Nikon Coolpix S4300 Review

October 4, 2012 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Nikon Coolpix S4300 is a point and shoot digital compact camera. It has a 16 megapixel sensor, 6x optical zoom, 720p movies and a 3 inch LCD touch-screen. Designed for the happy snappers, the S4300 has easy to use functionality and comes in a variety of attractive colours. Priced at £99.99 / $169.95, the Nikon Coolpix S4300 is available in red, black, silver and white.

Ease of Use

Slotting nicely in to the line-up of new digital compact cameras from Nikon is the Coolpix S4300. It's a slim, colour coded, easy to use model that looks like it will appeal to the happy snapping generation as well as families looking for something cheerful to keep the kids looking at the camera when on holiday.

The front of the Nikon Coolpix S4300 features a 6x optical zoom lens that starts at 26mm and stops at 156mm. At either side of the lens barrel is the slim flash and AF emitter. To the uninitiated, the AF emitter is that red light that shines just before a picture is taken. It will only do it when the light conditions are dark because the camera's focusing system needs to see contrast to focus on. The light provides it without affecting your sight too much. The Nikon Coolpix S4300's body is only 20.8mm thick which is great for slipping into a pocket for quick point and shooting.

On the top, the camera has two buttons. The small power button is sunk into the body and has a small ring of light around it so you don't accidentally use that and turn the camera off instead. The larger shutter release button has a small coloured circle on top to add to the colour-coding and the zoom rocker wrapped around.

Thanks to the touch-screen that features prominently on the back of the Nikon Coolpix S430, it has made other buttons redundant. Therefore, there's only three available for direct video recording, switching to playback and switching back to shooting. In all fairness, all three buttons could be put onto the screen as well to allow either a bigger camera or a smaller body. Although the playback button will lead directly to reviewing images even with the camera powered down. That wouldn't be possible if the button was on the screen.

Nikon Coolpix S4300 Nikon Coolpix S4300
Front Rear

The touch screen is laid out with a common sense approach. The bottom of the screen features four buttons that can be tapped to drill into further features. If the screen is left alone for a short while, the buttons will disappear and a small display button will appear. It's a bit like going into standby mode. Tapping the display button will bring the buttons and shoot info back on the screen and it all reverts to normal. Leaving it further will turn the screen off before the Nikon Coolpix S4300 assumes you forgot to switch it off and powers itself down.

Along the bottom are the flash options, self-timer, macro and exposure compensation. In the middle is a drop down tab button for the main menu. This allows for further manipulation of the camera's functions. Resolution, ISO, White-balance and drive modes are all here alongside video options, sound controls and a touch-screen menu. The yellow spanner sits alone in a green menu as a beacon that it does something more. It goes into the Set-up menu which is the core area of the camera's controls. In here you can change and edit simple procedures such as the welcome screen all the way to more in-depth options such as motion detection or firmware updates.

Pressing the green camera button next to the screen will do two things: In playback it will take you back to the shooting screen and in shooting mode it will open up the creative menu. In here you get to choose the mode that the camera will shoot in. There's Auto, Scenes, Special Effects or Smart Portrait to choose from. None of these features are anything that we haven't seen on a compact camera before. The Special Effects tab has features such as Soft, Sepia, High or Low contrast and Selective Colour. The latter allows you to choose a colour that you wish to keep in the picture while the camera drains the rest away.

The build quality of the Nikon Coolpix S430 is what you'd expect from a camera at this price point. It's ok but don't expect technological advances. Or even that much metal. The back section of the camera is plastic, as is the tripod bush. The battery door is a simple flip out and spring open type. There's no lock on it but as with any camera that holds its own battery, it has an internal lock to retain the battery when the door is opened.

Nikon Coolpix S4300 Nikon Coolpix S4300
Front Top

The memory card bay sits next to the battery and the S4300 will accept SD cards up to and including SDXC. There's also an internal memory which will hold around 8 pictures at the highest quality. The lens is a standard Nikon lens. There are no special elements to reduce flare, ghosting or chromatic aberration. The test results will be interesting to see how the camera copes with that.

Nikon have attempted to make the menu system as easy to use as possible and it's a fair go. Aside from the Scene button which isn't part of the touch-screen UI and the main shooting options on the main screen, all the menu options are crammed into the main button at the bottom. The problem you may have is if you're new to either photography or Nikon as a company. They use icons to determine what each button does and they're not always labelled to make them obvious. It's important because of the market position of the camera being aimed at is beginners or novices. There are some that are simply common sense but options such as the Skin Softening is a smiley face in a square head with stars in two of the corners. The level of softening is displayed underneath instead of the name of the mode which would help more.

The power button could be unresponsive so that you don't accidentally turn the Nikon Coolpix S4300 off when taking a picture. We just found it annoying. What makes us think that it's not on a delay is that the playback button does the same thing. It could be for the same reason but it's an uncomfortably long time that you have to wait. Still, from start up to taking a picture, the camera manages it in 2.6 seconds. In continuous mode, the camera took 10 pictures in the ten second time frame averaging 1fps (frame per second). The first three images start off fast but as the buffer fills, the camera slows down.

You can see the pictures you've already taken by pressing the Playback button under the shooting button next to the screen. It's recognised by the blue arrow in a square which has been the universal playback icon for decades. Pictures can be reviewed without switching the camera on by holding down the Playback button until it comes to life. This avoids the lens being out and getting scratched while it's not in use. You can edit your pictures in camera if you're not too adept at Photoshop or you don't own a computer.

Nikon Coolpix S4300 Nikon Coolpix S4300
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

In the menu screen while in Playback, press the button that has a picture of a square with a brush on it and you will open up the Retouch menu. There are eight options including Quick Retouch (does a general overall retouch of the picture), D-Lighting (boosts light in shadows and caps burn out in the highlights to give a more balanced exposure. The screen will split to show a before and after effect), Stretch, Perspective control (to compensate for perspective distortion. It tries to correct it as much as possible), Filter Effects (Colour options, Soft focus; similar to a sweet spot, Selective Colour, Cross Screen, Fish Eye, Miniature Effect and Painting), Glamour Retouch for portraits, Small Picture (resizing) and Rotate.

On top of the Playback screen is a drop down tab that has a star on it. This is a rating menu so you can rate each picture in terms of importance or favourites. You can then search for pictures with a certain rating.

Accompanying the Nikon Coolpix S4300 in the box is a Quick Start Guide, CD which has the full manual. Notably, there doesn't appear to be a picture viewer included on the software. Normally Nikon will include ViewNX. It's interesting that they've left it out on the S4300. The charger comes away from the cable which is a USB. This means you can charge the camera from the computer if you want to. This option can be turned off in the Main Menu although we can't think of a reason why you would want to. It's useful for travelling photographers who won't have to take the charging unit around with them, just plug the camera into a computer at an internet cafe, upload your pictures and charge the camera while you do.

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.


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.



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)


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)


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 (100% Crop)


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 (100% Crop)

Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


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)


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

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix S4300 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel High JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 29 second movie is 111Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Front of the Camera / Lens Extended

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Rear of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Rear of the Camera / Filter Effects Menu

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu


Nikon Coolpix S4300

Rear of the Camera / Setup Menu

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Rear of the Camera / Shooting Menu

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Top of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Side of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Side of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Memory Card Slot

Nikon Coolpix S4300

Battery Compartment


The Nikon Coolpix S4300 is a simple point and shoot camera that does what it's required to do. It records occasions for families and doesn't break the bank doing it. It looks nice enough and the user interface is easy enough to understand. The touchscreen isn't as responsive as we'd like but we're used to smart phones these days. We found the best way to get the most out of the screen is to use a sharp ended implement such as a touch-screen pen or a finger nail. Other than that, the S4300 is quite well built without winning any awards. Essentially, it'll do its job but don't be lackadaisical when looking after it. The plastic parts aren't as shock absorbent as a metal body.

We're intrigued by the lack of ViewNX on the CD software. It looks as though Nikon may have been doing some research and found out that people using this type of camera won't view pictures on a computer. In that case it's wasted software. Nikon don't leave stuff out on purpose so it surely wasn't a mistake.

Image quality on the Nikon Coolpix S4300 is a little up and down. Colours are recorded well and exposure is pretty good. Dynamic range isn't very good but the camera does have D-Lighting in the editing section of playback. It seems better at pulling detail out of shadows so it would be best to expose for the lighter areas and use D-Lighting to compensate the shadows after. Noise is a real problem on the S4300. In our controlled light tests, we found that noise started to get annoying at around ISO 400 although it's actually present earlier than that. We've not seen noise attack quite so hard in a while so it was a bit of a shock to find this on a Nikon.

The cost of the Nikon Coolpix S4300 is just under £100 / $160. That's not a bad price for what you get in terms of zoom and body size. The cost and usefulness of the USB charging will make it an ideal option for a younger person going to University or travelling on a gap year. It will also interest families going on holiday, especially the larger memory card option and Eye-fi uploading.

