Features & Controls
The camera uses a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that captures information from 16 million pixels. The contrast-detect TTL auto focus employs up to 99 user-selectable areas.
Auto focus options:
- Auto (9-area automatic selection)
- Face priority
- Manual with 99 focus areas
- Subject tracking
- [W]: Approx. 1 ft. 8 in. (50 cm.) to infinity
- [T]: Approx. 5 ft. (1.5 m.) to infinity
- Macro close-up mode: [W]: Approx. 1.6 in. (4 cm.) to infinity
For a small built-in flash, this little unit packs a good punch, with a range up to 16 feet.
[W]: 1ft 8in. to 16ft.
[T]: 5ft. to 9ft.10in.
The 3-inch LCD has a resolution of 921,000 dots - plenty bright with vibrant colors and very sharp details. Viewing images on such a high-resolution screen flatters your shots, and is adequate for most shooting situations other than bright mid-day sunshine. The only other time the screen isn't stellar is when shooting in continuous mode - without an optical viewfinder to fall back on, the camera is fast enough at 7fps to leave you guessing how to frame a moving subject because the LCD can't refresh fast enough to display the live image.
At top right is the dedicated movie button. While a common and convenient location, I personally found this placement to be problematic - that's where my thumb tends to fall when holding the camera one-handed, and more than a couple times I accidentally started recording a movie unintentionally.
Below the dedicated movie button on the back panel is a diagonal grip strip, and to its left the playback button. The main control serves as both a four-way control and a dial (Nikon calls it the rotary multi-selector). As the icons indicate (clockwise from top), this gives you quick access to the flash menu, exposure compensation setting, macro mode, and the self-timer.
Underneath the rotary multi-selector are the menu and delete buttons. When in shooting mode, the menu button launches the shooting menu; when in playback, it brings up the playback menu for quick edits, filter effects, print settings and slideshow options.
Along the top of the camera are (left to right) the flash (retracted), the GPS unit, the on/off button, shutter button/zoom control, and mode dial. The zoom control works smoothly throughout the 18x range, and the mode dial offers quick access to what are arguably the most-used scene modes. The zoom control also toggles the Index (Wide) and Magnify (Telephoto) options in playback mode.
At wide angle, the lens protrudes roughly 1 inch from the camera body (shown here). At full telephoto (18x), the lens sticks out about 2 inches from the body.
The positioning of the mode dial next to the shutter button makes it easy to give it a quick flip with your right thumb while working the camera with one hand, and still keeping your finger on the shutter button.
The mode dial offers eight positions (menu options for each are in parentheses below):
- Auto mode (flash menu, exposure compensation, macro mode, and self timer available)
- Effects (soft, nostalgic sepia, high-contrast monochrome, high key, low key, or selective color)
- Continuous mode (high-speed, low-speed, pre-shooting cache, 120 fps continuous, or 60fps continuous)
- Smart portrait mode
- Backlighting mode
- Night landscape mode
- Scene (user-selected from 17 scene modes)
- Portrait mode
- Scene auto selector
Ports are a simple affair on the S9300: an HDMI and USB/AV port are all there is. Both sit behind a flap on the right side of the camera just below the mode dial. (USB and standard A/V cables included; HDMI cable not included).
SD, SDHC and SDXC memory card formats are supported. The memory card slot sits behind the same hinged door as the battery, on the bottom of the camera. The camera also supports Eye-Fi cards for wireless transmission of images.
The rechargeable Li-ion battery is charged in the camera while its connected via USB cable to the included charger. If you want the option to use a second (optional) battery while charging the first one, you'll also need to buy the optional MH-65 battery charger. This might not be a bad idea, considering the camera's battery is rated by CIPA to last just 200 shots (with 50% flash). Of course, your mileage may vary.
Though I did not experience significantly longer battery life on my first charge, oddly the battery lasted longer after I turned on the GPS feature (which is a likely battery hog) - I was able to snap 425 shots (almost none with flash) on one charge. However, I did find the battery life indicator to be unreliable. It did not show the battery was low until it was too late - in one case the camera conked out after 132 shots and six movies averaging 15 seconds. I had begun shooting with the indicator showing a full charge (the icon only indicates full or half-full before flashing red in distress).
Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.