Hummingbird Closeups with the Nikon P510


Green-throated Carib

Coolpix P510 f5.0 1/100 ISO 400

It is so cool to be able to shoot hummingbirds when in Niagara Falls I would have to wait for five more months. These birds live in St. Lucia and are greeted everyday with warmth, sun and all the flowers they can visit.


f4.8 1/125 ISO 800

I was uncertain about traveling to such a prime vacation spot without my DSLR and long lenses, but after shooting the Nikon P510 for a few days, I was nothing but pleased with what it could do.

Click any image and see for yourself the clear detail this camera affords.

I love this lightweight camera loaded with features. It does have some limitations, but you can see by the photos, it really is a little workhorse. It also helps tremendously that the hummingbirds were a sitting subject.

I did this post for all of you with a point-and-shoot camera that may think your camera cannot shoot these quick tiny birds. Yes it can!  My camera was zoomed in between 130mm and 400mm, so nothing was beyond what most point-and-shoots can capture or what inexperienced photographers can master.


f4.5 1/125 ISO 400

This Nikon Coolpix P510 holds bragging rights at a 42x optical zoom, but even this well endowed camera has some flaws at these zoom ranges. One difficulty is hand holding the camera while trying to focus at extreme zoom range. Holding the P510 still and keeping your subject framed is hard with the autofocus being quite slow.

Also the camera experiences heat haze in the 1000mm range when shooting outdoors which very much affects image quality.  It is a great little camera that takes a bit of getting used to if you hand hold the camera and want to zoom in like I did for these images. Even at a 400mm zoom, getting the subject clearly focused was a bit challenging, but not overly difficult.


Antillean Crested Hummingbird

f5.0 1/200 ISO 400

You can see how clear the images are in a more standard zoom range in my hummingbird photos. Shooting hummingbirds was a great test of the camera’s abilities since they rarely sit for long and are tiny subjects.


f6 1/250 ISO 800

One thing that did disappoint me was the action shots. The slow autofocus was very evident in these images. I even set the camera on ‘Sports’ where it snaps off three consecutive shots and again, it is very slow on the mark having still blurred the images.

There is no comparison to my DSLR cameras in this area. Photographing a Hummingbird in Flight is a much different beast and really requires a fast camera, but you can see, the P510 can still make the captures, albeit a bit soft.  Want more moving hummers, see Hummingbirds Come Rain, Sleet and Snow. Fast moving hummers feeding at garden flowers is more challenging for photographers and camera alike.


f5.0 1/200 ISO 400

I am no expert on this camera by any comparison, but using it for ten days straight, I did get comfortable using the zoom. I just learned the limitations and accepted the results. Do I feel I can get the same results as my bigger Nikons and longer lenses? Not close, but pretty darn good for such a lightweight, compact  16.1 Megapixel camera. Don’t you agree that point-and-shoots have come a long way?


f6 1/400 ISO 800

I found this camera fun to shoot with, but have read that at the higher ISO of 800 and above that subjects lose significant detail and “look a little smeary”.  You might notice I did not go over ISO 800 like I frequently do with my DSLR cameras. I don’t agree with the assessment at ISO 800, but do agree when the camera is set higher. There is more grain and I did experience the ‘smeary’ look.


f4.5 1/160 ISO 800

I do find that this camera is a good choice for both those that just point-and-shoot and those who want more control like myself.


f5.0 1/125 ISO 800

For many, the selection of scene settings will be very useful. This camera does not have all the kitschy settings of other cameras. Those it does have are extremely useful with great picture quality.


f5.0 1/200 ISO 800

This camera is GPS enabled and take my word for it, it is not too reliable. Also, it will quickly devour your battery. One must remember to disable it before a trip, even when the camera is turned off as it still is in contact with the satellite. You cannot have it enabled for air travel and even some countries prohibit its use.


f4 1/60 ISO 800

The Nikon P510 is a really nice all-around camera for those of you ready to move on from a point-and-shoot to the next step, but it will never best a decent DSLR. I find this camera a great value with its features and fine quality in well-lit, outdoor environments. It is perfect for travel, especially if you are going where you might not want to risk losing a good DSLR to theft.


f4.5 1/160 ISO 400

I added this image of a Bananaquit above because this bird, although not a hummingbird, is one tough cookie to photograph. It was the only bird that I wish I had my fast focusing DSLR camera along on this trip.

I will show the other camera I took on the trip, the Coolpix AW100. I used it in the previously popular post on photographing fish underwater, but also used it for grand scenic shots. I was really enamored with this tiny, true point-and-shoot camera. It is Nikon’s first attempt at a ruggedly built point-and-shoot, and is the sharpest and clearest point-and-shoot I ever used. I did not have much opportunity to shoot underwater and know it could have preformed much better had I been better at snorkeling.

Thank you to all that viewed St. Lucia Fish – Under the Sea (809 views the first day). Also thanks for all your well wishes on my health.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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64 Responses to Hummingbird Closeups with the Nikon P510

  1. Brian Comeau says:

    Welcome home. Great shots Donna. With the way camera phones and p/s are improving it makes you wonder if some day the SLR will join 110 film and Polaroid.

