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Vintage looks and surefooted

india Updated: Apr 28, 2011 16:13 IST
Nikhil Hemrajani

Breaking the trend of aesthetic curves and rounded edges is Nikon’s Coolpix P300 compact camera. With its vintage looks and boxy design, you might make the mistake of presuming that it shoots like a relic from another time. But you’d be wrong.

The P300 is Nikon’s flagship shooter that’s loaded with more features than many beginner-grade SLRs. Though the 4.2x Nikkor zoom lens may not hold a candle to the big 12-16x varieties available in the market, it is not to be scoffed at. It is very fast with an aperture range of f1.8 to 4.9. In a nutshell, when shooting wide angles in low light, expect detailed and well-exposed results.

Spotless design
Despite its retro design, the camera is very comfortable to hold. It’s neither heavy nor light with it metal construction adding a touch of class. The retractable flash that can be conveniently tucked away when not in use has the best design we have seen in a while. The pint-sized power and playback buttons are a bit difficult to access, making them the only anomalies in an otherwise well-engineered device.

Convenient to use
The rear panel sports a high-resolution (921,000 pixels) 3-inch screen that’s as good as those in today’s professional cameras. You can change settings and navigate the menu using two controls – a 5-way directional pad cum rotary dial at the back, and another rotary dial at the top. Nikon’s simply hit the nail on the head in terms of ease of use. The camera is very convenient to use, even for beginners.

Focusing is quick and photos are clear all the way up to ISO 800. The fact that it can churn out great photos, even in darkly lit situations, says a lot about the camera. Videos don’t cease to amaze either with good colour saturation and sharpness. The P300 also sports a mini HDMI port so you can connect it directly to your flat panel and view your photos and videos in all their glory. Don’t miss its macro mode. With this setting, you can go very close to the subject, less than 0.5cm, to get extreme close-ups that are impeccably focused and sharp.

Ample battery life
Another thing to be noted is the battery life. Nikon rates it at 240 shots per charge we but managed to eke out more photos. Give it a full charge and you’ll be able to use it on several occasions before you see a low battery warning.

Image sensor
The Nikon Coolpix P300 won’t let you down in the quality department. Though its CCD-based image sensor is a tad smaller (1/2.3 inches) compared to its rivals, Canon’s Powershot S95 and the Panasonic Lumix LX5, you’ll be pleased with the results. It can shoot photos at a maximum resolution of 12.2 megapixels and videos at 1920x1080p.

Verdict
At Rs 19,950, Nikon’s succeeding in dishing out a camera that good in every aspect. Niggles are few and far between; the P300’s unconventional looks and video and photo-taking abilities are big hits. Don’t think twice about plonking your money on this shooter, because you won’t regret it.

Rating: ****1/2