Nikon introduced a pair of step-up superzoom cameras here at CP+, with the P520 designed to meet the needs of advanced amateur shooters and the L820 best suited for casual photographers looking to get a bit closer to the action. Both models include BSI CMOS sensors, with the $450 P520 snapping 18.1-megapixel stills and the $280 L820 capturing 16 megapixels. That first model includes a 42x (24-1,000mm) optical zoom lens while the latter sports a 30x (22.5-675mm) optic -- both offer lens-based image stabilization. Both options feature lens-mounted zoom toggles, pop-up flashes and dedicated video capture buttons, but only the P520 offers a dedicated mode dial, and if you're planning to make changes on the fly, that's really a necessity.
We caught up with the duo at Nikon's CP+ booth this week -- we were expecting some inconsistency between the two based on price and specs alone, but after trying out both models, the Coolpix P520 is far and above the better option. The VGA-resolution 3.2-inch display was incredibly sharp and bright, and the vari-angle functionality lets you snap overhead and below-eye-level shots with ease. The camera was very responsive and the housing felt quite durable -- you definitely get quite a bit for your 450 bucks. The L820, on the other hand, felt very much like a low-end alternative, so unless you're on a strict budget or in the market for a sub-$300 model, you'll want to spend for the P520. You should be able to check out both cameras in retail stores beginning later this month, or you can take a look today in our hands-on after the break.