Nikon Coolpix P510 Digital Camera Review$429.95
Ease of Use
- Automatic Features
- Buttons & Dials
- Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes
- Instruction Manual
The Nikon P510 has one straightforward auto mode. It takes care of everything besides framing the picture and pushing the shutter, so beginners will have no trouble at all shooting with this mode. There are also about 20 scene-specific presets (landscape, portrait, night portrait, sports, and so on) for casual shooters who want a bit more control over their shots without having to worry about ISO settings, white balance, and f stops.
Buttons & Dials
The button layout isn't so much different from a regular point-and-shoot, though there are a few extra buttons and an extra dial. It's pretty typical of a superzoom, maybe even on the sparse side compared to the highest-end competitors.
The mode dial makes it easy to keep track of which mode you're in, and easy to switch quickly if need be. The selection dial is useful for cycling through photos in playback, or through the menu. There is a jog dial, which is helpful for cycling shutter or aperture settings in manual exposure modes, and it also helps switching settings within the menu system.
Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes
The P510 has a handful of fun filters and a slew of scene modes, including a few very useful multi-shot composite modes and a sweep panorama setting.
The menu system is typical Nikon compact fare; it's basically unchanged from the P500 or any of the recent S-series travel zooms, so Nikon loyalists should know what to expect.
Since there aren't too many direct-access controls, and no quick menu, users are forced to spend a fair amount of time in the full menu system. It's laid out well, with tabbed navigation. But some tabs contain nearly two-dozen options, and there isn't a clear rhyme or reason to their order. On the bright side, the jog dial can cycle through options without diving into the specific sub-menu—it will cycle through ISO settings without opening up the ISO sub-menu, for example.
Barring more physical buttons, some kind of actual quick menu would have been helpful, and more thought should've gone into the menu layout.
While the manual looks helpfully thick, it actually contains four language versions of a very short user's guide. It doesn't cover most settings, features, or shooting modes in any kind of detail. The full manual is available as a PDF online and with the CD-ROM, but a $430 camera should include a paper copy of something more substantial than this.