Nikon Coolpix P510, L810, L310 pictures and hands-on

Nikon has announced a trio of superzoom cameras, one falling into the P (performance) series and two in the L (life) series. Although Nikon makes this division, it makes sense to look at all the superzoom models together, if that's the type of camera you're after.

There is, however, a divide in terms of functions and price, but the design of the Coolpix P510, Coolpix L810 and Coolpix L310 is essentially the same, offering a pronounced right-hand grip on a body built around a large lens barrel.

We've put all the pictures in the gallery below and as they look the same, be sure to check the captions to determine which camera you're looking at. So, without further adieu, let's start at the top.

Nikon Coolpix P510 hands-on

The Coolpix P510 comes from Nikon's performance range, so is the most advanced of the superzooms that the company offers. The P510 feels and looks more sophisticated than the other models. You get a 16-megapixel 1/2.3 sensor, typical for this type of camera.

The first thing you'll notice is that the P510 has an articulated 3-inch 921k-dot display on the back. Although it doesn't articulate as dramatically as some, it does make low or high angle shots easier to compose.

The other thing you'll notice about the P510 is the 42x printed on the barrel of the lens. This gives it a massive, and we really mean massive, 24-1000mm (in 35mm terms) range.

Of course, this type of lens does come with compromises and we won't know what the performance will be like at the far end until we get the camera in for a full review. It offers f/3 maximum aperture, which isn't especially fast, but that's true of superzooms in general.

Interesting features of the P510 include that zoom toggle on the barrel, making it easy to zoom whilst supporting the camera. Other controls fall easily under the fingers and thumbs, with dials to alter the shooting settings and the top mode dial letting you jump over to manual shooting easily.

You also get a GPS on this model, to tag your shots on your travels, and you get full HD video capture with stereo audio. It measures 119.8 x 82.9 x 102.2mm and weighs 555g.

Unfortunately the model we saw didn't have a battery, so there was plenty we didn't get to play with, and plenty more to explore when we get the camera back in for a full review. The Nikon Coolpix P510 will cost you £399.99, available from 22 March 2012.

It replaces the Coolpix P500 and you can read our full review of that model here.

Nikon Coolpix L810 hands-on

The Nikon Coolpix L810 comes from the "life" series of Coolpix cameras, so noticeably steps down in its offering from the P510 above.

The 3-inch display the back is fixed, rather than articulated, but still offers an impressive 921k-dot resolution. There are fewer controls, most noticeably the lack of any sort of mode dial. No, the L810 is a superzoom that's designed to be used in full auto.

On the front you get a 26x zoom lens, offering a 22.5-585mm (in 35mm terms) range, which is relatively wide angle. Again, this isn't a fast lens, with a max aperture of f/3.1 on offer, but you do get that zoom toggle on the lens barrel, for smooth zooming with the camera well supported.

Inside you get a 16-megapixel 1/2.3 sensor and a range of smart shooting features. Video capture comes in at 720p on this model, but you do get stereo audio with that. There is also an HDMI to connect to your TV to view those pictures and video.

In the hand the L810 doesn't feel quite as exciting as the P510, but the deep grip makes it easy to keep stable. It measures 111.1 x 76.3 x 83.1mm and weighs 430g.

Unfortunately the sample we saw didn't have a battery, so there is still plenty to look at when we review the camera. It replaces the Nikon Coolpix L120.

It will set you back £229.99 and will be available from 22 March 2012.

Nikon Coolpix L310 hands-on

The final camera of the superzoom trio is the entry-level Coolpix L310. In the hand it feels very much like the higher-spec L810 detailed above, but there are a few key differences.

The lens steps down to 21x zoom, giving you 25-525mm (in 35mm terms) and the sensor is 14.1-megpixels on a 1/2.3 chip. In reality there might not be a huge difference in image quality over the L810 above, but we'd have to wait to fully review the camera before we could judge that.

However, there are a couple of other areas where cuts have been made. The rear display is a much lower resolution at 230k-dots and that zoom toggle on the lens barrel has been removed. Although it offers 720p video capture, there is no HDMI output.

The result is that the Coolpix L310 appears rather basic in its feature set and the 21x zoom isn't that spectacular in modern terms, especially as you'll find zooms nearing that in modern "travel zoom" cameras.

But what the Coolpix L310 does offer is simple operation and wide focal range, in a body which offers much more grip than a smaller compact does. It will appeal to those who find they need a little more to hang on to on a camera, but don't want to pay a fortune for features they'll never use.

Again, the sample we saw didn't have a battery, so there were a host of features we didn't get to see, so be sure to check back for our full review.

The L310 measures 109.9 x 76.5 x 78.4mm and weighs 435g. It will be available from 15 March 2012 for £199.99.

If you're interested in superzooms, why not read How to get close to the action: superzooms rated?