Nikon Coolpix P300 Review

4.0
March 29, 2011 | Mark Goldstein |

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#1 Hans Benndorf

Looks like another NIKON failure in the compact segment, Yaaawn!

11:26 pm - Tuesday, March 29, 2011

#2 kelsci

I went to youtube to examine some videos posted on this camera. It is nice when somebody indicates the resolution they used for their videos because the specs say the hdmi output is for 480P,720P, and 1080P. That may mean to me that the camera can take videos in those three formats. Some post videos without any indication of the resolution they used; others do.  I saw some 1080P and 720P downloads.  YOu would want to use the 1080P for videos which looked quite good on the “tube”.  Because I have very tiny speakers built into my kds monitor, I really cannot determine stereo imaging and sound quality. So I download the videos and burn them to a dvd-r and play them thru my high def tv and a headphone amplifier.  As of this date, the sound quality was best from the Nikon P8000,Fuji HS10, and the Canon Sx130. So I have to burn a disc on this model,a Nikon P500 and a host of other cameras whose videos I downloaded.

As far as the stills go on this site, they looked allright. 

Once upon a time there were only 8mm and super 8mm film cameras that used kodachrome. There was no sound although Fairchild Instruments in the 1960s made a prototype 8mm camera that recorded sound optically but never came to market.

Then came the vhs portable vcr that offered mono,linear stereo and vhs hi-fi stereo sound that could be recorded on videotape and for the first time we had some sound to talk about.

Then these digital cameras arrived first given some feeble video quality but recorded sound.  Now we are up to portable high def video recording in the field with stereo sound.

A friend of mine bought a dvd camcorder by Sony that recorded 5.1 dolby digital. The sound(not the video) was as good in separation and audio quality as any dvd movie you could buy.  On top of that, the mike recorded center back surround imaging which in essence was like Dolby Digital EX.

I have always thought and have been through since I was a child born in 1946 that the electronics/optical consumer use devices have and still do give the best value for the hard earned buck.  A 10 inch RCA black and white set was $400 in 1950. Look what 400 dollars buys today.  Some change

5:12 am - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

#3 Josef Salon

Only good IQ? When will we hear “outstanding IQ, leader in its class” and so on? I thought finally we get a great camera and….Nikon is heading straight to the hell! Shame.

10:39 am - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

#4 kelsci

My brother owned two NIkon Fs’ with 50mm Nikkor lenses back in the 1980s.  He lived in Rego Park, NY. The building had access to it’s roof. I took one of those Nikons and loaded it with 35mm Kodachrome slide film.  I shot about 12 pictures on it, rewound the film and removed it from the camera.

At the same time, I had a Minolta SRT-101 with me too.  I reloaded the film into that camera reshooting the film with a lens cap over the Rokkor lens and advanced about 13 shots and then began to shoot on the Minolta.

It seemed at that time that the Nikon F was THE CAMERA to own, after all photographers were taking pics all over the world for various magazines. Personally, I thought this camera was very inconvenient to use.  IMHO the Minolta was very convenient. I said to my brother, who the heck would want to use the Nikon. I think it was hype and a status symbol.

The film results showed no better or worse slides from the Nikon and the Minolta. Personally I never cared for the results in color quality and sharpness from all these SLRs at that time. Only some rangefinder cameras of that era took the kind of pictures that looked right like the Yashica GSN(in fact my brother who delveloped and printed his own pics found the GSN was better then the Nikon F).  In the case of todays digital cameras, many are shooting better overall color and sharpness IMHO and the convenience of using my computer and transferring those shots as a slide show on a dvd-r is just so terrific then taking out a Kodak Carousel or similar slide project. I would take this Nikon P300 and a host of other cameras over the film cameras of yesteryear.  The digital age as bought a new kind of consistency something lacking in those cameras of yesteryear.

11:38 am - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

#5 Gorpalm

Think you’ve got the competition wrong - From size, specs, and sensor the closest rivals are going to be the likes of the Samsung WB2000, and whatever the Canon and Sony equivalent are (ie 1/2.3” sized cmos sensor, maybe some manual controls, faster-than-2.8 lenses) - so maybe classed as “premium compact” rather than “enthusiast’s compact” of the likes of the S95, EX1, LX5, XZ-1, which the Nikon P7000 competes against.

