Nikon Coolpix S9300 Review
Conclusion - Pros:
- Good value for the money
- 18X, 25 - 450 mm optical zoom lens in a compact, generally well-built body
- Optical image stabilization
- Sharp 3-inch LCD display with 921k pixels
- Fast autofocus in good light
- GPS receiver with compass and large landmark database
- Scene Auto Selector picks a shooting mode for you
- Plenty of scene modes and special effects
- Wide selection of burst modes, some of which are pretty good
- Redeye not a problem
- Full HD movie mode with stereo sound, use of optical zoom and image stabilizer, and full-time autofocus
Conclusion - Cons:
- Noisy and soft photos have noticeable detail loss, even at base ISO of 125
- Strong highlight clipping at times
- No manual controls, save for white balance
- Low light focusing not great
- Below average battery life
- Flash is slow to recharge
- Not great for night shots, due to 1 sec shutter speed limit and lack of manual controls
- Photos taken in portrait orientation are not rotated automatically
- Flimsy door over battery/memory card compartment
- Internal battery charging is slow, won't let you charge a spare
- Full manual on CD-ROM
The Nikon Coolpix S9300 isn't a whole lot different than its predecessor. Aside from a new sensor and GPS, it's basically the same camera, with a very similar list of pros and cons. The body hasn't changed much, and that's generally a good thing. It's very compact and well put-together, save for the flimsy door over the memory card/battery compartment. The S9300 retains the same 18X, 25 - 450 mm lens as its predecessor (the S9100), and it's a pretty nice piece of glass, considering the low price of the camera. Nikon switched from a hybrid (sensor-shift + electronic) image stabilization system on the S9100 to a straight-up lens-shift system on the S9300. The main takeaway from that change is that you can now use IS while recording movies. On the back of the camera is a 3-inch, 921k pixel LCD with excellent sharpness and average outdoor visibility.
The S9300 is a point-and-shoot camera, with just one manual control (for white balance). There are two auto modes -- one of which will pick a scene mode for you - plus numerous scene and special effect modes. The S9300 has a 'sweep panorama' feature which should work fairly well, as long as you're not taking photos of bridges. There's also an HDR mode, though the output is really artificial looking, so it's not a great solution for photos with lots of contrast. The lack of manual controls combined with a 1 second shutter speed limit made the S9300 a disappointing night photo camera. The movie mode has been improved slightly since the S9100: you can still record 1080p video at 30 frames/second with stereo sound, use of the optical zoom, and continuous autofocus. On the S9300 you now get to use the optical IS system instead of the electronic system, which is a big improvement. As you probably figured out by now, there are no manual controls in movie mode. Let's not forget the biggest new feature on the Coolpix S9300: its GPS receiver and electronic compass. Not only will the GPS tag your location and direction, it'll also tell you what landmark you're near. The system works fairly well if you're in flat, clear areas, but I had trouble both in the mountains and in the city, which isn't entirely surprising.
Camera performance is good in most respects. The S9300 starts up and is ready to take photos in about 1.4 seconds. In good lighting, the camera focusing very quickly, placing it near the top of its class in that department. I was disappointed with low light focusing performance, though: while not horribly slow, the camera could not lock focus more often than not. Shutter lag wasn't an issue, and shot-to-shot speeds were minimal if you weren't using the flash. If you are using the flash, expect to wait a lengthy four seconds before you can take another picture. The camera has numerous burst modes, though most are at lower resolutions. In high speed mode you can fire off seven shots at 7.5 fps, while in low speed you can get away with 10 shots at 1.9 fps before the frame rate drops a bit. The LCD does lag behind the action, so tracking a moving subject can be tricky. Battery life dropped considerably on the S9300, and is tied for the lowest of any travel zoom. I can't say that I'm a fan of the slow internal charging system, either.
As with the S9100 before it, photo quality is where the Coolpix S9300 really stumbles compared to its peers. While exposure is generally accurate, the camera has strong highlight clipping at times. I have no complaints about color: the S9300 had vivid colors both inside and outside of the studio. The camera's biggest problem are its soft and noisy photos (with lots of fuzzy details), which you'll see even at the base ISO of 125. Things get worse rapidly, and I'd say the S9300 is at least a stop worse than the best cameras in this class. If you keep the ISO below 400 and make small prints then you'll probably be satisfied, but the bottom line is that other cameras do a lot better. On a more positive note, the S9300 keeps purple fringing levels low, and redeye was not an issue.
Overall, I found that the Coolpix S9300 is a decent travel zoom camera, but there are several competitors that I think are better choices. While it does offer a nice point-and-shoot feature set, the mediocre photo quality, poor battery life, and other annoyances prevent me from recommending it.Some other GPS-equipped travel zoom cameras worth considering include the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS, Fuji FinePix F770EXR, Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20, Samsung WB850F, and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V. If you can live without the GPS, the Olympus SZ-31MR, Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS15, and the Pentax Optio VS20 may also be worth a look.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Nikon Coolpix S9300
Category: Travel Zoom Compact Camera
Ergonomics & handling
Exposure and focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Movie / video mode
While the Nikon Coolpix S9300 represents an excellent value and offers a nice point-and-shoot feature set, its photo quality is poor relative to the competition, with mediocre low light shooting and below-par battery life.
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20/TZ30 Review
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS15/TZ25 Review
- Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Review
- Compact Camera Group Test: Travel Zooms (2011)
About Jeff Keller
Jeff Keller is the Founder and Publisher of the Digital Camera Resource Page. When it was created in 1997, DCResource was the first digital camera news and review site on the Internet. Jeff's love of gadgetry introduced him to digital cameras in the mid-90's, from which his passion for photography developed. Jeff runs DCResource from his home in Oakland, CA, and is often found wandering the streets of San Francisco with a bag full of cameras.
