Nikon Coolpix P330 review

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Nikon Coolpix P330 is a small and affordable compact camera aimed at more demanding users. Exterior dimensions are similar to almost any other compact camera on the market, yet it has a full range of manual controls, RAW mode and significantly better image sensor. The lens has 5x optical zoom with the bright F/1.8 aperture at wide angle and it records full HD video with stereo sound. P330 is a successor of P310 but it is improved to the level at which those two models cannot be compared (image quality wise). Most important, it sells for $300 and as I found out, it performs splendid.

NIKON COOLPIX P330 SPECIFICATIONS

  • Announced: March 2013.
  • Type: Advanced compact
  • Dimensions: 103 x 58 x 32 mm (4.06 x 2.28 x 1.26″)
  • Weight: 200g, (0.44 lb / 7.05 oz) (with battery)
  • Sensor:  1/1.7″, 12 MP (4000 x 3000 pixels)
  • ISO range: 100 – 12,800
  • Lens: 5.1 – 25.5mm (24-120mm), F/1.8-5.6
  • Image stabilization: Yes, in lens
  • Dust and moisture protection: No
  • Flash: Built-in
  • Continuous shooting: 10 fps
  • LCD screen: 3″, 921,000 dots
  • Memory card: SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Battery: Li-Ion EN-EL12
  • Video: 1920 x 1080 @ 60i, 50i, 30p, 25p, 24p fps, 1280 x 720 @  30, 25 fps

CONSTRUCTION AND HANDLING

Build quality is as expected. P330 is completely made from good plastic and feels nice in hands. Thumb rest is from rubber and provides secure grip. Buttons have a nice but not perfect feels upon press; this is still only a $300 camera we’re talking about.

P330 has twin control dials; one at the top and the other on the back of the camera. In manual mode they perform as one expects: one controls aperture and the other shutter speed; advanced users will appreciate this greatly. A customizable “Fn” button at the front of the camera can be assigned for a function of your liking; there are 8 or 9 of them ranging from ISO, WB, focus points up to drive modes etc. (I used ISO almost of the time).

Menu system is visually nice and generally easy to navigate. There is a nice set of advanced options like detailed ISO settings, various focus point layouts, zoom memory or zoom startup position.

LCD

LCD display has 3-inch diagonal and 921,000 dots. Display quality is excellent with god viewing angles but lacks some brightness in order to be completely usable in storing daylight scenarios. It is not tilt-able nor has touch capability.

There is no viewfinder on this camera and no way to attach one. Since this is a small compact camera we’re talking about this is not a problem; no one expects a viewfinder on P330 in the first place.

NIKON COOLPIX P330 SENSOR

Sensor used on Nikon P330 is (almost certainly) the same used on P7700. It has a 1/1.7″ diagonal and a modest 12 megapixels (this is a good thing). More importantly, P330 can record in RAW format which offers much improved IQ and post-process ability than JPEG.

ISO value ranges from 100 to 12,800 but what’s more important, AUTO can be limited to 400, 800 or 1600 value and has the options to select lower shutter speed.

P330 has a built-in RAW processing engine but I still prefer to adjust images on PC in RAW converter.

NIKON P330 LENS

Lens has 5x optical zoom and an equivalent focal length of 24-120mm. Maximum aperture at wide angle is a decent F/1.8 but it falls down to F/5.6 at maximum zoom (similar like Canon S110).

The lens has good optical characteristics; it is sharp across frame and without visible light fall-off. Interestingly, this camera relies heavily on software lens correction for wide angle shots. Similarly to Sony E PZ 16-50 lens, this one has rather extreme geometric distortion at wide angle, making images appear almost as shot with fish-eye lens. When used in JPEG mode, Nikon P330 will correct this automatically so the user will never know about it. Distortions becomes visible only in RAW mode, but since Adobe has a lens profile for this camera, it is also easily corrected (one click in ACR) so this is basically a peculiar detail no one should worry about.

The lens on P330 has a built-in ND filter (neutral density) which is useful for long exposures or to use large apertures in daylight.

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