Good things come in small packages, or so we tell the opposite sex. If only we were talking about 18x zooms, we'd be right. The Nikon Coolpix S9100 is a new compact camera with a lengthy zoom in a pocketable frame.

The S9100 packs a whopping 18x optical zoom lens. We tried the camera out at an exclusive Nikon launch event, and we were extremely impressed with such a massive zoom range, starting at a panoramic 25mm wide-angle equivalent to a 35mm camera. The S9100 isn't the slimmest snapper on the block, but it is extremely versatile for a camera that fits into the pocket.

The S9100 packs a 12-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, an arrangement of the sensor that's recently started to arrive in classy compacts like this. The backside-illuminated sensor -- ooh-er -- shifts the circuitry on the sensor out of the way of the light coming into the camera, reducing image noise.

If you zoned out somewhere around the start of the last paragraph, all you need to know is that the S9100's sensor will ensure better pictures in lower-light environments, like indoors, in the pub, or trapped in a canyon without a Swiss Army Knife.

Other low-light features include Night Portrait mode, which takes quick pictures with and without flash and combines them with the subject and background exposed separately. Then there's sensitivity settings up to ISO 3,200.

Pictures are played back on a 3-inch, 921,000-dot screen. When you're done snapping, there's a palette of retouching options that let you fiddle with the brightness, saturation and colour tone of the image, or add effects such as starry haloes around bright objects.

Nikon has caught up with other cameras that offer widescreen pictures captured in one movement with the new Easy Panorama feature. Elegantly sweep the camera vertically or horizontally across a scene, and a rapid burst of frames is instantly stitched together to create a picturesque panorama.

On top of all that, the S9100 also shoots high-definition 1080p video with stereo sound. An HDMI connection is built-in.

The Nikon Coolpix S9100 joins the S3100, S4100 and S6100 also unveiled today. It comes in three colours: red, black and dark silver. It costs £300 and hits shelves on 17 March.

The back of the S9100.
The S9100 in black.
The S9100 in silver, with the pop-up flash peeping out.

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