"Great feature set, amazing lens, fair video"4.5 starson by drdfwatt
Pros: 1) 36 x zoom - can shoot almost anything from very wide-angle to extreme telephoto in lightweight package
2) Great flexibility - more modes than you can possibly use, including multiple high speed and high definition video modes
3) Finally, Nikon makes a
Cons: 1) in video modes, focus seems sometimes hit or miss, seems to take a long time to actually focus when panning or zooming
2) pictures can seem a bit soft and lack apparent resolution
3) anything above ISO 400 is mostly unusable except for very small pict
Summary: this camera is basically only a modest tweaking of the P100, except for the incredible lens. Unquestionably the most amazing lens kit Nikon or anyone else has ever made. To go from an extreme wide angle to over 800 mm (35mm equivalent) is remarkable in such a small lightweight package. However this also means a small sensor, with all the attendant trade-offs, particularly the less than great performance in low light, subsequent aggressive noise reduction in anything above ISO 400, and the usual deterioration of picture quality in low light.
Balancing all this is the fact that no other compact super zoom camera manages to escape these physical Constraints, although I believe the Panasonic FZ 100 does do a better job With preserving video quality, although probably not picture quality compared to the Nikon P500. If you accept that this type of camera involves some intrinsic compromises (poor low light performance, lower effective resolution than its pixel count would suggest particularly compared to a digital SLR) then you won't be unhappy with the results. In order to get this kind of lens range on a digital SLR, you have to probably carry two or three lenses, costing thousands and thousands of dollars and weighing a boatload. To get all this flexibility for under $400, despite some compromises, seems like a pretty good deal. If you're looking for SLR quality, well, first of all you'll be disappointed, and secondly, you should know better.
Compared to the competition (at this point that really means Canon's and Panasonic's competing super zoom models), the Nikon P500 offers a better lens, slightly faster operation than the Canon, and slightly poorer video than the Panasonic. It weighs less than either of the other models and is roughly the same size. Although the Panasonic beats it significantly in the video department (an increasingly important feature for a lot of people), Panasonic loses points because their JPEG algorithm produces more problematic results than Nikon's.
All in all, 4.5/5 stars.