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Nikon Coolpix S9100 review


Great performance, great image quality, a huge zoom and an intuitive interface make this the king of point-and-shoot compacts

Review Date: 13 Jan 2012

Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith

Price when reviewed: £150 (£180 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
6 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

6 stars out of 6

Image Quality
5 stars out of 6


The Coolpix S9100 isn't the smallest camera in the world, nor the most elegant. Frankly, it's nothing special to look at – and on paper its specifications don't look inspiring either. It has a small, 1/2.33in sensor and a narrow maximum aperture of f/3.5, both of which suggest distinctly average images.

But it's the pictures that count, and with the camera in fully automatic mode and the lens in the full-wide 25mm equivalent position, the Nikon Coolpix S9100 rendered a range of test images with impressive clarity and weight. Although distortion was visible at the extremes of the image, we saw no chromatic aberration, despite the harsh light in our outdoor scenes. Colours were perhaps a little on the cold side, but overall the atmosphere of a crisp morning was well captured.

Nikon Coolpix S9100 test photo (Image reduced for web.)

Zoom performance was just as persuasive. With the huge 18x lens (25-450mm) at its full extent, the Coolpix S9100 still managed to resolve bags of clean detail with solid contrast. And despite the fact that the lengthy zoom drove the frame deep into the shadows, requiring the shutter to slow to 1/40s, the resulting image was impressively clear, thanks to Nikon's combination of physical and digital stabilisation.

Nikon Coolpix S9100 test photo (Image reduced for web)

Inevitably, when we tried indoor, low-light party shots, the flash gave the subject's skin tones a certain pallor, but she wasn't completely washed out, and overall the colour balance looked natural, with the dark background appearing comparatively noise-free. Indoor macro shots came out pin-sharp, with a pleasingly neutral overall light.

Switching to video mode again yielded a clear picture with lovely colours, although we were bothered by the high-pitched whirr of the zoom mechanism.

Surprisingly, the Nikon Coolpix S9100's weakest suit was when we tried shooting a page of black and white text from across the room: here, letter forms were rendered quite unclearly. Evidently, the camera's apparent sense of fine detail comes from an image processor more at home with the tonal gradations of landscapes and portraits than with the stark contrast of black-and-white text.

Nikon Coolpix S9100 test photo (Image reduced for web.)

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User comments

It charges off USB!

Finally a camera maker has realised that you only want to take the camera with you. It was a long time coming, but I can now use the same charger for everything. Common sense reigns.

By tirons1 on 13 Jan 2012

Observation (not criticism)

It seems this model was released last March, wonder why it has now been reviewed. A significant number of poor reviews on Amazon. I can't decide between S9100 & S8200. Ummm ....

By ironbath on 13 Jan 2012

Charges with Nikon cable only

It's a great camera (got one), but note that th usb connector is non-standard. Not mini and not micro. So if you don't want to run flat, make sure you carry the propriatary Nikon cable with you at all times.

By markv on 15 Jan 2012

and a narrow maximum aperture of f/3.5, both of which suggest distinctly average images

Forget the aperture, what's the lens like?

The Canon EF 600mm f4 L IS II USM has a smaller maximum aperture than this so the image quality must be worse, right?

Amazing that they can get away with charging over £10,000 for it if that's the case.

The maximum aperture of a lens and image quality are in no way intrinsically linked.

By Alfresco on 9 Nov 2013

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