Nikon Coolpix P300 review

Price when reviewed

The term “enthusiast compact camera” used to boil down to the Canon G-series and Panasonic LX-series cameras. Today there’s much more choice, from the svelte Canon PowerShot S95 to the SLR-quality Sony NEX-3.

The Nikon P300 sits on the bottom rung of this market with its sub-£250 price and 1/2.3in sensor: the size that’s widely used in budget compact cameras. The back-illuminated sensor design means it shouldn’t be as noisy as most budget models, though. The lack of RAW capture is another dent to its enthusiast-orientated aspirations, but various other features mean this camera deserves to be taken seriously.

Nikon Coolpix P300

The highlight is the lens with its bright f/1.8 maximum aperture, capturing four times as much light as the f/3.5 lenses found in cheaper cameras. However, it loses this advantage at the telephoto end of its 24-100mm (equivalent) zoom range, where its f/4.9 maximum aperture is nothing special.

The P300’s ergonomics have their ups and downs too. The 3in 921kpixel screen looks fantastic, a pair of dials allows for efficient manual exposure control, plus the menu is straightforward and its options comprehensive. ISO speed, white balance and continuous modes are accessible only via the menu, though.

Nikon Coolpix P300

The P300 is a quick camera: the start-up time is short, and it’s responsive when capturing a string of shots. The continuous mode speeds along at 8fps, but only for seven frames before needing a six-second breather. Photos are sharp, with the lens delivering superb focus into the corners of frames.

The 1/2.3in sensor can’t match the smooth details delivered by rivals with larger 1/1.7in sensors. The difference was most apparent in bright conditions, where noise reduction smeared subtle textures. It closed the gap a little in low light, though, and photos were good enough to print all the way up to ISO 1600.

Nikon Coolpix P300

The P300 beats its rivals hands down for video, though, with its 1080p AVC files delivering crisper details than the 720p videos from either the Canon PowerShot S95 or Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. The stereo soundtrack was rich, detailed and only very slightly affected by noise from the zoom and autofocus motors.

Image quality is good rather than excellent then, but it’s important to remember the P300 costs around £100 less than the Panasonic LX5 and Canon’s S95. While these pricier models risk being squeezed out by SLD (single lens, direct view) cameras such as the excellent Sony NEX-3, the P300 carves a niche for itself for those who want high-quality photos and videos but don’t want to stretch much beyond £200.


Image quality 4

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating 12.0mp
Camera screen size 3.0in
Camera optical zoom range 4x
Camera maximum resolution 4000 x 3000

Weight and dimensions

Weight 190g
Dimensions 103 x 32 x 58mm (WDH)


Battery type included lithium-ion
Battery life (CIPA standard) 240 shots
Charger included? yes

Other specifications

Built-in flash? yes
Aperture range f1.8 - f4.9
Camera minimum focus distance 0.03m
Shortest focal length (35mm equivalent) 24
Longest focal length (35mm equivalent) 100
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed 1/4,000
Maximum (slowest) shutter speed 8s
Bulb exposure mode? no
RAW recording mode? no
Exposure compensation range +/- 2EV
ISO range 160 - 3200
Selectable white balance settings? yes
Manual/user preset white balane? yes
Progam auto mode? yes
Shutter priority mode? yes
Aperture priority mode? yes
Fully auto mode? yes
Burst frame rate 8.0fps
Exposure bracketing? yes
White-balance bracketing? no
Memory-card type SDXC
Viewfinder coverage N/A
LCD resolution 921k
Video/TV output? yes
Body construction Aluminium
Tripod mounting thread? yes
Data connector type proprietary USB

Manual, software and accessories

Full printed manual? no
Software supplied Nikon ViewNX2
Accessories supplied N/A

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