Digital Cameras Guide
Nikon COOLPIX P310 Preview
More Power In Your Pocket
In the world of technology, one year is just about time for a new generation of products. For cameras, the product cycle is a bit longer, and so any models in between major changes have only incremental improvements. On the outset the Nikon COOLPIX P310 can hardly be distinguished from its predecessor, the COOLPIX P300, since it has the same, retro-futuristic styling (which we loved by the way). Zoom range stays the same at 4.2x optical, you have the same, bright f/1.8 lens, and you have the same, sharp 3-inch display with 921,000-dot resolution.
If you look closely on the font panel though, you will see that this model has added a handy function button. This button can be programmed to access whatever menu you want. In our case, we set it to quickly bring up the ISO settings, which are buried within the menu - a fact we pointed out with the P300. Also on the front cover you'll see a sticker proclaiming the P310's updated sensor, which is now 16.1 megapixels, up from the P300's 12. The remaining new features are much less obvious: an increased ISO range to 6400 at the Hi1 setting, and manual digital focus. Still missing? RAW format shooting, which is available on its rival, the Canon PowerShot S100.
Performance-wise, we didn't really notice any big change between the P300's 12-megapixel sensor to the P310's newer 16.1 version. We still got the same, vibrant and sharp images that we saw with the older camera. In terms of noise, the extra stop to ISO 6400 did raise the threshold for noise up to 3200, although that's really pushing it. ISO 800 and 1600 are substantially cleaner than before. ISO 6400, as we expected from such a small sensor, was very very fuzzy. Nothing much to report for video as it was it remains just a s good as the spectacular P300.
More of The Same Great Stuff
So, the big question is, should you buy it? If you already have a COOLPIX P300, then we don't think that the changes are all that substantial enough for an upgrade. However, if you are in the market for a high-performance pocket-sized shooter, the P310 is definitely worth a look, as it is basically the same as the great P300 but with some bug fixes and greater ISO range.