The Nikon P900 – Decision Time

Warning . . . long post ahead.

Yesterday, we drove to the Volcano National Park. The only camera I used was the Nikon P900. Got me some photos to share. I’ll post some, but the full gallery and associated video playlists are at the bottom of the post. 

We start out with macros shot at and near the Visitor Center.


Wait, these next shots are not macros . . . 



There is no SmugMug gallery of these shots. You can get a larger version by clicking on the individual shots or going to the gallery at the bottom, but these are not “original size” shots. The Nikon P900 takes a different mindset — or so I concluded — than the photos I take with the Nikon D7000 and my assorted lenses. 

Namely, present the photo as it is. If I want a “larger” or “closer” shot, I just zoom in and take the shot. 

Continuing, these are macros . . . 





Also for the curious-minded, these photos have been processed, but not overly so. I’ve arrived a decent group of settings for the camera and a minimalistic post-processing settings dependant on the type of photos I took.

Here is a shot taken at 185mm zoom from about 25-30 feet away . . . 


. . . and here is a shot at 850mm . . . 


. . . and a shot at 2400mm zoom . . . 


This next shot was taken without flash inside the building using the “museum” scene preset.


This next shot is of a scale representation of the Big Island outside under the shade of a portico. 


The articulated screen came in handy here because I held the camera as high as I could above my head and used the screen to frame the shot.

This next shot is taken in what is considered a tropical forest with a mix of shadow and light. To be fair, it’s not a great shot, but to be fairer, I don’t think the big rig would have fared much better. I know this from experience. 


Ir will eventually serve as a good base for some artistic reimagining or other. 

Going back to more macros, I’m pleased with these, especially the second one. 



It’s difficult to know what one is looking at in that first photo, but that is more a matter of composition than the camera. 

This next rock is about 8″ high . . . 



Stepping outside the Volcano House and looking toward the Steam Vents lining the Kilauea Caldera . . . 



This shot looks toward the smoke rising from the Halema’uma’u crater. 


To the right of the photo, on the ridge, is the Jaggar Museum, our next stop . . . but not before a few macros of the foliage in the foreground. Well, actually, the first shot is at 500mm zoom, the second at around 250mm. Not quite macro.



Also, here is a shot of the lava fireplace inside the visitor center complete with the fire burning (it was a chilly day up there).


That shot needed a bit more processing, but it came out pretty good for having been shot indoor, away from windows, and without flash. 

And, here’s the money shot . . . 


This was more activity than on our last visit here (see THIS post). 

The crater with the roiling lava is a tad over one mile from where I took the photos. This next shot is at 1400mm equivalent zoom. 


I have a playlist of six videos I shot while there. These three were shot hand-held in fairly high winds, so excuse the jumping around. They are all short.

Well, I then decided to get the tripod. 

You might have noticed a lot of talking . . . the place was crowded. Two buses of Japanese and Chinese visitors had dumped a bunch of people in what is a small viewing area. 

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed with Japanese and now Chinese tourists . . . they don’t give a shit that you are there. They will crowd you, get in front of you, and by sheer mass of bodies, force you to move. This is not the first time I’ve encountered this behavior and I’m sort of used to it if not very pleased about it.  

I had been shooting from here . . . 


. . . but had to move to the side. I then had to climb a nearby wall to see anything above the milling Asian crowd — or is it Oriental? I don’t know what’s PC these days.

The wall was not wide enough to properly set the tripod, so I had to brace it by hand, hence still a bit of moving around. 

These next ones are longer video at a lesser zoom (but still much better than I can do with my better lenses):

I have more than these, but these are the ones I’ve uploaded so far. 

On the way back to the car, I saw this tree silhouetted against the sky. 


I like that shot.

We next stopped at the Steam Vents . . . 


. . . and I took the opportunity to test the zoom by looking into the Kilauea Caldera. According to Google Earth, I’m shooting at a surface 400 feet below and about 400 yards out, or roughly 1,270 feet away . . . 





Here’s a movie of it . . . 

On the way back to the car, I shot more macros. The vegetation was in a sorry state (see photo above) but there were small plants here and there that captured my interest . . . 








