I have a bird feeder station on my patio, and it gets a lot of activity. Up until last summer, I never had a bird feeder before at all. Now I have about 10 of them, including a hummingbird feeder, and we get hummingbirds!
Over the last 12 years, I’ve been photographing with a DSLR set up, multiple Nikon bodies and multiple lenses. A few years ago, Nikon released the P900 camera – a camera referred to as a “bridge” camera and it’s big appeal is that it has a long range zoom.
It was actually referred to as a “spy camera” when it first came out, because it’s zoom and video capabilities are so incredible, that it can get close up images of people more than a mile away under the right conditions. It’s also capable of getting close- ups of the moon.
It sounded like a bird photographer’s dream camera, and my interest was peaked. Finally after 3 years, I decided to get one.
My decision to downgrade was based on several reasons- i just don’t “need” the DSLR and lens collection for pursuit of my hobby. It’s far easier to travel with a all-in-one camera than it is multiple bodies and several fragile lenses, and we do a lot of travelling!
The P900 is a down grade from a DSLR for sure. To be clear, the P900 is considered a “bridge” camera. What that means is that it’s in between a regular “point and shoot” pocket camera- the kind of camera 90% of everyone who ever wants to take a picture uses, and a DSLR – a true “professional” camera. The P900 is for people who want more performance and features than a point and shoot, and maybe know a little more advanced functions, but aren’t ready to, or wanting to, upgrade to a DSLR.
My main interest and use for photography is wildlife. For birds- a DSLR is the champion. In fact, the DSLR is the champion for everything. Every sport photo, every wedding photo, every professional photo you’ve ever see on a website or in a magazine was taken with a DSLR and the right lens for the job.
The P900 is not a performance beast like a DSLR, so it isn’t right or fair to compare them.
For 99% of all photography that most people are wanting to take, the P900 would more than meet their needs.
As a step down from a DSLR, it takes some getting used to.
On that topic- here are some photos from today. I’ve started getting to know this camera more and more….
So really – these images are pretty good. They are adequate enough for most everyone’s expectation of photo quality, I’m sure And it meets my non-professional needs as well.
As far as actual shooting, it has scene modes which are there for people who want more out of the camera and moment, but aren’t ready to step up to manual, or semi-manual modes. Scene modes, like sports, bird watching, macro, night, etc… are all there for the photographer to tell the camera what you want, and let the camera do the thinking.
But, for advanced photographers, who prefer to set their own controls in manual modes, the P900 might have some disappointing and frustrating drawbacks.
I find the biggest of those is speed. The P900 is just. so. slow. The digital viewfinder is slow, the shutter lag slows everything down, and the time it takes to write to the SD card is slow. If you’re used to the machine-gun shooting of a DSLR, you’re going to find the P900 frustrating.
It has a few different shooting menu modes to help compensate for that, including 16-shot burst mode, pre-shooting cache – both of which have a sad drawback of forcing the camera into auto ISO, even if you are shooting in manual.
Some of the shots above, I had to lighten in post-processing, because I needed ISO 800 due to lighting and the camera forced me into auto ISO which was only 100. Ugh.
The camera also has continuous modes, which I have yet to play around with.
I’ll get to those as I play around with it more.
Of course, Nikon left out the ability to shoot RAW from the P900- but hey, the goal is to take the best shot straight out of camera, anyway, right ? So….
So far, I am satisfied with the camera. The lighting off my patio is difficult sometimes, and overall, I’m getting the camera to work with me on this. I can’t wait to have a full on field day with the camera (literally)… as soon as the weather warms up a bit I’ll head off to a National Wildlife Refuge not too far from home and really play.
I don’t think I’ll be snapping any great photos of birds in flight with this very slow camera, but it’s size and compactness, and ease for travel, and overall good picture quality really makes me pleased I decided to get this camera.