Best of the new Nikon Coolpix announcements

Nikon busted out eight new cameras yesterday, including two megazooms (one high-end, one budget), four S-series ultra compact models, and two sub-$130 cheapies.
Written by Janice Chen, Inactive

Nikon busted out eight new cameras yesterday, including two megazooms (one high-end, one budget), four S-series ultra-compact models, and two sub-$130 cheapies.

Focusing on ease-of-use, all eight Coolpix cameras include Nikon's Smart Portrait features such as built-in red-eye correction, smile mode (which releases the shutter automatically when it detects a smile), face-priority autofocus, and blink warning. Other common features include an automatic scene selector as well as a motion detector, which helps reduce image blur by automatically adjusting shutter speed and ISO settings to compensate for camera shake and/or a moving subject.

Here are the stand-outs among the eight models announced:

Nikon Coolpix P90 Easily the most compelling--and most expensive--of the new cameras, the P90 is an update to the Coolpix P80. Though not as compact as the P80 at 3.3x4.53 x3.9 inches and 16.2 ounces (vs. the P80's 3.1x4.3x3.1 inches and 12.9-ounce weight), the lens has been ramped up to a 24x optical zoom (26 to 624mm equivalent, f/2.8-5.0) and and resolution has been increased to 12 megapixels. The sensor size remains the

same at 1/2.33 inch, though, so I'm guessing low-light performance will suffer a bit. The most interesting change is the bigger (3-inch) and better LCD, which tilts and swivels out 90 degrees, making it easier to compose shots at high and low angles (a feature competing megazooms like the Canon PowerShot SX10 IS have already included). The Sports Continuous scene mode has been upped to 15fps (from 13fps in the P80) and up to 45 frames (vs. 30 frames), when you set resolution to 3 megapixels or less. The P90 will ship for $399.95 in March. If that's too steep for you, you can opt for the new Nikon Coolpix L100, which will ship in March for $279.95. Officially part of Nikon's Life or L series (read: budget), the L100 has a 15x optical zoom lens (28 to 420mm, f/3.5-5.4) and a non-swiveling, 3-inch LCD, and supports ISO 80 to 3200 (vs. the P90's ISO 64 to 6400).

Nikon Coolpix S220

Of the four S (for Style) series cameras, I liked the Coolpix S220 for both its extra-slim design and extra-reasonable  price ($149.95). Like its higher-priced touch-screen sibling (the Coolpix S230), the S220 is a 10-megapixel shooter with a 3x optical zoom lens (35 to 105mm, f/3.1-5.9). At 2.2x3.5x0.7 inches and 3.5 ounces, the S220 is even slimmer than the S230 (which is 3.6x2.3x0.8 inches and 4.1 ounces), but also sports a weaker LCD: 2.5 inches, 150,000 dots (vs. the S230's 3-inch 230,000-dot touchscreen). Though Nikon claims the S230's touchscreen performs faster than its predecessor's (i.e., the S60's), I'd take a slimmer profile over a touch-screen on a camera any day. The S220 will ship this month and comes in five colors. The S230, also ships this month (in five different colors).

Nikon Coolpix L19

Lest you accuse me of champagne tastes and only picking the most-expensive models, let me give a shout-out to the least expensive Nikon camera to date, the Coolpix L19.  The $109.95 price is hard to beat, and it buys you an 8-megapixel shooter with a 2.7-inch LCD and 3.6x optical zoom, along with all the new Nikon features like the Smart Portrait system and motion detection, as well as an Easy Auto mode to make point-and-shooting as much of a no-brainer as possible. The camera is reasonably compact (3.8x2.4x1.2 inches, 4.6 ounces) considering its low price. I only wish the 41 to 145mm, f/3.1-6.7 lens was wider. Personally, I'd probably opt for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS85 coming out in April for $119.95, which sports a 33-132mm (equivalent), f/2.8-5.9 lens. The L19 ships this month, along with its $129.95 sibling, the Coolpix L20, which sports a 3-inch LCD and 10 megapixels (both cameras are powered by AA batteries).

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