I believe that’s reflected in the pricing too.

A head-to-head with the P300 and the WB2000, Canon whatever and Sony WX-whatever would be interesting to see.

11:43 am - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

#6 Ratmanoff

Je pense qu’un rival oublié est le Samsung WB2000/TL350 qui shoot en raw ! et produit des images aussi bonnes, le prix est identique.

http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews/samsung_wb2000_review/

4:28 pm - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

#7 Osang

Ugh! Poor image quality from the Sample Images. Its like a posterized version from Photoshop.

5:21 am - Thursday, March 31, 2011

#8 DaveJ

I agree with Gorpalm. I don’t think you should be comparing this with the likes of the S95 or LX5. It’s aimed at a different niche. I’ve had one for 2 weeks or so now and am very happy with the image quality, full HD video and low light performance. It is a significant improvement over my previous TZ7 in all departments. An image quality rating of 3.5 seems very harsh !

7:05 am - Wednesday, April 6, 2011

#9 Joseph

Did not expect to see Forest Hill station underpass in the gallery..
That has got to be a first!

3:09 pm - Thursday, April 7, 2011

#10 Sunny

Have bought a P300 2 weeks ago and have tested and compared images against several other canon camera’s: Rebel EOS XT, SD 780 and SX110.

Controls are not as straightforward as the Canon’s. Image quality is very good - better than Canon’s point and shot caneras. Focusing in auto mode is occassionally problematical - more so than the Canon cameras.

I was particularly attracted to this camera because of the 1080P video mode. However, I caution people that there may be a design flaw in that the optical zoom (no digital zoom used) does not work properly. With the camera set to the manufacturers recomnended movie settings for focusing and zoom, when zooming into a distant object that was spot metered/and auto-focused at the smallest focal length, the object and most things in the field of view go grossly out of focus at the higher focal lengths. It would appear the lens does not maintain its focal point on the sensor when the focal length is varied from low to high. This really limits the usefulness of the optical zoom feature for movies !
I am working with Nikon customer support to resolve this P300 problem which based on their responses to date seems to be unknown to them.

3:30 am - Tuesday, April 19, 2011

#11 DaveJ

Sunny
I can confirm similar issues with auto focus on my P300. As I said in my earlier post, I am very happy with the camera overall however there is a limitation in the behaviour of autofocus in movie mode. My tests reveal that

A. Movie autofocus set to Continuous

After zooming, image is well out of focus for about 5 secs until the continuous autofocus works out what to do and then it sharpens up well.

B. Movie autofocus set to Single Shot

If focus is set at start of filming on a subject 2-3 metres or so away, after zooming the image is still reasonably in focus. I think this is largely due to the depth of field you get with a small sensor.

If focus is set to something less than a metre away at the start of focus, image will be out of focus once you change view to something further away or after zooming to a more distant object.

I actually use single shot focus for my videos because the continuous auto focus is not reliable/fast enough. As I indicated above, the depth of field gives you pretty good results in most circumstances.

I don’t use zoom much (during filming). I once heard a videograhy expert refer to “Compulsive Zoom Syndrone” when commenting on amatuer videographers !!

6:40 am - Wednesday, April 20, 2011

#12 Mark Sampson

had this for a couple of weeks now and shot about 300 pics, for a pocketable camera for holidays , hiking, driving, out and about with the family, nightclubs, bars, sightseeing I really can’t recommend it enough, autofocus is fast enough, don’t compare it to a DSLR, use yours when you need it, the rest of the time this will put a smile on your face, the images are pin sharp and the colour is excellent as for video Its not something I bother with on these cameras, I buy them for Photos, other than that the wife loved it so much that she kept mine so I bought a second one, its a nice addition to my D2Xs, thanks Nikon.

11:11 pm - Saturday, April 30, 2011

#13 Sunny

Just wanted to confirm that the auto focusing has a real problem when doing videos. Focusing for a single photo is not a problem. SO for anyone who wants to do videos with this BE WARNED. I have contacted NIkon support and was very dissapointed in their response: they said it was from using the digital zoom - “case closed”. Even though I sent samples and indicated that the digital zoom was off, and even confirming that in subsequent testing.

