With the scarcity of news for point-and-shoot cameras, the Nikon P950 has become the remaining category that smartphones cannot touch: superzoom. The P950 has an 83-fold, 24-2,000mm equivalent lens that can capture objects that are not visible to the naked eye.
“The Nikon P950’s 83x zoom lens can capture excellent details, but sometimes performance is degraded.”
- 83x zoom lens.
- Bright f/2.8 aperture wide-angle.
- Macro mode.
- Exposure compensation dial.
- Easy-to-use auto modes.
- Slow buffer.
- Ocassional autofocus misses.
- Annoying battery life indicator
The updated version of P950 adds 4K video and RAW photos, which are two new features that advanced photographers will like. Despite these updates, the P950 still performs well in auto mode for inexperienced shooters, and the new exposure compensation control on the lens barrel allows basic brightness adjustments that anyone can use, even if you don’t understand how exposure works.
Sensor: 16.0MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS
Image processor: Expeed (unspecified)
AF: contrast detection
ISO range: 100 to 6400
Viewfinder: 0.39 inches, 2359k dot OLED
Metering mode: matrix, center-weighted metering, spot metering
Video: 4K UHD up to 30fps, 1080p FullHD up to 60fps
LCD: 3.2-inch variable-angle touch screen, 921,000 dots
Lens: 83x optical zoom, 4.3-357mm (equivalent to 24-200mm), f/2.8-6.5
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, Bluetooth LE, USB Micro, Micro HDMI
Dimensions: 140.2 x 109.6 x 149.8 mm
Weight: 1005g (including battery and SD card)
Nikon P950 Design
There is no doubt that the body of the Nikon P950 is dominated by the 83x zoom lens. The lens is so large that you can feel the weight of the camera move forward as it extends. The P950 weighs 35.5 ounces and has the weight of an SLR camera but the lens is smaller.
We can still manage to carry the camera for 5 miles without feeling very uncomfortable. Unlike digital SLR cameras, we don’t need to drag multiple lenses to capture wide-angle and telephoto lenses.
The shape of the fuselage imitates DSLR, which means that the P950 has a large and comfortable grip, ample physical control devices, and a hot shoe slot on the top. The control scheme is similar to the P900, with a mode dial and control wheel in the upper right corner, followed by familiar menu controls.
Although the controls have enough space, senior photographers will have to do more menu digging. In any manual mode, ISO is adjusted quite frequently, it is not among the quick options.
The lens barrel is so large that it has its own controls. The zoom toggle switch provides another way to zoom in with the left hand, while a button pulls the zoom back, allowing you to recompose the picture.
The new function of P950 is the exposure compensation wheel at the lens barrel. This is one of our favorite controls, right where our left hand supports the weight of the camera and can be easily accessed to lighten or darken the photo.
The P950 is also equipped with an electronic viewfinder of 2.36 million pixels. Such a large zoom is almost indispensable in the viewfinder because supporting the camera with a face is much more stable than maintaining a certain distance when using an LCD screen.
The diagonal size of the screen is 3.2 inches, but it is a bit unusual for 2020, it is not a touch screen. The resolution of the viewfinder and the screen are good, but the price is enough.
The battery can take 290 photos, enough for hiking and bird watching. If you plan to carry the camera on a long journey, you will definitely need a spare. The battery indicator also has only two notches-full and half. This is annoying because you don’t know if there are 150 photos or 10 photos.
Nikon P950 Performance
The function of taking RAW photos is a new feature of P950. However, although there are more ways for experienced photographers to control the lens, the camera’s built-in auto mode performs well.
Combined with the exposure compensation dial on the side of the lens barrel bird-watching mode, this mode allows almost anyone to capture high-quality photos of wild animals and plants 90% of the time.
Sometimes we need to switch to shutter priority mode and control the settings so that zooming for a long time will not cause blur, and the camera does not know that it will perform automatically, which is a bit annoying. However, P950 can easily become an effective tool for bird watchers who have almost zero photography knowledge.
Despite the addition of RAW files, the P950 is still a camera designed primarily for casual photographers. Manual settings are restricted. If you want to be faster than 1/2000 second or slower than 1 second, you must set the lens to a certain position, set the ISO to a certain setting, and cannot be in continuous shooting mode.
The camera performs well in slow or still wild environments, but shooting animals in motion is more like nonsense. Between slow autofocus and just trying to keep the subject in the frame, the action lens lost more than the holder.
The P950 can shoot at a speed of 7 fps, which is quite impressive among similar products, but before the buffer is filled, only 10 photos can be processed at this speed. To make matters worse, when these images are written to the card, the camera controls are frozen, so you cannot perform operations such as adjusting the zoom ratio until the photo processing is complete.
Full JPEG continuous shooting takes about eight seconds to process, and then you can shoot again, while RAW takes about 12 seconds. Despite the long zoom, it is not the best camera for shooting children’s passing games.
Using contrast detection autofocus, the P950 can focus on most slow or still subjects, but the autofocus performance is a bit inconsistent at full zoom. The camera grabs certain objects that I think are difficult, and occasionally it is difficult to shoot objects that I think will be easier.
It grabs a bird through a clutter of branches, which is impressive, but it will not focus on the Sandhill Crane on the grass where the lens is fully extended, perhaps because of the low contrast of colors.
The Nikon P950 has a 16-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch sensor, which is the basic size of a point-and-shoot camera. However, that small sensor makes 83x zoom possible. Zoom power is not the only function required by the lens. It also provides a bright f/2.8 aperture at the widest angle-excellent point-and-shoot zoom.
As you zoom in, the story will change. At the telephoto end, the aperture is reduced to f/6.5. Given that you may only use so much zoom outdoors in the sun, this may not be a big issue. Macro mode can also make the lens more versatile by capturing objects 0.4 inches from the front of the lens at a wide-angle position.
With smaller sensors, it is difficult for the P950 to achieve high ISO. The noise will spread early, the photo is best at ISO 800 or below, and ISO 1600 and 3200 can be. The highest ISO 6,400 should be avoided.
This is not surprising, but remember that because the P950 looks like a digital SLR camera, it does not mean that it behaves like an SLR camera.
For video, 4K resolution is an improvement on the P900. Even with all these extra pixels, although the color is consistent with the quality of still photos, the details of the video are still not satisfactory.
If you want to shoot video at a distance of 2,000mm, be sure to bring a tripod. With such a long zoom, it is impossible to keep the camera stable enough to shoot video smoothly.
The zoom of the Nikon P950 is basically telescope-style, which makes the camera ideal for shooting objects that are usually far away, such as birds, wildlife, or the moon. Despite the chaotic background of the full-screen display, the image is still clear. RAW photos and 4K are good upgrades for the P900, with a new exposure compensation wheel on the side of the lens.
If you absolutely need the incredible zoom of the P950, please buy it. If you want to shoot action, please continue to search. The P950 is good, but it is a niche camera for bird watchers and wildlife lovers, but its low performance and limited practicality in low light make it impossible to be an excellent full-featured camera.