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Nikon Coolpix S9300 Digital Camera Review

nikon20120827ba.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Katrina Ferguson

 

Nikon’s Coolpix S9300 is a decent compact camera not only in appearance and performance but also in terms of price point.

For less than $350 users will get themselves a solidly built unit equipped with some 16-megapixels, High Definition movie mode and a generous 18x optical zoom lens capable of extending out to some 450mm and as wide 25mm.

If you have no interest in the bells and whistles often added to compact cameras to make sales rather than be of much practical use, then the understated and user-friendly S9300 may well be the camera you’re looking for: it deals predominantly with the essentials required for good point-and-shoot photography, it presents with a fairly sleek and unassuming design and ultimately proves quite easy to use.

 

Appearance & Functionality


The S9300 is designed in a beautifully simple way with minimal (but ample) buttons and toggles that are each well placed and clearly labelled. Initially those with larger hands may have some trouble navigating the small and only slightly raised buttons but with a little bit of regular use this process is likely to fast become second nature.

nikon20120827bb.jpgThe unit’s body is of a standard rectangular design with a slightly raised front lip/rim where the triple-tiered lens tucks neatly (and surprisingly) into upon power off.

An angular rubberised thumb grip is situated on the camera’s back to help provide a solid hold of the nicely weighty S9300 (approximately 215g when equipped with both battery and memory card.)
 
A petite 8-option mode dial is built into the unit’s top edge where users will also find the shutter, zoom toggle, power button and raised GPS housing, which allows for the recording of GPS data and embedding of Points Of Interest into image metadata if desired.

While the function will undoubtedly prove useful to some on the odd occasion (given it isn’t always successful) the majority are likely to leave the option switched off to conserve the additional battery power used by the GPS function - what is without doubt currently a highly fashionable feature across the compact market.

The internal menu system maintains Nikon’s no frills design and navigation and for the most part proves usable and easy to understand.

User’s have the option between two available auto modes on the S9300: standard and auto scene selector where the latter utilises six of the most common scene types (landscape, portrait, macro etc.) in order to set what it deems are the most appropriate settings for current picture taking.

If, however, the camera can’t make this detection for itself it automatically reverts back to standard auto mode for the best and most reliable results.

Some 16 pre-programmed scene modes are available for selection along with the option of 3D picture taking (for display on compatible devices) but for my taste, this is leaning more towards the gimmicky rather than practical side of things.

Six of what Nikon calls its ‘special effects’ are also available and while they can be a little bit of fun and help to engender some mild creativity, they are fairly pedestrian effects compared to some of those on offer from competing brands.

Users can choose from: nostalgic sepia, high contrast monochrome, high key, low key, soft focus and selective colour.

As can commonly be expected from compact units in this market, the S9300 also includes smart portrait mode that offers blink warning, smile detection and skin softening. Smile detection works particularly well and will be popular amongst chronic self-portrait shooters.

 

Image Quality / Lens Quality


Image quality is quite nice overall particularly given the affordability of the S9300 and best results are undoubtedly achieved at wider apertures (where the integrity of detail and clarity is maintained) and when utilising the built-in flash.

nikon20120827bc.jpgWhen not in use, the flash unit tucks flush into the camera’s top edge where upon being required for picture taking it swiftly pops up from and provides some good fill and key flash lighting.

The 18x optical zoom lens on the S9300 is certainly one of its highlights offering users an expansive range of some 25-450mm (equivalent) meaning both wide angle and super zoom compositions are achievable.

While sharpness does appear to partially reduce the further the zoom is extended, image quality remains good overall and the Vibration Reduction image stabilisation feature noticeably kicks in to help reduce blur and camera shake caused by unintentional user movement.

There’s no buttery way to say it: the quality of images photographed using digital zoom is rubbish (a.k.a a blurry pixelated mess) but in saying that you’d be very hard-stretched to find a digital compact camera in this price bracket that will give you any better results.

 

View test images on our Facebook page 

 

nikon20120827bd.jpgLCD Screen / Viewfinder


The S9300 is equipped with a fixed 3-inch 921,000-dot display that offers users a crisp live preview and image review.

Detail renders both brightly and sharply and no obvious lag in real-time display is present making this LCD a solid performer. Nothing new or ingenious to speak of but perfectly sufficient overall.

 

Video


On its default setting the S9300 shoots full High Definition videos at 1080x1920p at 30 frames per second and, depending on their intended application, users are able to switch between numerous video quality and output options including HD at 720p, VGA and iFrame 540 (to name a few.)  

