Nikon Coolpix S9900 Review

March 24, 2015 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Nikon Coolpix S9900 is the new top-of-the-range digital compact camera from the Style series. It features a back-illuminated 16 megapixel CMOS sensor, 30x optical zoom lens, Full 1080/60i HD video with new time-lapse recording, built-in WiFi, GPS and NFC connectivity, P/S/A/M exposure modes, a command dial and a 3-inch 921K dot vari-angle screen. The Nikon Coolpix S9900 costs £269.99 / $349.95 and is available in silver and black.

Ease of Use

Even more packed with technology than its predecessor, the new Coolpix S9900 looks like it would be more at home in Nikon's Performance range. However, the P series of Nikon cameras are for keen enthusiasts and as such, don't really offer much in the way of easy modes for the point and shooters. The S9900 still offers the Easy Auto mode, albeit buried somewhat n the menu system.

The S9900 bears an uncanny resemblance to the higher specification models in terms of shape and design. Weighing nearly 300g, it's a heavy block of metal and plastic which holds a 30x optical zoom inside the bulge at the front. The lenses contain ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements to reduce chromatic aberrations and the focal length works out at an eye bulging 25-750mm in 35mm terms.

We hear you asking “What about camera shake?” Well, the S9900 has been fitted with a 5-axis Hybrid VR system. This type of Vibration Reduction of combining electronic and optical image stabilisers isn't new but using 5 ways of stabilising the image is on a camera at this designation.

Nikon Coolpix S9900
Front of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Once the light has gone through the lens, it burns onto a back-illuminated 16 megapixel CMOS sensor. In the past, some Nikon compacts have suffered with low light and high noise problems, so hopefully, this sensor that is lower in resolution than previous models will react better. The back-illuminated technology will also help by allowing more light onto each photosite, but our noise test will give the definite answer.

No expense has been spared on the screen incorporating a 921,000 dot RGBW TFT LCD screen which can even be used in direct sunlight. One big upgrade over the previous S9700 model is that the screen is now a vari-angle model, which is perfect for shooting movies, over the heads of a crowd and of course for those all-important selfies.

As we mentioned earlier, the S9900 sits on the Style side of the fence, but it's also very close to the Performance series. Because of this intimacy with both ranges, the S9900 has a mixture of lazy modes and performance enhancing features. On the top plate, you'll find the power switch and shutter release with a small finger-operated switch that operates that massive zoom range.

Nikon Coolpix S9900
Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Situated to the left of the shutter release on the shoulder of the Nikon Coolpix S9900 is a Shooting Mode dial. It has the usual easy to use modes, such as Auto, Scenes, Smart portrait and Short Movie, but also holds the manual PASM modes. New to the S9900 is a dedicated command dial, which in conjunction with the rear navigation wheel makes it easier than ever to use the manual shooting modes.

On the opposite side to the Command dial is a pop-up flash that sits very high when opened via the dedicated switch. That's great for avoiding red-eye. However, it uses so many different joints to collapse down into the unit – which you have to do manually – it's like trying to get a cat into a bath; it's possible, but you'll have to wrestle a bit. The top of the camera also holds the WiFi and GPS unit above the lens.

The GPS button on the left flank of the S9900 displays a map of the World and allows you to not only log your photo's locations, but also track where you're going. Fantastic for travellers and that's exactly who the S9900 is aimed at, especially as it now utilises GPS/GLONASS/QZSS satellite tracking to provide highly accurate longitude and latitude data.

Nikon Coolpix S9900
Top of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

The S9900 also offers built-in wi-fi and NFC connectivity, with the former accessed via a button on the rear of the camera, and the latter simply by tapping the S9900 against another NFC-enabled device. The wi-fi options are a little basic - you can only connect or upload to a smart device - but they do at least make it easier to share your photos.

The main menu system changes depending on the shooting mode that you're currently in. It has the usual layout of three sections with the primary menus tabbed down the left side. The centre section shows what each tab can offer, while the right side shows the current setting for that option. Pressing right drills into the menu and allows you to make any changes. The colour scheme is light grey on the centre section with dark grey surround and a yellow highlighter. Those colours may not sound appealing, but they work nicely and the menu is very easy to see and use. The five tabs on the left are for the mode you're currently in, Video modes, WiFi, GPS and the Set-up menu.

Start up time from the off position to being switched on, focused and a photo taken is 1.8sec which is a good performance. There are two continuous shooting modes; High and Low. The first is a burst mode that rapidly fires off five high resolution pictures in just over half a second. It works out at roughly 8fps (frames per second). Slightly higher than the 6.9fps on the Nikon website, so that's pretty good. You do have to allow for human error, though, so keep an open mind. It takes a total of 10 seconds to download the pictures as well.

In Low mode, the camera takes pictures at a much slower rate. We got 16 pictures in eight seconds before the camera stopped to download. That's roughly 2fps and it took the camera up to 43 seconds to download and be ready to shoot again. This was going through the Nikon EXPEED C2 processor and writing onto a Class 4 Micro SD card in an adapter. The speed of the card will affect the write speed, so you may see a slight increase with a faster variation in.

