New Gear: Nikon Announces 42x Zooming Coolpix P510 and P310 Compact Cameras

That's right, Nikon's new flagship super-zoom has a 1,000mm equivalent zoom lens

Nikon P510

Nikon P510

The P-series is where Nikon keeps some of their more advanced compacts and the new P510 certainly fits that category, bringing with it one of the nuttiest zoom lenses ever attached to a compact camera. The 42x Nikkor lens starts at a wide 24mm and goes all the way to 1,000mm (full-frame equivalent). Of course, that also includes built-in Vibration Reduction, because with that kind of reach, you're certainly going to need it.

Behind all that glass is a 16.1-megapixel Back Side Illuminated CMOS sensor, coupled with Nikon's Expeed C2 digital image processing engine. That combo can crank out up to five full-res images in a single second when switched to high-speed mode.

Other advanced features include built-in GPS, 1080p movie recording with stereo sound. You can even use the full spectrum of the zoom lens and AF during video recording. The 3-inch, 921k monitor is vari-angle, so you can rotate it for easier composition at tricky angles.

The P510 will be available some time in February for a price of $429, which seems very reasonable considering the amount of features crammed into it.

Also announced today is the Nikon P310, which cuts the optical zoom all the way down to 4.2, but keeps the focus on low-light performance, offering a maximum aperture of F/1.8. It uses the same 16.1-megapixel, BSI CMOS sensor and optical VR system, plus it adds an expandable ISO setting equivalent to 6400.

The P310 offers full manual control, including P/S/A/M modes, all of which are controlled using the top-mounted control wheel. It uses a 3-inch anti-reflective LCD screen (931k dots) and shares the 1080p video capture capability. It also takes some styling cues from the Nikon V1, which I consider to be a positive.

To further emphasize its low-light capabilities, Nikon has also included a few night-specific shooting modes. Advanced Night Portrait combines two images -- one with flash and one without -- to merge subjects and backgrounds. Night Landscape mode combines info from several shorter exposures in order to reduce noise. And Backlight HDR, well, makes in-camera HDR images.

The P310 will be available in February for $329, which makes it pretty completive, at least on paper. That fast lens is a valuable commodity in a compact.

We look forward to checking out both when review units become available.

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