Nikon Coolpix S4300 Review

3.5
October 4, 2012 | Matt Grayson |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 16 megapixel High JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.

Image quality on the Nikon Coolpix S4300 is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the pictures we took were sharp and colourful without too much saturation. The exposures are generally good even if they don't look like it on the screen. However, on the other hand, the camera has a relatively low dynamic range meaning that highlights tend to burn out in order to retain shadow. Or shadows go black to maintain highlights such as sky. Noise is also a massive issue on the Nikon.

Noise

In our noise test, we found that ISO 80 produces great pictures that are smooth, detailed and noise free. Being a low ISO setting, it's rare that you'll get to use it all the time unless you also incorporate flash in low light situations. In fact, you could get away with knocking it up to ISO 100 if you wanted to because the results are still good. It improves exposure by around 1/3 of a stop. Image quality starts failing even at ISO 200 which is a real shame. Looking at the pictures at a normal viewing distance, you can't see a change but at full magnification, salt and pepper noise has started to show itself and annoy the darker areas of the pictures.

ISO 400 sees noise start to get aggressive and infect mid-tones leaving yellowy orange blobs behind. Edge definition still isn't too bad at this stage though. These problems progressively worsen throughout the stages until ISO 1600 where big purple blobs of colour stain the picture. It looks like a three year old has painted on the photograph. Edges start to break up at this stage too. In a desperate bid to retain image quality, the ISO 3200 setting reduces it's image size. By doing this, it uses less pixels which generate less heat and reduces a certain type of noise. It's one less thing for the noise reduction software to fight. Colour has also been drained from the picture to try and reduce the amount of colour noise in the picture. Unfortunately the entire image then has to suffer.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

 
 

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix S4300's 6x zoom lens offers a versatile focal range, as demonstrated by the examples below.

26mm

156mm

File Quality

The Nikon Coolpix S4300 has 2 different image quality settings available, with High being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

16M High (6.54Mb) (100% Crop) 16M Normal (3.62Mb) (100% Crop)

Sharpening

As we said before the pictures produced are sharp and when we added a basic sharpening to them in Adobe Photoshop CS4 it made little difference. In fact, although we did see a small difference, you won't need to do it generally.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

The lenses used on the S4300 are standard Nikon lenses designed for the digital compact cameras. They don't have any ED glass or chroma defeating technology. Despite this, we only found small traces of chromatic aberration. We had to look pretty hard and it's only noticeable in the edges of the frame.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Nikon Coolpix S4300 has a macro close focusing range of 5cm at the widest setting. Centre frame sharpness is great although the picture does start to get fuzzy towards the edges. That's to be expected though, so it's no major detriment to the camera.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

Flash

The flash on the S4300 works great with the camera. With the flash turned off, we couldn't find any traces of vignetting and when turning it on, there was little changed in terms of exposure. The flash leaves a balanced blanket of light over the whole image which is just what is necessary.

Forced Off - Wide Angle (26mm)

Forced On - Wide Angle (26mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Forced Off - Telephoto (156mm)

Forced On - Telephoto (156mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

We did find traces of red-eye in our tests but we're pleased that the red-eye reduction system managed to thwart it.

On

On (100% Crop)
   

Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

For the best night shot results, use a tripod and shoot at ISO 80. In our test, we found that taking shots like this prevented camera shake and gave the best picture quality. If you were to use the night scene mode, the ISO ramps up and the image quality drops. That's not to say pictures are perfect in Auto. In fact, noise is still a problem even at ISO 80 but that's probably down to the longer exposure.

Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)

   

Night Scene

Night Scene (100% Crop)

D-Lighting

While the Nikon Coolpix S4300 doesn't offer the Active D-lighting functionality of the manufacturer's DSLRs, it does offer D-lighting as a post-capture option. The examples below demonstrate what a difference it can make when shooting a high-contrast scene.

D-Lighting Off

D-Lighting On

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, compact, review, wide-angle, 16 megapixel, 720p, hdmi, nikon, touch-screen, coolpix, touch screen, touchscreen, touch, 26mm, 6x zoom, Nikon Coolpix S4300 Review, s4300