Bridge cameras often get a bad rap, but the Nikon Coolpix P1000 is still one of the damnedest cameras I've ever seen. And it's all down to its signature party trick: its 125x zoom, which equates to a jaw-dropping 24-3000mm focal range.
I still remember the first time I used the Nikon Coolpix P1000, sat outside a café in Cologne after the very last Photokina. My colleague Ben Andrews had been tasked with reviewing it, and had valiantly sacrificed valuable hand luggage space to bring this comedy sized camera with him to Germany.
• The best bridge cameras combine unbeliveable zoom ranges with ease of use
"Look at the moon," he mumbled across the table, prompting me to look up to the sky. "No," he corrected me, "look at the moon on this." It was like he'd mounted a camera to a telescope – even in broad daylight, the amount of detail was absolutely mesmerizing.
Of course, they weren't reference-quality images. After all, the P1000 employs a 1/2.3-in sensor with 16 megapixels of resolution – and with a sensitivity that tops out at ISO6400, we're hardly talking Nikon Z9 in terms of performance.
See the incredible zoom reach…
But that's not what the P1000 is about. Look at these images above, look at the utterly ridiculous zoom range – THAT is what the P1000 is about. The zoom enables you to go from a panoramic view of the city, to a close-up detail of the abbey that is half a mile away (800m).
You know how you sometimes zoom in on your phone, even just 2x, and the quality goes to hell? Even the impressive zooms on the best camera phones like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra pale in comparison to both the reach and the quality of Nikon's big black Pinocchio.
In a world where we're wowed by more conventional specs – megapixels, dynamic range, burst rate, image stabilization – we forget that the most useful thing on any camera is the ability to 'get a bit closer'.
Camera snobs may turn their noses up at cameras like the Nikon P1000, but it is targeted at very different user bases – parents who want to photograph their kids' soccer games, bird spotters who want to identify animals, general purpose shooters who just want a camera with the longest reach possible.
And that's where bridge cameras like the P1000 come into their element. They may not win you many photo awards, but they'll get you the photos that no other camera can.
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