If you’re passionate about photography, today’s your lucky day, because this article is actually the Nikon Coolpix B500 review. Before anything, let’s check out the main tech specs and go from there, okay?
- 16MP – 1/2.3-inch BSI-CMOS Sensor
- ISO 80 – 3200
- 23-900 mm F3.0-6.5 Zoom Lens
- Optical Image Stabilization
- 3″ Tilting Screen
- 7.4 fps continuous shooting
- Full HD – 1920 x 1080 video
- Built-in Wireless
- 541g. 114 x 78 x 95 mm
So, even if this camera was first introduced back in February 2016, which means is 5 years old, it still makes for a great asset if you’re an amateur photographer looking for affordable yet competent gear. Speaking of competent gear, the Nikon Coolpix B500 makes for a 16 megapixel small- sensor Superzoom camera with a 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS sensor, built-in OIS (optical image stabilization), a tilting display and, most importantly, 23-900 mm F3.0-6.5 lens (don’t forget to keep your lens clean, alright kids?).
If you’re not sure about “science”, go read this article about the importance of megapixels in a camera and thank us later. Moving along with the Nikon Coolpix B500 review, this is a bridge camera, featuring a 16 MP sensor paired with 40x optical zoom, plus digital zoom of up to 80x.
There are plenty of shooting modes, but since we’re talking about “amateur-territory”, the B500 cannot shoot in raw format, and there’s no manual control. As in, everything’s automatic, just point, shoot and you’ll do just fine.
However, since the intended target audience of the B500 is beginners, this is hardly a “deal-breaker” in our view. So, if you’re an enthusiast shopping for your first camera, or just a travel/backup one, this is as good as it gets, and it will not cost a fortune.
Even if this is not the best Nikon camera, it features the company’s proprietary SnapBridge technology, which means that the B500 stays connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth at all times, and can “live-stream” (so to speak) pictures across to social media in real-time.
Other features worth mentioning include the 3.0’’ tilting display with 921k-dot resolution, full HD 1080p video recording (it’s a 2016 model, okay?), and Wi-Fi connectivity built-in.
Ease of use
To begin with the obvious, the B500 is a mid-sized snapper, not too small or too large, weighing 541 g (1.19 lb / 19.08 oz) and measuring 114 x 78 x 95 mm (4.49 x 3.07 x 3.74″). What’s really important is the chunky grip that protrudes relatively far from the camera’s relatively compact body, and needless to say, it makes the B500 feel secure in the hand and easy to “manipulate”, even at awkward angles. Speaking of angles, you will definitely appreciate the tilting screen which goes both up and down.
The grip has a nice texture which makes it feel high-quality, while the rest of the camera is, let’s say plain. Given the fact that the B500 is relatively lightweight, you can use it with one hand even if you’re a girl, and the mode dial that switches between shooting modes ads to ergonomics in a big way.
Even if there’s no manual mode, you have a ton of scene/ shooting options, including some specifically designed to make the most of its long zoom. We must mention something rather unusual about the B500: it uses 4 AA batteries, unlike others with proprietary rechargeable batteries, and that’s pretty good in our view, especially if you travel a lot and finding a power outlet may be difficult.
The zoom has 2 rocker switches, and the top of the camera harbors a dial for switching between the various shooting modes, which include fully automatic, scene, creative, movie mode and more.
The zoom rocker switches from wide-angle to telephoto, and on the side of the lens you’ll find another switch for zooming in and out. The rear panel control layout is pretty much “business as usual”, with the 4-way controller that is used to jump through the menus and for 1 touch access to flash, macro mode, exposure compensation and self-timer.
As we already told you, the double-hinged screen is well designed, as in it can be flipped up or down; the display is one of the best we’ve seen in this price range on a superzoom, and it’s also perfectly legible in sunlight, which is a big plus for nature aficionados.
On the right side of the B500 you’ll find a soft flap that protects the HDMI/AV/USB ports, and there’s also a DC socket that can be used to power the camera from the mains via an AC adapter.
The 4 AA alkaline batteries included in the retail box will give you 600 shots autonomy, but you can upgrade to rechargeable batteries of larger capacity for extended use. High-quality rechargeable NiMH batteries will provide 750 shots, while Lithium AA batteries (more expensive) are good for up to 1240 shots.
The main advantage of AA batteries is that they’re easy to replace, you can get spares while on the road, and they are cheap compared to proprietary Li-Ion batteries. However, they add to the weight of the camera, so yeah, there’s always a caveat.
Lens and Stabilization
As we already told you, the Nikon COOLPIX B500 offers 40x optical zoom range, that extends from super wide 22.5mm (in 35mm terms) to 900mm at the telephoto end. That’s pretty good for an under $400 camera, and makes the B500 an extremely versatile tool that allows you to pick the optimal focal length in virtually any scenario, ranging from group photos/interiors to wildlife and sports.
Truth be told, in the current year there are many superzoom cameras available that offer longer ranges, but that’s another story. The lens’ maximum aperture is f3 at the wide-angle end of the zoom range, and close to f6.5 when fully ranged, and again, that’s pretty good specs all things considered (especially price).
Another good metric is the ISO sensitivity range, which extends to 6400 ISO, plus the optical stabilization, which means the lens elements are shifted to compensate for camera movement. The technology is called Photo VR and you can enable optical stabilization from the Setup menu (it’s an on/off thing).
The B500’s bet movie mode is 1080 / 25p / 30p HD mode, followed by 1080 / 50i / 60i, then 720 / 25p / 30p and finally 480 / 25p / 30p. Exposure control for movies is limited, or, to be more precise, there isn’t any except from exposure compensation.
This budget Nikon is quick enough for most people at shooting and switching on, and focus speeds are okay too when not using too much zoom and/or shooting towards the wide-angle end of the lens. If you go for full optical zoom, the B500 will take longer to focus. We must tell you that continuous shooting is quite impressive, as the B500 can shoot at 9 frames per second for 7 shots.
Shooting Experience and Conclusion
It’s very probable that you’ll use the B500 in Auto-mode at all times, hence shooting experience will always be buttery smooth. However, as we already told you, there are quite a few “manual” modes that are guaranteed to improve your experience, that provided you’re ready to tinker with the settings a little bit.
Bottom line, the B500 is great if you’re looking for a basic camera to get the job done. There are no advanced modes, and you cannot alter shutter speed, aperture or shoot in RAW format. Moreover, the B500 offers a lot of fun modes, the likes of Short Movie show and Creative mode, so you’ll definitely not become bored if you’re attending a party or whatever.
For best image quality, you should use the camera in bright light.
- SLR-style body
- Highly versatile
- High zoom ratio
- Lots of options
- User friendly
- Solid build quality
- Good value for money
- Excellent choice for beginners
- Some issues with Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity