Nikon P900 vs P610 vs Panasonic FZ1000 vs Nikon D3300

February 1, 2016

Nikon P900 vs P610, FZ100 and D3300

In this article we are going to have an uncommon comparison between the the Kin of the superzooms, the P900, versus Nikon P610 (ultrazoom), Panasonic FZ1000 (large-sensor zoom superzoom) and an entry-level APS-C Digital SLR camera, the D3300. It seems that many people are still having a tough time choosing between a superzoom, large-sensor superzoom and an entry-level dSLR camera. So although this comparison seems a bit weird, it’s a very relevant one.

Nikon P900

This comparison will be made with the P900 as the anchor of our comparison. This super telephoto zoom bridge camera was announced by Nikon on March 2, 2015.  As of the time of writing, the P900 has the longest telephoto lens among all ultrazoom cameras, a whopping 83x (2000mm equivalent) optical zoom. Yep, I wasn’t mistaken with the number of zeroes when I wrote the 35mm equivalent focal length number.

P900 vs P610 vs D3300 size comparison

P900 vs P610 vs D3300 size comparison (via camerasize.com)

A big zoom lens also means a relatively big lens, and we can clearly see in the image above, that the P900 is considerably larger than the P610 and even larger than the D3300. So the P900 is in no way a compact camera,but the size of a mid-range DSLR camera more or less. The thing is that if you consider what setup it takes on a DSLR or an ILC to have this amazing focal length range, the P900 is actually very compact in comparison.  In fact, in terms of depth, the P900 has about the same depth as the D3300 with the 18-55 mm lens, check the image below.

P900 vs D3300 with a 18-55mm lens depth comparison

P900 vs D3300 with a 18-55mm lens depth comparison (via camerasize.com)

So you can see where I’m going with that and what makes the P900 such a unique photographic instrument and a superb travel camera.

The P900 has a 24-2000 mm equivalent focal length lens with an f/2.8-6.5 aperture, accompanied with Nikon’s lens shift VR and lens-shift plus electronic stabilization for movie recording. A VR is very important here, because it needs to stabilize and hand movements, and in such a long focal length range, every movement can lead to a blurred image. Nikon is well known for its very effective image stabilization system and this particular VR module provides 5.0 stops (CIPA Standard) of stabilization compensation, which as I mentioned, it’s essential to produce sharp images and steady videos.

Now for the most interesting part, a demonstration of the zoom range. I think these videos speak for themselves.

Keep in mind that the second video also includes the extended 166x dynamic fine zoom that brings us to an angle of view equivalent to 4000mm  and up to 8000mm equivalent using the 332x extended digital zoom! Pretty wild stuff isn’t it? This is why so many people are going crazy about the P900 camera.

We were so excited to talk about the lens that we almost forgot about all the other features, so here’s a summary of the P900 Key features:

  • 1/2.3-inch 16MP sensor (effective resolution)
  • PSAM mode control dial / full manual control over the exposure, besides the automatic mode
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC – bind your camera with a smartphone or tablet device and use the Android or iOS app to easily share and transfer images and videos between the devices on the go
  • 3-inch 921K-dots, fully articulated LCD with anti-reflection coating
  • Built-in 921K-dots electronic viewfinder
  • Built-in GPS
  • Very good 360 shots battery life
  • 7 fps burst
  • Moon mode
  • Full HD video recording
  • Exposure Compensation / Exposure bracketing
  • Scene modes
  • Mechanical and electronic shutter
  • 1/4000 sec shutter speed
  • 0.75 sec shooting time lag
  • Built-in Flash
  • Snap-back zoom button
  • Electronic smooth zoom lever on the lens
  • Time-lapse movies

Leaving the amazing zoom aside for a moment, the P900 is an average bridge camera all in all. It doesn’t have 4K video recording nor a very high EVF resolution. That being said, it was designed to satisfy the needs and demands of the casual family and travel photographer, which for him or her, 4K videos, 1/8000 sec shutter speed or very high resolution EVF aren’t necessary. The Nikon Coolpix P900 lack a touchscreen display, but is has many of the features that the targeted market ared about, including good battery life, built-in GPS, rotating display, built-in Wireless capability, fast burst, full manual controls, responsive operation and short shooting time lag, dual-detect VR image stabilization, good ergonomic design and of course, an amazing telephoto zoom lens.

Bottom line, the Nikon Coolpix P900 is the ultimate travel camera and one that will give you the opportunity to capture unique footage that only few photographers can capture; all that in a relatively light and small camera body.

Now for the price. The P900 isn’t a cheap camera. The last time I checked today, a new camera costs around $650 on amazon.com (visit amazon.com for updated prices). For comparison, the D3300 with the 18-55mm lens costs around $450 and the P610 costs around $340. The only camera that is more expensive is the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 which costs approximately $700 as of the time of writing. So you can now understand what many people are debating whether to choose the P900 or go with a DSLR or the large-sensor beauty, the FZ1000.

The main reason to get the P900 is its huge zoom. The main reason to get the P610 is its big zoom and affordable price. The main reason to get the FZ000 is its moderate zoom range, 4K videos, 1-inch sensor and Leica DC lens, and the main reason to get the D3300 DSLR is its APS-C sensor and the ability to change lenses in most part.

This is why this comparison is so interesting, because it’s like it is asking you to choose a path and focus on what matters to you the most.  I also want you to keep in mind that the price that I wrote above was for the D3300 with a 18-55mm lens (27 – 82.5mm equivalent), but you can purchase the body with a different lens, and that can make the camera less more expensive. So that’s something that you need to solve with yourself and pick up the lens that best suits your shooting style and one that is inside your total budget.

OK, now that you’ve got a pretty good overview of what the Nikon Coolpix P900 is all about, let’s move on.

P900 vs P610 vs FZ1000 vs D3300

In this section we’ll take a close look at the main differences between the four cameras, both in terms of specs and features. I’ll add my side notes where appropriate to give you a better understanding how the four cameras differ. This will give you a very good understanding of the cons and pros of each camera and help you to finally find the camera that best suits your particular needs, so let’s begin.

Nikon P900Nikon P610Panasonic FZ1000Nikon D3300
AnnouncedMarch 2, 2015February 10, 2016June 12, 2014January 7, 2014
Sensor16MP (effective)
BSI-CMOS
1/2.3-inch (6.17x4.55mm)

~1.34 micron pixels
16MP (effective)
BSI-CMOS
1/2.3-inch (6.17x4.55mm)

~1.34 micron pixels
20.1MP (effective)
CMOS
1-inch (13.2x8.8mm)

~2.41 micron pixels

24.2MP effective
CMOS
APS-C (23.5x15.6mm)

~3.92 micron pixels

The D3300 has the highest resolution but due to its large sensor, it also has considerably larger pixels than the other cameras. Both the P900 and P610 has the smallest pixels, lowest resolution and also the smallest sensor size.

The P900 and P610 apparently use the same image sensor, and after inspecting the high ISO performance on imaging-resource.com comparometer, we can see that both have the same high ISO performance. The P900 looks slightly cleaner, but overall the image quality is about the same.

The FZ1000, as expected, results in a much cleaner output due to its larger sensor and very clean ISO3200 images, which is great if you intend to shoot in low-light situations.

I was expecting the D3300 to easily outperform the FZ1000, but the FZ1000 held up very well against the D3300. The FZ1000 does have more chroma noise, it's less sharp and does suffer from stronger NR. The D3300 employs less image processing, and at higher ISO you get that dotty noise pattern which is easier to remove using Noise removal software.

At lower resolutions, you probably won't notice the difference up to ISO3200, but above ISO3200 you can clearly see a big difference, and how the D3300 was able to hold on to the sharpness and fine details, whether the FZ1000 just can't match this performance and the image quality degraded by quite a large margin.

Considering the fact that you can mount lenses on the D3300, this gives the D3300 a big advantage when shooting in low-light, because you can attach a fast prime or fast zoom lens and have less need to bump up the ISO sensitivity, and achieve even a cleaner image and better exposure under the same lighting conditions.

The D3300 is the clear winner, followed by the FZ1000, and P610 and P900 with virtually the same performance.
ISO Range100 - 6400
12800 monochrome
100 - 6400
12800 monochrome
100 - 12800
Extended: 80, 25600
100 - 12800
LensNikkor ED glass lens
24-2000mm (equiv.)
f/2.8-6.5 aperture

83,3x optical zoom

Lens-shift VR (5-stops CIPA)
Lens-shift and Electronic VR (for movies)

Electronically-controlled
6-blade iris diaphragm
Nikkor ED glass lens
24-1440mm (equiv.)
f/3.3-6.5 aperture

60x optical zoom

Lens-shift VR (5-stops CIPA)
Lens-shift and Electronic VR (for movies)

Electronically-controlled
6-blade iris diaphragm
Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens
25-400mm (equiv.)
f/2.8-4.0 aperture

16x optical zoom

Hybrid O.I.S. +
5-axis correction (except for 4K and high-speed recording)

Ring: zoom or manual focus (switch on the lens to alternate)

Power O.I.S. on/off switch on the lens left side

* actual focal length changed based on the aspect ratio and whether the digital IS is active or not
Interchangeable /
VR depends on the lens
OK, this is probably one of the most interesting and important part of our comparison, the lens specs.

