Nikon has recently announced the Coolpix P510, a new superzoom digital camera with a lens with 45x optical zoom (24-1000mm 35mm equiv). A 1000m focal length is the longest magnification we have to date in point-and-shoot cameras, longer than the 840mm of the Canon SX40 HS. Having such a long zoom and a 24mm wide angle coverage is certainly remarkable. With a 1000mm zoom you will be able to capture distant subject without physically getting close to them, and capture shots that with other cameras you just couldn’t take.
In this article I want to talk about the Nikon Coolpix P510, but at the same review I want to compare the Nikon P510 vs Canon SX40 HS vs Sony Cyber-shot HX200V. The DSC-HX200V is Sony’s latest ultrazoom camera, which offers a 27-810mm 30x optical zoom lens. Those three cameras are among the best you can find in the stores, and all certainly worth buying. However, most of us will only buy one camera, and I want to help you out choosing between the those three amazing super-zoom cameras.
Let’s start with a short introduction about each camera.
Nikon Coolpix P510
Announced on February 1, 2012, the Nikon Coolpix P510 offers the longest zoom range among the three cameras that we compare here. It’s Nikon attempt to grab photographer’s attention, not only due to the amazing 1000mm zoom, but for all the goodies that the P510 is equipped with.
The P510 comes with a 16.1MP (effective) sensor, 921K-dots 3-inch tilting LCD display, 1080i movie recording, ultra-fast AF and up to 5 shots continuous shooting. Furthermore, it’s equipped with a built-in GPS for geotagging photos automatically, native ISO of 100 to 3200 (expandable up to ISO 6400) and plenty of in-camera functions. Of course the lens of the camera gained all the attention when this camera was first introduced.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V
Announced on February 28, 2012, the Sony HX200V is the successor of the very popular HX100V. This ultra-zoom camera is equipped with a 18.2MP Back-illuminated Exmor® R CMOS sensor, a Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar® lens with Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, 1080p video recording, GPS and compass, up to 10fps, 3D images and 3D sweep panorama and many other advanced technologies. The lens offers a 27-810 mm 30x magnification, which is the smallest zoom range compared to the P510 and the SX40 HS.
The Sony HX200V is also equipped with a 3-inch 921,600-dots Tilting XtraFone TruBlack LCD display. Even with its relatively smaller zoom range, the HX200V is certainly a great contender to become your next superzoom camera.
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
Announced on September 15, 2011, the SX40 is the successor of the very popular SX30IS superzoom camera. Canon is well known for its very advanced superzoom cameras and the high image-quality that those cameras produce. The SX40 is equipped with a 12.1MP back-illuminated sensor, which is 2MP less than the 14.1MP of the SX30IS. According to Canon, this new camera will result in 75% less noise than the previous model.
The Canon SX40HS comes with a 28-840 mm 25x optical zoom image stabilized lens. What’s interesting about this new model is the existence of both Ultrasonic and Voice Coil motors to allow silent and very fast focusing and zooming. This is crucial in video mode, where you don’t want the camera’s mic to pick up the AF motor noise.
Other than that, the SX40 HS is equipped with DIGIC 5 image processor and can shoot up to 10.3 fps in burst. It supports 1080p24 movie recording and many other interesting features that we’ll soon talk about. No doubt that the SX40HS is a great upgrade from the SX30IS, although both have the same 24-840 mm 35x zoom lens.
What to Look for When Buying a Superzoom Camera?
Many will agree that we are looking at the top 3 super-zoom digital cameras for 2011/2012. If you are planning to buy a new superzoom camera, you have probably did your homework and have those three in your top list. However, at the end of the day, you will have to choose just one. There are various things that you should understand and investigate before picking on of those cameras. Here’s a list of what people care about most and what you should also be looking for when buying a new super-zoom camera.
- Optical zoom – Yes, not the digital zoom, which is actually cropping of the center of the image, but the real optical magnification of the lens. The magnification is measured by dividing the longest focal length number to the smallest one, and that gives you the actual optical magnification (ie. 840 mm / 24 mm = 35x optical zoom [35mm equivalent] – if we are talking about the Canon SX40 HS). A longer the zoom multiplication not necessarily means that the magnification is higher, you’ll have to look at the largest tele focal length to understand how large is the magnification. The P510 has the highest magnification (1000m), while the Sony HX200V has the lowest (810mm). For travel cameras and for those who love to take group and landscape photos, a wider angle lens would be better for this purpose. Both the P510 and the SX40 has the widest 24mm wide-angle (35mm equiv.)
