Nikon Coolpix 4300

The world of Digital Cameras … always fascinating for the have nots. We had been in that league for a long, long time.

So, we decided to move up with the world and purchase a cute little one of our own.

And people, I did a whole lot of research before purchasing this baby, and it has been worth it … believe you me, it has …

The main criterion for the research was the price factor, and the most that I could get within that price.

This was when my folks were at US, when I was furiously studying for my exams here in India and doing tremendous research on which camera to purchase.
After asking a couple of ’learned’ friends and clicking through hundreds of reviews, specs and shopping sights, I decided that the ’’ Nikon Coolpix 4300 ’’ was the camera of choice.

Actually the original price of the camera was $450, but at then after purchasing the camera, we got a $50 rebate, so we sprung for an additional battery and a memory card.

The images that the camera churns out are simply stunning and every time, it makes me happy to see that all the research that I did is paying dividends.
The camera has a mind boggling resolution of 4 mega pixels!!! Enough to get a medium size poster made out of the picture taken. It has a plethora of features to go along with it.
Whether you are an amateur photographer or a person just interested in point and shoot, this camera will satisfy all your needs. ( However if you want just a point and shoot camera, and you don’t want to play with the settings, you should go in for a much cheaper camera as the features in the camera will be useless to you. )

The camera has tonnes of benefits.
Let me start with its features .

Max Image Resolution : 2272 x 1704 Zoom
Range : 3x optical and 4x digital zoom ( i.e. 12x effective zoom )
Lens Focal Length(s) : 8-24mm (35mm equivalent 38-114mm)
Shutter Speeds : 8 – 1/1000 sec., bulb up to 60 sec.
Aperture Range : f/2.8 – f/4.9 ISO Equivalent : Auto, 100, 200, 400
File Formats : JPEG, TIFF, DPOF

It’s got many more features, which are too many to elaborate in this review.
The camera comes with a 1.5’’ viewfinder and also an optical viewfinder if you plan to not use the digital one.
It has a dial on top which lets you select the many different modes depending upon the scene you are capturing.
It has an auto focus mode, in which you can only point and shoot.
A Manual mode, in which you can set the many many settings such as white balance setting, exposure setting, image sharpness, image contrast, exposure, quality, resolution, etc. etc.
There is a ’Scene mode’ in which 12 scenes such as portrait, indoor, landscape, night landscape, beach/snow, etc. are available. You just select the right scene and click away.
Also has a ’movie mode ’ which allows you to record upto 40 sec movies ( silent ) in the Quick time format.

You can also browse and then digitally zoom the images from within the viewfinder ( a feature present in almost all cameras )

The two features that I found the most amazing are the Macro Mode, and the 256 Segment White Balance Metering

In the Macro mode ( needed to read the manual for this one ), you can focus and take snaps of objects that are kept as close as 1.6 cm from the camera, thus making you a pro !
The 256 white balance metering is an automatic setting in which to check the white balance of the scene, the camera divides the shot into 256 squares and then calculates the white balance, thus to give you the Perfect Picture.
It also has a 10 sec and 3 sec Auto Timer ( A feature astonishingly absent in quite a few cameras ).

It also has 4 flash modes ( Auto, Flash – Fill, Red Eye Reduction, Slow Flash ) and you can also decide to turn the flash off.

A quick preview feature allows you to quickly preview the snap previously taken.
The navigation is very, very easy to learn and use and you can get to use the camera ( basic features ) without having to go through the manual. The Camera uses the Compact Flash I memory card and comes pre-installed with a 16 MB card.

It is recommended that you purchase at least a 32 or 64 MB card because the 16 MB is just a starter’s kit and can store upto 64 pictures in good quality and only 18 in the best.

A bigger boon is the ’’ Rechargeable Lithium Ion’’ battery pack that the camera uses as this lasts very, very long .
Many other cameras use the Rechargeable Nickel Cadmium batteries or worse 2-4 AA Dry Cells which exhaust very fast. Keep a look out for these batteries while purchasing your digi cam.

The camera connects to the computer using a USB port and thus transferring of pictures is very fast. It can also connect to your TV using a composite video cable ( all included ) and you can see the pictures instantly.

The Camera ships with 3 CDs. One Driver CD, one contains the manual and the third contains a Photo Editing Software ’’Arc Soft Photo Suite’’ The camera thankfully comes with its battery charger and USB and A/V cables.

You can also connect Nikon lenses to the camera if you are a professional and want more out of the camera.
The firmware of the camera is also easily available and updateable and easy instructions are posted on the Nikon Website.

Now, let be honest with you. As with all things, this camera is not perfect. It has its own short comings, but the image quality and features more than make up for them.

Here are a few ( and all of them ) …

Some part of the image gets cut when viewed through the optical view finder.
The digital ( 1.5’’ LCD screen ) gives the complete scene, but the optical view finder cuts out some part of the picture from both the sides ( left and right )

Sometimes dark indoor pictures.
The outdoor pictures taken in sunlight come out astonishingly brilliant. But rarely ( only sometimes ) the indoor pictures come out a bit darker than they seem to be if there isn’t enough light or the flash mode isn’t selected properly. However, with some settings tweaking and getting the hang of the camera, this flaw can be completely eliminated.

No manual control of shutter speed.
I really don’t know whether this is possible, but I’d love to have a Manual Shutter speed control ( Nikon are you listening ? ). Virtually every other setting can be set up except this.

So, this shall be the end of my long and exhaustive review. I’d like to tell you more, but I’m a bit tired after typing this long. If you like photography and thoroughly believe that a picture says a thousand words, just go get this camera.

Before I leave, I’d like to leave a few links behind so you can see for yourself. You’ll need to copy and paste them in the browser window :

1. http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id=1051826080460&skuId=4790104&type=product
The site from where we purchased our camera.

2. http://www.nikon-image.com/eng/PDF/coolpix4300.htm
The Cool pix 4300 section on the Nikon Site.

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