The Nikon Coolpix P310 has a wide range of advanced features packed into a relatively small body. It is small enough to slip into a large pocket. This type of camera is a good choice if you see photography as a main hobby. It is also popular with photographers who would like a more portable camera as a back up to a Digital SLR.
The Coolpix P310 has 16 megapixels and a 4.2x zoom lens. The maximum lens aperture is f/1.8. This can be a big help when taking photographs in challenging light.
Other attractions include an advanced movie mode, manual exposure controls and a macro mode that can focus from 2cm away from your subject.
Compared with other pocket digital cameras at this price point the Coolpix P310 has the following:
The main reason for buying the Coolpix P310 is the range of features it has in comparison to its size.
The Nikon Coolpix P310 has 16 megapixels
The lens has 4.2x zoom. It has a focal length equivalent to 24 - 100mm in 35mm format. The biggest attraction of the lens is its f/1.8 maximum aperture. This is a large size for an aperture. The advantage of this is that it can let in more light when a photo is being taken. This helps to make this camera a good choice if you take a lot of pictures indoors or at night.
Images can be saved to SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards.
Power is supplied by a lithium ion battery. Nikon suggest the Coolpix P310 can take around 230 shots in between charges.
You have plenty of different options for shooting movies. To start with you can shoot Full High Definition Movies. These have a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The top recording speed is 30 frames per second.
Other options include being able to capture movies in iFrame format. In addition you can shoot slow motion and fast motion movie clips.
Stereo sound is recorded to accompany your movies. You can also sepia or use a selective colour mode.
The LCD screen is 3 inches in size. It has a high resolution and is made up of 921,000 dots. This compares with more standard LCD screens that are made up of 230,000 dots.
Nikon have equipped the Coolpix P310 with a number of predefined scene modes. These are Back Light, Beach, Close Up, Copy, Dusk/Dawn, Easy Panorama, Fireworks Show, Food, Landscape, Museum, Night Portrait, Panorama Assist, Party/Indoor, Pet Portrait, Portrait, Snow, Sports, Sunset and 3D Photography. When you use a scene mode, the camera knows the type of photo you are about to take. It then adjusts the settings accordingly to give you what it considers the best looking photo.
The Coolpix P3100 can focus from 2cm away from your subject.
Manual Exposure Modes
As well as a fully manual mode you also have access to aperture priority and shutter priority modes. Shutter speeds can be set in the range 4 - 1/2000 seconds. The aperture can be set between f1.8 and f/8 when the lens is zoomed out and f/4.9 and f/ 7.8 when the lens is zoomed out.
If you are not sure what the perfect exposure settings are you can use bracketing. When this is set the camera will take extra shots with the exposure settings changed up to + / - 1.
Nikon have added Image Stabilisation to help you produce blur free images. This works for movie clips as well as still images.
Interval Timer p>
The interval timer takes a series of still images at intervals set by you. You then play back the images as a movie. These are often used to plot clouds moving across the sky or a crowd of people moving along a street. The interval for each picture can be set between 30 seconds and 10 minutes. This feature is also known as time lapse movies.
The metering modes available are matrix, centre weighted and spot.
You can fire off up to five shots in a short burst at a top speed of seven frames per second.
Subject Tracking Focusing
Subject tracking focusing is used so that the camera can retain focus on a moving subject.
Picture Quality Summary
Overall the picture quality offered by this camera does not match up to the best cameras in this category. There were some issues with the sharpness of the shots away from the centre for pictures taken from distance.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 1
The Coolpix P310 starts off with a very bright shot. If anything the shot looks too bright and is over exposed. On the plus side the camera is able to show far more detail in the shady areas of the scene than other cameras manage. For example there is far greater definition under the trees than other cameras typically show. The downside is that there is very little detail showing on the upper sections of the boats.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 2
The overall sharpness of this picture is good. It is only as you get to the far edges of the photo that focusing becomes softer. There is very noticeable purple fringing in places. Again this is more prominent away from the centre of the picture. It is unlikely this will show up in smaller prints, but it is some of the most obvious fringing I have seen in a long while.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 3
Zooming right in produces a shot where focusing starts to fall away in the more distant parts of the shot. The overall definition in these areas is not what I would expect to see from this level of digital camera.
