The Nikon Coolpix P300 is the company’s attack on the high-end compact, slotting in under the Coolpix P7000 and offering an affordable, but high-spec compact at a price that isn’t too extravagant. Of all Nikon's new announcements for 2011, this is the one that got us most excited.
The headline specs of the Nikon Coolpix P300 include and F/1.8 Nikkor lens, offering a 24mm (35mm equiv) wide angle and a 4.2x zoom. This fast lens looks to rival the new Olympus XZ-1, offering a marginally larger aperture than the Canon PowerShot S95 or Panasonic Lumix LX5.
As is common on high-end compacts you get a full suite of control modes via the top dial, offering up program, aperture and shutter priority and full manual control, along with the normal auto and scene modes.
Tackling the issue of control, the Coolpix P300 offers two control dials. The first runs round the four-way controller on the back and the second is a straight click dial on the top. We put these to the test in manual shooting and found the rear dial controlled aperture whilst the top dial changed the shutter speed, making it easy to balance exposure using the on-screen meter.
The top plate does present you with the mode dial, shutter button and control dial all in a small space, which might take some getting used to when you go to grab a quick shot.
What didn’t seem to fall to hand was ISO control. The ISO range runs from 160 to 3200, with restricted auto ranges if you wish, but we couldn’t find a way to quickly bump this up or down quickly whilst composing a manual shot. Something to look at when we get the camera in for a full review.
Elsewhere you are treated to 12.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, a nice, bright 3-inch 921k-dot display on the back and a pop-up flash that needs to be manually deployed as necessary.
An HDMI slot is nestled on the side which will playback your Full HD 1920 x 1080 video content the camera offers.
Measuring 103 x 58.3 x 32mm and weighing 190g, the Nikon Coolpix is both powerful and pocketable and looks like a great little camera. It comes in black, like a stealth bomber, and only black.
The Nikon P300 can be yours for £299.99 and will be available from 17 March 2011.