Digital Photography Review

Nikon Coolpix B500 Review | Photography Blog

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Introduction

Ease of Use

The Nikon Coolpix B500 is a mid-sized bridge camera, being not the smallest in size on the market, but also far from the largest.

It has a chunky hand grip that protrudes quite far from the body and makes it feel pretty secure in the hand. It is also textured which helps to add to an air of quality about the camera. The rest of the camera is not textured.

Being reasonably lightweight, it’s possible to hold the camera one-handed to get your shot, but you may find that using your other hand to hold the camera steady feels more natural and comfortable.

On the top of the Nikon Coolpix B500 you’ll find a dial for switching between the various shooting modes that the camera offers. There’s no manual modes available here, but there’s quite a few options placed on the dial for you to choose from. This includes fully automatic, scene, creative, movie mode and more.

Nikon Coolpix B500 Front of the Nikon Coolpix B500

Also on the top of the Nikon Coolpix B500 is a zoom rocker which is found around the shutter release. You can push this to move from wide angle to telephoto, but there’s also another way to alter the zoom length if you prefer. On the side of the lens there’s another switch which you can push up and down to zoom in and out.

Next to this zoom switch is a button which is very useful for helping to frame shots when using longer focal lengths. If you press it, and keep it held down, the zoom will lens out, allowing you to find any subject that may have moved out of shot. When you’ve found the subject again, release the button and the zoom will move back in to the same focal length as you were previously using.

A inbuilt flash is found on the top of the Nikon Coolpix B500 also. There’s a button to press to raise it, which you’ll need to do since it won’t pop up automatically. When you’re done using it, you simply push the flash back into place.

Moving to the back of the camera, all of the buttons here are placed on the right hand side of the camera meaning you have easy access with your right thumb – especially useful if you have decided to shoot one-handed.

Nikon Coolpix B500 Rear of the Nikon Coolpix B500

The layout here is pretty traditional. There’s a four way navigational pad, with each button having its own particular function – there’s up to control flash mode, down to switch on macro shooting, left to use the timer, and right to adjust exposure compensation. In the centre of the navigation pad is an OK button, which you can use for various menu functions and so on.

Around the navigational pad are four buttons, again each with a specific purpose. There’s a playback button, a display button, a menu button and a delete button. Just above the rear thumb rest is also a direct video record button, which is hidden away just enough to mean you shouldn’t accidentally press it when you don’t want to, but still within easy reach when you need it.

The rear screen tilts up and down, pulling slightly away from the body on its bracket. You can’t face it forward for selfies, or use it in portrait format, but it’s still never-the-less useful for some awkwardly angled shots. The screen is not touch sensitive.

Despite its name, the fully automatic mode actually gives you the most amount of control over camera settings. While you can’t change aperture or shutter speed, it’s possible to change white balance and ISO sensitivity. You can also leave both of these settings in automatic too, if you prefer.

Nikon Coolpix B500 Top of the Nikon Coolpix B500

If you want to, you can change the AF setting to allow you to set your own AF point. Alternatively you can have the Nikon Coolpix B500 decide one for you, track a subject, or always use the central point. Once you have selected “Manual” AF point, in normal shooting mode you can press OK, then use the navigational keys to move around the screen to the point you want to focus on.

Also available in this menu is the ability to change image mode, continuous shooting, and more. You’ll also find some different movie options, such as frame rate and so on. You can change some settings such as date and time from this main menu too, as well as access the connection settings.

The Coolpix B500 uses Nikon’s Snapbridge technology, which means that you can set up a low power Bluetooth connection with your smartphone that is constantly maintained. This means that images are sent across as you take them, ready for you to share online if you choose.

The camera also has Wi-Fi, which is quicker for sending larger size photos across to your phone than Bluetooth. If you’re using SnapBridge its best to set the images to be transferred at a smaller size than full resolution for better speed.

A few of the other modes on the mode dial are also quite interesting. If you select Creative Mode, you’ll be able to choose from a selection of different “sets”. Take the picture, and the camera will take one as normal, but also apply four different filters to the shot. You can choose between sets such as “Light”, “Memory”, “Classic”, “Noir” and so on.

Nikon Coolpix B500 The Nikon Coolpix B500 In-hand

Short Movie Show is also quite fun for events and so on. You can use it to create short clips of a couple of seconds, then amalgamate them all into one video – everything is done automatically in-camera.

The Nikon Coolpix B500 is powered by AA batteries. This will be liked by some, but hated by others. On the plus side, should you run out of battery power, you should have no problem finding a replacement set in a shop wherever you are in the world. However, it also means that you’ll always be paying out for new batteries. It may be worth investing in a set of rechargeable batteries to save money in the long run.

In good light, focusing speeds are generally pretty quick, and usually accurate. With macro focusing, it can take a couple of attempts to get it right, so you should be careful when attempting to take close-up shots that the camera has correctly focused. That said, the camera does allow you to get very close indeed, which can be useful.

When the light drops, it takes a little longer for focus to be acquired, but it generally gets there in the end. Normal operational speeds are reasonable for everyday usage, but when you’re using something like Short Movie Show you may get frustrated with how long it takes the Nikon Coolpix B500 to process each clip.

Image Quality

As with many bridge cameras of this type and design, the Nikon Coolpix B500 performs at its best in bright, clear light. If you’re looking for a holiday camera that you will mainly use in these conditions, you should be pleased with the output that it is capable of.

In good conditions, images are well detailed, with vibrant colours and nice saturation. There’s not too much image smoothing to be noticed at normal viewing and printing sizes, and for something which is aimed at beginners, it’s very pleasing.

There’s also quite a bit of fun to be had with the Creative Mode, which is worth experimenting with if you’re a fan of digital filters and the like.

