A Simple Nikon Coolpix P500 Review: A Superzoom Digicam?

Nikon Coolpix P500 Wide Lens

Since I got into photography, I have not owned a point-and-shoot. By the time I wanted one, smartphones had just about taken over as replacements for the point-and-shoot camera. Yet I still wanted one. I discovered just the camera: The Nikon Coolpix P500. It has the features of a digicam wrapped in a small DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera. Though not the latest in the Coolpix range, it was just the camera I needed.

This post offers a simple review of this superzoom.

About The Nikon Coolpix P500

The Nikon Coolpix P500 is a wonderful little camera that is a bridge between a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) and a point-and-shoot digicam.  It is neither as large as a regular DSLR nor as tiny as a pocket-size digicam that easily slips in the inside pocket of your jacket. Yet it is small enough (8.4 x 11.7 x10.4 cm) and light enough (494g) to carry or pack along no matter where you are going. It literally fits in the palm of your hand, though I would advise slinging it over your shoulder for safety.  It comes with a strap that is quite easy to attach and can be adjusted to your comfort.

Who The Coolpix P500 Is For

The Nikon Coolpix P500 is for everyone interested in taking pictures.  It is well suited for the casual point-and-shoot individual interested in taking pictures for entertainment.  It is also for the amateur photographer looking Coolpix P500 Flash Upfor an entry camera that packs features very close to those of a full-fledged DSLR. The professional photographer will also enjoy how close the Nikon Coolpix P500 is to the regular DSLR, barring the fixed zoom lens.

Some Benefits Of The P500

As suggested above, the Nikon Coolpix P500 also comes with a shoulder strap.  Included in the box is also a clip on cap for easy attachment to a vacant lug to avoid losing it. The plastic appearance is well disguised by the black finish and the construction is solid enough to withstand an accidental knock while holding it in your palm.  But no palm holding is necessary with this chunky, but light piece of work. Its design is such that you are able to comfortably snake three fingers around its grip with a roughed surface to prevent slippage. The Coolpix is a light 494g with the SD/SDHC/SDXC optional card and battery inserted.

The affixed lens offers you the longest zoom I have seen of an attached lens, with a range of a super wide-angle of 22.5mm to 810mm equivalent, giving you the versatility of continuous shooting without having to worry about Coolpix P500 LCD Out Flatchanging lenses. The camera also offers 3.0” tilting LCD (liquid crystal display) with 921k dot resolution (about 640×480 resolution) incorporating 12.1 megapixels back illuminated CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) sensor to provide, theoretically, low light effectiveness. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) sits right above the LCD.

The Coolpix has a light sensitivity range starting from ISO 160 and ending at ISO 3200 that you can set manually. But there are also AUTO ISO, separate auto high ISO and fixed auto ISO settings.  The latter allows the ISO to be limited to ISO 160 – 200 or ISO 160 – 400 preventing noise and the degradation of the shot.

Additional benefits of the Nikon Coolpix P500 include a full HD video, stereo audio, and a full set of manual exposure controls. In addition to the zoom lever encircling the shutter release button, the P500 also has a second zoom control set into the side of the lens barrel should you want to slow down the zooming.

Some Disadvantages

If you are looking for a pocket size point and shoot, you will probably find the Nikon Coolpix P500 rather bulky as you will have to lug it around slung over your shoulder.

The plastic looking appearance may be a turnoff, but as suggested, the black finish does disguise this well.

If you prefer a fully rotating LCD, the Coolpix’s LCD will be a disappointment.  The LCD cannot flip outward through 180 degrees to one side, or rotated so the screen is facing body inwards. But this is more than Coolpix P500 LCD Outcompensated for in the resolution.

Pressing the P500’s on/off button immediately nudges the lens barrel forward, knocking against the cap preventing the camera from operating fully. Only after 10 or 12 seconds the LCD lights up instructing you to power off and remove the cap. A warning on the cap to remove it before powering up, would have been helpful.

No Doubt, This Camera Rocks!

If you are looking for an older version super zoom to carry around wherever you go, the Nikon Coolpix P500 is certainly the camera.  Beyond this, I would opt for a full DSLR, but be prepared to lug around a couple of lenses.

I hope this simple review has enough detail for you to appreciate what this wonderful little camera can do for the quality of your pictures and your experience, especially as a budding photographer.  Should there be anything on your mind, please feel free to leave us a comment.





