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Nikon Coolpix P310 Digital Compact Camera Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Nikon Coolpix P310, a premium compact which has replaced the P300.

|  Nikon Coolpix P310 in Compact Cameras
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Nikon Coolpix P310 Front Lens Extended

The Nikon Coolpix P310 was announced in February as the upgrade to the P300. It has recently won a Red Dot Award and is available in either black or white for £234.95.

Nikon Coolpix P310 Front Flash Up

Nikon Coolpix P310 Features

The P310 has a back-illuminated CMOS sensor with a bright f/1.8 4.2x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 24-100mm. To help reduce the effects of camera shake there is advanced lens-shift Vibration Reduction VR. Nikon's EXPEED C2 image processing system is designed to provide high-speed operation, enhanced movie recording, high-sensitivity performance and maximum image quality.

You can shoot in auto mode, where the camera will determine the correct settings based on the scene. Other shooting modes include auto HDR mode, Easy Panorama 360°/180° and 3D. To gain even more control there is full manual controls, including P, S, M and A modes as you would find on a DSLR. User mode will also remember your preferred camera settings. Continuous shooting mode shoots up to five full resolution shots at 6 fps or up to 30 full resolution shots at 1 fps.

After you have taken your pictures you can edit them in the Retouch menu with a range of filter effects including Selective Colour and Cross Screen.

Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD with both stereo sound, optical zoom and autofocus. The P310 can also record in slow or fast mode at up to 120 fps and can be connected to a HD TV via a HDMI cable.

Nikon Coolpix P310 Top

Key Features

  • Back-illuminated 16 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • 4.2x optical zoom f/1.8 lens (35mm equiv: 24-100mm)
  • Advanced lens-shift vibration reduction
  • 3 inch 921k dot LCD screen
  • Mode dial with manual exposure modes (P/S/A/M)
  • Full 1080p HD video recording with stereo sound and optical zoom
  • ISO 100 - 6400
  • 2cm minimum focusing distance in Macro mode
  • Auto HDR mode
  • Easy Panorama 360°/180°
  • High-speed 6 fps continuous shooting
  • Available in black or white
Nikon Coolpix P310 Rear

Nikon Coolpix P310 Handling

The P310 has a solid metal body and a rubber grip for your right thumb on the rear and a thin one running down the front. Also on the front of the camera is an fn button which can be set to change a particular setting of your choice from image size, picture control, white balance, metering, continuous shooting, ISO and AF area mode. There is a dedicated movie record button as well as a rotating d-pad on the rear and mode dial on the top of the camera.

The menus are easy to navigate, pressing the menu button takes you to the setting which you can change, dependent on the mode you are shooting in. Other general settings can be change by pressing left on the d-pad. The tripod socket is metal and is near the middle of the camera. The rear of the camera hosts the 3 inch, 921k dot, LCD screen which is easy to see in bright sunlight or low light conditions and has an anti-reflective coating.

The battery has a CIPA rating of 230 shots, and during testing it proved capable of achieving this amount. We tested each camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.

Shutter Response   0.15 secs
Wide - Focus and Shutter Response Average   0.5 secs
Full zoom - Focus and Shutter Response Average   0.8 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   1.8 secs
Shot to Shot (without flash)   1.9 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   2.4 secs
Continuous Shooting H (at full resolution)   5 fps
Continuous Shooting L (at full resolution)   1 fps

Other continuous shooting modes include Continuous H 120 fps and 60 fps, although these modes have a limited file size, VGA and 1 megapixels respectively.

Nikon Coolpix P310 Battery And Memory Card 3

Nikon Coolpix P310 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review and product ratings.

Nikon Coolpix P310 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Images are well exposed with good colour reproduction. Portraits have pleasing skin tones with no sign of red-eye. When switching to backlighting mode you can select three levels of HDR, with the example above taken using the lowest possible setting, which tends to fix shadows rather than highlights, making skies look worse than without the HDR switched on.

Nikon Coolpix P310 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Detail is good throughout the images whether you are shooting wide or with full optical zoom and purple fringing is kept to a minimum. With a minimum focusing distance of just 2cm the P310 is capable of an excellent macro shot.

