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Nikon Coolpix S9300 GPS Pocket Zoom Review

Joshua Waller reviews the new Nikon Coolpix S9300 with GPS, 18x optical zoom lens and 16 megapixel sensor.

| Nikon Coolpix S9300 in Compact Cameras
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Nikon Coolpix S9300 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Nikon Coolpix S9300 Red (1)

The Nikon Coolpix S9300 is Nikon's top of the range pocket travel zoom and features a 16 megapixel sensor, an 18x optical zoom lens, 3 inch screen and built in GPS. The S9300 sits above the S9200 as the S9200 lacks GPS.

Nikon Coolpix S9300 Features

Nikon Coolpix S9300 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Nikon Coolpix S9300 Red (2)

The Nikon Coolpix S9300 offers a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor. Available in Black, Red, Blue or Silver, the camera features a high resolution 3 inch screen with 921k dots, as well as high speed continuous shooting, full HD video with stereo sound and built in GPS with compass.

The camera has a number of special effects, including selective colour, high speed shooting at 7fps, smart portrait with smile shutter, blink proof and skin softening options, backlighting with flash or backlighting HDR mode (taking a number of shots and combining), hand-held nightshot, and a number of scene modes including easy panorama.

Nikon Coolpix S9300 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Nikon Coolpix S9300 Red (3)

Key Features

  • 16 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • 18x optical zoom lens equivalent to 25mm - 450mm
  • VR lens-shift image stabilisation
  • 3.0 inch 921k dot
  • GPS / Compass / POI / Logging
  • Full HD 1080p Video with stereo sound
  • High speed video recording: VGA/120fps, 720p/60fps
  • ISO125 - 3200
  • 4cm macro mode
  • 7fps continuous shooting at full resolution
  • Black, Red, Silver, Blue

Nikon Coolpix S9300 Handling

Nikon Coolpix S9300 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Nikon Coolpix S9300 Red (5)

Handling - The camera is quite slim for an ultra zoom with a small raised bar at the front to hold onto and a rubber thumb grip on the back of the camera. The body is mostly metal, with stylish glossy finish and a plastic tripod mount at one end of the camera. The battery and memory compartment is lockable with a latch, and although it is made out of plastic, the mechanism underneath is made out of a solid looking piece of metal.

Nikon Coolpix S9300 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Nikon Coolpix S9300 Red (6)

The buttons are a good size. The screen works quite well outdoors and is still visible in bright sunlight. The flash pops out from the top when required but doesn't automatically retract leaving you to manually push it back in.

Menus – The camera's menus are split into four different sections, including shooting, video, GPS and setup making it easy to use. An additional menu is available in playback. It's easy to change the self-timer, flash, focus and exposure options as there is direct access on the rear scroll wheel / d-pad although to change additional settings you need to enter the menus. The camera has a number of GPS options including a built in compass, points of interest, and logging.

Nikon Coolpix S9300 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Nikon Coolpix S9300 Red (9)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 200 shots according to CIPA test results, we were able to take just over 230 shots before the battery went flat, although suspect that increased use of GPS and other location based features is likely to reduce the battery life further.

Nikon Coolpix S9300 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Nikon Coolpix S9300 Red (10)

Speed – 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.

  Nikon Coolpix S9300 Panasonic TZ25
Shutter Response <0.05 <0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.3 0.15
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.9 0.3
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 3.8 1.6
Shot to Shot (without flash) 1.0 0.6
Shot to Shot with Flash 3.0 1.2
Continuous Shooting (JPEG) 7fps (7 shots) 10fps (4 shots)
Continuous Shooting (with Flash) N/A 2fps (5 shots, 3m)

Focus speed is acceptable at the wide end of the zoom, with good shutter response. However focus at full optical zoom can be very slow. Shot to shot is reasonable although much slower with flash and the camera has 7fps high speed shooting mode at full resolution for 7 shots. The switch on time is slower than expected. Additional high speed shooting modes are available with 120fps at VGA, and 60fps at 1 megapixel.

Nikon Coolpix S9300 Performance

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

Nikon Coolpix S9300 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Colour reproduction is good with good blues and greens, with reasonably good detail. Portrait photos show good skin tones and very little red-eye. Macro photos can be taken with the subject 4cm away from the front of the lens. It's possible to zoom in however you need to move the subject further away so there is little benefit.