Elements of Composition in Photography: Taking Photos for Effect

Monkeys At Kruger Park

I have taken photos for a long time, some of them with good cameras. For most of that time I was merely snapping away, glad at the result if pleasing to look at, or disappointed if I felt the result was horrible to look at. In those early days I had no cogent explanation for the result. My reactions were more intuitive than scientific or based on the full knowledge of what I was doing. Elephant in Kruger Park

The pictures were merely “good”, “great”, “pleasing”, or “bad”. If I considered them bad, I quickly deleted (thanks to digital SLRs) or I lived with the result forever (in the days of film). The photos were good, great, pleasing or bad probably because of their composition, a concept in photography that I have come to appreciate.

This article explores some elements of composition in photography to understand what it means. We define composition in art; what it means in photography; and some types of composition.

What Is Composition In Art?

We compose a work of art to please or we compose it to disturb. Writers do this in writing; musicians do it in music; and filmmakers do it in movies. All do it quite effectively because they are artists and each of their work is unique, stamped with their personalities. Jack O Lanterns

The style of the artist, how the elements of the work are arranged, determines the purpose s/he intends to convey. That is composition in art: the relative arrangement of elements or objects in a work of art, with just enough detail to convey the artist’s intended impact.

It is rigorous work that requires careful planning before execution, with the right tools. More importantly, it requires forethought about the outcome, which greatly assists the planning. The outcome is etched in the artist’s mind before it is indelibly sketched on canvas, paper or frozen in a sculpture.

How About Composition in Photography?

The definition of art above applies to composing a photograph. While the jury is still out about whether photography is pure art, there is little argument for the serious photographer that it is more than just picking up a camera to snap a picture. Equally, the photographer has to imagine how the world should see the picture given the objects in the scene, whatever the purpose of the photograph. Composing

The photographer then arranges the objects in accordance with the intended image in her mind, physically moving them if the picture is a portrait. Sometimes the process may require anticipation (in street photography) for just the right moment to snap away. It may also require changing one’s position (in landscape photos) to capture the effect you want.

Like composition in art, serious photography requires preparation: finding the right scene and getting the right gear and ‘visualizing’ the outcome. Then comes the act of composition in the camera and just the correct settings (focal length, aperture, angle, lighting) which contribute to the composition of the photo.

Applying Composition: The Act Of Imagination

What we say above about composing a photograph requires the photographer to take a number of steps before taking the picture. This is particularly the case in portrait photography (individuals, groups) and landscape photography (the open fields, layering, forests, etc.). Capturing fast moving events and scenes (the streets, sport, concerts, etc.) will, with some variation, require the same steps too. Here are some important steps to consider. Volcanic Mr Ngaruhoe

  • Prepare Appropriately. This may mean lugging all the photographic gear if the intention is to spend time scouting for the appropriate scenery to capture. It may also mean taking along only the gear for a particular occasion. But, most importantly, do not leave home without the camera. You never know what may catch your fancy.
  • Apply Your Imagination and Arrange the Scene. What are the objects of interest in the scene for the type of photograph you wish to capture? Let those be the elements that attract the viewer to linger a little while by placing them in the foreground or incorporating them as center points for the whole picture. They may be lines, patterns, a road, a reflecting medium, or a silhouette that lead the viewer to look at the entire picture.
  • Set the Camera to Appropriate Settings. This requires intimate knowledge of the appropriate camera settings for the conditions of the day: ISO, aperture, speed. I have struggled with this aspect as a budding photographer and the frustration can be enough to drive you from photography, especially if you prefer to be in full control of your camera by using the manual priority mode. Practice and experimentation is the answer.  Delicate Arch 2
  • Use the Rule of Thirds. There is some controversy about the efficacy of this rule. I have used it as a guideline to assess my photos for aesthetics. The more I use the rule as a yardstick, the better my photographs are becoming and the better I will learn to be flexible in using it; that is, dispensing with it when the need arises.

The Goal of Composition In Photography

The goal, ultimately, depends on the reason for the photograph. A seasoned photographer will apply the elements discussed above and some sophisticated variations of composition that are subjects for other articles. But of importance in the composition is that the photograph is balanced when we look at it. What this means is that all the elements to compose the photo are arranged to direct the eyes equally to the left and right halves. Yellow Stone River

I mention this as an element of aesthetic importance to rendering the photo an attractive piece of art to gaze upon. It is not as frequently discussed. But it is an important feature to consider, along with simplicity. Simplicity, quite simply means removing all the clutter that takes the eyes away from the focus of the photograph, during the composition of the photograph or at post-processing.


