Coolpix B500 doesn’t live up to its hype

WITH a 40 times optical zoom and "always on" connectivity to your phone, Nikon's 16 megapixel Coolpix B500 promises much.

Unfortunately, it fails to deliver.

The camera we tested seemed sluggish at best.

It was slow to focus and take photos while Nikon's SnapBridge connectivity failed to work far too often.

It was disappointing because it's not the normal Nikon experience we have had in the past.

Perhaps because we have had the luxury of testing higher end DSLRs more recently we are judging a little too harshly.

Where the camera, which retails for less than $400, did work a treat however was in video recording.

It records at full HD (1080p/60i) and features some creative shooting modes such as short movie show where you combine multiple clips into 30-second films.

The fact that the camera uses batteries was a big downside for me, though it could be popular with travellers who may want the flexibility of getting power anywhere on the go.

The lack of a traditional viewfinder was also a big negative, particularly when trying to line up shots in the full light of day, using the three-inch tilting LCD monitor.

We put the camera to the test at a local show and it performed pretty poorly in situations where there was low light or faster moving objects.

For street photography or more static objects, it was more than adequate.

Images were sharp and colours were bright.

Nikon says its vibration reduction stabilises shots to a shutter speed effect at 3.0 stops faster and 40x optical zoom. The camera also uses Target Finding Autofocus (AF) and Pre-focus AF.

Nikon has featured its SnapBridge connectivity app heavily in its promotional videos.

The idea is that you connect your camera with your smartphone via a constant Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connection.

Nikon says BLE uses minimal power, so you can continue shooting and sharing without draining your batteries too quickly.

It also allows your smart device to access your camera, even when it's switched off.

You can also set it up to archive your pictures onto Nikon Image Space.

But reading through the comments on the app, and based on our experience, Nikon has some work to do to make the app smarter and more functional.

While initial connection to the Android phone I was using seemed easy enough, subsequent attempts were met with frustration.

And remote photography lacks basic features such as being able to change camera settings.

We also tested the A300, a 20.1 megapixel, 8x optical zoom camera with 720/30p HD video.

 

It's certainly a good size for the pocket and also used the SnapBridge technology.

But taking shots with it on the beach it was sluggish compared with using a smart phone, and I wondered what its real advantage might be.

Its biggest selling point may be its 22 glamour retouch options such as skin softening and applied eye shadow. If you are into that.

It also has a proper battery, comes in three colours and weighs just 118g.