While not the speediest model to use, the Nikon Coolpix S4300 presents functions clearly and simply, so that even novices will find it easy to use.
The S4300 is generally responsive in use, with quiet and accurate autofocus. However, autofocus can become a little slow on telephoto shots and in low light, when it occasionally fails to focus.
Both metering and white balance systems prove very reliable, with the automatic metering only tripping up on backlit portrait shots in our testing. The white balance was similarly dependable, maintaining accurate colour balance in a variety of conditions.
The camera also captures realistic colours with a nice level of saturation, although in dull light, colours can look slightly drab. This is worsened by high levels of noise and the noise reduction system the Nikon Coolpix S4300 employs to reduce it.
When viewing daytime images at full size (100%), noise is visible at ISO 125, and even ISO 80 images suffer from a mottled texture and smeared fine detail. This is so obvious in some images that it's hard to differentiate between separate trees in some landscape scenes.
Noise is evident in daylight ISO 800 images even when viewed at 25 per cent, and the maximum sensitivity of ISO 1600 is only usable for very small images. This is compounded by the lens's narrow aperture; the maximum aperture of f/6.5 at full zoom in our testing necessitated use of ISO 1000 even in daylight with the flash on.
However, the Night Landscape setting produces fair night shots that maintain reasonable detail and noise levels.
Other image quality issues include noticeable chromatic aberration, easily blown highlights and extremely soft telephoto images. The corners of images also show a distinct drop in sharpness.
While the LCD screen benefits from a high resolution, its image quality isn't great, and it can be hard to judge absolute image quality on the screen. But the touchscreen works very well in use.
Touch shooting is responsive and effective, enabling you to select where to focus by tapping the screen. Touch subject tracking and touch auto exposure/autofocus also work relatively well.
Sadly, although the camera can record HD video, quality is fairly low. While metering is reliable and sound is OK, noise is very evident and optical zooming isn't possible while filming.
The camera also offers a host of scene modes and even a Scene Auto Selector, which recognises the type of photo being taken and adjusts settings accordingly. These modes work effectively and make the camera foolproof, as does the Smart Portrait mode, which features a smile timer and blink warning.
During testing, the battery lasted for around 275 shots, which is thankfully way above Nikon's meagre 180 shot claim. Nikon's vibration reduction system also did an effective job of limiting camera shake, and while there was slight barrel distortion at wide angle settings, this was rarely obvious.