I hope the article has been helpful in enhancing the understanding of composition in photography. I believe following the basic elements outlined above will make your photo taking not only easier but a joy to take your camera and head out looking for a fascinating scene to capture.

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Photography As An Art Form: Is It?


I concluded in my last article that photography is a form of art and we can, therefore, break its rules after we know and understand them. The assertion seems to suggest breaking the rules as an attribute of art. The assertion, rather, was an encouragement to the reader to pick up the camera and to go out there and be creative. Creativity is, in essence, the nature of art. Is photography an art form, then? Let’s begin with the meaning of art.

What is Art?

There is a formal dictionary definition of art as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination…” For me this suggests that art is a subjective visual interpretation (or manipulation) of reality or the abstract in the form, typically, of a painting, drawing or sculpture. The Core-1result is usually unique and one of its kind, rendering it rare and “priceless”, especially if the artist is well-known and well-established.

Does Photography Compare?

Controversy continues to rage about whether photography occupies the lofty status of an art form as defined above. Taking a photo does not require the rigor applied in painting, drawing or sculpting, it has been argued. Art requires preparation, a rich imagination and the skill to interpret and or manipulate what is before you in a manner that will be ageless and appealing to the viewer.

Instead, all you do in photography is grab a camera (or smartphone), find a subject, point and shoot; or, as it is often the case, simply snap away at a subject that presents itself. None of the rigor described above, the detractors aver. I have done that. Many of us have done that and often when we do so, the interest is simply to capture the subject, nothing else. And, unlike conventional art, we can repeat the process many times by taking as many pictures as we want, or reproduce a digital copy many times over.Electric Breeze

The discussion above, on the face of it, suggests that photography does not qualify as a form of art. Then why do photographers, budding and expert, fuss so much over the quality of a photograph? Why the investment in expensive gear, when a smartphone camera can produce similar results? Let’s look into what is involved in taking a “good” photograph in the next section.

What Does It Take To Produce A Photograph?

Above we defined art as a subjective view or manipulation of the world, expressed on canvas, paper or sculpture as a unique and appealing piece of work to gaze on. The effort taken to produce the piece of art is imagination, focus, interpretation and manipulation. The tools are the canvas, paper, marble, the brush, pencil, paint and chisel. Art is hard and complicated work, is the inference we draw.

Can we say the same of taking a photograph? What is involved in taking a picture, say, of the sun setting? What do you do in the camera to capture the beauty before you? When I see that, the first thing I usually think about is composing the picture for the outcome on the photograph to look as closely as what I see before me and more. My imagination kicks in, with a little  Sunset Through An Orchard“manipulation” of what I include in (or exclude from) the picture to make the product appealing to the viewer.

My wherewithal in the composition of this photograph is my camera and daylight, or what is left of it as the sun approaches the western horizon. The light is my canvas, as it were, upon which to “paint” the scene before me. I manipulate the light to produce the required effect: the texture; the depth of field, the color, and so forth. This entire process requires mental exertion, effort and refinement later in Photoshop.

The Art In The Photograph: Composition

So, the composition of a picture starts with what you see. But two photographers will compose that scene quite differently and perhaps therein lies the art in photography. Each uses composition and light, just as much as a painter would use a canvas and brush to recreate the reality they see to be compelling and unique to each.Composing

The uniqueness renders the photograph a work of art. But that uniqueness connotes something else: the particular skill of the photographer in using the tools at hand; and her/his perspective of the world, especially if the intention is the production of a work of art, and not a commercial product for sale. To do so the photographer is afforded an assortment of tools: various cameras, lenses and films to affect the outcome of an image, including framing, timing and digital enhancement of the picture. S/he puts it time and effort in the production of the photograph.


This is what has enhanced the joy of photography for me. The freedom to simply pick up my point and shoot, or my smartphone, to take a casual picture that I share with friends and family; or to pack a significant gear seeking sceneries to “create” art. There is a certain sense of fulfillment and worth in the latter: the timelessness of freezing the reality before you. The vicissitudes of time may alter the reality before you, but it will remain forever unchanged on the “photo-art” in your digital SLR or any camera.

That is the beauty of photography.

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