If you need a cheap camera with a decent zoom that looks nice have a think about where you'll use the Nikon Coolpix S4300. This camera needs plenty of light to give you good pictures. Will you be on holiday in the sunshine, on nights out where you'll use flash? If so then the S4300 will certainly fit the bill.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3.5
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix S4300 from around the web. »

The Nikon Coolpix S4300 is a style-driven 16MP compact that sits within the middle of the expansive Nikon Coolpix range and retails for around £100. Given the low price and the ubiquitous styling it’s tempting to assume that the S4300 is just another middle-of-the-road pocket compact. Closer inspection, however, reveals an eye-catching feature set that could make cameras costing twice as much blush.
Read the full review » »

At first glance the S4300 appears much the same as many other S-range Coolpix members: a slim, handsome body, combined with a minimal styling and available in a choice of finishes. Further exploration, however, reveals an impressive set of specifications that wouldn't be amiss on models twice its price
Read the full review » »

The Nikon Coolpix S4300 is a great choice for anyone who wants to hand over the task of choosing the best settings for any shot to the camera. If you'd like to teach yourself more about photography by learning the controls over time, you might find it limiting.
Read the full review »


Product name COOLPIX S4300
Type Compact digital camera
Effective pixels 16.0 million
Image sensor 1/2.3-in. type CCD; approx. 16.44 million total pixels
Lens 6x optical zoom, NIKKOR lens
Focal length 4.6-27.6mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 26-156 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
f/-number f/3.5-6.5
Construction 5 elements in 5 groups
Digital zoom Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 624 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
Vibration reduction Lens shift
Autofocus (AF) Contrast-detect AF
Focus range (from lens) [W]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 1.0m (3 ft 4 in.) to infinity Macro mode: Approx. 5 cm (2 in.) (wide-angle position) to infinity
Focus-area selection Face priority, auto (9-area automatic selection), center, manual (focus area can be selected using the touch panel), subject tracking
Monitor 7.5-cm (3-in.), approx. 460k-dot, TFT LCD (touch panel) with antireflection coating and 5-level brightness adjustment
Frame coverage (shooting mode) Approx. 98% horizontal and 98% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Media Internal memory (approx. 74 MB), SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card
File system DCF, Exif 2.3, and DPOF compliant
File formats Still pictures: JPEG Sound files (Voice Memo): WAV Movies: AVI (Motion-JPEG compliant)
Image size (pixels) 16M (High) [4608 x 3456(fine)] 16M [4608 x 3456] 8M [3264 x 2448] 4M [2272 x 1704] 2M [1600 x 1200] VGA [640 x 480] 16:9 [4608 x 2592]
Shooting Modes Auto, Scene (Scene auto selector, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night portrait, Party/indoor, Beach, Snow, Sunset, Dusk/dawn, Night landscape, Close-up, Food, Museum, Fireworks show, Black and white copy, Draw, Backlighting, Panorama assist, Pet portrait), Special effects, Smart portrait
Continuous Shooting Single (default setting), Continuous (Up to 6 pictures at about 1.3 fps), BSS (Best Shot Selector), Multi-shot 16
Movie HD 720p (default setting): 1280 x 720/approx. 30 fps, VGA: 640 x 480/approx. 30 fps, QVGA: 320 x 240/approx. 30 fps
ISO sensitivity (Standard output sensitivity) ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 Auto (auto gain from ISO 80 to 1600) Fixed range auto (ISO 80 to 400, 80 to 800)
Metering 256-segment matrix, center-weighted (digital zoom less than 2x), spot (digital zoom 2x or more)
Exposure control Programmed auto exposure with motion detection and exposure compensation (-2.0 to +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)
Shutter Mechanical and charge-coupled electronic shutter
Speed 1/2000-1 s 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode)
Aperture Electronically-controlled ND filter (-3.3 AV) selection
Range 2 steps (f/3.5 and f/11.5 [W])
Self-timer Can be selected from 10 s and 2 s
Range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto) [W]: 0.5 to 4.5 m (1 ft 8 in. to 14 ft) [T]: 0.5 to 2.4 m (1 ft 8 in. to 7 ft 10 in.)
Flash control TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes
Interface Hi-Speed USB
Data Transfer Protocol MTP, PTP
Video output Can be selected from NTSC and PAL
I/O terminal Audio/video (A/V) output; digital I/O (USB)
Supported languages Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (European and Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
Power sources One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 (included) AC Adapter EH-62G (available separately)
Charging time Approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes (when using Charging AC Adapter EH-69P and when no charge remains)
Battery life (EN-EL19) Still pictures*: Approx. 180 shots Movies: Approx. 1 h 15 min (HD 720p (1280x720)). (Each movie is limited to a file size of 2 GB and a movie length of 29 minutes, even when there is sufficient free space on the memory card for longer recording.) * Unless otherwise stated, all figures are for a camera with a fully-charged Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 operated at an ambient temperature of 25°C (77°F).
Tripod socket 1/4 (ISO 1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 95.5 x 58.9 x 20.8 mm (3.8 x 2.4 x 0.9 in.) (excluding projections)
Weight Approx. 139 g (5.0 oz) (including battery and SD memory card)
Temperature 0°C to 40°C (32°F to 104°F)
Humidity Less than 85% (no condensation)
Supplied accessories Camera Strap, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 (with battery case), Stylus TP-1, Charging AC Adapter EH-69P, USB Cable UC-E6, Audio Video Cable EG-CP14, ViewNX 2 Installer CD, Reference Manual CD
Optional accessories Battery Charger MH-66, AC Adapter EH-62G

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