    • Thanks, Brian. I am pretty sure with the editing apps so easy and affordable, ie those for the masses, and the cameras becoming smaller and smaller, ie. mirrorless, that pros are headed to leaving the heavy DSLR cameras behind on many shoots. Being so small, these cameras are not often questioned in places that prohibit photographs. Most of these places want to limit profession images, not necessarily the point-and-shoot crowd. The small cameras and phones are good street cameras too. People don’t hide and run, or worse, want your head for taking their photo when a point-and-shoot is lurking.

  2. You really got fabulous images of the hummingbirds. What you didn’t say in your post was how diligent you were in going out every day to sit? and capture image after image of these illusive birds. Your hard work really paid off.

    • Lol. I also did not mention how that big black cat foiled most of my attempts either. That pain in the neck, bird eater would come right up to my side each day and all the birds would make haste and disappear. Even when I put out the sugar for the Bananaquit, the cat decided that is where it wanted to stalk. When the cat was not by my side the fives dogs were. I should have mentioned in the post to lock up the critters before trying your hand at photographing the hummers.

  3. My dear Donna, you are an artist!
    Beautifully framed, perfect contrasts & colors…
    Great pics – as always!

  4. Christy says:

    How cute are these little sweeties!! I especially like the crested hummers. The bananaquit (what a funny name) was cute too! Thanks for such beautiful shots.

  5. Pat says:

    Such beautiful little birds!

  6. Your camera does really works well! The definition of birds are fantastic considering the tool used and how much determination is needed to capture in-motion subjects. The penultimate image f4 1/60 ISO 800, would make a perfect pattern for a wallpaper, I love it. Take care!

  7. Charlie says:

    Great photos, great deal. We have two types of hummingbirds that come to our feeder. The Annas stay year round and are already very active. Watching them is a real pleasure., it makes your photos even more enjoyable.

    • We don’t see the Annas here, but they are quite pretty themselves. I could watch hummingbirds all day. In Costa Rica there were so many varieties and they came right up to us. One landed on my telephoto lens.

  8. Salix says:

    Stunning photos

  9. Ah, fabulous photos!!! And I love the ‘Hummingbird Punk’ hairstyles!

  10. Super captures! Love the head crest on those hummers. Your camera performed well but I will say that it is the talent of the photographer that makes the shots as great as yours are! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed your vacation!

    • So kind of you, but I really am keen on this camera. I think it performs well considering it is an entry level camera. I did have a great time in St. Lucia and I have ten days of images to prove it. 😀

  11. Donna thanks for trying out my Christmas gift and giving an great assessment and useful settings…I have been so swamped at work and so no time to try it out. Hope to or should I say must before the spring garden gets going…

    • You will like this camera a lot. It is simple to use once you get used to it. My only gripe is how slow it is to focus. I am spoiled with the D7000 as it is a fast camera. I was surprised too on the clarity at 16.1 Megapixels on the small sensor.

  12. diggingher says:

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful photo’s.

  13. Karen says:

    Hello Donna, welcome home. Amazing photos with both cameras. My son has the AW100 and wants to try to capture photos while kayaking. I’m sure he won’t be able to capture images as stunning as your snorkeling adventure. By the way, I would be terrified to even attempt snorkeling, so my hat is off to you! The hummingbirds are beautiful, too.

    • Your son will do great with the AW100. It is a true point and shoot with no manual settings. The modes are foolproof too. My next post is on this camera shooting big landscape shots. It does a great job even on scenery.

  14. Great photos! Hard to believe that was a “point and shoot”! Hummingbirds are tough subjects…but gorgeous!

  15. Patty says:

    Hope you enjoyed your trip. The photos of the trip and the birds are great.

  16. I have been amazed at what some people can do with a point-and-shoot camera, and now I’m beginning to realize point-and-shoot cameras themselves are becoming amazing. Thanks for the great info and wonderful photos.

  17. I’m often impressed at how far cameras of all types have come in the past few years for image quality and color rendering, and your post proves it further. Some wonderful images you’ve created of these fast little birds. Your patience paid off with amazing details and clarity in a set of delightful images.

    • Thanks, Galen. I don’t use this camera much, but it was really nice not to have the weight of the other equipment. I took it because there is a bit of crime on St. Lucia if you are not staying within the resort. I was afraid to broadcast having expensive lenses. I also found myself looking/enjoying more than photographing. If I had the other Nikon, I would have felt more compelled to use it more often. When I was snorkeling the same thing happened. I just found myself enjoying the fish rather than chasing them down for a photo op.

      • I’m facing the same issues of cameras and possible thefts when I head to Ecuador for a week, and then the Galapagos Islands. I know I’ll want my big cameras, but I also know I’ll worry about them. It’s that tricky balance. I have my underwater point and shoot, which I know will come along, but then it’s the figuring out the rest. Of course insurance will cover thefts, but it can’t save memory cards.

        • That will be an exciting trip. You will see nature at her finest there. I will love your photos too. Here is a site of another pro photographer that went where you are going. He took the AW100 along.
          Insurance is good, but losing the camera would be horrible. It is not like you pop into a local camera store and replace it.

