We've had a pre-production Coolpix 4300 in-house for a few days now, just enough time to produce a very brief First Look at Nikon's latest digital camera. The 4300 has many advanced features such as manual exposure, 5-area selectable Auto Focus, Noise Reduction, Bracketing and a 4 cm (1.6 in) macro mode. Note that this level of camera doesn't represent final image quality and thus we will not be posting any sample images at this stage.

Nikon Coolpix 4300 First Look - Pictures

Nikon Coolpix 4300 First Look - Displays

Record view, nothing significant has changed since the 885. Existing Coolpix users will find the information overlay familiar. Just like the 885 the 4300 has Nikon's unique quarter sized 'Quick View' feature which provides a display of the last image taken over the live viewer image.
Playback mode has the full range of information pages (exposure, settings etc.) as well as the histogram display with flashing highlights. The 4300 now features x6.0 playback magnification (the 885 only went to x4.0).

Nikon Coolpix 4300 First Look - Menus

The 4300's menu is virtually identical to that of the 885, the most noticeable difference must be the new 2272 x 1704 selectable image resolution. Existing Nikon add-on lenses are supported by the 4300.
Image adjustments include automatic image analysis and adjustment as well as contrast and brightness settings. The 885's wide range of scene modes also makes it way onto the 4300 providing the novice a quick way to achieve good results in all sorts of environments.

Nikon Coolpix 4300 First Look - General Impressions

The Coolpix 4300, while not as small as some of the compact four megapixel competition, doesn't compromise on features. It can be used as a point and shoot camera for absolute beginners (Auto and Scene modes) and provides a series of steps through to more advanced photography with just about all the flexibility we find on the top end prosumer Coolpix digital cameras. I personally quite like the design and ergonomics of the 4300, it's chunky but feels small in your hand, and unlike all other compact four megapixel digital cameras it has a proper hand grip.

At this stage we can't provide you with image quality samples, this particular level of camera is too eary for that. However we have been able to do our own brief tests and note that Nikon seem to have addressed the red/cyan preference issue of the 885. Resolution appears to be in line with Minolta's DiMAGE F100 (which we are currently reviewing) but isn't quite as good as the Sony DSC-P9 or Canon PowerShot S40. We'll see how the final production units measure up as soon as we receive one.