I bought the Nikon P1000 as a backup “long lens” while I was on safari in Africa. I had three groups back to back, and we were going to be in three countries over two months, and I am reluctant to go to Africa with backup gear. I’m not a birder, but I am an avid bird photographer, and I always say you can’t have too much glass for birds! I am somewhat obsessed with bird photography, and I admit, I get very frustrated if I see a new bird and can’t get a photo. The extraordinary 3000mm effective focal length was too unbelievable to resist.
I received the camera the day before; I left fo the safari, and so, I charged the battery put it in the bag, and took my flights. I did not use the camera very much the first few days; I was sure that it would not be as good as my regular camera kit, the Nikon D850 (48mp), and a Sigma 150-600. With this high resolution, I can easily make a 50% crop, causing my image to be equivalent to a 1200mm lens. I quickly discovered that the birders were satisfied with the views of birds that were not close enough for me to photograph. Even with a considerable crop, I wasn’t happy! So out comes what I was playfully calling the toy camera, my P1000. I was thrilled with the reach of the camera, but I was still not getting great results. At the time, I blamed the camera, but after I continued to use the Nikon P1000 throughout the safari, I realized it was because I had assumed it was as capable as my usual gear.
Over the next couple of months, I gradually figured out the things that I could and, more importantly, the things that I could not achieve with my new toy. On a side note, never try to learn an entirely new piece of equipment on an important trip, you’ll miss photos that you should have made.
Is The Nikon P1000 A Good Camera
Yes, the P1000 is a good camera and one that I am pleased to have in my bag. You need to understand the limitations of the camera.
The conditions need to be well above average to beyond perfect.
Noise starts creeping in after ISO 400.
It is sharper at F8 than F5.6.
It’s 16 megapixels don’t leave much room to crop, so go ahead and use the zoom.
Using the Nikon P1000 for Wildlife Photography
The Nikon P1000 does not focus very fast, and that is not good news for photographing fast action. Tracking fast-moving wildlife with a superzoom is very difficult. At focal lengths beyond 1500mm, I found myself having to look up and see where to focus.
The P1000 shoots seven frames per second and also has a seven frame buffer. That is a reasonable shooting speed, the problem is, no camera functions will work while the images are writing to the card. It can take up to nine seconds on a fast memory card to clear the buffer. That is an eternity for wildlife.
Using the Nikon P1000 for Bird Photography
The ability to shoot at 3000mm is an incredible benefit for bird photographers. Consider this; human eyesight is the equivalent of using a 43mm lens. The P1000 is almost 70 times more powerful than the naked eye! A good pair of binoculars would be about ten times that of your eyes.
Photographing small birds at a distance is solved by the Nikon P1000, but their rapid movement is not. There is .17 second delay from the moment you push the shutter release to image capture. Again, that is an eternity for birds. Shooting a burst mitigates that time lag, but you will still miss the perfect pose more often than not.
Shooting with Nikon P1000 on Safari
I found that the ergonomics of shooting with the P1000 to be excellent, if you think about it as a point and shoot camera. I found it to be light and easy to handhold. The viewfinder and the LCD are very bright and easy to use. The ability to live-view the effects of your settings is excellent. The menu system is simple and easy to use.
There is a programmable ring on the front that I set to change the exposure compensation, with beautiful results.
The P1000 is Fun, Frustrating and Fabulous
There is no doubt that the powerful zoom of the P1000 is fun. Looking down the throat of a lion from the safety of the Land Cruiser is more fun than a barrel of monkeys!
The camera limitations are frustrating, especially when the camera is a brick when it is writing the image files.
The results are fabulous when all conditions are perfect.
Nikon P1000 on Safari – My Conclusions
The P1000 will never be a full-time camera for me. The limitations prevent me from making shots that would ordinarily be routine is not acceptable. I am thrilled to have the P1000 on all of my future trips because there will be that one moment that I could not possibly capture with a standard camera.
Do you have a Nikon P1000? Let me know your thoughts.
Do you have a question about the camera? I answer them all!
Nikon P1000 Photo Gallery
Click an image to see full size and the focal length will be displayed in the bottom left.