SO HERE IS THE PROBLEM. Camera in AF-s mode.
1.You focus on an distant object (in direct sunlight) while in the wide angle mode and the object has sharps features that are about the size of the “focus” bracket in the view finder.
A snapshot shows eevrything in focus.
2. You press the movie button to start the movie, and subsequently zoom in on the object that you were focussed on. As you zoom in to the max optical focal length you can see a defocusing of the object on the camera display. On a PC this is dramatic defocusing - total blurriness of the object and everything in the field of view !(I have done this with the camera on a tripod just incase the focus area changed during the initiation of the movie.) If you take a still at the maximum optical focal length, focusing is fine. Again these are images taken in full sunlight so the aperature is not the issue.

This problem occurs for distant objects like 100 yards away (essentially infinity focus) as well as objects as close as 20 yards away.

It is like (a) the lens has not been adjusted properly during manufacture so that the lens does not maintain the focal plane as one goes to longer focal lenghts.
(b)the focusing mechanism for wide angle mode is not accurate and it defaults to something like 5-10 meters - which looks in focus for most things.
(c) The focusing mechanism for wide angle actually requires features larger than the focusing window or it cannot obtain a true focus at infinity. ( Even in landscape mode.)

2:35 am - Sunday, May 1, 2011

#14 DaveJ

Sunny
I raised this issue with Nikon Asia and the response I got basically said that the continuous movie mode autofocus on the newer Coolpixs has been deliberately made slower to prevent “jerkies” in the video (I assume they were referring to the possibility of the autofocus hunting around). They also recommended to avoid using zoom during video recording !

I think one of the issues here is that, for the sake of simpicity and low cost, most compact cameras use zoom lenses that are varifocal (ie the focal plane is not maintained during zoom). This is easily compensated by the camera’s autofocus, particularly for still shots. I think you probably only get zoom lenses which maintain their focus when you go to (some) removable lenses found on DSLR’s.

Perhaps the experts at Photography Blog could comment on this.

Dave

10:23 am - Sunday, May 1, 2011

#15 Sunny

Thank you for the feedback. I believe you are correct that the P300 Zoom lens is varifocal - unlike most all variable focal length lenses for DSLR/SLR’s etc. I was unaware of such a limitation on thses compact cameras.

Note that I was not using autofocus but using the single auto focus mode (AF-s) set at wide angle to test the lens. Interestingly if you start at telephoto and focus and then zoom in everything stays in focus.

In any event if this is the case, at least I know the limitations of the camera and can take them into account when doing videos.

2:12 pm - Sunday, May 1, 2011

#16 sunny

Oops ... this sentence should read:

Interestingly if you start at telephoto and focus and then zoom OUT TO WIDE ANGLE everything stays in focus.

2:16 pm - Sunday, May 1, 2011

#17 GW

ooooops:

>Focal Range
>
>The Nikon Coolpix P300’s 4.2x zoom lens provides >a focal length of 28-200mm in 35mm terms, as >demonstrated below.
>
>24mm
 
>100mm

did anyone really read the review??

5:36 pm - Monday, May 2, 2011

#18 Jim

I have read opinions/tests that are much more positive about the IQ of the P300.
I wonder who is correct?

1:06 pm - Thursday, May 12, 2011

#19 Bosh

Yes,5 out 6 phototech reviews give this little wonder a better qualification,  for example: see the review of techradar.com

2:59 pm - Thursday, May 12, 2011

#20 DaveJ

The review at the following link has some comparison shots between the P300, S95 and LX5.

http://www.ephotozine.com/article/panasonic-lx5-vs-canon-s95-vs-nikon-p300-15928

Suggest you download some of the full resolution photos and do your own comparison with some magnification. In my opinion the P300 stacks up pretty well against the other two. It is probably slightly behind in image quality (particularly the LX5) but the full HD movie capabilty and f1.8 lens of the P300 was what made me choose it. The HDR backlight facility is also a bonus and seems to work pretty well. I have been very happy with this camera.