This week on DPReview TV, Chris and Jordan prepare for the summer holiday season by putting several popular waterproof cameras to the test. If you're considering a rugged camera for the beach or pool this summer, or if you just want to see what a Chris and Jordan fishing show might look like, tune in.
Soulumination is a non-profit organization that provides life-affirming legacy photography to families facing serious medical conditions, completely free of charge. This video shares the work they are doing.
Fujifilm EU seems to have accidentally leaked an unreleased camera to the masses. The leaked page details a new "X-T100" camera that will share most of its specs with the X-A5, but includes an EVF, deeper buffer, and 3-way tilting touchscreen.
LA-based director and cinematographer Phil Holland of PHFX recently joined forces with Gotham Film Works to create something out-of-this-world. Using a special aerial camera array, Holland shot a flyover of New York City using not one, not two, but three 8K RED Weapon Monstro VistaVision cameras.
According to an interview with the Google Photos team on XDA, object removal simply had a lower priority in the development queue than other features. It might still show up some day... but maybe not.
In a bid to clear up online speculation, surprise entrant to the full frame cinema lens market Nisi has answered some questions about its relationship with brands marketing lenses very similar to its own F3 series.
Now that we've completed our review of Panasonic's Lumix DC-ZS200 (TZ200), we've updated its entry in our Best Cameras for Travel, Best Pocketable Enthusiast Cameras and Best Enthusiast Long Zoom Cameras buying guides.
This useful video guide by The Slanted Lens will get you up to date on the latest TSA rules on flying with lithium ion batteries. If you're getting ready to travel with a bunch of photography gear, this is one to watch.
This product photo was captured using two speedlights to light the bottle, a smartphone to light paint the background, and some Photoshop to pull it all together. Watch the video to see how product photographer Dustin Dolby did it.
The software development kit allows third-party developers to create mobile and desktop apps that can control the camera remotely via USB cable or Wi-Fi.
Fujifilm has been forced to roll back the much-anticipated firmware update v4.0 for the X-T2 released last week due to "malfunctions." Firmware updates for the GFX 50S, X-H1 and X-Pro2 planned for this month have also been delayed as a result.
The Laowa 9mm F2.8 Zero-D is an ultra-wide lens for APS-C mirrorless cameras designed with minimal distortion. We took an E-mount version of the lens out for a spin on the a6500 – take a look at the results.
"...excuse me if I don’t walk around in front of [my client] shooting bloody BTS because somebody on social media wants to see it because they can’t be arsed to attend a proper controlled seminar and learn properly, they’d rather be ‘cheap’ and just try to reverse engineer BTS stuff."
OnePlus has slightly boosted the camera specifics of its news flagship smartphone, the OnePlus 6. Compared to its predecessor, it boasts both a bigger sensor and optical image stabilization.
These newly leaked images and sketches show the upcoming DJI Phantom 5 drone, which will allegedly feature a 1-inch sensor camera with interchangeable lenses.
A piece of leaked code revealed a new feature—since confirmed by Instagram's CEO—that is coming to Instagram. It's called 'time spent,' and it will allow users to track how much time they spend on the photo sharing app so they can be more 'intentional' about it.
The new website and app—developed by Fujifilm USA but available to everyone—will host interviews with X and GFX professionals, run technique articles, and showcase collections of images shot with Fujifilm equipment.
The flagship smartphone by Huawei's sub-brand Honor offers the same Kirin 970 top-end chipset as Huawei's flagships P20 and P20 Pro, but at a significantly lower price point. It also includes some advanced AI scene and object recognition.
One man's feature is another man's bug. Photographer Robert Hall has discovered a quirk about how the live view and EVF on Sony's full-frame mirrorless cameras respond when you attach a flash. Fortunately, he's also found a way to work around it.
Microsoft's Surface Hub 2 is a massive collaborative touchscreen display that may or may not have any practical use for professional photographers... but it sure looks impressive nonetheless.
Google is replacing its existing Google Drive plans with newly packaged Google One plans that are 50% cheaper and come with live chat support. Two terabytes of cloud storage will now cost you just $10/month.
Photographer David Oastler got his hands on an early copy of the Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Sony FE lens, and while he couldn't take pictures with it, he did get to test its focusing capabilities. The great news: this thing focuses just as fast a Sony native lens.
Canon Rumors is reporting with near-certainty that Canon will unveil two new 70-200mm L-lenses in early June. The site says it is 100% certain the 70-200mm F4L IS II is on the way, and 95% certain the 70-200mm F2.8L IS III will also be announced.
Photographer Henry Stuart has created a 24-hour panoramic timelapse of London that combines 6240 D850 files to form a picture that contains over 7 billion pixels. The 155° view presents the city in an incredible amount of detail, with Nikon claiming you can read signs up to 5 miles away.
In the ad, a woman pulls out her iPhone to take a selfie in a train station, and all sorts of studio lights, umbrellas and softboxes materialize out of nowhere around her.
If it feels like we've been writing a lot about Sony recently, you haven't been imagining things: we've been writing about its products and technologies quite a bit. Here's why.
Fujifilm has announced the Instax Square SQ6, an analog instant film camera that resembles the old Instagram logo. The SQ6 takes Fujifilm's Instax Square film which gives a 62 x 62mm (2.4 x 2.4") images on 86 x 72mm film. It will cost around $130.
In a leaked internal email, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun details the creation of a dedicated in-house camera department that will focus exclusively on developing better camera tech for the brand's smartphones.
hähnel has extended its range of radio-triggered Modus 600RT flash units with a model for Micro Four Thirds cameras. The unit can be used directly in the hotshoe as a standalone flash, or within a group of flashes as a TTL commander or a slave using radio or optical communication.