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By Chris Main
The US$329.95 The Nikon CoolPix P300 (http://www.nikonusa.com) is a compact point-and-shoot that fits nicely in any pocket -- but it’s not so small that it’s hard to use. It has a nice solid feel, and all the dials are intuitive and easy to operate.
The P300’s 3-inch LCD is bright and clear (you’ll need to squint in the brightest sunlight), and it captures images at 12.2 megapixels with a 4.2x optical zoom. One of the best features is that you can open the aperture all the way up to f/1.8 when zoomed out (4.3mm [24mm equivalent]). This is the fastest lens in the COOLPIX line, and it works well in low-light situations.
The mode dial allows you to quickly select auto, program (P), shutter-priority (S), aperture-priority (A), manual (M), two scene modes, and an additional 17 scene modes using the Menu button. The camera can also capture 1080p video at the touch of a button.
To change the ISO settings, you have to use the menus. In auto, ISO ranges from 160–1,600, but there are two auto settings where you can set the cap at either 400 or 800. You can also set it to 3,200 ISO. Noise starts appearing at 400 ISO but it’s not distracting, and even at 1,600, images are still presentable.
There’s an Easy Panorama setting for taking panoramas in one easy motion, and a Panorama Assist function that gives you a ghosted image on the LCD for lining up the next shot. Both functions work well, but the Easy setting results in a much smaller panorama. There’s also an HDR function, but I don’t recommend using it. In the end, colors were very good with nice saturation, and the images were sharp and often revealed amazing detail and textures in the scenes.
Rating: 8 out of 10
(This review is brought to you courtesy of "Layers Magazine": http://layersmagazine.com/ .)