Nikon Coolpix S9900
The Nikon Coolpix S9900 In-hand

In playback, the pictures will be displayed full size with some basic information that will disappear after a few seconds. Should you take a photo that you wish you'd added a digital effect to, you can press OK at this stage and add it on after. The added bonus is that the S9900 saves that as a separate file on the memory card, preserving the original. The layout of the Playback menu is the same as when you're shooting. However, there's a slight variation in the inclusion of the Mode tab.

The Playback modes are usually in a separate menu which is accessed via the Playback button. On the Nikon Coolpix S9900, doing that takes you back to the shooting screen. The Video menu has been replaced with the full Playback menu which allows you to amend the pictures with some basic editing via the Quick retouch, D-Lighting, Red-eye correction or Glamour retouch options. There's also provision to amend the print order, create a slide-show to thrill your family and friends of your travelling adventures.

In the box you'll find a rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12, Charging AC Adapter EH-71P4, USB Cable UC-E21, and a Camera Strap. Battery life is around 300 shots, pretty good for this class of camera, although we don't like the fact that you can now only charge the battery in-camera.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5.5Mb.

The Nikon Coolpix S9900 produced images of good quality during the review period. Images are noise free at ISO 125-400, with limited noise and colour desaturation starting to appear at ISO 800. ISO 1600 exhibits quite visible noise, smearing of fine detail and colour desaturation, and the fastest settings of ISO 3200 and especially 6400 are even noisier and best avoided altogether.

The Nikon Coolpix S9900 dealt quite well with chromatic aberrations, with purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and adequate exposure. The night photograph was fine, with the maximum shutter speed of 8 seconds not limiting too much what you can capture after-dark. Image stabilisation is a feature that works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range.

Macro performance is excellent, allowing you to focus as close as 1cm away from the subject. The images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting if you don't like the default results.


There are 7 ISO settings available on the Nikon Coolpix S9900. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso125.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix S9900's 30x zoom lens offers a very versatile focal range, as demonstrated by the examples below.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. Unfortunately you can't change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

File Quality

The Nikon Coolpix S9900 has 2 different image quality settings available, with Fine 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 Fine (5.3Mb) (100% Crop) 16M Normal (3.00Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Nikon Coolpix S9900 handled chromatic aberrations fairly well during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


The Nikon Coolpix S9900 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is just 1cm away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The flash settings on the Nikon Coolpix S9900 are Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Off, On and Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Forced Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Forced On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Forced Off - Telephoto (750mm)

Forced On - Telephoto (750mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the On or the Auto/Red-eye Reduction settings caused any significant red-eye.


On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


The Nikon Coolpix S9900's maximum shutter speed is 8 seconds when ISO sensitivity is fixed at ISO 125 or 200 in the S, A, or M modes, which is good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 8 seconds at ISO 125.


Night (100% Crop)

night_shutter_priority.jpg night_shutter_priority1.jpg

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix S9900 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Fine 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 highest quality setting of 1920x1080 at 25 frames per second. Please note that this 26 second movie is 51.7Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S9900 / Pop-up Flash

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S9900


Nikon Coolpix S9900

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S9900 / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S9900 / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S9900 / Main Menu

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S9900 / Wi-fi Menu

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S9900 / Tilting LCD Screen

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S9900 / Tilting LCD Screen

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Top of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Bottom of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Memory Card Slot

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Battery Compartment


The addition of the versatile vari-angle screen, a dedicated command dial, enhanced GPS tracking and NFC connectivity make the new Coolpix S9900 Nikon's best travel-zoom camera yet, although it doesn't make any great strides forwards in terms of image quality or general performance. Presumably because it's still positioned in the Style range of Coolpix cameras, rather than the Performance segment, the S9900 doesn't offer RAW shooting, the wi-fi connectivity options are limited to sharing your images rather than controlling the camera, and there's no viewfinder or touch-screen operation, but otherwise the Nikon Coolpix S9900 is a well-appointed travel-zoom that suits a wide range of experience levels, from point-and-shooters to more advanced users, and it's crucially a little bit cheaper than its main rivals too.

4 stars

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

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Nikon Coolpix S9900.

Canon Powershot SX280 HS

The Canon PowerShot SX280 HS is a new travel-zoom camera for 2013, offering a 20x zoom lens and a 12 megapixel back-illuminated image sensor. Other key features of the Canon SX280 include built-in GPS and wi-fi connectivity, a 3 inch LCD screen, full 1080p HD movies with stereo sound, fast 14fps burst shooting, and a full range of manual and automated exposure modes. Read our in-depth Canon PowerShot SX280 HS in-depth review now...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ57

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ57 (also known as the ZS45) is a new travel-zoom compact camera with a 16-megapixel sensor, 180-degree tiltable monitor and a 20x zoom lens. Read our Panasonic DMC-TZ57 review to find out if this is the travel-zoom camera for you...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70

The Lumix DMC-TZ70 is Panasonic's new flagship travel-zoom compact camera for 2014. The 12-megapixel TZ70 (also known as the ZS50) offers a 30x wide-angle zoom lens, lens control ring, RAW file format, focus peaking and an electronic viewfinder. Read our Panasonic DMC-TZ70 review to find out if it's the best travel-zoom camera...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V is a new travel-zoom compact camera that seemingly offers all of the latest must-have features. A 16x 24-384mm Sony G lens, built-in GPS tracking, full 1080p high-definition video with stereo sound, a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor, high-resolution 3-inch screen, manual shooting mode, 10fps continuous shooting, 3D photos, and SD memory card support are all present and correct. Read our in-depth Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V review to find out if all this adds up to a great camera...