11:28 pm - Thursday, May 12, 2011

#21 r

p100 vs p300 can’t decide :(

8:44 pm - Thursday, May 26, 2011

#22 DaveJ

It depends what you are looking for in a camera. The P100 is a fairly bulky high zoom camera (26x I think) and the P300 is a compact 4.2x zoom camera. The smaller zoom is sufficient for me but it depends how you want to use the camera. If you want to take shots of birds on a lake 100m away you will need the large zoom. If the large zoom is not important, you’d be better off with the P300 which has a better lens and a new sensor. The P100 is a 12 months older product.

10:07 pm - Thursday, May 26, 2011

#23 William Block

Finally down to two cameras. I own several other digital cameras-including a NIkon dSLR. I’m looking for an “every day camera”-one that I can easily take with me everywhere and capture shots in any kind of lighting. Especially of my very active (indoors & out) 4 year old daughter. I almost purchased the P300 last week, but then stated reading reviews of the of Samsung TL350 (WB2000). With the price of each very close—it is a very tough decision. I like the reviews/comments and feature set of the Samsung, but have always like Nikon cameras. Size-wise I think either will fit the bill—key factor for me is which will provide the better low-light performance. I really prefer shooting without a flash as much as possible.
Any help in making a decision would be greatly appreciated!

3:27 pm - Sunday, June 5, 2011

#24 sunny

If you want HD video of the kids the p300 has a major problem IMHO. I find that in shooting HD videos of many scenes, the focusing of distant objects in the focus brackets fail under all modes (obviously autofocus is off)  and when you zoom in everything goes out of focus. So your child on the beach is out of focus in wide angle mode or a landscape is all blurry and either get worse when you zoom in. In panning the camera to see what the focal distant is , it seems to set the focus to about 1-2 meters away 90% of the time !!! I have sent the camera back to the Nikon Service dept with samples and they said it was within normal specs.
Of course you could always use the autofocus mode but I believe a camera should be able to focus on distant objects 30-300 meters away and closely maintain that focus when changing focal lengths while zooming. The focusing failure on far objects is a disaster for HD videos.
Also, despite the f1.8 lens I have rarely seem this selected by the camera in all but manual mode when you preset this yourself.

4:07 pm - Sunday, June 5, 2011

#25 William Block

Thanks very much Sunny! What about still pictures? I do shoot video, but more stills.
From what you’ve written sounds like the Samsung may be the better choice overall.

4:41 pm - Sunday, June 5, 2011

#26 sunny

When the focusing works it does take great pictures, better than the more recent compact digital cameras I now have in my arsenal of Canon cameras. Latest is a 780IS, I still use my 800IS and an SX110IS. They are very reliable in focusing both still or videos. The SX110 perhaps gives the best photo quality of the Canons I have but it is somewhat bulky to carry around.

In terms of stills - in outside sunlight the p300 works reasonably well, but inside it’s image stabilization doesnot seem as good as the canon’s I use. All the flash pictures of the kids are super - usually taken by the auto camera setting at f4 and 1/60 sec. I find that the photos taken below 1/30 sec with the p300 are more likely to be slightly blurred and not as sharp as I usually get with a flash or with the Canons.

I must say thought that the P300 lens gives very uniform colors over the entire frame ( eg, the blue sky) and little distortion even at the wide angle settings - much better the canon 780IS and 800IS. So “when” it works properly it works well.

5:29 pm - Sunday, June 5, 2011

#27 William Block

Thanks very much for the additional info. I’ve been using my Canon SD 940IS for my “carry-around” camera. But I’ve been disappointed with the low-light photos & low-light flash photos. Seems to take a couple of good ones, then 2-3 bad ones. Flash is slow to “recharge” & low-light without the flash is not very good at all. It is a great little camera to carry around and perfectly fine for outdoor or brightly lit shots. Also use the larger Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5-mstly for outdoor shots at the beach, or sports shots. It’s decent in low-light and the intelligent auto works reasonably well. Really just want to find that one, small camera I can keep with me, travel with and do “mot” things well with. I know it’s not going to equal the quality of my D40—but I hate to miss shots, especially of my daughter. That’s why my top priorities are low-light & size. Price is an issue—the Canon S95 sounds great-but if I can get close to that kind of quality for significantly less with the Nikon or Samsung, I’d rather spend less.
Thanks again!

