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Nikon Coolpix P510 Digital Camera Review$429.95
Low Light Performance
The P510 is fine for taking shots in low-light, especially using the night landscape multi-shot composite mode. Noise is kept under control and colors stay mostly saturated. But with a maximum aperture of f/3.0 (and that quickly drops as the focal length extends), there are limits. Moving objects will still blur, and telephoto shots are very, very iffy.
This is typical for a current superzoom (some of them start at a paltry f/3.5), and honestly, everyone should be reasonably satisfied with the P510's low-light performance; even just two or three years ago, superzooms couldn't do much of anything useful in marginally poor lighting.
Without considering the competition, the P510 earned a strong noise score in our test. At the default noise-reduction setting, the noise-to-signal ratio didn't cross 1 percent until ISO 400, and maxed out at just 1.44 percent at ISO 3200, the top native ISO setting. That's very good for a point-and-shoot. More on how we test noise.
The native ISO range is 100-3200, selectable in full stops, which is typical for a superzoom these days. There's also an extended setting, Hi 1, which boosts the sensitivity to ISO 6400 at full-res. Although these are still 16-megapixel shots, we didn't consider this extended setting in our noise tests, because Nikon wisely leaves it as a last-resort setting.
Auto ISO selection is available, as are automatic caps at ISO 400 and ISO 800.
In good lighting, at the wide end of the focal range, focus is as quick as we'd hope for out of a superzoom. It slows down notably in dimmer lighting, and especially as the focal length extends. But generally, it's quick and accurate.
Video: Low Light Sensitivity
As usual for a compact still camera, the P510 isn't particularly sensitive to light. It bottomed out on our sensitivity threshold at just 38 lux, barely enough to earn any points in the test. Camcorders can pick up enough light even down around 15 lux, by comparison.