First the D3300. The D3300 is a SLR camera, which means that it doesn't have a built-in fixed lens and it's compatible with a very wide range of F-mount compatible lenses, both designed for a crop sensor and full frame ones. This gives the D3300 a big advantages, because you can take advantage of the various type of lenses, including among others: ultra-wide lenses, super-telephoto, super fast primes, fish-eye lenses, etc. This allows the photographer to be more creative and achieve unique results that you can't achieve using a camera with a built-in fixed focal-length lens.

The downside is that you need to carry those lenses in a bag and change them to match the subject your are shooting. Not that comfortable, and this is why some photographers prefer having a versatile built-in lens than dealing with changing lenses.

The FZ1000 has a very interesting offer. It has the lowest zoom range compared to the P900 and P610, but that also means that it should have better optical performance. The lens is narrower than the P610 and P900 by 1mm, which isn't too significant and it's also quite fast on the tele-end.

So what about the depth of field, can you get shallower depth of field effect (defocused background with the FZ1000 compared to the P900?

The P900 will give you much shallower depth of field when using its longest focal length with the maximum aperture compared to the FZ1000 with 400mm focal length and the maximum aperture for that focal length. The depth of field different is about 0.25m compared to 3.7m.

The P900 is has the most versatile lens, and it's the best lens for taking photos of far away subjects, and the perfect lens for travelers. The P610 range is also very good and probably adequate for most photographer's needs, but if you want a camera with the longest zoom, get the P900.
LCD3-inch
921K-dots
Vari-angle mechanism
No touchscreen

Anti-reflection coating
3-inch
921K-dots
Vari-angle mechanism
No touchscreen

Anti-reflection coating
3-inch
921K-dots
Vari-angle(180 degrees horizontal to each side and 270 vertical tilting)
No touchscreen

Anti-reflection coating
3-inch
921K-dots
Fixed
No touchscreen
The D3300 is the only camera among the four that doesn't employ a vari-angle display, its display is fixed in place. A vari-angle display is useful when shooting stills at high and low angles and when recording videos.
ViewfinderEVF
0.5 cm type (0.2-in)
921K-dots
100% coverage
EVF
0.5 cm type (0.2-in)
921K-dots
100% coverage
EVF
0.39-in OLED
2359K-dots
100% coverage

0.7x magnification (35mm)
Optical (Pentamirror)
95% coverage
The D3300 is the only camera among the four that has an optical viewfinder. The FZ1000 has the best viewfinder.

The optical viewfinder has no time lag and it provides a very clear view of the scene, which is especially useful for sports shooters. It saves battery life because it doesn't require any charge. EVFs are very good alternative to OVF, but it depends on their quality, which varies between one camera to the other. In general, EVF allows camera manufacturers to make smaller cameras because the camera doesn't need a mirror to reflect the light to the viewfinder. The EVF view is actually a video stream, and therefore is can be projected on a large screen inside the camera in fill it up to provide a magnified view of the scene. The camera can also automatically brighten the scene, which makes it easier to compose your shot under low-light conditions, even with slow aperture lenses. It can also display much more information on screen, like live histogram and view how the image we'll look after you press the shutter. That being said, EVFs do consume lots of battery power and the lower resolution don't provide the same clear view that you get with an optical viewfinder.
Shutter Speed15 - 1/4000 sec15 - 1/4000 sec60 - 1/4000 sec

1/16000 (electronic shutter)
30 - 1/4000 sec
Built-in FlashYes (11.5m)Yes (7.5m)Yes (13.5m)Yes (12m)
External FlashNoNovia hotshoevia hotshoe
Burst Mode7 fps7 fps12 fps5 fps
Exposure Compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Video1080p60/30
720p60/30
480p30

Other modes: 1080p12.5, 480p120

Stereo sound
1080p60/30
720p60/30
480p30

Other modes: 1080p12.5, 480p100

Stereo sound
4K / 2160p30 (Ultra HD, 100Mbps)
1080p60
1080i60
1080p30
1080p24
720p30
480p30

High Speed Video (slow-mo) 1080p30 from 120 fps sensor output

MPEG-4,AVCHD (4K in MP4)

Stereo sound

- mic input

*UHS-I Speed Class 3 (U3) SD card when recording 4K/MP4 videos
1080p60
1080p30
1080p24

Monaural mic

Manual audio level adjustment

- mic input
The FZ1000 is the only camera that offers 4K video recording and has full HD video recording at 120 fps (outputs as 1080p30) and has a mic input.

This is far better than what the other cameras offer. The other cameras do offer 1080p60 (progressive frames) videos, which is good. The D3300 although can capture the highest quality videos, lacks a rotational LCD, doesn't have 4K video recording and has a mono mic.

The P900 has slow-mo video recording and I think that most people will be satisfied with its 1080p60 video recording. I'm saying that because Full HD takes less space on than 4K, and it's actually not the main reason why people buying this camera. I'm pretty positive that the next iteration will have 4K though.
AF System-

Target Finding AF (auto subject focus acquisition)
-

Target Finding AF (auto subject focus acquisition)
49-points

Depth from Defocus Technology

Linear Motoro Focus
Nikon Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus sensor

11 AF points
The D3300 is the only camera among the four that uses phase-detection for stills (contrast-detect for Live View and video recording). The other cameras use contrast-detect AF. Phase-detection is still the main choice for fast-action shooters, although contrast-detect AF performance technology has improved a lot in the past years.

The FZ1000 utilizes Panasonic's DFD technology, which was first introduced in the GH4. It can now consume as much info as phase-detection and enjoying a super fast 0.09 seconds focus time at wide-angle (CIPA) and 0.17 seconds at telephoto (in-house test, focus set to 2 meters to infinity).

There is less information about the P900 and P610 AF system, but I assume that if Nikon omitted that info, there is probably not so much to write about, and we can expect inferior AF performance compared to the FZ1000 and the D3300.
WirelessWi-Fi + NFCWi-Fi + NFCWi-Fi + NFCcompatible with the optional
WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter
GPSBuilt-inBuilt-inNoNo
Environmental
Sealing
NoNoNoNo
Battery Life
(CIPA)
360 shots330 shots360 shots700 shots
Dimensions140 x 103 x 137 mm (5.51 x 4.06 x 5.39″)125 x 85 x 107 mm (4.92 x 3.35 x 4.21″)137 x 99 x 131 mm (5.39 x 3.9 x 5.16″)124 x 98 x 76 mm (4.88 x 3.86 x 2.99″)
Weight899 g (1.98 lb / 31.71 oz)565 g (1.25 lb / 19.93 oz)831 g (1.83 lb / 29.31 oz)430 g (0.95 lb / 15.17 oz)
RAW ShootingNoNoYesYes
Only the D3300 and the FZ1000 can shoot in RAW. Whether it's important or not you'll decide. RAW gives you an unprocessed image data, which you can use later on to process the it using an image editor.
Manual Exposure
Mode
YesYesYesYes
Scene ModesYesYesYesYes

Conclusion

This comparison can be a bit confusing, especially for those making their first camera purchase. Having said that, I think it’s pretty straight forward. If you are serious in becoming a better photographer and want the best control over the final output, nothing beats a DSLR camera. You’ll have the option to buy and use different lenses, each one with its own unique characteristics. Of course you can just buy a single lens, but the whole idea of using a DSLR lies in its lens selection and accessories. You also get an excellent battery life,  much better low-light performance, especially when coupled with a fast prime lens. The D3300 is an entry-level DSLR. When you feel the need to more forward, you can always keep your lenses and upgrade to a more advanced camera body.

The FZ1000 sits in between the superzooms and the D3300. It doesn’t have the longest lens, but has a very versatile one nevertheless. It also has a much large sensor than the P900, which means better image quality and low-light performance. The lens isn’t as wide as the P900 and the P610, but I wouldn’t worry about that too much. It has a higher-resolution EVF, fastest burst, better AF system than the Superzooms and has 4K video recording and RAW shooting capability. I would go with the FZ1000 if the lens is adequate for my needs, and I prefer a camera with a fast lens, better image quality, 4K videos and better AF performance.

The P900 remains an excellent choice because is has the biggest zoom in its class, and believe me, many of you will be impressed by this more than any other feature in the other cameras. It’s the ultimate travel camera and excellent general purpose camera. It has a faster lens than the P610 but it’s bigger and much more expensive, but other that that, they are more about the same. The both lack a touchscreen, phase-detection, mic input and hot shoe. However, the built-in GPS, wireless connectivity and eye-level viewfinder are welcomes features.

It’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth paying extra to have the biggest zoom camera on the market. It you have the budget and it fits your needs, by all means, get it. Believe me, it’s an amazing experience shooting with this camera. You can get so close to subjects that at the end of the day, you’ll come home with more interesting shots. The range does make a difference, although I think that the P610 range is also very good.

It’s up to you to choose the camera that best match your shooting style and artistic needs. If I had to choose, I would get the P900, but hey, I am flying abroad soon, so I am totally biased :)

Which camera you prefer? share your opinion in the comment section below and thanks for reading.

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