August 4, 2011
- Manual controls & modes
- Excellent low-light image quality
- HDR shooting
- Full 1080p video
- No RAW shooting
- Poor low-light video quality
- Less than average battery life
The Nikon Coolpix P300 is a 12-megapixel digital camera that offers a very wide-aperture lens for its class and also gives users control with both manual aperture and shutter controls. It has really good low-light image quality, but it lacks manual focus and RAW shooting, which may disappoint some users.
The Nikon Coolpix P300 has a rather boxy, plain design that resembles old 35mm cameras, so we aren't complaining. In total, it measures 4.1 x 1.3 x 2.3-inches (wdh) and weighs 0.01-pounds. It has a lightweight, compact feel that also doesn't feel like it could break too easily. To help you hold it, Nikon put a rubberized grip on the back and a raised bar on the front.
On the camera's backside, you'll find a nice set of buttons on the back that work well together. There's a four-way navigation pad/scroll wheel and menu, playback, trash and video record buttons. The three-inch LCD display shows text clearly and images look good too. We also really liked Nikon's menu system, which is organized clearly and provides ample explanation of features.
On the top of the Nikon Coolpix P300, there's a mode dial to select from manual, aperture-priority, shutter-priority, program-auto, etc, a zoom toggle, an unmarked dial for adjusting various settings and a power button. The power button is not sensitive enough because it typically took several presses for it to respond. There's also a stereo microphone next to a pop-up flash on the top of the camera. The flash is opened via a small switch on the camera's right side. On the left side, there is a door that covers an HDMI-out connector and on the bottom, there's another door that covers the A/V connector, battery compartment and SD memory card slot.
Some of the Nikon Coolpix P300's specifications include a 12.8-megapixel resolution, a 4.2x optical zoom with 24-100mm equivalent (2x digital zoom) and a focal length of 4.3-17.9mm. There's also an aperture range of f1.8/f4.9, ISO speeds of 160 to 3200 and a shutter speed of 8 - 1/2000 seconds. Images have a maximum resolution of 4000 x 3000-pixels and are saved in JPEG format only while videos are 1920 x 1080-pixels (full HD quality) at 30 frames per second in MPEG4 format.
This Nikon camera gives you full manual control over the aperture and shutter, which is really great for the photographer that likes to tweak settings a little bit. There are many special scene modes, editing tools and unique filters to gives your photos an artistic touch. There's also a 8-shot burst mode that takes 8 images per second at full 12-megapixel resolution. There's also HDR shooting, which lets you take multiple images of different brightness and contrast, which then are combined into one high-quality image. There's also the ever-popular sweep panorama modes that let you, with one press of the shutter release, sweep the camera either 180- or 360-degrees to get a panoramic shot that is automatically cropped and assembled by the camera.
Because of this camera's f1.8 lens, you get excellent low-light images, even if you don't use the flash. There's also a Night Landscape mode that works really well to adjust the ISO settings to give you the perfect night shot. By far, the Nikon Coolpix P300 is the best compact camera for low-light images. There was also "very good" color representation and brightness/contrast levels in subjective image tests. The camera does a better job in manual mode than it does in Auto mode, but the quality in Auto mode certainly isn't anything of poor quality.
For video use, the Nikon Coolpix P300 does a decent job and was rated as "fair", especially since the low-light videos were completely unwatchable and looked like a black screen. In well-lit environments, the video quality was good and the audio quality was also rated as being good.
Battery life is a little disappointing at just under 300 shots per charge, which is slightly less than most other compact digital cameras.