[2024] Nikon B500 Coolpix Review - Expert TESTED

Experience photography like never before with the Nikon Coolpix B500, as our comprehensive review dives into its exceptional image quality, ergonomic design, and powerful performance. Uncover the true potential of this compact powerhouse and discover why it could be the perfect companion for your photography journey.

December 18, 2023
[2024] Nikon B500 Coolpix Review - Expert TESTED
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A Personal Experience with the Nikon Coolpix B500: A Comprehensive Review

As an avid camera enthusiast, I've had my fair share of experiences with a myriad of cameras, all promising one superior feature or another. Recently, I had the chance to spend some quality time with the Nikon Coolpix B500. Right off the bat, the camera grabbed my attention with its appealing blend of user-friendly design and advanced features. Is it the perfect camera for every photography enthusiast? Well, here's my in-depth review covering every aspect you need to know.

Image Quality

The Nikon Coolpix B500 impressed me right from the first shot. The camera sports a 16-megapixel 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor that ensures crisp, clear, and highly detailed images. The color accuracy is top-notch with vibrant, true-to-life hues, and the dynamic range handles different light conditions effectively.

The B500 captures sharp images with a good level of detail. The built-in lens offers a 40x optical zoom, providing significant flexibility in framing shots. Moreover, the camera's Vibration Reduction (VR) feature plays a key role in stabilizing the images, especially handy when using the zoom feature or shooting handheld.

Let's delve deeper into the image quality the Nikon Coolpix B500 brings to the table. At its heart, the camera utilizes a 16-megapixel 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor. This sensor size is fairly common in compact cameras, balancing image quality and cost efficiency.

Starting with resolution, the 16-megapixel count ensures that your images come out with a high level of detail, even when viewed at larger sizes. It's an optimal resolution for this sensor size, providing a good balance between detail capture and noise control. When I inspected my photos closely on my computer, I could clearly discern fine details, such as individual hairs on a pet or delicate patterns on a butterfly's wings.

Next up, let's consider sharpness. The built-in lens, combined with the sensor, produces impressively sharp images. Across different focal lengths, I consistently got crisp and clear shots. The camera's Vibration Reduction feature also contributes significantly to this sharpness, countering camera shake that could otherwise blur the images, especially at longer zoom lengths or in handheld shooting.

Examining the dynamic range, the B500 performs admirably. The camera can capture a decent range of tones from the lightest lights to the darkest darks within a single photo. This range becomes crucial when shooting in challenging lighting conditions, such as in harsh sunlight or backlit scenarios. During my time with the B500, I found it managed high-contrast scenes well, retaining detail in both shadows and highlights.

Color accuracy is another critical element contributing to the B500's image quality. When I reviewed my photos, I found the colors to be vibrant, yet true-to-life. Whether I was capturing the subtle hues of a sunset or the bold colors of a street market, the B500 reproduced the scenes faithfully. Furthermore, the camera offers several color options, including a Standard mode for general use and a Vivid mode for more saturated, eye-catching colors.

A special mention should also be given to the camera's image processing engine. The EXPEED image processor does an excellent job of reducing noise, especially at lower ISO settings, ensuring clean and clear images.

Low-Light Performance

As for low-light performance, the B500 proves capable, thanks to its ISO range of 125 to 6400. While noise levels start to creep in as you push towards the higher end of the range, it's pretty standard for cameras in this category. The built-in flash can also be a useful ally in darker conditions. However, one area where I felt the camera could improve is the lack of a dedicated low-light shooting mode.

One thing to note is the B500's 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor, which performs decently in low-light situations. BSI stands for "backside illumination," a design that enables more light to reach the sensor, improving its efficiency in dim conditions. In my experience, at lower ISO settings (up to about ISO 800), I found the camera to maintain good image quality with minimal noise.

As the ISO setting increases, it's normal to see an uptick in digital noise, a common characteristic in all digital cameras. In the case of the B500, I noticed an increase in noise starting from ISO 1600. By the time I got to ISO 3200 and 6400, the noise was more visible, especially when viewing the images at 100% scale.

However, the camera's built-in noise reduction processing does a commendable job of managing this noise. While it does smooth out some finer details, it results in images that are still usable for social media sharing or smaller prints, even at the highest ISO settings.

Another key feature that enhances the B500's low-light performance is its lens's maximum aperture of f/3.0 at the wide end and f/6.5 at the telephoto end. While not the brightest lens on the market, it does allow a reasonable amount of light to enter the camera, particularly when shooting at wider angles. This aspect was particularly helpful when I was shooting indoors or during twilight hours.