          My cousin lives in a really expensive house on the island that she just built in 2010. It is completely ‘fortified’ in that it has security lights, security alarms, security cameras (a double set) a fenced and gated property and some really mean looking barbed wire topping the high fence – plus five big barking dogs. Even the huge iron gate was alarmed when a car approached. The alarms kept going off at night, the security lights went on, the dogs barked on and off and all that freaked Carolyn and I out. Shady characters were always around too. I was so glad my camera equipment stayed home. I was even worried my iPad might take a walk somehow.

  18. These are amazing captures ! That camera did a fantastic job, and it is as if you were right next to them. These are the best hummingbird photos I’ve ever seen. And the one with him yawning or perhaps singing – priceless.

    • Thanks! I was kinda next to them. Most of the hummers were tolerant of me, but not the bird-eating cat that kept making them leave. I did have one singing or whatever they do when vocalizing, but I did not post that one. I think you like the bird that is grooming. He really was smoothing out those feathers. He must have a lady hummer he was trying to impress.

  19. HolleyGarden says:

    Oh, wow! What wonderful birds! So glad you got to see them. It really is a measure of your skill that you got such great photos from just a point and shoot camera. I can never get a photo of a hummer – plus, mine don’t trust me much as I can’t seem to stay still when I’m out in the garden.

    • The tip for getting them to trust you I think was in my post, Well anyway… it is being in the garden before they come and being by the flowers in which they feed. They feed about every ten minutes and in my garden come at specific times daily. Know their schedule and flowers on which they feed and just be out there about 5 minutes before they come. They grow very accustomed to you. I get within seven feet in my own garden and I was about five feet at my cousin’s garden in St. Lucia. As for perching, they rarely perch in my garden as they have huge trees behind in my neighbor’s lawns. Sometimes they perch in my lilac though. In St. Lucia they perch in the shrubs on which they are feeding. This is where they guard the plants on which they feed. There were many battles over the territory but unfortunately this camera could not capture them. I could have exhausted the battery and put it on video though.

  20. Bill S says:

    I have been using a P510 for three months now. One of the best features I find is having a digital viewfinder as well as an LCD screen. Battery is not strong enough to support all the power hungry features though. Splendid photographs as usual Donna.

    • I should have noted the battery losing power rapidly. I solved that to using the camera for two days straight by turning off the monitor and using the electronic viewfinder (like in the DSLR – bringing it up to your eye). I also had a second battery at all times. I do like the monitor though especially since it is movable. “The angle of the monitor can be lowered down to 82° or raised upward to 90°. This is convenient when taking pictures with the camera held at high or low positions.” From the manual. This is a common feature of point-and-shoots that is good for taking shots at ground level, like those low growing flowers.

  21. Absolutely amazing photographs of these beautiful creatures. I have never seen a hummingbird stationary and they are always moving so quickly that one is lucky enough just to get a glance. That camera takes beautiful shots but it also has a lot to do with the photographer behind the lens! Thanks for sharing!

  22. Linda Makiej says:

    ¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨ simply wonderful!

  23. Amazing captures, Donna!

  24. Carolyn says:

    What fun you’ve had! That’s my kind of vacation… time to sit and watch the little birds. St.Lucia’s hummers are so different from mine… love your pics! As always you capture their personality. The first pics I ever took of hummingbirds was with an old point and shoot and they turned out amazing. Not sure I’ve learned much since then but I do have fun.

  25. A.M.B. says:

    Great pictures! It’s fascinating to get such a close view of these birds. They’re beautiful little creatures.

  26. adeeyoyo says:

    Hi Donna, I am new to photography which is a huge joke being a pensioner and having just acquired my first camera ever! It is a Nikon Coolpix S8200 and I’ve just been to the PIlanesberg Nature Reserve for a few days trying out the cameral.. I love it. The only drawback is the length of time it takes to focus and the way in which it moves in and out of focus if you can’t hold it dead still. Even so,. overall I am very pleased with my photo’s apart for the first few being a little out of focus. I think I did improve later by using the autofocus function.

    I really like this post and will be visiting from time to time despite a lot of what you say being a bit over my head, lol! Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me.

    • I agree on focus time. These smaller cameras just don’t have the speed of the prosumer models. I have a link on my menu for a page called Photography Tips and Thoughts. It includes my photos and tips as an experienced amateur, and also there is a post for work from seasoned pros. It may help you in to photographic exploration.

  27. Wow! Great photos thank you for sharing with us.

  28. Fossillady says:

    Most impressive Donna, the point and shoot did a good job and you shared with us some valuable information about it! I just enjoyed those darling hummingbirds! Kathi :O)

  29. Donna, that is a great little camera… work horse indeed. Love that little crested hummer is adorable. I like having a small camera to carry with me, ready for any photo opportunity.

    • The small camera really does have advantages over a large camera, but I still use the bigger Nikon daily. The small one is great for travel and I think it will accompany me on my next trip too. If the next trip is to San Fran, I will have both along.

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