It's superzoom season and one of the first out of the camera woodwork is the Nikon Coolpix P520, the update to last year's affordable P510 model. Pocket-lint was on hand at this year's Focus On Imaging show in Birmingham's NEC to handle this big-zoomed beasty.
Initial impressions are that, well, the P520 isn't a whole lot different from the P510 model. Not at all. It's the same 42x optical zoom which offers up a 24-1000mm equivalent range coupled with optical image stabilisation for keeping those shots steady.
We immediately zoomed in to the 1000mm equivalent using the zoom toggle around the shutter button - there is also a secondary zoom to the side of the lens - in order to pick off some far-away trade show attendees and found that the focus struggled a bit at the longest end of the zoom. It held up nice and steady thanks to the lens-shift image stabilisation, but just lacked the immediacy of autofocus speed of which the P520 is capable at wider-angle settings. It's nothing to do with the firmware version either, which we checked and confirmed was v1.0.
The main new feature in the P520 is that it's "wireless ready" when paired with the WU-1a wireless mobile adaptor - although, unfortunately, that wasn't something we were able to play around with on the show room floor.
Another adjustment to the spec is the inclusion of a yet higher resolution 18-megapixel sensor. We're not sure about this one as we felt that the P510 was pushing its limits with image quality capabilities and can't imagine that yet more resolution will remedy any imaging issues. This isn't definitive yet, as we've not been able to check out the P520's image in finer detail, it's just that sometimes less is more - as is often the case with small sensor resolution.
The camera itself - which we saw in a fetching cherry red, as offset against the yellow counter on the stand - feels rather plasticky yet is solid to the touch. The rear vari-angle LCD screen on the back of the camera is great to have on board and although the electronic viewfinder is rather small and low resoltuion it's neatly tucked into the camera without the need to pay with much additional physical bulk.
All in all we're not totally convinced by the P520's direction: this is essentially a more expensive version of the P510 with a slot for the (not included) WU-1a wireless connector and an unnecessary resoltuion increase. We'd save that cash and pick up a P510 for a bargain basement price instead.