Nikon Coolpix S9300 Overview
Nikon had a very clear customer in mind when it defined the feature-set for the Coolpix S9300 digital camera. If you're the globe-trotting type who likes to keep track of where you've been (and what you've shot), it might be time to get your wallet out, because you are that customer. With a powerful 18x zoom lens, the S9300 will bring your subject up close. Geotagging capabilities right out of the box mean that your photos will be marked with their capture location, making it simple to pull them up alongside a map, showing just where you were for each and every frame.
Feature-packed travel zooms can sometimes be an ungainly looking breed, but no such fears here. Save for a slightly bulge on its top deck that marks the location of the GPS antenna, the Nikon S9300 cuts quite an attractive figure, with its lens barrel smoothly tapering out of the front panel. Three body colors are available--black, red, or silver--letting you pair the camera to your own personal style.
Based around a sixteen megapixel, backside-illuminated CMOS sensor, the S9300 should offer plenty of resolution for larger print sizes, even after some generous cropping. CMOS chips typically offer faster performance than their CCD counterparts, and that bears true here with seven frames-per-second burst shooting possible, at full resolution. (Nikon's EXPEED C2 plays its part in this speed, as well.) Backside-illuminated chips move much of their circuitry off the front surface of the sensor, leaving more room for light-gathering photodiodes, and thereby improving sensitivity. The S9300's sensitivity ranges from ISO 125 to 3,200 equivalents, fairly standard for a camera in this category.
The S9300's Nikkor-branded 18x optical zoom lens offers quite a generous range, from a useful 25mm-equivalent wide angle to a powerful 450mm-equivalent telephoto. Of course, a lens with that kind of telephoto reach would be of little use if you couldn't get a steady, blur-free image, and so Nikon has included true optical VR image stabilization. Focusing is possible to as close as four centimeters in macro mode. There's also tracking autofocus capability, to ease focusing on moving subjects.
On the S9300's rear panel is a 3.0-inch LCD monitor, about average for a modern digital camera. It's a bit higher-resolution than some, though, with a total of some 921,000 dots. That equates to appproximately a VGA array (640 x 480 pixels), with each pixel comprising separate red, green, and blue dots. You wouldn't expect to find an optical viewfinder alongside a lens with this much reach, but sadly, there's no electronic viewfinder on the Coolpix S9300 either. Hence, you'll be doing all your image and movie framing at arm's length.
Catering to photographers who'd rather spend their time looking at the sights rather than coping with the subtleties of shutter speeds, apertures, and ISO sensitivities, the Coolpix S9300 offers a generous 20 scene modes that let you tailor the look of your images. There's also Nikon's Smart Portrait System, which aims to make it easier to get a good portrait photo. A variety of pre- and post-capture effects let you further experiment to achieve your artistic vision. Pre-capture options include Soft Focus, Sepia, High Key, Low Key, High Contrast Monochrome, and Selective Color. Post-capture, you can add Soft, Selective Color, Cross Screen, Fisheye, Painting or Miniature effects.
Of course, some sightseeing locations just can't be encompassed in a single shot. For those times, there's an Easy Panorama mode capable of generating 180-degree or 360-degree panoramas, in-camera.
As well as still images, the S9300 can capture high definition movies at 1,920 x 1,080 pixel (1080p) resolution. No information on frame rates or compression types was available at press time, but we do know that the S9300 includes a stereo microphone, for a more immersive audio experience.
The Nikon S9300 stores images and movies in a rather limited 26MB of built-in memory, or on removable Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types. Power comes courtesy of a proprietary EN-EL12 Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, and Nikon rates the S9300 as capable of around 200 shots on a charge.
The Nikon Coolpix S9300 goes on sale from February 2012 in the US market, priced at around US$350.