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Nikon Coolpix S9100 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £240
inc VAT

A compact ultra-zoom camera that copes well in low light is a rare treat; excellent videos and a superb screen round it out nicely


1/2.3in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 18.0x zoom (25-450mm equivalent), 214g

The Coolpix S8000 marked Nikon’s surprisingly late entry to the compact ultra-zoom market, but it struggled to compete with the more established ranges from Panasonic, Canon and Samsung.

Nikon Coolpix S9100

One year and two revisions later, the S9100 is a much more credible contender. It retains the S8000’s elegant, contoured styling and superb 3in, 910,000-pixel screen, but the zoom range has almost doubled to 18x – the biggest ever to be squeezed into a compact-shaped camera.

Nikon Coolpix S9100 back

Another big improvement is the switch from a 14-megapixel CCD sensor to a 12-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS. Excessive noise is a major problem for virtually all ultra-zoom cameras because of their tiny, excessively high-resolution sensors. This one’s slightly lower resolution and back-illuminated design (which uses an innovative sensor layout to increase sensitivity) both bode well for noise levels.

It’s an extremely responsive camera, taking just 1.6 seconds to fire up and capture a photo. We measured an average of 1.5 seconds between shots in normal use, while the continuous mode ran at a lightning-fast 10fps, albeit for just five frames. There’s an alternative continuous mode that goes slower and lasts longer, plus even faster modes up to 120fps at reduced resolutions. It can record slow-motion video clips too, with a range of options to offset capture frame rate against resolution. As we’ve stated many times before, we love a bit of slow-motion video, and this implementation is as good as it gets.

Nikon Coolpix S9100 top

The menus were quick to navigate, with the five-way pad doubling as a wheel for making adjustments. We’d have liked to have seen more immediate access to ISO and white balance settings plus manual exposure options on the mode dial, but the camera is otherwise well populated with useful controls including a spot focus option that can be positioned anywhere in the frame. We also really appreciate the release catch for the pop-up flash, which meant it only fired when we actively requested it.

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Basic Specifications

Rating *****
CCD effective megapixels 12.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.3in
Viewfinder none
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 921,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 18.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 25-450mm
Image stabilisation optical, sensor shift
Maximum image resolution 4,000×3,000
Maximum movie resolution 1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied 74MB internal
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 270 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material aluminium
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 214g
Size 62x105x35mm

Buying Information

Warranty Two-year RTB
Price £240

Camera Controls

Exposure modes auto
Shutter speed auto
Aperture range f/3.5 (wide), f/5.9 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 160 to 3200
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 5 presets, manual
Additional image controls none
Manual focus No
Closest macro focus 4cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, flexible spot, face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer