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The Coolpix P1000 is certainly an achievement, and the ability to capture reasonably good images at the 3000mm end marks it as unique. Its key positive attributes include very good handling, effective Vibration Reduction and a clear menu system, but in order to be able to deliver a camera with such an ambitious optic under the four-figure price point, compromises have had to be made elsewhere.
The LCD screen isn't the best, and much of the body feels cheap for a camera with such a lofty price tag. The autofocus system can work well at times, but it's unreliable at the focal lengths at which it's most likely to be used, while the locking up after capturing just a handful of images – even with a fast memory card – is frustrating. Despite the effectiveness of the VR system, the fact that it remains difficult to compose images with precision at the telephoto end shouldn’t be surprising too, and image quality at wide-angle isn't very impressive either.
It’s great to see cameras of the Coolpix P1000's kind evolving and venturing into new territory, but anyone serious about telephotography would be far better served with an interchangeable-lens camera and a more modest telephoto lens, perhaps with a teleconverter and a little additional cropping to get that extra reach. Overall, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Nikon has simply overstretched itself here.
With such a humdinger of a lens, the Coolpix P1000 doesn’t exactly have any direct rivals that can claim to offer something similar. That said, it’s not the only long-zoom compact camera around, and if you don’t desperately need the P1000’s reach there are much cheaper options to consider.
Panasonic Lumix FZ82
Around a third of the price of the P10000, the 20-1200mm (equivalent) f/2.8-5.9 lens isn’t quite as impressive on paper as the P10000’s, but you can boost this to 2400-mm equivalent with an Intelligent Zoom function (and its wider start makes it potentially more useful for travelling and holidays). It also has the advantage of an 18.1MP sensor and 10fps burst shooting – and a significantly more portable body.
Read our in-depth Panasonic Lumix FZ80 / FZ82 review
Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
The PowerShot SX60 HS features a 65x optical zoom that stretches from 21mm up to 1365mm (equivalent), but a ZoomPlus feature doubles this to 130x, while a further digital extension doubles this once again. You also get Raw shooting, a 16.1MP sensor and Wi-Fi in its tiny body, but there’s no 4K video and the viewfinder has a much lower 922k-dot resolution. An updated SX70 HS option has also recently been announced.
Read our in-depth Canon PowerShot SX60 HS review
Nikon Coolpix P900
The P900 also packs a 16.1MP back-illuminated sensor, but its 83x optical zoom travels between a shorter focal range equivalent to 24-2000mm in 35mm terms, with a maximum aperture of f/2.8-6.5. That’s still a pretty beefy range, particularly when you consider just how much smaller and lighter than the P1000 it is. It’s also currently almost half the price, although it doesn’t have Raw shooting and its EVF has a lower-resolution 921k dot panel.
Read our in-depth Nikon Coolpix P900 review