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Nikon Coolpix P500 - Test shots: ISO performance

By Gavin Stoker



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The Nikon Coolpix P500 offers a light sensitivity range starting out at a manually selectable ISO160 and topping out at ISO3200. We also get both Auto ISO and separate auto high ISO sensitivity and fixed range auto ISO settings, the latter allowing the ISO range to be limited to a modest ISO160-200 or ISO160-400, so there's absolutely no chance of noise degrading the shot. Let's see how the Coolpix gets on with our standard test set up, shot using a tripod, available light at the highest JPEG resolution and utilising auto white balance.



Apart from the auto settings, the lowest user selectable setting on the S3100 is ISO160, a little higher than most contacts that start out either at ISO80 or ISO100. As we'd expect there's no noise visible anywhere in the image and moreover it's commendably sharp and detailed.


Up a notch at ISO200, a setting that hardly seems worth having so incrementally close is it to the lowest available setting. As expected it's therefore very hard to tell the difference between this clean image and the one shot at ISO160.


We're at ISO400, the setting at which noise begins to creep into shadow areas on lesser compacts. That's not the case with the P500 but there is an ever so slight softening of detail on close scrutiny between this and the previous setting.


You wouldn't notice the difference between ISO400 and ISO800 when viewing the full frame, but crop and enlarge a section and edge detail is softening and becoming slightly pixellated.


Again at ISO1600 the entire image looks clean unless you're zooming in to check detail, whereupon you notice it's softer still over ISO800 as is to be expected, but this hasn't quite disguised the fact that noise is more noticeably intruding into shadow areas.


At the top setting of ISO3200 you don't have to enlarge anything to tell that the image is softer overall and taking on a grainy appearance. That said, the performance of the P500 is well up there with what the keen amateur enthusiast would expect from this sort of investment and class of camera.


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