6:24 pm - Sunday, June 5, 2011

#28 Sunny

I posted some frames of the HD movies taken with my Nikon P300 that shows the focusing problem. Note that these are at the HD resolution of 1920x1080 pixels.

http://forums.dpreview.com/galleries/9980552126/photos/

9:32 pm - Monday, June 6, 2011

#29 William Block

Thanks again Sunny.. I see what you mean about the focusing problem.. haven’t purchased yet.. but definitely leaning toward the Samsung now..

5:04 pm - Tuesday, June 7, 2011

#30 Ann

Hi guys, im searching for a good camera but cant decde which one is good due all the revieuws and eacht one have a dif point of vieuw. Im planning to take a trip to italy so i want a camera that can take nice pictures at night example venicr at night i wont like my pics blurry or so. Any recommandation? Tnx in advance:)

5:52 pm - Sunday, June 12, 2011

#31 DaveJ

This is a difficult question Ann without knowing more about your requirements or photography experience. However given you’ve posted in the P300 blog, I’ll assume you are looking for a high end compact.

If you want to do night shots, I recoomend you get a camera with good low light peformance, manual controls and depending how serious you are, you may want to get a tripod.

You need to decide whether full HD video is important to you or not and what sort of zoom range you want.

If video is important, then I’d suggest either the Nikon P300 or the Samsung TL350 (WB2000). These both have a zoom around 4 or 5 times and good low light performance. If you want more zoom at the expense of a bit of lens brightness, you could look at the Sony HXV7 or the Panasonic ZS10 (TZ20).

If video is not so important, you could consider the Canon S95 or the Panasonic LX5 which have zoom’s of 4-5 and a larger sensor which will give the best image quality (including low light) of all the cameras I’ve mentioned.

Hope this helps. Cheers dave

2:19 am - Tuesday, June 14, 2011

#32 Sam

There are few issues with P300 that I’ve discovered during 1 month of use:
1. Despite large aperture, P300 practically can’t produce ANY bokeh effect except in macro mode (small sensor issue!), so the subject is always flat on the background,
2. While zooming in, available aperture drops abruptly (forget about the advertised f1.8 if you intend to use zoom),
3. Autofocus is pretty much useless while recording video (shame it’s 1080p),
4. Some frequently used settings are acessible only through menus (and even placed in 2nd or 3rd menu level),
5. Battery is charged only while in the camera and charging takes whole 4-5 hours (it is best to consider it an overnight charging),
6. Battery retaining latch is flimsy, so I’ve witnessed some 3 or 4 unexpected power-downs due to lost contact.
Some folks mentioned firmware upgrade… Sadly, this camera needs a thorough rethinking and hardware upgrade.

9:00 am - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

#33 DaveJ

Sam I’ve been happy with mine. I guess I have learned to live with it’s limitations. Regarding your points

1. Yes need a larger sensor if you want blurred backgrounds

2. P300 f1.8 no zoom, f4.9 4.2x
S95 f2 no zoom f4.9 3.8x
G12 f2.8 no zoom f4.5 5x
LX5 f2.0 no zoom f3.3 3.8x

3. Agreed but I have learned to live with one shot focus at start of recording and not zooming during recording

4. Direct access to ISO would be good

5. I bought a cheap charger from Hong Kong and charge outside the camera.

6. Haven’t had that problem with mine.

Cheers dave

9:55 am - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

#34 John

Nikon has done it again and beat Canon at their own game.

http://www.ephotozine.com/article/panasonic-lx5-vs-canon-s95-vs-nikon-p300-15928

3:28 am - Friday, June 24, 2011

#35 Sunny

Well, the focusing problem for videos is such a pain and nuisance that I have decided to buy a
Samsung TL350 (WB2000). Again The P300 works well for still - but I hate losing those videos because of focusing problems. ( I wonder how William Block made out with his new TL350 camera ?)

I will post how the TL350 compares for videos against the P300. Again, my priority is for an all around compact camera with good photo and especially 1080HD video quality (of the grand kids!

Onee thing I like about the Samsung is the high speed video ( albeit lower resolution) as well as ability to do time lapse. It almost sounds too good to be true. BUT then again Samsung doesnot have the reputation that Canon or Nikon do for Cameras despite the positive reviews.

