The Nikon COOLPIX B500 is a bridge camera aimed at the beginner audience or enthusiasts who are looking for a simple travel camera. It features a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor paired with 40x optical zoom. It also allows you to activate a digital zoom up to 80x.
With Nikon’s SnapBridge technology you can constantly link this camera via Bluetooth to your smartphone and instantly share the images on social media. Some other interesting features that it offers are a three-inch tilting screen with a 921k-dot resolution, Wi-Fi, and Full HD video recording. Some caveats are that you won’t be able to shoot in RAW and it lacks manual control. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are considering the Nikon COOLPIX B500:
- It’s a great option for new photographers looking for something with great zoom.
- The B500 does not let you change lenses.
- It has a built-in microphone and stereo sound for making video.
- The Nikon COOLPIX B500 takes great overall photos, but might not be a viable candidate for portrait photography.
- While not a DSLR camera, it has many of the same features.
Design & Features
The medium-sized camera features a textured right-hand grip which makes it quite comfortable while shooting. Being fairly lightweight, you can easily hold it one-handed.
There is a dial on top of the camera which allows you to switch between different shooting modes. Although the camera doesn’t offer a manual mode, you can choose from the many options available on the dial including fully automatic, creative, scene, movie mode, etc.
One rocker switch for the zoom sits around the shutter release on top of the grip and another can be found on the left side of the lens barrel. A “Snap-Back” button (initially introduced on the COOLPIX L840) is located on the left side of the Nikon B500 which is truly helpful for finding the object when zooming with this super-zoom camera. The COOLPIX B700 also features this button.
On the rear, you will find a multi-selector (a four-way controller) to navigate the menus for one-touch access to different options such as flash, macro mode, exposure compensation, and the self-timer. This multi-selector is surrounded by four buttons – two at the top for display overlays and playback, and two at the bottom for menu and delete options.
The rear screen is double-hinged and can be tilted up and down – it slightly tilts away from the body and makes an angle around 90 degrees when flipped up and somewhat short of 90 degrees when flipped down. You won’t be able to get it in a position to take selfies.
The Nikon COOLPIX B500 in Use
The Nikon COOLPIX B500 does well in bright, clear light like many other bridge cameras of this type and design. In good conditions, it captures images with a great number of details, vivid colors, and nice saturation. You won’t notice much image smoothing at normal viewing and printing sizes, and these results are very pleasing for something that is designed for beginners. For a beginner camera, you will notice that the Nikon COOLPIX B500 picture quality is quite high.
If you are someone who likes to play with digital filters, Creative Mode is worth trying and it will give you quite a bit of fun. For events and other occasions, Short Movie Show is quite fun and worth experimenting with. It can be used to make short video clips that can be combined to make a longer video. You don’t need to exert much effort as the camera does it all automatically.
When it comes to the 40x optical zoom of the camera, it performs reasonably well. If you take images at the far end of the telephoto optic, the results may not be as good (still they are quite usable) as expected but taking them at the wide-angle end produces good results. It’s better to avoid digital zoom as it may lead to some degradation in image quality.
When you are shooting at longer telephoto lengths, you may want to activate image stabilization to avoid blurry photos. Exposures are handled well in general and metering does a fantastic job on many occasions.
The low-light performance of the Nikon COOLPIX B500 is not very impressive. You will notice a significant detail loss in images shot in these conditions, but things will start getting better if the ISO is set at 800 and moving further up to ISO1600 you can still get some usable images. The Vibration Reduction system feature that this camera offers is very useful in preventing camera shake.
The COOLPIX B500 is powered by four AA batteries. A set of Alkaline batteries comes with the camera and provides enough power to capture 600 photos. This figure increases to 750 if you load the camera with NiMH batteries. You can also use more expensive Lithium AA batteries for more shooting experience and the number will go up to an impressive 1240 shots.
The only drawback with AA batteries is that you need to bear some additional cost if you don’t have a set of four batteries already, but the advantage is that they can be easily replaced or recharged if you have a rechargeable set.
How Does It Compare?
The Nikon COOLPIX B500 comes with several improvements over its predecessor, the COOLPIX L840. They have the same sensor, but the B500 offers a manual mode for better exposure control and offers extended optical zoom for more flexible focal coverage.
The battery has a long life to give you some extra shooting experience and comes with more connectivity options such as Bluetooth to connect with your devices for instant data sharing. In short:
- The B500 gives you up to 600 shots over the battery life.
- Has a great ISO range (100-6400).
- Comes with easy-to-use manual exposure and Bluetooth capabilities.
- Is similar in comparison, being slightly better, than the COOLPIX L840.
|Nikon COOLPIX B500||Nikon COOLPIX L840|
|Sensors||16MP – 1/2.3″ CMOS||16MP – 1/2.3″ BSI-CMOS|
|ISO Range||100 – 6400||80 – 3200|
|Battery||600 shots||590 shots|
The Nikon COOLPIX B500 is a budget-friendly bridge camera with solid performance. It offers some great features including a wide-angle 40x optical zoom, tilting display, and Full HD video recording with stereo sound.
Above all, it features Nikon’s new SnapBridge technology which works with Wifi, NFC, and Bluetooth to provide wireless links between the camera and your smartphone – something that’s becoming more and more popular in today’s market.
Although we can’t say that we are overly impressed with the image quality it offers when using the full optical zoom, but if you like to share your experiences on social networking websites, then it won’t disappoint as image details, color, and exposure are handled very well by this camera. Finally, the camera provides value for the money that should keep most people happy.