NIKON COOLPIX P340 LENS
The built-in lens has 5x optical zoom: 24-120 mm in 35mm equivalent. Aperture is an excellent F/1.8 on wide angle but falls down to F/5.6 on maximum optical zoom. There is also a built-in ND filter which can be useful for long exposures or shooting in the very bright conditions. Image stabilization is also present and works as advertised; making hand-held longer exposures possible (I got perfectly sharp photos at around 1/8 sec.).
The lens is very sharp and combined with supreme sensor images look really good. There are some chromatic aberrations in the corners, but they a easily removed with a click or two in post-process (image below).
Flare is also not a problem for this camera. When the sun is in the frame, some flare might be visible but I wouldn’t call it a problem by any standards, and most of the time you will not be shooting at strong light sources anyway.
Now, the interesting fact about this lens is the amount of distortions on wide angle. When shooting in JPEG, P340 will correct it automatically and you will never see any distortions, but shooting in RAW format reveals another story. The amount of barrel distortion on wide angle is actually enormous, making images look almost like shot with fish-eye! This can be corrected with just one click since both latest ACR and Lightroom versions have lens profiles for this camera. You can see an example of this in the images below: this is the same image, left not having lens profile applied and the right one with distortion correction turned on. In real life use, sometimes I haven’t even used correction since the pseudo-fisheye effect made image look even more interesting.
This detail also reveals another good thing about this camera: it has very few or even none of the software image corrections applied to RAW files what makes them ideal for post-process. Photographers who know their job will be able to produce astounding results from this camera since the images carry as much of original unaltered information as possible.
Beside usual single, continuous and manual focus, Nikon P340 offers no less than six AF point configurations and sizes. Auto focus works fast enough for normal everyday use, and for the most part has no problems in lowlight.
NIKON COOLPIX P340 SENSOR AND IMAGE QUALITY
Image sensor is not particularly big (1/1.7″ – 7.44 x 5.58 mm), but it has only 12 megapixels (less is better for image quality in compact cameras). This alone cannot account for the image quality I have seen from the P340, so it must be some sorcery Nikon did to this camera. Whatever the reason, image quality is nothing short of astounding! In good light, with careful post processing of RAW files, images for the most part cannot be distinguished from the ones made by DSLR cameras 4-5 years old. The amount of details in images is spectacular without a single trace of noise reduction artifacts. Yes, there is some noise even on base ISO but I do not mind it.
Low light images tend to have a lot of noise, but still – fine details are well preserved and I got usable shot even at ISO 3200. Don’t get me wrong, when pushed to the limits, P340 losses its breath in race against cameras with larger image sensors, but the overall results I was getting from it were really excellent.
Below: ISO 640, 1600 and 3200
At this price point and for this sensor size, I don’t think I ever saw better images. Olympus XZ-2 and Stylus-1 have identical sensor sizes and similar image quality but both cost twice than Nikon P340. (Correction – XZ-2 is currently on Amazon on 50% sale costing $300 – this is a great deal)
NIKON COOLPIX P340 LCD AND EVF
The LCD has 3 inch diagonal and very high 921,000 dots. Viewing angles and overall quality are excellent.
NIKON COOLPIX P340 MEMORY AND BATTERY
Li-Ion battery is not a great performer; I was able to squeeze something like 150 shots out of a single charge. Even worse, when recording video, camera started to flash empty battery sign after minute or two of video recording. Turning the camera Off and On again seems to remove the “empty battery” sign but with combined video and photo recording you will be able to get only around 100 shots and 5-10 minutes of video.
NIKON COOLPIX P340 VIDEO RECORDING
P340 can record videos in Full HD with stereo sound, but there is no microphone input for better external microphone. You also get several lower resolutions and slow motion videos at 60 or 120 fps. Video quality is very good: videos look clean, sharp and with nice colors. At night, results are a bit worse since noise reduction eats all of the fine details.