 2015, and a perplexing choice in 2020. To help the Nikon P950 compete with other bridge cameras on the market, such as the Sony RX10 series and the Panasonic FZ2000, we’d also want to see some improved quick shooting choices.
The Nikon Coolpix P950 retails for roughly £799 at the time of writing, making it a very significant purchase. At £449, its predecessor is still available for roughly half the cost. Given that the lens and sensor are still the same, it is important to think about whether you truly require the more recent model. The older model will save you a significant amount of money if you don’t mind giving up 4K video and raw format photography.