Full zoom capacity (including digital) is available whilst recording although the mechanics of doing so can be clearly heard during playback.

Best video quality is retained at wider zooms as from approximately mid-zoom range onwards the S9300 has a tendency to drop focus and seems to struggle to regain it quickly.

HD video recording is always a handy feature to have available on a compact camera and as with its LCD screen, the S9300 doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel with its video capability but instead offers users an appropriate level of quality and ability for the price paid.

 

 

 

 

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Conclusion


For the most part, the S9300 brings nothing particularly new or exciting to the compact camera market but instead offers itself up as a solid and simplified overall performer: a Jack of all trades if you will and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

Whilst not without its few small faults, the S9300 represents good value overall and is an ideal point-and-shoot unit for those looking for an attractive an user-friendly compact camera in the sub $400.00 price range.

 

Accessories Used During Testing:

Tamrac Aero 94 / 3394 Camera Bag  

SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s SD Card 

 

Recommended Retailer:

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View / Buy The Nikon Coolpix S9300  

 

Appearance rating 4.5 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
4 stars
Video quality
4 stars
Lens quality
4 stars
LCD screen (Rear)
4 stars
Value for money 4.5 star
Street Price
$349
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 16 Mega pixels
Sensor Type
1/2.3-in. type CMOS; total pixels: approx. 16.79 million
Image Sizes 6 sizes / 2 ratios
Lens 18x zoom NIKKOR; 4.5-81.0 mm (35mm [135] format angle of view: 25-450 mm); f/3.5-5.9; Digital zoom: up to 4x (35mm [135] format angle of view: Approx. 1800 mm)
Lens Mount
-
Resolution Settings: Stills 16M (High) [4608 x 3456]
16M [4608 x 3456]
8M [3264 x 2448]
4M [2272 x 1704]
2M [1600 x 1200]
VGA [640 x 480]
16:9 12M [4608 x 2592]
Resolution Settings: Video Audio file format: AAC stereo
Full HD: 1920x1080p / 30fps
HD: 1280x720p / 30fps
iFrame® 540: 960x540 / 30fps
Movie file format: MPEG-4 AVC H.264
Standard TV: 640x480 / 30fps
GPS Yes, Built In
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority No
Shutter Priority
No
Shutter Speeds Mechanical and CMOS electronic shutter
1/2000-1 sec. (when ISO sensitivity set to Auto)
4 sec. (when scene mode is set to Fireworks show)
ISO ISO 125-3200
Auto (auto gain ISO 125-800)
Fixed range auto (ISO 125-400, 125-800)
LCD Monitor 3.0 in. diagonal, TFT-LCD with Anti-reflection coating
5-level brightness adjustment
921,000-dots
97% horizontal (Approx.)
97% vertical (Approx.)
100% horizontal (Approx.)
Viewfinder -
Flash TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes
[W]: 0.5 to 5.1m (1ft 8in. to 16ft.)
[T]: 1.5 to 3.0m (5ft. to 9ft.10in.)
Hot Shoe No
White Balance Auto, Cloudy, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Manual
Self Timer 2 seconds or 10 seconds
Stills Format/s
JPEG
Video Format/s MOV (Video: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Audio: AAC stereo)
3D pictures: MPO
Video Recording Time/s 29 Minutes / 4GB
Storage Type - External SD, SDHC, SDXC memory cards
Storage Type - Internal
26MB
Connectivity Hi-Speed USB and HDMI Auto, 480p, 720p, 1080i
Power Source Battery Charger MH-65, AC Adapter EH-62F
Battery Options Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12
Battery Life Approximately 200 Shots
Dimensions 108.7mm (W) x 623mm (H) x 30.6mm (D) 
Weight 215g (including battery and memory card)
















 


 

 

About Nikon

 

The history of Nikon dates back to 1917 when three of Japan's leading optical manufacturers merged to form a fully integrated optical company. By the end of the century Nikon would have accumulated an immense poll of know-how and experience to become a world leader in not only optics and imaging but also industrial equipment and health and medicine sector.

Today Nikon designs, develops, manufactures and markets a gamut of optical, photographic and optoelectronic products globally. You will find them at work in virtually every corner of the earth. If it has something to do with light, Nikon has something to do with it.

The driving force behind Nikon is technology. Not only in manufacturing and assembling the finest lenses or most comprehensive photography system in the world, but also in making the glass itself. That is why Nikon products have gained worldwide customer satisfaction, and even professional recognition worldwide.

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