Opt for a truly pocket-friendly point-and-shoot camera and you’re often settling for a compromise: small size for zoom ability. But Nikon has successfully avoided this with the Coolpix S6300, which will slip into your jeans - even those of the pornographically skinny hipster variety - easily, yet packs an impressive 10x optical zoom lens.
Zoomy, but not the most zoomy
The zoom range, equivalent to 25-250mm on a 35mm camera, makes the S6300 more versatile than the average compact, although not to the extent you see on slightly bulkier models like the 18x Samsung WB150F or the 20x Canon PowerShot SX240 HS. Basically, the S6300’s lens means you can shoot wide-angle interiors or landscapes, then zoom in for a head-and-shoulders portrait. It also takes macro close up shots at its widest zoom, focusing on subjects as close as 100mm.
Simple to use, plenty of image options
The S6300 is an extremely simple camera to use. Nikon has streamlined the user interface, giving you a very straightforward set of shooting modes, each accessed by the "camera/scene" button on the rear. Press this and you can select an auto mode, one of 19 scene presets, special effects, smart portrait or autofocus subject tracking.
There’s no manual or even program mode, so photographers who like to tweak camera settings may find themselves a little disappointed. You can change a handful of settings in auto - such as exposure compensation - but that’s really it. You’ll have to make do with the scene presets - optimised for fireworks, snow, food, etc - or use the special effects such as monochrome, sepia, soft focus.
The smart portrait mode combines anti-redeye, skin smoothing and smile detection tech. As we say, it’s a simple selection, but the addition of a dial at the top would make changing between these modes a lot easier – or at least quicker.
Average in low-light
The camera rocks a back-illuminated CMOS sensor that Nikon claims delivers excellent low-light photos, but in reality the S6300 appears to be fairly average in this regard. There’s noise clearly visible in shots at 400 ISO, and above that things get grainier than a jar of mustard.
Colours are bright, though, and there’s a nice contrasty punch, so overall we’re pretty happy with the image quality.
And 1080p video
There’s 1080p HD video with stereo sound, and it’s sharp and clean, and far better than the equivalent video on a pricey smartphone, for instance. You can use the optical zoom while capturing video, but don’t expect the autofocus - very fast when shooting stills - to lock on quickly and accurately when you do so.
The Nikon Coolpix S6300 is a solid, dependable ultra-compact with an impressive zoom range, but lacks one killer feature to make it stand out over rivals.
Image quality is acceptable without ever really excelling, and while HD videos are sharp we were left hoping for a little something extra from the highly touted CMOS sensor. A decent all-round compact, then, but nothing to get too excited about.
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