First Look: Nikon Coolpix P300
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First Look: Nikon Coolpix P300

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Nikon's new member of its advanced P series, the Coolpix P300, offers a fast f1.8, wide-angle lens, broad set of manual controls, and a shooter-friendly but compact design.

-Hi! I'm Lori Grunin, Senior Editor for CNET and this is the Nikon Coolpix P300. The P300 is one of a growing class of compact cameras with fast but short zoom lenses. The fast lens enables you to generally take better photos in low light because it can really give you a wide open aperture. However, unlike a lot of the higher-end models like the PowerShot S95 or the Olympus XZ-1, the P300 has 1/2.3-inch sensor, not the 1/1.7-inch sensor that you'd fine, say, in the Coolpix P7000. That means that this model although it has a lot of manual features and a design that's really geared toward enthusiast, and frankly, Nikon's P series is geared towards enthusiast. Despite all of those things, the camera is really more competitive with the point-and-shoot models like the Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS. However, you know, compared to models like the PowerShot S95, I've really like the design of this, not more than those but pretty much the same. It's fairly comfortable to hold with this little grippy thing on the front and it has 2 dials for navigating which really streamlines your shooting as an enthusiast shooter. Of course, you still have to go to the menus to set a lot of the manual features. And for some reason, this pre-production unit and it's missing spot metering. I'm not sure whether spot metering won't be in the final version. But, Nikon, if you're listening, please put it in there. In spite having to go into the menus which is kind of unavoidable in a small camera like this, I like the menu layout and the smoothness of operation and its responsiveness. It also has very nice 921000 3-inch LCD. It's bright and it's high enough resolution that you can actually see things as opposed to the, say, 230000 pixel ones. While this may compete with the 500 HS, 500 HS uses a touchscreen. A lot of people especially more advanced tutors may not like touchscreens, so there's an advantage that this model might provide over that one. And another nice touch, the pop-up flash has a split design so it doesn't actually use the entire width of the body, so there's still room for your fingers to hold when the flash is up. Camera also has 1080/24p movie capture with stereo microphone. The stereo mic is a nice convenience. Because this is a pre-production unit, I don't really have anything to say about performance or photo quality. And a lot about the success of this camera I think is gonna be riding on the photo quality and whether that slightly higher resolution, 12-megapixel, slightly smaller sensor, whether Nikon can do anything with it that the competitors haven't and better low-light performance out of it. I'm really looking forward to testing the final unit though when we get it. I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Nikon Coolpix P300.

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