The Nikon Coolpix P300 is the company’s first dabble into the world of the pocket-sized advanced compact. Clearly looking to shake up the Canon S95’s grip on the market, can the P300 deliver the goods to succeed? The What Digital Camera Nikon P300 review finds out…
Nikon Coolpix P300 review – Image Quality
The P300’s pictures are reasonable, but the standard-sized compact sensor doesn’t allow the camera to excel above and beyond a number of other compacts at the same price point. That f/1.8 aperture is a great feature to have, but pop the camera in Auto and it’ll opt to shoot with a wider aperture even in scenes that wouldn’t command such a shallow depth of field.
Nikon’s missed a trick here: To not put in a larger sensor was an immediate limitation to the camera that’s attempting to target the high-end market. The Canon S95 has a larger sensor and yet its body size in nigh-on identical to the Nikon.
The P300 can shoot from ISO 160-3200, where the 160-400 options provide relatively high levels of detail, but do still suffer from some over-processing that sees edges over-sharpened, thus resulting in processing artefacts. ISO 800 suffers resolving finer detail, where the texture of image noise becomes more apparent also. The top two tiers, ISO 1600-3200, don’t show up a great deal of colour or luminance noise, i.e. the processing is doing its job well, but this does come at the expense of sharpness and detail that are so diminished these higher end sensitivities won’t provide that pin-sharp, high quality result.
In real world photos the level of detail can lack, and that critical ‘bite’ will often be missing from focused areas.
Auto White Balance can be problematic too. Green fields in parkland may dominate and produce a washed-out look in the sky, for example, plus fluorescent lighting caused on off-white/green cast in our studio setup.
Two metering options – evaluative and centre-weighted – mean that there’s no spot exposure option to select. That aside and metering is generally accurate.
The Coolpix P300’s images are of a reasonable standing, but the fact that this camera targets itself as a high-end offering is where it comes up short: it’s the wider aperture setting that really sets the P300 apart rather than the sensor’s overall ability.