Nikon used CES 2014 to announce some new compact Coolpix point-and-shoot cameras and a new entry-level DSLR, as well two lenses.
Despite plummeting sales at the low end, Nikon is keeping its foot in the compact camera door. The company is announcing several Coolpix models, ranging from $100 to $300. Nikon briefed us a few weeks back on the new cameras, and, based on our conversation, the company is beefing up some of its compacts even at the budget level. The takeaway features from the new cameras are longer zoom, a new feature called Dynamic Fine Zoom, and – finally for Nikon – built-in Wi-Fi. Still, the Coolpix cameras here – all targeting budget-minded consumers – are more evolutionary than revolutionary.
The “flagship” of the new models is the Coolpix L830 ($300). It uses the same 16-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor as its predecessor, the L820, but ups the optical zoom lens to 34x with a f/3-5.9 aperture. The new feature is the aforementioned Dynamic Fine Zoom (DFZ), which maintains a section of high image quality in the first 2x of digital zoom. Another first is 3-inch tilting LCD (VGA). Other specs include 1080 30p/50i video capture, Vibration Reduction lens, and zoom lever on the left side of camera. It runs off four AA batteries. Nikon says the camera in this line is popular with families on a budget, an inexpensive alternative to the P500. The L830 hits stores in February, and will come in black and red.
Moving down the line, the compact S6800 shares the same sensor as the L830 but has a shorter zoom (12x, f/3.3-6.3). It also has DFZ, but has Wi-Fi built in. There’s a 3-inch SVGA display, a Vibration Reduction designed for movie making (using hardware and software), and 1080 movie capture up to 60i. The S6800 will be available in February in black, white, and red, and cost $220.
Things continue to get cheaper as we move down the line, and the features vary. The S5300 has a 16-megapixel (non-BSI) CMOS and a new 8x optical zoom with f/3.7-6.6 aperture. There’s a 3-inch HVGA LCD, 1080/60i video capture, VR lens, DFZ, Wi-Fi, and a max ISO of 6,400. The S5300 has a target-finding autofocus system that switches between face priority (when it detects people) and wide-area AF search depending on what you’re shooting. This model will also be available in February for $180, and come in plum color.
Below the S5300 is the S3600. Similar, but features aren’t as robust: same 8x optical zoom, lens VR, and target-finding AF, but a 20-megapixel CCD sensor, 2.7 QVGA LCD, and 720p video capture. No Wi-Fi here. The S5300 is the type of camera that many of Nikon’s competitors are ditching, but Nikon obviously still sees a customer for it – enough to bring it stateside. The S3600 runs off a lithium-ion battery. It comes in silver, red, blue, pink, and black, and will sell for $140 in February.
Lastly, there’s the L30, a super entry-level model. It has a 20-megapixel CCD sensor, 5x optical zoom with f/3.3-6.5 aperture, 3-inch QVGA display, 720p video capture, and an Easy Auto Mode (not sure why you would need it since everything about this camera is automatic). It runs off two AA batteries, comes in red, and sells for $120 in February. But seriously folks, if you have a smartphone, something like the L30 or even some of the cameras above won’t be any better.
New D3300 DSLR and lenses
Nikon is the only manufacturer to unveil a new consumer-oriented DSLR at CES 2014. The D3300 is a step-up model from the D3200, one of our recommended products from 2012. The D3300 features a 24.2-megapixel DX-format (APS-C) sensor with no optical low-pass filter for better image quality; despite not having the filter, Nikon says images are sharp right out of the box. It has the latest EXPEED 4 image processor, with an ISO range of 100-12,800 (expandable to 25,600). Burst mode is up to 5 frames per second. There’s an 11-point autofocusing system (the same as the D3200), and records video at Full HD in 60p with fulltime AF. No Wi-Fi, but you can use Nikon’s Wi-Fi adapter to add that function if you need it. As a beginner’s DSLR, there are special effects filters for photos and videos, as well as the Guide Mode to help you understand the features. Available in a kit with a new 18-55mm lens (see below), the D3300 will sell for $650 in February. Plus, it comes in black, red, and gray.
As for the aforementioned new kit lens, it’s the next version of Nikon’s 18-35 standard zoom. The AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR II has a unique retractable lens barrel for a more compact form-factor; when locked, it retracts the lens by 20mm. It’s 30-percent smaller and 25-percent lighter than the previous lens. It’s not a powered lens like the ones in the Nikon 1 series, but it has four-stops of VR image stabilization. The lens will launch with the D3300, and is available separately for $250.
If you’re looking to get into portrait photography, Nikon is adding a new FX-format prime lens with an f/1.8 aperture and 63-degree wide-angle view. The AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 G is an affordable fixed prime lens for $600. The aperture is ideal for video as well; the Silent Wave Motor keep the autofocus quiet, a key when recording video. Also available in February.
Development of new D4S DSLR
In a bit of pro-related news, Nikon announced at CES that a new version of its D4 DSLR is in development, called the D4S. No exact details have been announced, except to say that it will have better autofocusing and the latest image processor. Stay tuned on this teaser.
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