The Nikon Coolpix P310 is an incremental upgrade of the Coolpix P300 launched in 2011. It is a compact that offers more than it's fair share of controls, pitched to photographers who know what they want from their camera.

In the hand the compact metal body feels solid and the matte black finish looks understated and utilitarian. We like the design a lot, because it feels like a serious camera, which it is.

It sits below the much more fully featured and much larger Nikon Coolpix P7100, but this is a model you can easily slip into your pocket, and despite the range of manual controls it offers, is easy enough for beginners to use in the auto mode, with 19 scene modes on offer.

A flip of the top mode dial takes you to the manual controls, from program through to shutter, aperture, manual and user defined settings, with a final night shooting position.

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This is much more convenient than a menu-style system, as you'll be able to dive straight into the mode you want and get down to the business of selecting the appropriate settings for the shot you're after.

Changing those settings is easy too, thanks to the thumb dial on the top and the rear-mounted dial. Both get indicators on the 3-inch display on the back so you know what you're changing.

Although the P310 offers a 1/2.3 inch sensor, we're certain the results will be more than acceptable. We've used the predecessor, the P300 extensively and found the performance to be very good. Like the previous edition, the P310 offers a 4.2x zoom Nikkor lens, with a range of 24-100mm (in 35mm terms). It has a max aperture of f/1.8 at the widest angle, so offers plenty of shooting potential.

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Of course, there are high-end compacts out there, like the Canon Powershot S100, the aging Panasonic Lumix LX5 or Olympus XZ-1, which all offer larger sensors and potentially better image quality, but they all cost more too. As such, the Coolpix P310 is a great second camera for those with a DSLR, or just a serious compact for those without.

The sample we got our hands on was a pre-production model, hence the missing camera name on the top of the flash, and sadly it didn't have a battery, so we weren't able to test the new 99-point manual focus or how well the front function button can be put to task.

Naturally we'll be looking at all these things in our Nikon Coolpix P310 review, once we get a sample in the office.

The Nikon Coolpix P310 will cost you £299.99 and will be available from 22 March 2012 in either black or white.