Nikon P900 For Bird Photography (Birding)
When it comes to Bridge cameras, they are now widely accepted as the more versatile and affordable option for a large majority of non-professionals when it comes to features, zooming capabilities and image quality for the price. So many people want just one camera that can do it all, and with a good Bridge camera, that is basically what you get. Don’t get me wrong, just like with DSLR’s and everything in between, there’s still a mountain of poor Bridge cameras to sift through to find the really good ones. But do some research online, read lots of reviews, and I’m sure you’ll discover some of the true greats that are out there from brands like Nikon, Canon and Panasonic.
There are so many fantastic models to choose from, but not many really blow you away like the Nikon COOLPIX P900 does. Fair enough, it has no RAW option, is rather bulky (although not overly heavy), the battery life could be better, and is far from the cheapest option out there. But that 83x optical zoom (2000mm) is something special. If its an incredible zoom you’re after, you really need to look no further than the Nikon P900. Whether it be Astrophotography, Travelling, Safari, or Wildlife in general, the P900 ensures the user has the ability to get up close and personal, right in on the action. It’s one of the best – one camera does it all options currently available.
Most people are aware that with most cameras, the more you zoom in (especially free-hand), the harder it is to eliminate camera shake and achieve a really clear image. However, what’s even more amazing about the P900, is that the stability when shooting without a tripod at super distances (close to full zoom) is almost as impressive as the zoom itself. Of course, excellent stabilization is no guarantee of a 100% success rate, especially when shooting at considerable zoom ranges, but it does give even novice users a significantly better chance of being able to capture spectacular images some of the time.
So as you can imagine, with an extensive zoom and superb stabilization, using this model for Bird photography (Birding) gives the user an incredible advantage for achieving crisp, sharp images that give the impression that the user was much closer than they really were. Whenever, I think of the P900 I automatically think of Binoculars. Bionic Binoculars! When Bird watchers go on the look out with only a pair of Binoculars they may see a rare bird, or a species not usually seen in their location. Now, armed with just a set of Binoculars the Bird spotter will only be able to tell people about what he saw, but with the Nikon P900 the watcher can not only photograph, but actually film the whole scene and show it to interested parties whenever he or she desires.
So in terms of capturing wildlife, it’s like having a very powerful set of Binoculars that can take excellent pictures when in close to full zoom, and record high definition video footage too. Yes, you may be able to pick up a decent pair of Binoculars much cheaper, and they are lighter to carry around, but being able to actually record the event rather than just see it yourself and talk about it afterwards is so much more pleasing and rewarding.
The best settings for birding are really down to the situation, as there are an unlimited number of different shooting scenarios you may find yourself encountering. A good place to start, though, is with Birdwatching mode. Yes, the Nikon P900 actually has this mode built in. But be aware, this is not always a – set and forget – mode. It will work well in many situations but be aware that exposure levels in this mode can, and sometimes will, need to be adjusted to suit the scene.
This is not hard to do, but just something to be aware of if you end up using this mode and are left disappointed because the pictures came out either really dark or with overexposure (too light). A simple adjustment was most probably needed. You could always use the clever scene auto selector mode that this model has, which is basically an auto-mode that will detect the best settings that the camera thinks most suit the subject you are shooting.
As you get to know the P900 better you can start testing out some of the different modes, and manually begin tailoring your settings to fit the subject. Settings such as shutter priority, manual / single focus, center point focus, ISO and burst mode are fairly simple but sometimes very important tweaks for achieving the best possible image clarity when birding. Like with any model, the more you learn the camera the more in-tune and familiar you will become with it, and will start to instinctively know what settings and features to use for specific scenes and subjects. Buy one, you won’t regret it.