- Image stabilization – All superzoom cameras have an image stabilization to reduce blur when shooting handheld. Some are more advanced than others. The image stabilization effectiveness is measured by the variety of stabilization angles which the mechanism can compensate (ie. vertical, horizontal, rotational, etc.), and the number of stops advantage that it has over a non-stabilized lens (ie. 4-stops advantage). A 4-stop advantage, for example, means that you can shoot at 4 shutter speed lower than the recommended speed and still get with a sharp image. It’s not absolute, and results may vary depends on various variables.
- Lens aperture – The lens aperture (f-number) tells you how much light can pass through the lens. The brighter the lens (the lower the f-number) the better. Brighter/faster lenses offer great versatility and flexibility when shooting in low light.
- LCD – the LCD is a very important feature in almost any point-and-shoot camera, because most of those cameras don’t come with a large electronic viewfinder, or any at all. Many people therefore prefer shooting via the LCD screen. A larger LCD with higher resolution is far better for image composition, and for shooting videos (and still too), you’ll prefer a tilting LCD instead of a fixed LCD. Canon SX40 HS, Sony HX200V and Nikon P5100, all comes with a vari-angle LCD and an Electronic viewfinder, but they are different from one another. We will talk about the differences later on.
- Camera size – let’s admit it, most of us want a compact camera, especially if it serves as as travel camera. We want it to be compact and lightweight as possible, but some of us do care about ergonomics, ease-of-operation and features. Super-zoom cameras aren’t compact, but they aren’t so large either. If you are searching a ultra-compact camera, you should probably pick a up another camera, which won’t have such a long zoom range. (visual size comparison Nikon, vs Sony vs the Canon)
- Battery life – how many times it happens that you are about to capture a great shot and the battery dies on you? – it happened to me a lot. Battery life is certainly a very important aspect of every travel camera. Besides the battery life, you should also inspect the battery type. Some cameras support AA batteries, although their life might be shorter than Lithium-Ion, but you can purchase a pack of AA batteries in almost any kiosk on the road or even buy high-capacity rechargeable batteries. Of course the longer the battery life, the better.
- Image quality – although it’s not a technical feature, the image quality is one of the main reasons why you might consider buying a less-featured camera over a fully-featured one. Look at it this way, at the end of the day you come home and upload your photos to your computer. You want those images too look great, sharp, contrasty, colorful and beautiful to those who view them. A combination of good optics, advanced sensor design and fast and smart image processing (also let’s not forget your experience as a photographer) should result in a much better image quality. Most of you will certainly want to compare the image quality side by side, and some sites do offer that. In this review I will do that job for you, compare and do the pixel peeping stuff so you can get a good overview of the differences in IQ between those three cameras, especially in high-ISO.
- GPS – I really do think that a GPS is a very important feature, especially for travel cameras. There are so many interesting things that you can do with that data once recorded, and the image location data is supported over many current image editing and cataloging software, photo sharing and photo travel websites, etc. The SX40 HS is the only one who doesn’t come with a built-in GPS. However, you should also look at the package as a whole, and not put a way the Canon SX40 HS just because it doesn’t come with a GPS receiver (alternative geotagging options are available though)
- Price – everyone of you probably have the maximum price you agree to pay for such a camera. Because all those three super-zoom cameras fall into the same category, the price difference might be slight. The most important thing is to see which camera gives you a better value. At the end of this review I will present the current/latest prices for those cameras, which of course can change over time. What you should also know is that a cheaper camera doesn’t necessarily means that it’s a better offer. You should certainly consider all of the above and find a camera that fits your needs. After that, ask yourself if you are willing to pay the extra price for it, if it’s more expansive than another model.
This is a partial list, but it gives more emphasize of the features that I think you should give more weight too when buying a new superzoom camera. Many of you probably don’t want to try to understand what all the specs data means, and you just want a great super-zoom camera and want to know what is the best one – because you just need one camera, right?
Now that we understand what to look for when buying a new superzoom camera, let’s compare the two cameras one next to the other to comprehend the differences.
Canon SX40 HS vs Sony HX200V vs Nikon P510 -Comparison Table
|Specs||Canon SX40 HS||Sony HX200V||Nikon P510||Notes|
|Announced||Sep 15, 2011||Feb 28, 2012||Feb 1, 2012||HX200V newest, SX40 oldest|
6.12 x 4.55 mm
6.17 x 4.55 mm
6.17 x 4.55 mm
|All Back-illuminated sensors
SX40 has the lowest sensor resolution (might give it an advantage in terms of image quality). In general, more pixels means smaller pixels, which for the same sensor size, leads to less light sensitivity. Don't get sold by the megapixels alone.
|ISO||100 - 3200||100 - 3200 (boost: 12800)||100 - 3200 (boost: 6400)||All have same native ISO range, but the HX200V can climb up to ISO 12,800 (just don't expect it to deliver great results). Most a marketing trick. I personally will compare the ISO performance up to ISO3200 (native).|
|Lens||24 – 840 mm (Canon optics)|
F2.7 - 5.8
up to 4.5-stops + Intelligent IS (Normal, Panning, Hybrid, Dynamic, Powered, Tripod)
Macro: 0 cm
|27 – 810 mm (Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar® optics)|
F2.8 - 5.6
Sony Active 3-way stabilization (inc. rolling).
Active Mode available for extra shake reduction when recording movies
Macro: 1 cm
|24 – 1000 mm (Nikkor optics)|
F3 - 5.6
Nikon Lens-shift VR
second-generation vibration reduction system.
up to 4-stops
Macro: 2 cm
|P510 offers the longest zoom on any other P&S camera to date!
P510 & SX40 HS offers wider angle (24mm) - great for landscape and people group shots.
It seems like the Canon IS is the most advanced one in terms of features, but the HX200V might provide better stabilization in movie shooting (Still to be seen) and Nikon VRII is known to be very effective for stills (as a Nikon DSLR owner, I can certainly confirm that).
Vari-angle (High: approx. 82°, Low: approx. 90°)
|SX40HS certainly has a less attractive display (shame).|
|Sony HX200V stronger flash, P510 second and SX40HS the weakest flash [at widest angle]|
|Continuous Shooting (frames per second)||10.3 fps|
*in High-speed Burst HQ mode and maximum of 8 continuous shots per burst. Also differs depending on the zoom position
* maximum 10 shots
* up to five consecutive images
also features sports continuous shooting 60fps/120fps in reduced image resolution/quality.
|Canon SX40HS is offers the fastest burst, P510 the least. In general, and considering the maximum shots per burst, their shouldn't be a big difference. Super-zoom aren't cameras for sports, but it certainly nice to have feature. Might be important for some of you.|
(2, 10 sec)
(1/2, 2, 10 sec)
(2, 10 sec)
|Video recording (HD)||1080p @ 24 fps|
720p @30 fps
|1080i @ 60 fps|
1440 x 1080 @ 60, 30 fps
720p @ 30 fps
|1080p @ 30 fps|
720p @ 30 fps
|Different recording frame rates. Canon has the cinematic 24p framerate at Full HD, Sony has interlaced 60 fps and Nikon the smooth 30 fps. Anyone might have difference preferences, I usually would prefer either 24p or 30p. 60i outputs from 30p of the sensor for smoother playback, but in the expense of image resolution and editing capabilities.|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||380 shots|
LITHIUM ION Battery Pack NB-10L
LITHIUM ION NP-FH50 6.8
LITHIUM ION EN-EL5
|All Li-ion rechargeable batteries. Sony the best, Canon second and Nikon with the least powerful battery. The HX200V battery almost two times stronger than the P5100.|
(with GPS Log Recording function)
|Yes||SX40 doesn't have GPS, Sony and Nikon do. Useful for automatic geotagging of images (embed location data in every image / video). You will certainly enjoy this feature when sharing photos online or cataloging and searching images on your computer (via compatible software).|
|Memory cards||SD/SDHC/SDXC||SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Duo/Pro Duo/Pro-HG Duo||SD/SDHC/SDXC|
|Dimensions||123 x 92 x 108 mm (4.84 x 3.62 x 4.25")||122 x 87 x 93 mm (4.8 x 3.43 x 3.66")||120 x 83 x 102 mm (4.72 x 3.27 x 4.02")||P510 is probably the smallest, although it's has more depth vs the Sony, probably due to the lens design. However, not a big difference at all.|
|Useful features||- Face detection|
- Red eye correction
- Blink detection
- Motion detection technology
- Super slow motion movie
- Special scene modes
|- Background defocus|
- Face detection
- Soft skin mode
- Anti-blink function
- Intelligent scene recognition mode
- Smile shutter technology
- Intelligent Sweep Panorama HR mode
- Picture effects
- 3D still and 3D sweep panorama
|- Motion detection|
- Smart portrait system
- Scene auto selector
- Subject tracking
- 3D images (MPO)
- Face detection
- Scene modes
- In-camera image editing
- Lost of various continuous shooting options
|Weight||600 g (1.32 lb / 21.16 oz)||583 g (1.29 lb / 20.56 oz)||555 g (1.22 lb / 19.58 oz)|
1000 mm – Longest Zoom Range Ever on P&S Camera!
