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Nikon Coolpix S6300 review: The S6300 isn't a bad way to get a 10x zoom lens in your pocket. However, its competition makes it a tougher sell.

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The S6300 can shoot bursts at up to 6 frames per second for up to seven frames (though at its highest-quality setting, that dropped to 5.3fps). Once you release the shutter, though, you'll be waiting several seconds for the camera to process and store the photos before you can shoot again.

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Design and features
While the S6300 looks chunkier than the Sony and Panasonic models mentioned earlier, it's still easy to pocket and very lightweight. Available in four colors, the metal body has a nice feel to it and is for the most part comfortable to use even at its small size.

The controls on back are small but nicely raised from the body, making them easy to press with some clicky feedback. There is a one-touch record button for movies, too, so you don't need to switch modes before you capture clips (however you'll have to wait a few seconds for it to start recording).

Key specs Nikon Coolpix S6300
Price (MSRP) $229.95
Dimensions (WHD) 3.7x2.3x1 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 5.7 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 16 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 2.7-inch LCD, 230K dots/None
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 10x, f3.2-5.8, 25-250mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/H.264 AAC (.MOV)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,608x3,456 pixels/ 1,920x1,080 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Optical and digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life Lithium ion rechargeable, 230 shots
Battery charged in camera Yes; wall adapter (included) or computer via USB
Storage media SD/SDHC/SDXC
Bundled software Software Suite for Coolpix (Windows/Mac)

Like much of this camera, screen size, and resolution are OK for what you're paying, but nothing special. Despite the lower resolution, though, settings and menu text are sharp and easy to read. The camera, like most of Nikon's Coolpix models, is simple to operate. You'll still want to read the full manual (included as a PDF file on a CD), but straight from the box you'll be able to start shooting without much trouble.

Battery life is brief for the S6300. It's CIPA-rated for 230 shots, but I never got that far before it needed charging. That's mainly because doing anything other taking automatic shots drains the battery faster. The small pack charges via USB cable, too, so if you buy the S6300, expect a full charge to tie up your camera for about 3 hours. Also, the battery/SD card compartment door regularly opened accidentally while shooting and would frequently slide closed incorrectly.

General shooting options Nikon Coolpix S6300
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 125, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
White balance Auto, Custom, Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Flash
Recording modes Auto, Scene auto selector, Scene, Special effects, Smart portrait, Subject tracking
Focus modes Face priority, nine-area auto, manual with 99 focus areas, center, subject tracking
Macro 4 inches (Wide)
Metering modes Multipattern, Center-weighted (when using up to 2x digital zoom), Spot (digital zoom of 2x or more)
Color effects Standard, Vivid, Sepia, Black & White, Cyanotype, Nostalgic sepia, High-contrast monochrome, High key, Low key, Selective color
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) Seven shots

If you have no interest in controlling shutter speed and aperture, the S6300 is for you. There are two Auto modes on this camera. One is Nikon's Scene Auto Selector, located under the Scene modes. It adjusts settings appropriately based on six common scene types. If the scene doesn't match any of those, it defaults to a general-use Auto. Then there is a regular Auto mode, which is basically the Program mode you'd find on other cameras. It'll handle shutter speed and aperture settings, but you can also adjust things like ISO and white balance as well as film colors like Vivid, Sepia, and Cyanotype.

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Aside from the Scene Auto Selector there are 19 other scene modes like Landscape and Portrait as well as modes for correcting backlit subjects, easy panorama photos (180 or 360 degrees), and handheld night shots. A separate Special Effects mode gives you some creative options like High-contrast Monochrome and Selective Color, which turns everything black-and-white except a color you specify. (The playback menu also has other effects filters you can apply after you shoot, like soft focus for a toy camera look and fish-eye.)

Conclusion: Recommended with reservations
The Nikon Coolpix S6300 is certainly an improvement over the model it replaces. Just the sensor change to BSI CMOS is enough to make it recommending over CCD-sensor-based competition. It's an easy-to-use camera, too, so if you're just looking for something inexpensive to toss in your bag that's better than your phone, it's a decent choice. However, both the similarly priced Panasonic Lumix SZ7 and slightly more expensive Sony Cyber-shot WX150 are better.

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