Announced at the beginning of February, the new 16-megapixel Nikon Coolpix P310 is designed for the photographer who wants a serious camera they can easily carry in a pocket. Equipped with a fast f/1.8 zoom lens, full manual exposure controls and sensitivity to ISO 6400, the P310 will be especially attractive to photographers who do a lot of low light shooting. The P310 also has full HD video and can shoot high-speed bursts at 7 frames per second for up to 5 frames so it’s a nice option for action photographers looking for a full-featured pocket camera.
The P310’s f/1.8 lens is a 4.2x 24-100mm (35mm equivalent) with improved optical VR (Vibration Reduction) image stabilization, which Nikon claims offers four stops of camera shake compensation for low light shooting. In other words, you should be able to use the P310 without a flash in very poor light and still get sharp photos. To complement the fast lens and optical VR, the P310 has a couple of special night shooting modes: Advanced Night Portrait mode and Night Landscape mode. It also has a built-in Backlight/High Dynamic Range HDR mode. All three of those modes take advantage of the camera’s EXPEED C2 processing and combine a burst of photos into one higher-quality image. Besides the special night modes and manual exposure control, the P310 has a user programmable mode (U), a programmable Fn button and an exposure control dial on top of the camera, giving the photographer tons of control for a pocket-sized camera.
The P310 also has HD video. I don’t believe there are any digital cameras now that don’t. It can record 1920 x 1080 full HD video at 30 frames per second with stereo sound. It even has in-camera video and still photo editing. To compose photos, the P310 has a 3-inch 921k-dot LCD display.
Check out the video below for a hands-on tour of a pre-production Nikon Coolpix P310:
The downsides to the Coolpix P310 are the small 1/2.3-in. sensor and lack of RAW shooting. Let’s face it, photographers who are looking at a camera with an f/1.8 lens and manual controls want the best possible image quality. The P310 does have a backlit CMOS sensor – the best available right now. However, the P310’s main competitors, the Canon PowerShot S100 and Olympus XZ-1, both have larger sensors, lower resolution (i.e. bigger individual pixels) and RAW shooting so they are pretty much guaranteed to have better image quality. The bottom line – if you want a Nikon pocket camera with lots of control and a great lens, the P310 is definitely your camera. It does have some tough competition, though. For more insight into the P310, check out this featured user review for its predecessor, the Coolpix P300.
According to the Nikon’s official press release, the Coolpix P310 should be available in February but the B&H Web site says they’re not expecting it to arrive until late March. The suggested retail price for the P310 is $329.95, and as the man said, you can have it in any color you want as long as it’s black.