Nikon’s Coolpix range of compact digital cameras has built up a worthy reputation for marrying stylish good looks with ease of use and high-quality images – and not only does the company’s latest S9100 continue in this fine tradition, but Nikon has now shown that it is ready to take on rivals in the ‘travel zoom’ category.
If you’re expecting a typical ‘credit-card’ style compact then you’ll be disappointed. The Coolpix S9100 measures a chunkier 105x62x35mm, albeit that it weighs a rather modest 214g. The reason for the extra depth is the need to house the 25-450mm-equivalent f3.5 lens, which comes with a fully-retractable 18x optical zoom.
Plenty of settings
Available in cool shades of black, silver and red, the Coolpix S9100 feels reassuringly firm in the hand, has a single bar hand grip on the front and a group of 16 pimples on the back as a thumb rest. Along the top you’ll find a manual pop-up flash, stereo microphones and a small recessed power button next to a larger shutter, with a very smoothly operating zoom ring on the outside.
Completing the line-up is a petite but firmly clicking mode dial that offers Auto, Scene Auto, Back Lighting, Scene (which includes 15 programme modes) and Continuous, with additional dedicated settings for Night Portrait, Night Landscape and Effects (which encompass soft, nostalgic sepia, high and low keys and selective colour). Alas, no room, though, for any manual settings.
The back is dominated by a 3in anti-reflective TFT LCD preview screen with an unexpectedly detailed 0.9-megapixel resolution, which remains especially sharp in bright light. Because the display has a 4:3 aspect ratio rather than widescreen 16:9, there’s room for a conventional D-pad control ring, with assigned buttons for playback, menu, delete and video record. As you might expect, 1080p HD video at 30fps is standard, and there are an additional four lesser resolution HS settings ranging from 240fps to15fps for slo-mo and Benny Hill acceleration.
The Coolpix S9100 uses a back-illuminated 12.1-megapixel CMOS image sensor with a mixture of sensor-shift Vibration Reduction and motion detection to keep images rock-steady at the end of the zoom. A certain amount of noise from the zoom motor is inevitably picked up by the stereo mics, but it’s a lot less intrusive than some of its rivals – and low light quality is impressive, right up to ISO 800 equivalent (even the max ISO 3200 is bearable).
It’s a shame that the tripod mount has been positioned at the far end of the base, but you are able to play out HD videos via the side HDMI port and stills can be transferred via USB through the output next to the battery compartment. This also doubles as the battery charging input, which means you can’t charge one battery while you use another. However, the playback menu contains a number of quick retouch, filter and editing possibilities, which could save you tinkering time on the PC.
Contact: Nikon on 0330 123 0932
- Steady 18x digital zoom.
- Very limited manual controls.
The Nikon COOLPIX S9100 is a sturdily built compact digital camera with a smooth action and relatively blur-free 18x digital zoom, highly detailed LCD, good quality imagery and 1080p HD movies.