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
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.
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.
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.
|Price ex VAT||£150|
|Price inc VAT||£180|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||6|
|Camera megapixel rating||12.0mp|
|Camera screen size||3.0in|
|Camera optical zoom range||18x|
|Camera maximum resolution||4,000 x 3,000|
Weight and dimensions
|Dimensions||103 x 34 x 62mm (WDH)|
|Battery type included||Lithium-ion|
|Battery life (CIPA standard)||270 shots|
|Aperture range||f3.5 - f5.9|
|Camera minimum focus distance||0.04m|
|Shortest focal length (35mm equivalent)||25|
|Longest focal length (35mm equivalent)||450|
|Minimum (fastest) shutter speed||1/2,000|
|Maximum (slowest) shutter speed||1s|
|Bulb exposure mode?||no|
|RAW recording mode?||no|
|Exposure compensation range||+/- 2EV|
|ISO range||160 - 3200|
|Selectable white balance settings?||yes|
|Progam auto mode?||yes|
|Shutter priority mode?||no|
|Aperture priority mode?||no|
|Fully auto mode?||yes|
|Tripod mounting thread?||yes|
|Data connector type||micro-USB|
Manual, software and accessories
|Software supplied||PC-PJTransfer, ViewNX|
|Accessories supplied||Wrist strap|