Looking for a BIG zoom for that next African Safari look no further than the Nikon P1000. With an unbelievable 3000mm equivalent zoom, no other bridge camera or very few DSLR lenses comes anywhere close to this range. But does it deliver an all-round performance for wildlife photography?
I need to thank Nikon for the use of their review unit to conduct this review. Due to the popularity of the P1000 review unit and the tight schedule, I did one of my favourite local fynbos birding tours. My first impressions of the camera when it arrived was "It is BIG." This is a large camera by any comparison. The sheer size of this camera rules it out for use in various cases.
But why another review? Firstly the lack of wildlife photography reviews always has me guessing how cameras will perform in the field. Secondly, many of the photographers who reviewed the P1000 mounted it on a tripod I wanted to see how it performs handheld. I reviewed this camera on a short purposive photography hike at Helderberg Nature reserve. No filters nor any corrections were done in post-production on any of the photos shot with the P1000. As I took them I reduced their size and uploaded them.
iso 100 62mm (347) f8 1/125
Nikon P1000 for hiking
With my little helpers (My kids) in tow, I venture onto the low slopes of the mountain to try to get some cape sugarbird photos. Due to the sheer weight at 1.4kg of this camera, I found myself getting tired of using it after a while. The size of the camera made taking it on a camera strap awkward, and I ended up carrying it by hand most of the morning, adding to the discomfort. The sheer size and weight caused discomfort.
My Assistants iso 100 13.5mm (76) f3.5 1/100
If you were out on a local photoshoot with only the purpose of taking great photos, this camera would be an option. But going for a hike with a camera in tow this one is not for you. The camera is made of plastic with very little protection against the elements. You will need to be very careful in the way you carry it as not to get it damaged. Unless you are on a short walk photoshoot, this camera is not for hiking, instead, look at the P900.
Nikon P1000 compared to the P900
Before you go straight out and buy the P900 you have to realize the P900 is an older model and requires some updates to get up to speed, the P950 was released early 2020 which solves a lot of the gripes of the popular P900. I have been using the Nikon P900 for quite a couple of years, and it has performed well. The 2000 zoom was unheard of when it was released, and I did not have much need for more.
Leopard P900 iso 400 357mm (1999) f6.5 1/250
This photo in the Kruger National Park is one such case where an extra 1000 would have helped. The Leopard was photographed at the full 2000 zoom and was almost not visible to the naked eye. The tricky backlight made it challenging to adjust the metering. Besides this photo, I can not think of any other time I wanted more zoom. Similarly, I did not find myself using up the full 3000 zoom much on my birding walk and I had to force myself to find use cases.
Common Moorhen iso 100 306mm (1713) f6.3 1/800
Nikon P1000 for safari and wildlife photography
Female Sunbird iso 180 467mm (2615) f8 1/500
Male Sugarbird iso 360 90mm (504) f5 1/250
Now let's discuss the fact that all reviews suggest you need a tripod. Although at the 3000 zoom this camera is hard to keep still, any camera would be. You can use this camera very comfortably up to the max zoom without a tripod. In good light, I was able to take photos of birds quite comfortable in a standing position. A bean bag on the car window or safari vehicle may be able to provide you with a little extra stability.
Egyptian Goose iso 110 252mm (1411) f5.6 1/500
Nikon P1000 for bird photography
Cape Sugarbird iso 400 135mm (756) f5.6 1/125
Masked Weaver iso 800 395mm (2212) f7.1 1/40
Male Sunbird iso 220 198mm (1108) f8 1/500
Should you purchase the Nikon P1000
Overall Positive and Negatives
- This camera is too big, I am glad to see Nikon fixed P900 the issues with the P950.
- The camera lacks environmental protection and will get damaged easily.
- The low light performance will not be suitable due to the small sensor.
- Speed of the zoom due to the broad range of available magnifications may cause you to lose the shot
- Extensive range of zoom options for the price.
- Maximum zoom at 3000 will get any animal you can see with the naked eye in a zoomed position.
- The latest technology, including 4k and RAW support.