Photography Reviews

Nikon Coolpix P330: A New High Quality Compact Camera with a Serious Upside

As the compact camera market has shriveled with the advent of the smartphone, the manufacturers have concentrated their efforts on developing higher quality compact cameras. The marketing boys must have determined that there is still a healthy number of photography consumers that prefer a small, lightweight camera, but one with greater functionality and image-producing quality. These are the people that aren’t ready for a DSLR (and may never be), but are willing to spend more money for a compact camera that comes close to a high-end shooter.

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If this describes your interest in a new digital camera, then the Nikon Coolpix P330 deserves due consideration.

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Among compact cameras of this type, Canon has dominated the market for some time, with its PowerShot S110 and its predecessors, the S100 and S95. Undeterred by Canon’s head start, Nikon has delivered a camera in the Coolpix P330 that shows every indication of becoming a tough competitor of the PowerShot S110.

Nikon must have had positive feedback on the older P310 because from the outside the new Coolpix P330 looks exactly like it. You must look carefully to notice any difference, which is a checkerboard pattern on the vertical rubber micro-grip. Presumably, this provides a more secure hold of the camera. The layout of the rear of the P330 doesn’t change either: a 3”, 921,000-dot LCD and a 4-way controller and other controls on the right side.

No doubt, part of Nikon’s strategy in duplicating the look of the P330 is to keep it classically compact. The new camera fits in most pockets and purses at just 4.1” x 2.3” x 1.3” (103mm x 58.3mm x 32mm) and a weight of 7.05 oz. (200g).

The upside of maintaining the body size, shape, control layout and weight of the older P310 for the new P330 is that the P330 has more serious photography capabilities and functionality inside. First, Nikon has given the P330 a beefier 1/1.7” 12.2MP BSI-CMOS sensor than the 1/2.3” in the P310. This brings the P330 in line with cameras in its feature and price ranges.

For many photographers, the new P330’s .NRW raw capture will be of paramount importance, as this is one capability that moves this camera closer to the mirrorless or DSLR experience. Nikon has given the new P330 the fastest lens of any of its Coolpix models: a 24–120mm (35mm equivalent) f/1.8–f/5.6 zoom lens with optical stabilization. To control the price point of a compact camera of this type, Nikon had to put limits on the speed of the lens at telephoto focal lengths, with a maximum aperture of f/5.6 at 120mm. No one would describe this as fast, but it will deliver enough depth-of-field quality to satisfy those who are in the market for this kind of compact.

Other features of the new Nikon Coolpix P330 are sure to make this an excellent choice if you want great quality in a compact camera. You’ll have full manual exposure control; 32 scene modes, including 3D, that are captured as JPEGs; an ISO range of 80–3,200 with 12,800 in manual mode; 1080/60i/30p Full HD video; and a built-in GPS.

The new Nikon Coolpix P330 appears to be a smart-money choice if you’re happy with a compact camera, but want a more satisfying photography experience. Undoubtedly, it will become a favorite for travel, better photos of your kids and the perfect instrument to use for street photography.

The Nikon Coolpix P330 is available from Amazon at $376.95.

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Photo © 2013 Nikon Corporation

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