With the lens not being pushed to its limits this is a better effort. Even so that absolute clarity that some of its closest rivals manage to produce is missing.
As with some of the earlier test shots the Coolpix P310 produces a picture that is a bit brighter than most other cameras do. In this case it works well. There are no issues with focusing as the camera finds it much easier working close in.
Indoor Portrait With Flash
Nikon produce some of the best digital cameras for working with flash. The Coolpix P310 emits just the right amount of light to brighten the darker areas of the hair. The big plus point is the amount of colour showing in the face. Some cameras produce a burst of light that washes out colour, but that is not the case here.
Indoor Portrait Without Flash
Definition level showing in this shot compares well with other cameras. You can take advantage of the large aperture when working in lowlight.
In macro mode the Coolpix P310 is good at throwing the background out of focus so that the subject of the shot really stands out. You should be able to take plenty of pleasing macro snapshots.
Nikon digital cameras often produce colours that have a softer look than cameras from some other brands. This helps to give photos a more natural look.
In places the definition of the pictures has been disappointing. They have taken on a hazy look when viewed at large size on a computer screen. This may not show clearly on prints, but you may find that when looked at alongside pictures taken with other cameras that pin sharp look is not quite there.
Panasonic DMC LX5 Rating 91/100
This camera is one of the very best I have ever reviewed. Picture quality is excellent and I love the small size of the camera. It is packed with advanced features and I found it was able to handle a variety of different shooting conditions without a problem.
Read Review: Panasonic DMC LX5 Review
Canon Powershot G12 Rating 90/100
The Canon Powershot G12 is an excellent choice for anyone who is looking for a high quality digital camera. The sharpness and clarity of the photos it takes is hard to beat. I was also bowled over by the build quality.
Read Review: Canon Powershot G12 Review
Canon Powershot S100 Rating 88/100
The Canon Powershot S100 is an excellent digital camera. If you are looking for a camera to carry everywhere you go with plenty of features then this could be the camera for you. It is hard to find fault and the Powershot S100 compares very well with digital cameras with a similar set of features and body size.
Read Review: Canon Powershot S100 Review
Review Date: August 2012
The Nikon Coolpix P310 is a fair bit cheaper than some similar cameras such as the Canon Powershot S100. It lacks a couple of features compared to that camera such as GPS and a RAW mode. If those are not important to you then this camera becomes a lot more attractive. It does not quite match up to the Powershot S100 when it comes to picture quality either, but you are unlikely to see a big difference unless you plan to make larger prints. If you are looking for a camera with plenty of features in a small sized body, but you do not want all the bells and whistles then this camera makes a decent choice.
Ease of Use:
Value for Money:
58.3 x 103 x 32mm
SD, SDHC, SDXC
Single Shot With Flash:
Five Shots With Flash:
Turn on Time:
Although this camera is much smaller than digital cameras with longer lenses there is still plenty of room available to get a good hold. Nikon have added a small, textured rubber area on the back of the camera for your thumb. You do need to take a bit of extra care when shooting a movie as the microphones are on the top of the camera and can get covered up by your finger.
The flash unit pops up on the top of the camera. When it is not in use the flash unit remains closed and flush to the body. Even when it pops up it is so small that you hardly have to change the way you hold the camera.
LCD Screen Quality
LCD screen quality is very good. The extra pixels used in the high resolution screen do make a difference.
Turn on Time and Shutter Delay
The Coolpix P310 has fast turn on and shutter response times. Even with flash turned on times are impressive.
Design and Build Quality
This camera is small enough to fit into a good sized jacket pocket. Although the design is fairly plain the camera has an attractive look. It is a fairly regular, rectangular box with very little rounding of the edges.
As you would expect this camera feels like it is well made. It has a matt, non slip finish.
On the top of the camera is the shutter button, on / off button, the main control dial, plus a wheel to select settings. On the side of the camera is a switch to pop up the flash unit.
On the back of the camera are buttons to shoot a movie, review images, display the menu system and delete images. The main control circle gives you access to flash settings, exposure compensation, macro mode, the self timer and confirming a setting. It also its own small wheel for speeding up the process of selecting options.