Also note that a Samsung dealer in Florida is selling manufacturer refurbiushed units at an attractive low price( like $185$). Check it out on ebay

12:45 am - Tuesday, July 12, 2011

#36 Sunny

Okay, I have now compared the results of the P300 to the TL350. Unfortunately, despite the major focusing problem with the P300, the TL350 has its own problems with videos (-but the focusing during zooming is fine.)

I will not reiterate my discontent with P300 zoom focusing problem nor my attempts to have Nikon Service fix this, since it has already been addressed here.

I’d say that 30% of my videos where I zoom in on the subject go out of focus. Under ‘some’ conditions the focusing does seem to work during zooming, but I yet to figure out why in one case it does, and others it doesnot. I have also noticed that about 20% of my still shots with the P300 are also out of focus. OKAY, SO MUCH FOR THE FOCUS PROBLEM ON THE P300.

The specs on paper don’t tell the whole story:
• Images sharpness on both are as near to equal as you can get despite the difference in sensor sizes 10 vers 12 megapixels’.

• The f1.8 lens on the P300 is hardly ever used in practice (and only for wide angle).

• The P300 feels flimsey in your hands, while the TL350 is a really solidly built and feels so in your hands.

• The TL350 has alot more control over exposure but their auto mode doesnot seem to do as good a job at color balancing as the P300 nor the Canon cameras.

• The Tl350 seems to have an auto focus mode in video - the P300 allows you the choice. The auto focusing is pretty fast on the TL350 so even though the zoom is rapid, there is little noticable in and out focusing seen(but, if you look carefully it is there)

• The Tl350 is faster and takes a picture sooner when you press the shutter button than the P300.

• The image stabilization and sensitivity to shooting in low light indoors seems pretty comparable for both.

The Pros for the P300 are:

• The Nikkor lens and processing engine are excellent and give rich undistored images. If you do not use the zoom in videoing, the videos look really preofessional. There is also no sound coming from the zoom on the P300 - unlike the TL350 ( but for which the TL350 provides a setting that allows you to blank out the sound while zooming)

The Pros for the TL350 are:

• Alot more control over selecting settings than the Nikon.

• Saves raw files (- but IMHO, so what the Jpeg files are excellent !)

• Faster high speed videos - even thought they are at lower resolution and restricted lengths.

• Time lapse capability

• Handy pair of meters on the top that are always there to show the level of remaining battery power and memory left when the camera is on. This battery meter is much finer and superior to the three or four bar display on your screen.

• Overall, the TL350 seems faster than the P300 - and you can even snap HR stills while videoing the subject.

The Cons of the TL350 are:

• The Zoom is fast and makes your video look amateurish . Also, during zooming the images show a waviness and are sometimes distorted EVEN WITH A TRIPOD.

• The compression algoritm for movies on the TL350 is clearly different than the P300 and produce much smaller files for HD 1080 videos. Small files mean more compression and lower quality.

In terms of overall lens distortion (primarily for the wide angle), it may not be a good as the P300 but the TL350 distortion is pretty small and better than my canon SD780IS.

2:47 am - Friday, July 15, 2011

#37 laurence waters

I must admit I do enjoy these reviews, they are at times quite funny.. I am a professional photographer and use this little camera for taking general family shots.My other Nikons, both film and digital, are just to heavy for this type of work. I have found the camera excellent. It does seem that many reviewers are treating it as a still and video camera. It is a still camera with a video facility. Remember this will always be a compromise. If you want a decent video camera then purchase one.This is an excellent still camera for the price,with the addition of a video facility.

7:15 pm - Saturday, July 16, 2011

#38 pickmeservices

Marvelous!!! Job you have done.  Actually, you are pleasure to know, seriously. Your work is incomparable.  It’s a masterpiece.
Your article is very resourceful and beneficial. And the work done is appreciable.
Camera Repair

11:47 am - Saturday, July 28, 2012

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, compact, 1080p, wide-angle, 12 megapixel, hdmi, nikon, coolpix, 24mm, wideangle, HDR, 4.2x zoom, nikon p300 review, Nikon Coolpix P300 Review, p300

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