Nikon flipped over its whole lineup of Coolpix point-and-shoots today, introducing nine new models to replace and augment the company's 2011 offerings. Leading the charge in features (and price) are the 42X-optical-zoom Nikon Coolpix P510 and the low-light-friendly Nikon Coolpix P310, the latter of which offers a maximum aperture of F1.8.
Common additions among the company's new cameras include GPS functions and higher-resolution sensors, as well as redesigned optical-stabilization systems in many of Nikon's high-zoom models.
Note: All prices in this article are in US dollars
Nikon Coolpix P510 and P310: Full Manual Controls and High-End Optics
The 42X-optical-zoom (24mm to 1000mm) Coolpix P510 offers about as much optical reach as you can possibly find in a fixed-lens camera, along with a revamped optical-stabilization system and a lens-barrel-mounted zoom control to help keep shots sharp. Nikon claims that the new full-size megazoom camera also boasts outstanding macro capabilities, with a minimum focus distance of just 0.4 inch.
Like its predecessor, the 36X-zoom Coolpix P500, the P510 provides full manual, aperture-priority, and shutter-priority modes, as well as an adjustable 3-inch LCD screen and eye-level electronic viewfinder. It also has a BSI (backside-illuminated) CMOS sensor, but the P510 ups the image resolution from the P500's 12-megapixel sensor to a new 16-megapixel imager.
The new megazoom also adds in-camera GPS, which inserts raw longitude and latitude data into each image's EXIF data (no in-camera mapping). Video capture tops out at a full 1080p, and the camera's continuous-shooting mode rattles off five shots per second at full resolution.
Due in February, the Coolpix P510 is priced at $430 and will be available in black or red.
Smaller--but still strong--is the Nikon Coolpix P310, which is a follow-up to a great little pocket camera: last year's F1.8-aperture Coolpix P300. The Coolpix P310 has the same wide F1.8 maximum aperture, which is a nice option to have for low-light and shallow-depth-of-field shots. The Coolpix P310's zoom range remains at 4.2X (24mm to 100mm), giving it a lens built for wide-angle scenes and portrait photography.
Key differences in the Coolpix P310 include a higher-resolution BSI CMOS sensor (16 megapixels versus the P300's 12 megapixels), a custom function button on the front of the camera that will help the user access preferred settings quickly, and new built-in tools for editing the camera's 1080p/30-fps video clips. In addition to full manual, aperture-priority, and shutter-priority modes, the Coolpix P310 fittingly has a number of low-light modes that make the most of its F1.8 lens: an Advanced Night Portrait mode that employs both the flash and exposure bracketing, a Night Landscape mode that uses exposure bracketing without the flash, and an HDR mode that purportedly helps to correct backlit images.
Like the Coolpix P300, the P310 becomes even more enticing when you look at its price tag: Due in March for $330, it's a full $100 cheaper than its chief competitor, the Canon PowerShot S100.
Nikon Coolpix S9300 and S6300: Next-Gen Pocket Megazooms
The Coolpix S9300 will replace last year's highly-rated Coolpix S9100, an 18X-optical-zoom model (25mm to 450mm) that shot some of the best-looking photos we saw last year. Nikon has made no changes to the Coolpix S9300's optics or thickness (the camera is still about 1.5 inches deep), but the company has included a higher-resolution, 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and a revamped optical-stabilization system.
While the Coolpix S9300 and its predecessor look practically identical on paper--with 1080p video capture, a lack of manual controls, and some handy post-shot editing tools--one notable change in the new model is the addition of GPS. The S9300's GPS features go beyond the "just geotagging" nature of the Coolpix P510, as the S9300 will have in-camera mapping for displaying shots by location.
Priced at $350, it's slated for February.
The other new pocket megazoom is the Coolpix S6300, which fits a 10X-optical-zoom lens (25mm to 250mm) into a 1.1-inch-deep body and shares the fully automated functions, the 1080p video capture, and many of the scene modes and creative filters of the S9300. This $200 camera is due in February.
Nikon Coolpix S30: Toddler-Proof
Although its core specs aren't exactly mind-boggling, the waterproof and shockproof Coolpix S30 is interesting due to the fact that Nikon is billing it as a "family camera." In other words, it's designed to withstand the antics of a young child who might want to throw it in a pool, drop it repeatedly, or do whatever else the kids are doing these days.
It's rated as waterproof down to 9.8 feet and drop-proof to distances of 2.6 feet, and it packs a 10-megapixel CCD sensor and a 3X-optical-zoom lens (roughly 29mm to 87mm). And at $120 starting in February, it's priced to be replaced fairly painlessly if your 3-year-old is taller than 2.6 feet or happens to be a deep-sea-diving prodigy.
Nikon Coolpix L810: Follow-Up to Nikon's Best-Selling Camera
According to Nikon, the 21X-optical-zoom Coolpix L120 was the company's hottest-selling camera last year, thanks to its ample optical reach, its simple operation, its sub-$300 price, its AA-battery-friendliness, and probably something to do with Ashton Kutcher.
The Coolpix L810 replaces the L120, offering a 26X ultra-wide-angle lens (22.5mm to 585mm), a higher-resolution 16-megapixel CCD sensor, and a revamped optical-stabilization system. Holdovers include 720p video recording, a 3-inch LCD screen, a secondary lens-barrel-mounted zoom control, a wide selection of scene modes, and the ability to operate on four AA batteries.
Due in February, it's priced at $280 and will be available in black, red, or blue.
Three More Sub-$200 Cameras: Nikon Coolpix S4300, Coolpix S3300, and Coolpix L26
A trio of wallet-friendly pocket cameras, each priced at less than $200, round out Nikon's 2012 Coolpix announcements.
The 3-inch-touchscreen-equipped Coolpix S4300 has an optically stabilized 6X-zoom lens (26mm to 156mm), a 16-megapixel CCD sensor, a range of in-camera scene modes, and 720p video recording. It's due in February for $170 in black, red, silver, white, or plum.
The Coolpix S3300 is essentially the same camera, except for the fact that it lacks a touchscreen. It will be on shelves for $140 starting in February, in your choice of black, red, silver, pink, or purple.
Last up in Nikon's new Coolpix-fest is the L26, a $120 camera that runs on two AA batteries and has a 16-megapixel sensor, a 5X-optical-zoom lens (26mm to 130mm), and the ability to capture 720p video. It will be available in black, silver, or red this February.