The Nikon Coolpix S9100 is Nikon’s latest compact camera. It’s aimed squarely at the consumer arena, and after plenty of DSLRs of late and a “prosumer” compact from the imaging giant, that’s a good thing. A lot of similar cameras in this target market try to be all things to all men. By packing in supposedly ‘pro’ functionality, most of these competitors muddy what a good point and shoot should be – fun, and easy to use.
For the Nikon S9100, fun and easy pretty much sums it up. It is by no means lacking in punch though; with a 12.1MP sensor, 18X zoom lens, image stabilization – even at high zoom, powerful built in flash and macro mode.
In this Nikon Coolpix S9100 review, we”ll take a look at the highs and lows of this great little camera.
If you’re looking for a camera to grow your manual photography skills, the Nikon Coolpix S9100 is not the camera for you. You won’t find any easily accessible functions for changing aperture priority, f-stop, shutter speed and the like. Nor will you be able to switch lenses at the drop of a hat or plug in remote triggers and the plethora of other accessories that go along with the modern SLR.
This is not a criticism by any means; in fact it is one of the biggest strengths of the Nikon Coolpix S9100. By trimming out all the manual features that are rarely used by the demographic this camera is aimed at, you end up with one of the best compacts we’ve reviewed in a while.
Daylight photos are clear and crisp with well-defined edges and natural colours. Even in the harsh winter sunlight the Nikon Coolpix S9100 managed to represent colour and form well.
Nighttime performance varied depending on the usage scenario. Trying to take a shot of a dimly lit room in ‘nighttime landscape mode’ resulted in blurry shots and yellowed colours, however switching to the ‘nighttime portrait mode gave a very different result.
We have all seen the snapshots taken in the local pub on a night out; invariably they end up one of two things – bleached by flash or dark and blurry. The Nikon Coolpix S9100 has a fantastic feature that compensates for both these factors. By staggering the flash into bursts while at the same time warming the photo, you end up with crisp and clear fairly natural looking shots.
Overall the photographic performance of this camera has us very impressed.
Like pretty much every other camera you can buy at the moment, the Nikon Coolpix S9100 offers full 1080p HD video recording.
The camera shoots video at a respectable 30 frames per second as well as offering two types of ‘high speed mode’; one at 60FPS, creating a slow-mo style video, while the other is a 15FPS super speed movie (think Benny Hill). Other features include stereo microphone and image stabilization.
Movies come out smooth and the full-time focus does a great job of keeping everything in focus. Our only niggle would be that, because the lens and microphone are so close together, you do tend to hear any movement of the zoom or lens focus – however this is a problem that you will find on all cameras of this size.
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You are never going to shoot the next Avatar on a camera like this, but the movie functions perform amicably and will more then satisfy the occasional family videographer.
The Nikon Coolpix S9100 is fairly limited in its number of connectors, but the ones it does have are solid. On the base you have a USB 2.0 port for sync and charge functionality and on the right you have an HDMI port for streaming images and video to your HDTV.
Though limited, these two ports offer everything you really need to view and extract your photos from the camera.
Build and Layout
The Nikon Coolpix S9100 is not a svelte, slim supermodel of a camera, but nor is it a weighty lump. It sits somewhere comfortably inbetween.
It has a weight that shouts quality workmanship, but not that is going to wear a hole in your pocket. The 3 inch LCD screen is clear and gives a high quality, accurate representation of the photos and video.
The button layout is a little frustrating to start off with – on first use you may mistake the mode dial for the shutter button, as they are right next to each other, and you will probably press a few buttons on the back by mistake too.
We found this was down to user error most of the time and as we got used to the camera, erroneous button presses seemed to dissipate – however a little more spacing wouldn’t have gone amiss!
At £299 the Nikon Coolpix S9100 is at the top of the price range for cameras of this size, however in our opinion it is a brilliant little camera. It doesn’t try to hard to be something it’s not, unlike some of its competition (Sony Cyber-shots, we’re looking at you).
It is a well-built camera that can be relied upon for taking snap-shots as well as HD video and is feature packed enough to be relevant for a few years to come.