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Nikon’s been playing catch-up for a while. Not in terms of market position – it’s got that covered but in terms of operational compact camera devices. It seems 2013 is the year that changes the introduction of the Nikon Coolpix A being the company’s first attempt to set that in a straight line. The Nikon Coolpix P330 is a premium compact featuring a 1/1.7-inch back-illuminated 12-megapixel CMOS sensor and a swift, wide-angle maximum aperture f/1.8 lens.
In general the Nikon does look little , but manages to pull off a neat and tidy kind of approach. It’s certainly functional, same as the layout attests there’s a rear, the rear d-pad doubles up as a rotary dial and top-mounted thumbwheel – together the pair act as a mirror for that typical DSLR-type control.
The d-pad itself opens access to the likes of macroflash and drive mode, exposure compensation, and there’s a programmable function (Fn) button on the opposite side to the camera’s front side. But that’s where it ends – as per the P310 the P330 doesn’t have a quick access menu that displays on screen/display, whereas many of its competitors act. There’s no touchscreen either.
Instead the main Menu button on the rear is the access point to a variety of settings, expect plenty of scrolling up and down to tweak those specifics such as metering, white balance, autofocus type, and so forth.
Nikon Coolpix P330 Features
-1/1.7 inch CMOS sensor with 12.2 megapixel backlit
-24-120mm equivalent, 5x optical zoom lens, f/1.8-f/5.6
-Full HD video recording with stereo sound
-Build in manual pop-up flash
-Lens shift vibration reduction
-RAW data processing
-Full HD (1080p/60i) video, at 60, 50, 30 or 25 fps
-120 fps high speed video
-3cm Macro mode
-Easy panorama 180°/360°
-Global Positioning System
-Compatible with the optional Wi-Fi dongle (WU-1a)
The lens is a 5x optical zoom unit at 24mm wide-angle, with a fast maximum aperture of f/1.8. However, it stops down rather dramatically to f/5.6 at the long end of the focal-length range — something that’s not unusual in cameras of this class.
Full HD video recording is available at 1080/50i/25p, 720/25p, 480/25p or 540/25p (iFrame). There are also a few slow motion modes that playback at 1/4, 1/2 or double speed at reduced resolutions.
Controls on the P330 are simple, but effective. The rear four-way directional pad doubles as a control wheel for jogging through the options in menus and adjusting the aperture when in manual mode. The top wheel just near the shutter button adjusts the shutter speed. On the mode dial itself, there is a night landscape option, plus the choice of scene selections. These include backlighting, panorama, pet portrait, food, sunset, museum and portrait modes, surrounded by many others.
The Design and details:
Menus – The camera menus are split into four areas: Shooting menu, GPs menu, video menu, setup menu. The ISO options let you set the range you’d like the camera to stick to and it’s also possible to set the minimum shutter speed you want before the camera will increase the ISO setting automatically. The function button can be customized.
Battery life – Battery life is rated at 200 shots according to Nikon / CIPA test results, which is very similar to the battery life of other compact cameras, so a second battery is recommended if you’re likely to be away from a charger.
Speed – We took a number of shots to test the camera’s responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, focusing speed , shot to shot, etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests making it easy to compare with other cameras.
Video – The camera records full HD video with stereo sound, and lets you pause and unpause while recording. The full time AF is available, with optical zoom. Other video recording options include 640×480 at 4x high speed (100fps), 720p at 2x high speed (50fps), and 1080 at 0.5x speed (12.5fps).
Digital Filters – There are a number of digital effects and filters, as well as picture styles letting you customize contrast , sharpness and saturation.
Panorama mode – Panoramic mode is available as one of the scene modes, and is easy to use as you simply press the shutter release button and pan the camera around – it automatically stitches the photo together for you and results appear quite good.
White Balance Performance – Auto White Balance gives the option to give warm results under tungsten light or normal, and performs well, with the tungsten preset giving a more natural result.
ISO Noise Performance – Noise is low at the lower ISO settings from ISO80 to ISO200, along with slight noise appearing in ISO400 shots. The noise increases again at ISO800, however it’s at ISO1600 that noise increases noticeably and image quality and detail suffers. At ISO3200 noise is more visible, with dots appear. At ISO6400 color suffers, as does detail, however results may still be used with further editing. The ISO12800 produces images with excessive noise and this setting is best avoided.
Lens Perform – The lens performs well at both the telephoto and wide ends, with just a very slight softening of detail in the very far corners when shooting ample. The lens has little barrel and pincushion distortion, and vignetting was not noticed. Violet fringing is quite strong in the shot of the trees above, however it doesn’t cause too many problems in everyday shots. Dynamic and Exposure range are generally good and can be expanded in a number of behavior, either using D-Lighting, auto-exposure bracketing (AEB) or the HDR mode built into the camera.
All in all the P330 represents a definite step forward in the image quality section. It’s still not quite the best of the group, but it’s earning its stars among a strong range of competitors.
Filed under: Nikon Coolpix
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