The 5X optical zoom lens offers a wide angle and wide maximum aperture of f/1.8. The 5X zoom range (24mm-120mm, 35mm equivalent) may be modest, but the lens is outfitted with optical image stabilization and doesn't suffer from vignetting at the edges, like some zooms do. There is some distortion, however, at wide angle, which can make objects at the fringes look like they're leaning when you know them to be perfectly vertical (i.e. barrel distortion).
Images are recorded on a 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor that can record approximately 12.76 million pixels total, or 12.2 effective megapixels. Again, not the most powerful spec, but the camera makes up for it with attractive exposures and loads of SLR-like adjustments. For example, the camera can record in RAW format as well as RAW + JPEG, and do so in high-speed burst mode without slowing down (chugging along at 8fps at full resolution).
The auto focus failed me a few times in Auto mode, and I ended up with a few blurry landscapes and macro shots. But you have seven other AF area modes to choose from, which makes it much easier than guesswork to lock focus on your intended target.
- Manual focus
AF area mode menu:
- Face priority
- Center (normal)
- Center (wide)
- Subject tracking
- Target finding AF (camera detects main subject)
The flash sprung upward from the top panel of the camera body. The switch on the side of camera (pictured at right) releases the flash unit. This can take some getting used to if you are accustomed to a camera that pops up the flash automatically. Even in Auto mode, if you attempt to access the flash menu while the flash is not up, you can't get to the menu. You need to pop the flash up to see its settings menu. This puts you in the driver's seat - if you don't want flash, you simply leave it put.
The flash has a specified range of 21 feet, but based on my test shots I'd say its usable range is closer to 15 feet. Nonetheless, that's an impressive range considering its size - the flash scatters a lot of light to fully illuminate dim interiors without an unattractive drop-off in moderately sized rooms.
- [W]: 1 ft. 8 in. - 21 ft.
- [T]: 1 ft. 8 in. - 8 ft. 2 in.
Flash exposure compensation:
- 1/3 EV steps from -2 to +2 EV
- Auto with red-eye reduction
- Fill flash
- Slow sync
- Rear-curtain sync
The 3-inch LCD boasts roughly 921,000 dots of resolution, a wide viewing angle, and has an anti-reflective coating. You can adjust the brightness in five levels which, along with the high resolution, make it as good an LCD as you can have for using the camera's manual focus feature (which enlarges a detail on the screen).
Note that the shooting menu here shows the selection for each menu item. To change these selections, you don't have to press the OK button, then turn the thumb dial to your new setting, and then press OK again. Rather, you can turn the command dial at top right - you'll whiz through the available settings (and the "Fine" icon, for example, will change with the turning dial). No need to press OK to keep the setting change - you can press the shutter button to get right back to shooting.
The textured pad at top right falls conveniently under the thumb to help you keep a firm grasp on the camera. On the back panel are dedicated buttons (from top) for movie recording, playback, the menus, and delete (trash).
The four-way control dial eases navigation, in addition to the second thumb wheel on the top panel mentioned previously. The positions on the four-way control are typical selections, giving you quick access to (from the top, clockwise) the flash menu, exposure compensation setting, focus mode menu, and self-timer settings (including face timer).
The top of the camera has an eight-position mode dial, shutter button surrounded by a zoom ring, and the command dial.
In addition to the familiar Auto, Program, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority, and Manual modes, you get a User position, Night Landscape, and a scene mode position.
The stereo microphone sits just in front of the mode dial.
In addition to the controls on the back and top of the camera, a function button located near the lens on the front of the camera gives you another avenue to quickly adjust settings while in the throes of shooting.
Function button menu options:
- Image quality
- Image size
- Picture Control
- White balance
- Continuous shooting
- ISO sensitivity
- AF area mode
- Built-in ND filter
- Vibration reduction
This camera has two ports which sit around the corner from the thumb grip, behind a rubberized flap on the side panel. The top one is the USB/AV port (the camera comes with an A/V cable). The bottom port is mini-HDMI (HDMI cable not included).
The Coolpix P330 runs on a rechargeable Li-ion battery, which you charge in the camera with the included charger (you connect the camera to it with the USB cable).
The battery is rated to last approximately 200 shots, which isn't too impressive. But in my testing the battery lasted slightly less than this on the first pass (though this was out of the box and possibly not fully charged). On a second, definitely full, charge, the battery lasted a total of 391 still images and four short video clips. The Nikon website includes a footnote that this specification, done to CIPA standards, means half of the shots are taken with flash, and that the focus is adjusted with each shot. Fewer flash shots and a lot of burst mode shooting could take you far past the 200-shot specification.
Supported memory cards: