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Nikon CoolPix revamp brings extreme wide-angle, 36x zoom on a budget

Nikon has released a slew of new CoolPix digital cameras today, including everything from impressive compacts with DSLR-like qualities to an affordable first digital camera for true beginners.

Small package, big features

P300CoolPix P300
Nikon is expanding its P series with the P300, and the camera definitely packs capable features into a tiny body. It’s Nikon’s first compact camera to include a super-fast wide-angle lens, featuring its 4.2x Zoom-NIKKOR lens. It has the capability of f/1.8 aperture and is easily the widest aperture lens in any CoolPix device Nikon has introduced yet. It has a 12.2-megapixel CMOS sensor as well as a three-inch LCD display.

Being a CoolPix camera, the P300 includes a wide array of auto scene selectors for beginners or photographers wanting to relinquish control. For anyone else, it has full manual settings and ISO sensitivity up to 3200. The pocket cam also includes vibration reduction, which is becoming more and more common in hand-held digital cameras. Nikon also claims that the P300 retains impressive image quality in low-light settings. The wide-angle lens should definitely aid this, but it’s difficult to find a handheld camera that can hold its own against a DSLR in poor lighting conditions. Nikon claims the camera’s EXPEED C2 processing engine also helps images retain their original clarity and color, and insists the device can easily hold its own in this department.

Filter effects have also been improved, including the additions of fisheye lens and cross screen, as well as Nikon’s new in-camera panorama generator. Of course, its recording capabilities measure up to Nikon standards with full HD 1080p and users will have editing abilities while recording and various special effects are also available.

The P300 will be available in March 2010 for $329.95.

Zoom Cams

P500CoolPix P500
The P300 covers wide-angle needs, and the P500 takes care of zoom: The camera features a 36x zoom, the longest ever in a CoolPix camera. The P500 fits somewhere between a full-bodied DSLR and a pocket cam, but the device certainly has more heft than most of the CoolPix line. Still, it improves on the P100 with a 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and the EXPEED C2 dual processor that, like the P300, should make it extremely capable in low light. Its hybrid vibration reduction stabilization also gives it a better ability to avoid camera shake over pocket cams.

Like the P300, it has a three-inch LCD and exceptional night mode shooting abilities. Naturally, it has a full HB 1080p recording function and Nikon’s new panorama mode. It will be released in March for $399.95.

S9100CoolPix S9100
Like the telephoto qualities of the P500, but aren’t terribly turned on by the idea of an even semi-bulky camera? Look no further, the S9100 is here. It’s got a compact body with an 18x wide angle ZOOM-NIKKOR ED lens. It also has an impressive 450mm zoom, as well as the 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor of the P500 and 3200 ISO sensitivity of the P500 and P300.

It has many of the same features of the S8100, like HDR, special effects and filters, a three-inch LCD display, and full HD 1080p recording abilities. Like the other new models, it also includes the new panorama mode. It will also be released in March for $329.95.

L120CoolPix L120
There’s a more budget-friendly device with a capable zoom function as well. The L120 has a 21x Wide-Angle Zoom lens and 14.1-megapixel resolution. It has hybrid image stabilization and will shoot capably up to ISO 6400. This camera is definitely more of your entry-level point and shoot, however, and users should be ready to rely on auto mode.

It’s extremely similar to the L110, but includes an improved lens and resolution. It’s available in late February for $279.95.

Upgraded pocket cams

CoolPix S6100, S3100, S4100, and L24

S6100The new additions to Nikon’s incredibly popular entry-level pocket cam lineup all comes with its EXPEED C2 image processing engine, and all include Scene Auto Selector, Easy Auto Mode, and a variety of portrait selections. The S6100, S3100, and S4100 also now include a Pet Portrait Mode.

The S6100 steps up from the S5100 with 16-megapixel resolution and 7x wide angle optical zoom. One of the most notable upgrades is the three-inch touchscreen display. It will be available in March for $199.95.

S3100 and S4100The S4100 also features a three-inch touchscreen display, as well as auto-sharing capabilities that connect to Nikon’s photo hosting site as well as other social media websties. Both the S4100 and S3100 feature 14-megapixel resolution and 5x wide-angle lenses, and will be available in a variety of candy-hued colors. Both models will be available later this month for $179.95 and $139.95, respectively.

L24The L24 is the budget cam for true beginners – it’s that first point and shoot that will be replaced in the future. It has 14-megapixel resolution and 3.6x optical zoom, and includes video and audio recording. It will come out later this month for $119.95.

Molly McHugh
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Before coming to Digital Trends, Molly worked as a freelance writer, occasional photographer, and general technical lackey…
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