Nikon Launches 12.2MP Coolpix P300 Compact Camera with F/1.8 Lens But No RAW Mode

February 8, 2011

By Dan Havlik, PDN's Technology Editor

Nikon announced a new pocket camera with a fast f/1.8 lens tonight, the 12.2-megapixel Nikon Coolpix P300. The camera is the first model from Nikon in the increasingly popular small body/fast lens pocket shooter category, which has been dominated by Nikon’s main rival, Canon.

The P300, which uses a 4.2x (24-100mm 35mm equivalent) Nikkor-branded glass lens, is designed to go head-to-head with Canon’s well-received 10MP PowerShot S95 (reviewed here), which has a 3.8 x (28-105mm) lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.0.

Unlike the S95 though, the Nikon Coolpix P300 does not have a RAW image capture mode, just a JPEG mode, which could be a potential turnoff to pros looking to get the most out of their images.

The P300 does boast a backside illumination CMOS sensor which is designed to produce lower noise when shooting at high ISOs. Maximum ISO on the Nikon Coolpix P300 is 3200. Aperture range is f/1.8 (on the wide end) to f/4.9 at the telephoto.

The Nikon Coolpix P300 can also shoot full 1080p HD video clips at 30fps with stereo sound and optical zoom control. The P300 offers manual shooting options and the lens has Optical Vibration Reduction technology built in to help steady shaky shots. The camera has a 3-inch, 921,000-dot LCD screen on back.

Like the Nikon Coolpix P7000, reviewed here, which was designed to compete with the Canon PowerShot G12 compact advanced camera (reviewed here), the all-black Nikon P300 bears more than a passing resemblance to the Canon S95. We got a chance to play with a prototype of the P300 during a press preview and the camera feels quite a bit like the S95, though the edges are more squared off and there’s a slight handgrip on front.

As they say though, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

The Nikon Coolpix P300 will start shipping in March for $329.95. More details in the press release below.



The COOLPIX P300 Combines Nikon’s Cutting-Edge Imaging Technology with the Fastest NIKKOR Lens Ever Paired with a COOLPIX to Create an Exceptionally Enviable Pocket Camera

MELVILLE, NY (Feb. 8, 2011) – Today, Nikon Inc. announced the new COOLPIX P300, Nikon’s first compact digital camera to feature a super-fast Wide-Angle 4.2x Zoom-NIKKOR glass lens (24mm-100mm, 35mm equivalent) with a maximum aperture of f/1.8 for capturing stunning, tack-sharp images and Full HD (1080p) video in a variety of lighting conditions. In addition to the widest aperture NIKKOR lens ever seen in a Nikon COOLPIX camera, the P300 also comes equipped with a 12.2-megapixel backside illumination CMOS sensor as well as a complement of other Nikon core technologies designed to prevail in even the most challenging light.

Created for the photo enthusiast who seeks creative control but will not compromise image quality for portability, the versatile P300 features manual controls, Optical Vibration Reduction (VR) technology, and ISO sensitivity up to 3200. These features help create low noise images and faster shutter speeds, which minimize motion blur in low-light conditions like night portraits, even when handheld.

“The COOLPIX P300 reflects decades of optical experience and NIKKOR heritage that culminate to create this exciting compact camera offering for users yearning for more creative freedom,”  said Bo Kajiwara, director of marketing, Nikon Inc.  “The P300 is an excellent choice for the photographer who is looking for a compact camera with all the manual controls and advanced features that challenges them to take their creativity to new heights.”

Stunning Image Quality in Low-Light Conditions
Demanding low-light conditions and creative barriers are no match for the new COOLPIX P300. Superior image quality in low-light settings is achieved because of the P300’s powerful combination of a 12.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, High ISO Sensitivity, and the fast wide-angle f/1.8 lens.  The CMOS sensor in the P300 is designed so that each pixel receives light more efficiently for superior performance. ISO performance of up to 3200 helps to ensure that images have low noise and amazing clarity while the wide aperture increases the amount of available light to the sensor. Nikon’s EXPEED C2 Image processing engine also participates in this phenomenal feat, enhancing overall speed and performance to deliver images that burst with vivid clarity and color.

Taking Creativity to New Heights
Designed to give users even more creative freedom in a compact body, the P300 comes equipped with several features commonly found in D-SLR cameras such Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S) and Full Manual (M) Control. Easily accessed through a top mounted control wheel, users are able to capture images missed by other cameras, while obtaining a desired look and feel to images by creatively adjusting shutter speed, depth of field, white balance and other settings. Users can also apply special effects to colors, and filter effects such as a cross screen or fisheye lens. The P300 also includes Nikon’s new Easy Panorama mode, to simply create vertical or horizontal panoramic shots automatically in-camera.  Users can quickly and easily apply these settings, as well as review and share photos on the P300’s high resolution 921,000-dot 3-inch, LCD screen.

The new COOLPIX P300 also features several improved scene modes including Advanced Night Portrait mode, Night Landscape mode, and Backlight high dynamic range (HDR) mode. When Advanced Night Portrait mode is engaged, the camera captures the essence of night scenes by combining multiple background shots along with a subject flash shot. In Backlight HDR mode, the P300 combines multiple shots at different exposures while Night Landscape mode combines multiple shots taken with a faster shutter speed for reduced noise and improved tonal range throughout the photo.

While image quality and low-light shooting are main facets of the COOLPIX P300, the camera also has incredible video capabilities. The P300 records high quality Full HD 1080p movies at 30 frames-per-second (fps) with autofocus, stereo sound and the ability to use the optical zoom. With the P300, users will be able to easily access the camera’s video controls through its one-touch operation. Additionally, the Special Effects mode and a Creative Slider mode will allow ever more creative freedom when recording both movies and still images. Users can also adjust the recording speed of their movies to apply slow motion or high-speed special effects.

Additional COOLPIX Cameras Join the Low Light Fight

In addition to the launch of the COOLPIX P300 today, Nikon also launched several other COOLPIX low light all stars today, including the COOLPIX P500 and the S9100. Like the P300, the P500 and S9100 capture sharp, crisp images in demanding low-light conditions with accurate detail with the assistance of their backside-illumination CMOS sensor and VR technology. The P500 also features Nikon’s first 36x wide-angle optical  Zoom NIKKOR ED glass lens with side zoom control and is versatile enough to capture photos that other cameras would miss. The S9100 is a full featured camera with a high-power 18x wide-angle optical Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens packed with high performance in compact, sophisticated designs for superior portability, which is equally stylish and useful.

Pricing and Availability
The COOLPIX P300 will be available beginning March 2010 and will retail for $329.95* MRSP and will be offered in black. The COOLPIX P500 will be available beginning March 2010 and will retail for $399.95* MRSP and will be offered in black and red.  The COOLPIX S9100 will be available March 2010 and will retail for $329.95* MRSP and will be offered in black, red, and silver.  For more information about these and other COOLPIX cameras, please visit