With an 18x optical zoom and 12MP backlit CMOS sensor the COOLPIX S9100 hints at being a serious compact. But how does it shape up when put to the WDC test?
Nikon COOLPIX S9100 review – Features
Nikon’s latest entry in to the compact superzoom market is the COOLPIX S9100. The model features a large 18x optical zoom, which is supported by a host of stabilisation technologies, and covers a focal range of 25-450mm in equivalent terms. Nikon boasts that the S9100 features seven types of anti-blur technologies, which includes the aforementioned sensor-shift and electronic vibration reduction. It also covers motion detection, high-ISO settings and a series of dedicated shooting modes aimed at sharp images whatever the light conditions.
Other standout elements of the specification are the 12.1MP back illuminated CMOS sensor and full HD video capture at 1080p resolution complete with on-board stereo sound capture. A striking 3in, 921-k dot LCD fills the rear of the camera and is well towards the top end of LCD screen specifications, while the on-board EXPEED C2 image processing system also aids image processing.
A disappointing element of the COOLPIX S9100’s specification is the lack of PASM shooting controls, as well as a lack of Raw capture. For a camera which, on the whole, is aimed at a more advanced shooter, you would really expect such elements to feature.
Nikon COOLPIX S9100 review – Design
Nikon sells the COOLPIX S9100 as having a ‘stunningly slim’ body. If you consider the fact that it has a large 18x optical zoom, then the camera is certainly pleasingly slim. However, it’s still relatively bulky compared to a standard compact camera and would struggle to fit in to an average trouser pocket.
When first picking up the camera, the first thing that strikes you is that it feels a touch plasticky. Aside of the sturdy and well fixed scene selection wheel on the camera’s top plate, the camera’s controls all feel of a low quality – not only that, but general imaging controls are accessed by a scroll wheel that is loosely fixed and could easily be jogged in use.
Performance, Value, Image Quality and Verdict
Nikon COOLPIX S9100 review – Performance
An element of performance worthy of note is the camera’s slow start-up. This will no doubt be frustrating for those wanting to shoot in an instant, but can reasonably be attributed to the camera’s large focal range. Also, once the camera is up and running it’s generally speedy in use – AF is both fast and accurate while the COOLPIX S9100 travels through the focal range at a reasonable pace.
As is the case frequently with new compact cameras, the COOLPIX S9100 has done away with manual shooting control in favour of a bevy of automated options. While these work well in utilising the abilities of the camera, and will no doubt suit the inexperienced photographer who wants their camera to do the work, it will disappoint the advanced camera whom will no doubt be drawn to the S9100.
The COOLPIX S9100 benefits from the presence of a dedicated video record button, offering one-click access to movie recording. Whilst there is a delay between pressing the button and video being captured, it’s no doubt faster than the equivalent would be through standard mode selection.
Nikon COOLPIX S9100 review – Image Quality
Images produced by the COOLPIX S9100 are generally good. Despite the long focal range, sharpness is well maintained throughout the frame and at various focal lengths. It’s also fair to say that barrel distortion is relatively well controlled.
Exposure is reliable in a host of lighting conditions, whilst the same can also be said about white balance. This is positive as the lack of Raw capture means the aforementioned reliability is more important.
Colour rendition is pleasing to the eye, although at times the COOLPIX S9100 can err to the more saturated end of the scale that is a slight issue. Noise reduction can smudge finder detail as you rise through the ISO range, but in general the S9100 performs well in this department.
Nikon COOLPIX S9100 review – Value
At the reviewed price, the Nikon COOLPIX S9100 faces some stiff competition. Whilst the camera is, on the whole, well specified, also performing well in use, there are certain elements in which it is lacking. When the price falls by a percentage, the cameras which the S9100 would then be up against would provide a more reasonable competition.
Nikon COOLPIX S9100 review – Verdict
There’s no escaping that the COOLPIX S9100 is a well specified compact camera that will gather admires in the compact world. However, it falls down in certain departments. The lack of manual control and Raw capture hint at the fact that the camera may well not belong in the advanced category, whilst the plasticky build quality and slow start up serve to affirm this view. If you’re looking to pick up and shoot, however, then the COOLPIX S9100 will meet your needs.
104.8 x 62 x 34.6 mm
160 – 3200
Auto, BSS, scene, effect
3in, 921k-dot LCD screen
25-450 mm, 18x optical zoom
12.1MP, 1/2.3in backlit CMOS