Autofocus System

The Coolpix B500 uses a contrast-detect autofocus system, which is pretty standard for point-and-shoot cameras. In well-lit conditions, the autofocus is generally quick and accurate. Although there's no advanced features like eye-tracking or subject recognition, the camera does a good job of locking onto subjects and maintaining focus.

The camera offers a variety of focus modes, including center, face priority, manual with 99 focus areas, subject tracking, and target finding autofocus. The versatility these modes provide allows the user to capture sharp images across a range of different scenarios. In my usage, I found that the face priority mode was excellent for portraits, ensuring my subject's face was always in sharp focus.

Subject tracking, on the other hand, was particularly helpful when photographing moving subjects. While it's not a professional sports camera, it managed to keep up with subjects moving at moderate speed with an acceptable level of accuracy.

A unique feature of the B500 is its Target Finding AF. This function identifies and focuses on the main subject within the frame automatically – an extremely handy feature for beginners or those looking for a point-and-shoot experience. During my testing, it proved fairly reliable and quick in good light, locking onto the target within approximately 0.8 seconds.

Manual focus mode, while not traditionally a strength of compact cameras, offers an impressive 99 focus areas to select from. Although manual focus is not likely to be a frequently used feature on this camera due to the lack of a manual focus ring, it can provide more precise control when needed, such as for macro photography.

Ergonomics and Handling

One aspect I particularly enjoyed about the B500 is its ergonomics and handling. The camera feels comfortable to hold, with a substantial grip that ensures a secure hold. It's slightly larger than most point-and-shoot cameras, but this aids in stability, especially when utilizing the zoom. The button layout is intuitive and easy to navigate, with a dedicated video record button and zoom control for added convenience.

Build Quality and Durability

The Nikon Coolpix B500 appears sturdy and well-built. While it lacks weather-sealing, which is standard for this class of camera, it does hold up well to everyday use. The buttons, dials, and hinges all seem durable, suggesting the camera can withstand the test of time.

The buttons, dials, and hinges are solidly built, with good tactile feedback when pressed. In particular, the zoom lever located near the shutter button operates smoothly and accurately, making it easy to adjust the zoom level while framing a shot.

Though the camera isn't officially weather-sealed, it held up well during my usage. I ventured out for a photoshoot on a day with light drizzle, and the camera performed flawlessly, showing no signs of distress. However, it's crucial to remember that it's not built to withstand heavy rain or dust, so it's advisable to use a protective case or avoid harsh weather conditions where possible.

Regarding its durability, I haven't noticed any signs of wear and tear or loosening of any parts, despite using it quite extensively for a month. Of course, the true testament to its durability would require long-term use, but early indications are positive.

For the display, Nikon has opted for a tilting 3-inch LCD with a resolution of approximately 921k-dot. It’s not a touchscreen, which may disappoint some users, but in terms of sturdiness and clarity, it performs well. I found it remained scratch-free and clear, even after multiple outdoor shooting sessions.

Performance and Speed

In terms of speed and performance, the B500 starts up relatively quickly, ready to shoot within a couple of seconds. The burst mode speed is adequate for capturing fast-moving subjects, and the buffer capacity allows for several shots before slowing down. The camera's overall responsiveness is commendable, with minimal lag between shots.

Video Capabilities

The B500's video capabilities are quite satisfactory. It can record Full HD 1080p videos at up to 30 frames per second. The autofocus during video is smooth and responsive, adjusting quickly to changes in the scene. However, the absence of an external microphone port may be a drawback for those who want to capture high-quality audio.

Connectivity and Sharing

One of the standout features of the B500 is its robust connectivity options. It comes equipped with built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC, enabling effortless sharing of images and videos. I found the SnapBridge app particularly useful for wireless file transfer and remote control of the camera from my smartphone.

Battery Life

The B500 runs on four AA batteries, offering an average battery life. Depending on usage, you can expect around 600 shots per set of batteries, which should be sufficient for a day's shooting.

Lens Options and System

As a compact camera, the B500 doesn't offer interchangeable lenses. However, the built-in 40x optical zoom lens covers a wide range of focal lengths, offering significant versatility.

User Interface and Menu System

Navigating the B500's menu system is a breeze, even for beginners. The user interface is straightforward, and the camera offers a variety of preset shooting modes. There's no touchscreen, but the rear LCD is bright and clear.

Price and Value for Money

The Nikon Coolpix B500 sits at a moderate price point, making it accessible for those looking to venture into photography. When compared to similar models on the market, it offers good value for the features and image quality it provides.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, the Nikon Coolpix B500 struck me as a highly capable compact camera, offering a good mix of ease-of-use and advanced features. It's not without its quirks, but the excellent image quality, user-friendly design, and robust connectivity make it a strong contender in its category, especially for new photographers or those seeking a dependable point-and-shoot camera.