Effective pixels 16.0 million (Image processing may reduce the number of effective pixels.)
Image sensor 1/2.3-in. type CMOS, Total pixels: approx.16.76 million
Lens NIKKOR lens with 30x optical zoom
Focal length 4.5 – 135 mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 25–750 mm lens in 35 mm [135] format)
F-number f/3.7 – 6.4
Lens construction 13 elements in 11 groups (3 ED lens elements)
Magnification Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 3000 mm lens in 35 mm [135] format)
Vibration reduction Combination of lens shift and electronic VR
Autofocus Contrast-detect AF
Focus range [W]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 2 m (6 ft 7 in.) to infinity, Macro mode: Approx. 1 cm (0.4 in.) to infinity (wide-angle position) (All distances measured from center of front surface of lens)
AF-area mode Face priority, manual with 99 focus areas, center, subject tracking, target finding AF
Monitor 7.5 cm (3-in.) diagonal, Approx. 921k-dot (RGBW), wide viewing angle TFT LCD with anti-reflection coating and 6-level brightness adjustment, vari-angle TFT LCD
Frame coverage Approx. 98% horizontal and vertical (compared to actual picture)
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 100% horizontal and vertical (compared to actual picture)
Storage media SD, SDHC, SDXC, Internal memory (approx. 473 MB)
File system DCF and Exif 2.3 compliant
Storage file formats Still images: JPEG, Movies: MOV (Video: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, Audio: LPCM stereo)
Image size (pixels) 16M 4608 x 3456, 8M 3264 x 2448, 4M 2272 x 1704, 2M 1600 x 1200, VGA 640 x 480, 16:9 12M 4608 x 2592, 1:1 3456 x 3456
ISO sensitivity ISO 125 – 1600, ISO 3200, 6400 (available when using P, S, A, or M mode)
Exposure metering Matrix, center-weighted, spot (digital zoom 2x or more)
Exposure control Programmed auto exposure with flexible program, shutter-priority auto, aperture-priority auto, manual, and exposure compensation (–2.0 – +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)
Shutter type Mechanical and CMOS electronic shutter
Shutter speed 1/2000 – 1s, 1/2000 – 8 s (when ISO sensitivity is fixed at ISO 125 or 200 in S, A, or M mode) 1/4000 s (maximum speed during high-speed continuous shooting) 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode)
Self-timer Can be selected from 10 s and 2 s
Aperture Electronically-controlled 3-blade iris diaphragm
Aperture range 14 steps of 1/6 EV (W) (A, M mode)
Built-in flash Yes
Flash range (approx.) [W]: 0.5 – 6.0 m (1 ft 8 in. – 19 ft), [T]: 1.5 – 3.5 m (5 – 11 ft)
Flash control TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes
USB Micro-USB connector, Hi-Speed USB, Do not use any USB cable other than the UC-E21 for Micro-USB connector. Supports Direct Print (PictBridge)
HDMI output HDMI micro connector (Type D)
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) standards IEEE 802.11b/g/n (standard wireless LAN protocol)
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) operating frequency 2412 – 2462 MHz (1 – 11 channels)
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) range (line of sight) Approx. 10 m (10 yd)
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) data rates (actual measured values) IEEE 802.11b: 5 Mbps, IEEE 802.11g: 15 Mbps, IEEE 802.11n: 15 Mbps
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) security OPEN/WPA2
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) access protocols Infrastructure
Electronic compass 16 cardinal points (position correction using 3-axis acceleration sensor, automatic correction for the deviated angle, and automatic offset adjustment)
GPS - location data GPS Receiving frequency: 1575.42 MHz, Geodetic system: WGS 84 GLONASS, Receiving frequency: 1598.0625 – 1605.3750 MHz, Geodetic system: WGS 84
Supported languages Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese (European and Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
Power sources One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12 (included), AC Adapter EH-62F (available separately)
Charging time Approx. 2 h 20 min (when using Charging AC Adapter EH-71P and when no charge remains)
Battery life Approx. 300 shots when using EN-EL12
Actual battery life for movie recording Approx. 1 h (1080/30p) when using EN-EL12, Approx. 1 h 5 min (1080/25p) when using EN-EL12
Tripod socket 1/4 (ISO 1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 112.0 x 66.0 x 39.5 mm (4.5 x 2.6 x 1.6 in.) (excluding projections)
Weight Approx. 289 g (10.2 oz) (including battery and memory card)
Operating environment - temperature 0°C – 40°C (32°F – 104°F)
Operating environment - humidity 85% or less (no condensation)
Supplied accessories Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12, Charging AC Adapter EH-71P, USB Cable UC-E21, Camera Strap

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