Nikon Coolpix s9100 review
Review Date : 21st August 2011
Author : James
What’s in the box?
Nikon ViewNX2 CD, user manual on CD, USB cable, TV out cable, wrist strap and charger.
At first impressions, the Nikon Coolpix doesn’t make any great steps forward in product design. As with most modern point and shoots, it is stylish, slim (1.4 inches, to be precise) and small enough to be truly portable. It won’t win any points for elegance or particular attractiveness but it fits easily in the hand with logical placement of shutter button, zoom and menu for ease of use.
At 214g, the camera feels durable and sturdy in the hand but still feels manageable and light enough to be truly portable.
Perhaps most importantly, the 3 inch LCD monitor takes up most of the back of the camera, eliminating fussiness in favour of clear and crisp live view.
The menu button caused most problems. The selection wheel moves too easily and this proves especially problematic when attempting to delete images, lending the user a lack of confidence when using the camera.
The tripod dock is positioned dubiously to the far left of the camera on the opposite side to the shutter button. It’s not hard to imagine this negating the tripod completely as the camera tips over.
The images are sharp, crisp and detailed and represents blues and greens vibrantly and truly.
Sadly, and rather oddly, it doesn’t handle whites or reds particularly well. Both colours burn, which serves only to wash the other colours out. In the viewfinder, it gives the illusion that you’re taking wonderfully vibrant pictures. This doesn’t translate to the larger downloaded images.
However, it has a nice focusing feature. A light press of the shutter button auto focuses, as with digital SLR, and intuitively lends depth of field to images. This makes for some truly special “snapshots.”
All the usual scene presets are present. Sports, portrait, close up. It also features some interesting settings such as pet portrait which allows for continuous shooting and museum which makes no noise as it photographs.
As well as standard sepia, monochrome and selective colour filters, the Nikon Coolpix has some very basic but useful post-effects such as lighting, fish eye, miniature and skin softening. They’re quick fixes, ideal for the casual photographer.
The panorama function comes in 360 and 180 degrees. The camera allows the user to simply move the camera to capture the entire panorama. While this works brilliantly and quickly in 180 degrees, it has more trouble with 360 panoramas. However, it is the best panorama feature I’ve seen.
The flash is handled by a pop-up switch, and the results are reasonably good for a camera of this size. It also works well with the added “backlight” feature in the extras.
Most impressive of all is the video function. It records high definition video in .mov format. It is incredibly crisp video and captures sound well despite the ridiculous stereo microphone with left and right only two centimetres apart. Good light is required to prevent graininess and motion can be juddery.
Almost ignored as a feature is the very cool high speed video capability, a feature not present in some of Nikon’s DSLRs. This allows you to record those beautiful slow motion videos that often include balloons exploding and lightbulbs being smashed. On the S9100, video quality in this mode is not great but is an unexpected feature that will provide hours of fun for significantly less expense than a top end high speed camera.
High Speed video example:
When the camera was first released in March 2011, it retailed at £300. Now retailing at £200, it is a more manageable price but for a point and shoot, this still feels too expensive. On the other hand, you only have one piece of kit to worry about and I can imagine this camera being used frequently. If you can find it cheaper, I think it’d be a worthwhile investment.
After a full day out with near constant snapping, the S9100 still had full battery and no signs of working slower. It processes quickly and allows reviewing of images and video without sucking up battery power.
The video feature, however, does drain battery life.
Thankfully, this camera has the ability to charge via USB cable, always an extremely useful bonus, especially when on the move.
Whilst you can adjust ISO up to a noisy 3200, there is no ability to change shutter speed or aperture. The discerning photographer will find this extremely off-putting.
The more dedicated photographer would most certainly take issue with the s9100. The image quality, especially concerning colour, leaves a lot to be desired.
For the casual photographer, it’s hard to imagine a better camera. It has all the point-and-shoot quickness coupled with some nifty little features that prove both useful and entertaining.