Nikon’s high-performance, pocket-sized P300 compact camera has a fast f/1.8 lens. Tim Coleman tests the latest addition to the Coolpix range
With no raw-image capture, the Nikon P300 depends entirely on the quality of its JPEG files. In real-world settings, the standard colour saturation and auto white balance combine for a pleasing tone in most situations, and wavers only under tungsten and fluorescent lighting, which is to be expected for a camera of this type. The images demonstrate crisp detail, if a little oversharpened, in scenes where the lighting is good and subject matter close to the camera. However, like most compact cameras, the detail is more smudged with wider scenes such as landscapes.
With such a populated sensor, image noise is a concern. In its ISO 160-3200 range, ISO 160 and 200 demonstrate good image detail and low levels of noise. The first real visible signs of noise appear at ISO 400. ISO 800 continues to hold out, but it is at ISO 1600 and 3200 where image detail and sharpness are compromised. Despite the patchy results, luminance noise is well controlled here and throughout the entire range. Unless you are going for a grainy effect with a desaturated look, stick to ISO 800 and below. The fast f/1.8 lens helps to make this possible, even in low light.
Whether it be sunny or cloudy, exposure compensation of around -0.7EV is best for correct exposures
In high-contrast scenes, the metering naturally exposes for midtones, with a loss of highlight detail. Again for a camera at this level, this is not unusual. In such situations, I tended to leave the exposure compensation at -0.7EV.
For scenes where focusing is tricky, such as macro shooting, the manually selectable single AF point serves well, although manual exposure control is not available when this is selected. This AF mode can be selected from any one of 99 points and represents the closest thing to manual focus. There are plenty of other AF modes to choose from, including subject tracking and face priority, but all are limited within the central area of the frame.
These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured with the lens set to its 75mm point.
We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately.
The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.