Nikon Coolpix S9300 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Dynamic range is reasonable and can be extended by using the backlighting HDR mode. Some chromatic aberration and purple fringing can be seen in areas of high contrast. The lens performs best at the wide end with some images appearing soft at the telephoto end of the zoom.

Nikon Coolpix S9300 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - The camera has ISO settings from 125 to 3200. Some noise is visible at ISO125, increasing at ISO200. Noise becomes much stronger at ISO400 and detail suffers. At ISO800 detail and image quality drops noticeably with images looking blurred. This continues at ISO1600 and it would be best to avoid this setting. The same goes for ISO3200 with strong noise.

Nikon Coolpix S9300 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under tungsten lighting giving a slightly warm result. The Tungsten preset is better with a more neutral result. AWB performs very well under fluorescent lighting, with the fluorescent preset giving a slight magenta cast. Manual white balance is also available.

Nikon Coolpix S9300 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Panoramic | 1/800 sec | f/3.7 | 5.2 mm | ISO 125
Panoramic | 1/800 sec | f/3.7 | 5.2 mm | ISO 125

Panorama mode - The camera has two panoramic options: normal (180) or wide (360). These are easy to use, as you simply hold the shutter button while panning the camera around.

Nikon Coolpix S9300 Digital filters

Digital Filters - There are a limited number of effects, as shown above. Although in normal shooting modes you can also adjust the hue, vividness, and exposure compensation. Playback options / effects: Quick retouch, D-lighting, Skin softening, and Filter effects (Soft, selective colour, cross screen, fisheye, miniature effect and painting).

Video - Full HD video is recorded with stereo sound and optical zoom. Video options include AF-S or Continuous, Wind noise reduction, as well as high speed video, recording 720p at 60fps or VGA at 120fps. Digital zoom can be switched off or on. Video stabilisation and focus at the telephoto end seems to under-perform compared to other cameras, with slow focus and little image stabilisation visible in the video.

Value For Money

The Nikon Coolpix S9300 is available for £199 to £235, making it one of the cheapest GPS travel zooms available with a high zoom, alternatives to look, most include 20x optical zoom, include the Fujifilm FinePix F770EXR available for £249, Canon Powershot SX260 HS (£269), Sony Cybershot HX20v (£299), Panasonic Lumix TZ30 (£289), and Sony Cybershot HX10v (£260, 16x zoom). For less money there is also the Olympus SH-25MR (£189) with a 12.5x optical zoom lens. 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 S9300 Verdict

The Nikon Coolpix S9300 is one of the cheapest travel zooms with GPS and lots of zoom making it good value for money. It's available in a number of colours, with the red looking particularly stylish. The camera produces reasonably good image quality when using the camera at its lowest ISO settings with better results at the wider end of the zoom. It has a number of useful features including HDR, high speed shooting, scene modes and auto-scene detection. Handling is good with a large rubber grip on the rear of the camera, and the camera is well made. However focus can be sluggish at the telephoto end, this particularly hurts video quality when using zoom. Noise is also higher than expected, but the high value for money could make this camera apealling.

Nikon Coolpix S9300 Pros

Available in bright colours
Good rubber grip on the back
Good colour reproduction
Fast continuous shooting
Full 1080p HD video
Good GPS options
2 year warranty

Nikon Coolpix S9300 Cons

Slow focus at the telephoto end
Video quality not great
High noise after ISO400
Poor tripod socket position


Nikon Coolpix S9300 Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/5.9
35mm equivalent25mm - 450mm
Optical Zoom18x
Image Sensor
Pixels16Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/2.3
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution921,000
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus4cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Face Detection
  • Centre
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity125 - 3200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting120fps
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)200shots
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 S9300

Winding House No 1When the sunsetLeisureHARRIETT DELONG  portraitParty timeLabourMudeford Beach HutsUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitled

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Townee 14 2 United Kingdom
9 Jul 2012 11:34PM
if you are going to show current price's, please ignore "ebay", as these can sometimes be somewhat misleading.Sad
arhb 15 3.4k 68 United Kingdom
28 Dec 2012 2:25PM
I won this camera recently and I'm dissappointed with it.
Slow AF throughout zoom range - more noticeable in mid to low light, and noise issues.
I was using a

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