Having a 40x optical zoom is useful when you’re trying to get closer to the subject, and here it performs reasonably well. Images taken at the far end of the telephoto optic aren’t quite as good as those taken at the wide angle end, but they’re still more than usable. The digital zoom is best avoided if it at all possible, as you’ll see a degradation in image quality.

It’s worth switching on image stabilisation when you are photographing at longer telephoto lengths as this will help to ensure your shots are as blur free as possible.

Generally speaking, exposures are well balanced, with all-purpose metering doing a good job to get it right in the majority of occasions.

Images taken up to ISO 1600 look good at normal printing sizes, but you may want to avoid ISO 3200 and ISO 1600 if at all possible, as using these speeds reveals noise and a painterly look thanks to image smoothing.

Noise

The Nikon Coolpix B500 has seven sensitivity settings ranging from ISO 125 to ISO 6400 at full resolution.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso125.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix B500’s 40x zoom lens achieves a maximum wide-angle focal length equivalent to 22.5mm, and is capable of a telephoto reach of 900mm (in 35mm-camera terms).

22.5mm

focal_range1.jpg

900mm

focal_range2.jpg

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops – the right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images from the Nikon Coolpix B500 are slightly soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can alternatively change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes.

ISO 64 ISO 64 ISO 64 ISO 64

Chromatic Aberrations

Given the range of the zoom lens, the Nikon Coolpix B500 shows some obvious purple fringing in areas of high contrast, as shown in the examples below.

ISO 64 ISO 64 ISO 64 ISO 64

Macro

The Nikon Coolpix B500’s lens will focus as close as 1cm from a subject, however depth of field becomes very shallow at this extremely close distance.

Macro

macro.jpg

Flash

The pop-up flash on the Nikon Coolpix B500 has four settings: Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction, Fill flash & Slow sync. Shooting a white surface from a distance of 1.5m, the flash provides even coverage with the lens zoomed in, though some vignetting is visible in the wide-angle shot.

Flash Off – Wide Angle (22.5mm)

Flash On – Wide Angle (22.5mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off – Telephoto (900mm)

Flash On – Telephoto (900mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Whether the flash is set to standard Auto mode – or Auto with red-eye reduction – the camera successfully avoids any trace of red-eye.

Fill Flash On

flash_on.jpg

Flash Auto with red-eye reduction

flash_redeye.jpg

Panoramas

The Nikon Coolpix B500’s Easy Panorama mode combines multiple shots into a seamless 180- or 360-degree panorama.

180-degree

panorama1.jpg

360-degree

panorama2.jpg

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix B500 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel High JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix B500

Front of the Nikon Coolpix B500

Nikon Coolpix B500

Front of the Nikon Coolpix B500 / Flash Raised

Nikon Coolpix B500

Side of the Nikon Coolpix B500

Nikon Coolpix B500

Side of the Nikon Coolpix B500

Nikon Coolpix B500

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix B500 / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix B500

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix B500 / Main Menu

Nikon Coolpix B500

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix B500 / Turned Off

Nikon Coolpix B500

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix B500 / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix B500

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix B500 / Tilting LCD Screen

Nikon Coolpix B500

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix B500 / Tilting LCD Screen

Nikon Coolpix B500

Top of the Nikon Coolpix B500

Nikon Coolpix B500

Bottom of the Nikon Coolpix B500

Nikon Coolpix B500

Side of the Nikon Coolpix B500

Nikon Coolpix B500 Side of the Nikon Coolpix B500 Nikon Coolpix B500 Side of the Nikon Coolpix B500 Nikon Coolpix B500 Side of the Nikon Coolpix B500 Nikon Coolpix B500 Side of the Nikon Coolpix B500 Nikon Coolpix B500 Side of the Nikon Coolpix B500 Nikon Coolpix B500 Front of the Nikon Coolpix B500 Nikon Coolpix B500 Front of the Nikon Coolpix B500 Nikon Coolpix B500 Memory Card Slot / Battery Compartment

Conclusion

For anybody who is looking for a camera to take on holiday with them, which is mainly concerned about zoom ratio, the Nikon Coolpix B500 represents a good choice.

Many people also like the look and feel of a bridge camera, and this one feels nice and comfortable to hold. The screen tilting helps with some awkward angles, and although it would be nice to have a viewfinder, it’s not a deal breaker when you can tilt the screen away from harsh sunlight.

The Nikon Coolpix B500 is for anybody who wants something quite basic, as there’s no advanced modes. You can take a little bit of control in fully automatic modes, but you won’t be able to alter aperture, shutter speed, or shoot in raw format.

The camera has some fun modes, such as Creative mode and Short Movie show that again should be appreciated by holidaying photographers, or perhaps if you’re attending a party and so on.

This camera represents good value for money, being reasonably versatile, especially if you’re looking for a high zoom ratio. It’s best used in bright, good light, so if you think you’re likely to be taking a lot of low light shots, this probably isn’t the camera for you – that probably won’t be too much of a problem for the average holidaying photographer.

Having AA batteries can be both a blessing and a curse, but again it makes sense for a holiday camera as you can usually find replacements easily and you won’t have to worry about remembering to charge the camera.

SnapBridge is useful for sharing your shots quickly and easily without having to go through the faff of setting up a Wi-Fi connection for every shot, too. Just remember to set the transfer options to a smaller size than full resolution to make the best use of it.

The bridge camera market at the moment has a lot of options, but the Nikon Coolpix B500 is a good choice at this end of the segment, being a good choice for beginners. If you’re looking for something which offers a little more control, you’re likely to be disappointed though.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5) Design 3.5 Features 3 Ease-of-use 4 Image quality 3 Value for money 4

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Nikon Coolpix B500.

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix B500 from around the web.

Specifications

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