Let’s admit it, a 1000 mm (41.7 x) optical zoom is certainly on of the most attractive features on the Nikon Coolpix P510. Not just that, the lens also offers 24mm wide angle shot, has ED glass and equipped with Nikon’s VRII image stabilization. Certainly looks the perfect travel super-zoom camera to take to your next vacation!
1000mm = WOW!
OK, enough talking, let’s see what 41.7x looks like and how closer you can get with this amazing new camera.
Very impressive indeed. The above video demonstrated the high-zoom when shooting video.The 1000mm magnification will certainly appeal to travel photographers who want a travel camera that can get them closer to the subject, that without getting there yourself. If you want to shoot 1000mm with a DSLR camera, you will have to carry a tank with you . That means that you can get amazing photos that even professional photographers just can’t get due to the size, weight and especially the price of such high magnification lenses. A HUGE advantage to the Nikon P510!
The disadvantage is that the lens is relatively slow (f/3.0-5.6 maximum aperture). but that’s a compromise that you need to understand. If you want a fast lens, you’ll have to look at the P410 which have f/1.8-4.9 lens, but only has 24-100mm magnification. So you can see, we can’t get a ultra-fast lens with a superzoom camera, because this would make the camera and the lens much much larger and much more expensive. So maybe the word “compromise” is not the one I should use, because it’s “reality” and that’s what we’ve got.
Image Quality – Canon Wins!
Image quality is one of the reasons why you want to pick up one camera over another. We want our images to look great. Let’s admit it, some superzoom cameras (due to lens complexity) doesn’t offer the same image quality as short-zoom lenses. That’s a compromise that one should make, but it’s smaller than what you think. As sensor technology continues to advance, the image quality does too. We can see a big improvement of the image quality in digital cameras that carry a BSI sensor compared to conventional CMOS sensors, and especially when compared to CCDs.
I’ve take a look at various sample images taken with all of those cameras (here, here and here) and also in other camera reviews’ websites. No doubt that the new generation superzooms are a big improvement compared to older generation cameras. From what I can tell the Canon SX40 HS image quality convinced me that Canon did a great job with this new camera. On of the articles compare the new SX40HS vs Nikon P500 (the older modle) and you can clearly see that huge difference in IQ.
The Nikon Coolpix P510 image quality is better than the P500. The image quality at high ISO (above ISO800) is decent, at least when it comes to sharpness. Color and contrast is really impressive and I really liked the image output of the P510. The 24mm wide angle is certainly useful when shooting outdoors, especially for landscape shots. For small prints you can get some very useful shots, even at ISO 3200.
The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS image quality impressed me the most. ISO1600 sample images looks amazingly clean and with freat details. Corner sharpness was excellent too with less chromatic aberrations compared to the SX30 IS. Up to IS1600, you can get with some relatively very clean shots – great job Canon!
The Sony Cybershot DSC-HX200V image quality was pretty good too, although less impressive compared to the SX40. The lens does suffer from very evident purple fringing in high contrast areas. I must admit that I didn’t like the output, even at ISO100 samples.
So when it comes to image quality, I think that the SX40HS produces the most satisfying results. Certainly on step over its competitors. Colors, contrast, sharpness and noise characteristics are just very satisfying, even for the pixel-peepers out there.
If I have to rank the IQ from my observation:
- Canon SX40 HS – Best!
- Nikon P510
- Sony HX200V
Just also note that some will prefer getting a camera with less zoom, but one that can take sharper images, which can be cropped later and even give you very close results (if not better) to a camera that have a higher zoom factor. Hope this review helped you make a better buying decision. No matter which one you choose, you’ll get an excellent super-zoom travel camera that will result in great fun and very good image quality.
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