Nikon Coolpix P310 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Images are noise free at ISO 100, with a steady increase as you go through the lowest settings of ISO 200 and 400. At ISO 800 noise causes a very slight loss in sharpness, with this becoming more significant at ISO 1600. Again, ISO 3200 has a significant amount of noise, with Hi1, equivalent to ISO 6400, having lots of noise and is more suitable for smaller sized images rather than large prints.

Nikon Coolpix P310 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - There are two AWB settings on the P310, normal and warm lighting. Under the incandescent lights the normal setting takes the best picture, which is bettered by the incandescent preset. Performance under the fluorescent lights is good under both AWB settings, with all three available fluorescent presets giving a cast in the image.

Panorama mode - The P310 takes 360° and 180° panoramic images, which look impressive, with no signs of stitching.

180 Panorama | 1/640 sec | f/3.5 | 5.0 mm | ISO 100
180 Panorama | 1/640 sec | f/3.5 | 5.0 mm | ISO 100

360 Panorama | 1/500 sec | f/4.0 | 5.0 mm | ISO 100
360 Panorama | 1/500 sec | f/4.0 | 5.0 mm | ISO 100

Digital Filters - To add creativity to your shots, the P310 has a range of special effects and picture control modes, with examples of each below.

Nikon Coolpix P310 Digital filters

Video - Below is a video shot at full 1080p HD. Optical zoom can be used during recording, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine Youtube Page. While there you can also see a video shot using the 120 fps High Speed video mode.

Value For Money

The Nikon Coolpix P310, from £234.95, compares well to other serious compact cameras, such as the Panasonic Lumix LX5 (around £349), Canon Powershot S100 (around £359) and larger Olympus XZ-1 (£309). The other cameras in this category are much larger such as the Nikon Coolpix P7100 (£349.95) and Canon Powershot G12 (£357).

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Nikon Coolpix P310 Verdict

The Nikon Coolpix P310 is an extremely versatile camera which packs a lot of features in to a body small enough to fit in your pocket. There is very little to fault, the 4.2x optical zoom lens being quite limited given there are now cameras with a massive 42x optical zoom. There isn't the option to shoot in RAW either, but there are full manual controls, the f/1.8 maximum aperture lens and full 1080p HD video recording. Add this to the fantastic image quality and extremely competitive price, it is easy for us to Highly Recommend the P310.

  The Nikon Coolpix P310 offers a large range of filters, fantastic image quality and is available at a very decent price.

Nikon Coolpix P310 Pros

Feature packed
Excellent value for money
Full manual controls
Fantastic image quality
Full 1080p HD video recording with optical zoom and stereo sound
Fast f/1.8 lens

Nikon Coolpix P310 Cons

Battery life is fairly short at 240 shots
Limited zoom range
No RAW shooting


Nikon Coolpix P310 Specifications

Max Aperturef/1.8 - f/4.9
35mm equivalent24mm - 100mm
Optical Zoom4.2x
Image Sensor
Pixels16.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution921,000
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus2cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Centre
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting6fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeEN-EL12
Battery Life (CIPA rating)230shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsCamera Strap, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12 (with terminal cover), Charging AC Adapter EH-69P, USB Cable UC-E6, Audio Video Cable EG-CP16, ViewNX 2 Installer CD, Reference Manual CD

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Photographs taken using the Nikon Coolpix P310

Reminder of SummerIn the BarnThe ExplorerDew Covered Purple CloverTitanic Experience 2Titanic ExperienceA walk in AutumnAldeburgh BeachDo not ask the question if you do not want to hear the answer"Singing  Ringing  Tree"On The BeachEnd of the SummerShell LikeWaiting for the Ferry

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callancool 18 5
25 Apr 2012 7:36PM
Just looked at three reviews, the pentax vs20, the GE G100 and this one. It staggers me that camera with the best images gets the worst review, the GE G 100.
1 Apr 2013 6:43AM
Nikon is just now discounting the P310 now that the P330 is out. I am very happy with this purchase of the P310 at $179 USD. It is not a $300 camera but a great low light camera at this price point.

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