Nikon today announced the COOLPIX P3 and P4, an expansion to its more advanced and feature-rich P, or Performance, Series of digital cameras.

The two new cameras offer 8.1 megapixels and a 2.5-inch LCD screen as well as a host of in-camera features.

Nikon has added its Vibration Reduction (VR) system, a feature adapted directly from Nikon's SLR lenses, to the P Series cameras allowing them to supposedly capture rock-steady images at shutter speeds of up to three stops slower that could normally be hand held.

Seventeen shooting modes, a new 11 wide-area AF alongside an aperture-priority Auto mode to let photographers benefit from aperture control in 1/3EV steps shows the new model offers plenty of offers.

Both cameras feature continuous shooting at up to 1.8 frames per second, which is complimented by a five shot buffer that allows users to shoot in a continuous burst, with the camera recording the last five images taken.

An addition to the successful COOLPIX P1 and P2 cameras, the new P3 also comes equipped with the ability to transfer images wirelessly through the camera's built-in Wi-Fi feature. However the camera will have to be in a wireless hotspot to use the feature.

Nikon has included its Exclusive Feature System including automatic red eye fixing in-camera. Face-Priority AF that automatically finds and focuses on a persons face and D-Lighting that selects and creates a copy of images with excessive backlight.

The cameras also feature a blur warning alert, and a Best Shot Selector (BSS) that automatically identifies and saves the sharpest shot from ten sequential shots.

Additionally, the L Series cameras include handy features such as, TV Quality Movie Mode function (recording movies at up to 30fps with sound on the L2 and L3), Single and Continuous AF, Choice of White Balance and Noise Reduction.

The COOLPIX P3 and P4 will be available in March 2006 and cost $449.95 and $399.95, respectively.

We are awaiting confirmation on UK pricing from Nikon UK.

We will keep you posted.