Nikon Coolpix S9100 review

18x superzoom lens, HD video recording and 12.1MP sensor

Nikon Coolpix S9100
18x zoom and full HD video recording are impressive specs

TechRadar Verdict

An ideal point and shoot camera for those who travel frequently and will make good use of the extended zoom range


  • +

    Impressive zoom range in a compact body

  • +

    High quality LCD screen

  • +

    Performance at high sensitivities


  • -

    Unreliable autofocus at the long end of the zoom

  • -

    Fiddly dial on rear of the camera body

  • -

    Barrel distortion at wide end of the zoom

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Slim compact digital cameras with a large zoom lens were first made popular by Panasonic's TZ range of cameras, including the recent Panasonic TZ20 and its 16x zoom lens.

The Nikon Coolpix S9100's design is very similar, with the lens to one side of the body and a large LCD screen dominating the rear, all packaged in a body that's just 34.6mm deep.

Nikon's Coolpix S9100 squeezes an 18x zoom lens and 1080p video recording into a relatively slim body, priced at around £220. The zoom covers a very useful range, equivalent to 25-450mm on a 35mm camera, which should make this camera ideal for travel due to its flexibility and compactness.

The wide-angle lens will be useful for group shots of people, architecture and vistas, whereas the 450mm telephoto lens is best suited for isolating subjects and picking out distant details.

Nikon coolpix s9100

The Coolpix S9100 sits at the top of Nikon's S-Series of cameras, which emphasises stylish design and ease of use, rather than manual controls and customisable functions.

Taking photos in low light is possible thanks to Nikon's 12.1MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor, which enables sensitvity settings as high as ISO 3200. Back-illuminated sensors differ from traditional designs because the circuitry is out of the optical path, increasing the area that can be used to receive light, improving ISO performance and dynamic range.

A combination of sensor-shift and electronic image stabilisation work hard to increase the chance of achieving a sharp handheld shot in low light conditions. Nikon's latest Expeed C2 image processing engine is also included, which promises to improve responsiveness, high ISO sensitivity and the quality of movie recording when compared to previous versions of this technology.

Nikon coolpix s9100

Full HD (1080p resolution) video recording is possible at 30fps for up to 29 minutes at a time, which is a specification that has become pretty much standard on compact cameras of this level. Stereo sound is recorded via the built-in microphone and the zoom lens can be used while recording.

When using the default single AF mode on the Nikon Coolpix S9100, autofocus is disabled during movie recording, which can lead to out of focus videos as you zoom in on your subject. However, full time AF can be enabled in the menu, which attempts to adjust the focus as required.

Face Detection, Blink Detection and Red Eye Reduction are included, to aid ease of use.

But to aid creativity in-camera, Nikon has also included a small selection of special effects modes. These include one to reproduce the look of high contrast monochrome, sepia, high key, low key and selective colour effects.