Did I mention it was very windy? No? . . . it was very windy.

All of these shots taken during this excursion were taken in BSS mode . . . I press the button, the camera takes 10 photos (in an instant) chooses and keeps the sharpest photo and discards the rest. 

So, from the Volcano House, we traveled down the Chain of Craters road. Both Google Earth and Google Maps have street-level-views of the drive for them interested in such things. 

I like traveling that road because you end up going through wide lava fields of previous flows. By the way, I have a bunch of photos from the D7000 from a late December excursion into the park, and I should eventually process them because there are some neat photos on there. 

In fact, I’m way behind in processing photos from the D7000 because I’ve been spending time evaluating — having fun — with the P900. Life is too short to do everything one wants to do. 

To continue . . . here’s what those fields look like . . . 


This was in the early afternoon, with the sun high above . . . not exactly the best of lights to work with. BUT . . . one can shoot down . . . 

Here’s what you are going to see next; pairs of photographs. Each pair has the photo as shot with a slight bump in saturation and the same photo with the saturation cranked up to enhance the colors in the lava.

Colors in the lava? Yup! Enjoy, and for fun, look up what minerals might be present in the lava to give it the particular hues — HERE’s a link to get you started, but be aware identifying minerals from just the colors is iffy since the colors depend on multiple factors. 

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Here’s a pair with a plant included for reference . . . 

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On the way back, we stopped at the Punalu’u Beach Park (the Black Sand Beach, as many visitors call it).

This is a small monument near the pavilions . . . 

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By law, you are supposed to keep at least 20 feet away from any sea turtle. 

Notice the rock boundary around the three turtles that came ashore to lay eggs . . . 


That’s about 200 yards away and I’m at 100mm zoom. This next shot is at 650mm zoom.


And this next shot is at 2400mm zoom . . . 


This is also a shot at 2400mm zoom of a tree across the bay, 280 yards away.

20170210_dscn1659_1_digiOK, OK . . . that’s me just playing with the zoom. I had no interest in the tree at this distance.

But, how’s the camera for other scenes, perhaps at wider zooms?






I also took a few intermediate shots . . . 




It was difficult capturing a good shot of the dove . . . it was moving around pretty good. Don’t believe me?

The building had an interesting texture . . . like peeling wallpaper . . . 





The other side of the building was better maintained . . . 


So, we are nearing the end . . . almost. Leaving the park, the road swings by a golf course and I’ve had luck getting photos of Nenes there. This time, I also got a few other aquatic avians. 


Don’t see them? Here, let me help you out (1800mm zoom) . . . 





Not as great as I would have liked, but I was shooting from the running car, and that never works well, not even with my “good” rig. 

I think the movies are decent . . . 

Just a bit down the road, I got me some Nenes . . . this time, I got out of the car. 






These were at 330mm zoom, well within the range of my D7000 loaded with the excellent 70-200mm lens.

But, here’s the thing; these are pretty good and most people don’t go look at the originals to see the reflection in the eyes of the goose. The above are good enough for 90% of the readers. Another 8% might click on the above to look at the larger version. 2% are right now disappointed there is no SmugMug gallery they can visit to look at these at full resolution. These don’t look all that sharp at full resolution, but, like I said, pretty good. 

Plus, I’m confident in saying I would have been hard-pressed to shoot this hand-held with my D7000.  

So, what’s the conclusion I take from this and other shooting sprees?

I’m keeping the camera.

Fear not, all you pixel-watchers . . . My camera bag will likely have both cameras in it; the D7000 with the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens, and the P900 doing duty for all the other lenses. 

When out and about with no plans for taking photos, I’ll have the P900.

When planning to shoot macros, I’ll have the D7000 with the amazing 105mm f/2.8 VR lens. 

Here are the P900 video playlists:

Heavy Surf Series

Heavy Surf Series II

Surfing II

P900 Test Videos

Volcano NP Lava 


The gallery for all the shots in this post (and a few more) is below. Thanks for reading and comments are always welcomed along with any questions you might have.


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