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Lived-In Review: Dive In With The Nikon Coolpix W300 Waterproof Camera

* Waterproof, weather-sealed camera that’s great for travelers and hobbyists
* Records 4K video at 30 fps – even underwater
* Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth for fast image sharing

If you’re in the market for a new camera, you’re going to want to consider Nikon’s new Coolpix W300. Packed with features, the Coolpix is the kind of camera you want to have on you for parties, travel, days spent at the beach or cottage, or just times where you want to get great photos but are hesitant to take your large or costly DSLR/mirrorless camera out.

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Image courtesy of Amazon

I work part time as a photographer, and so I’m used to thinking of my full-frame DSLR as sort of the “default” camera size and shape. In fact, it had been years since I’d shot with anything other than my SLR or my phone. Using the Coolpix W300, however, not only showed how far compact cameras have evolved, but made a good case for having one, since it really does add picture-taking functionality far beyond what a phone offers.

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Courtesy the author

What Are The Features?

Among the camera’s main draws are its waterproof and dustproof ruggedness, its ability to shoot 4K video and its great, easy-to-use wireless image transfer feature. This means you get most of the convenience of capturing a moment on your phone, but with much better quality. Plus, the Coolpix W300 can go places you probably wouldn’t want to take your smartphone– like into the pool. As you can see from the samples, it’s a capable underwater camera, rated for dives of up to 100 feet. It’s also great for capturing hikes, desert trips and wilderness adventures, thanks to its robust and dustproof casing.

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How It Works

As far as the camera’s performance, I found it to be a notable step up from that of older compacts and smartphones. In particular, the W300 shoots nice, crisp 4K video, and I had no trouble getting usable underwater footage at a rooftop pool around dusk.

It almost goes without saying, but the W300 is indeed also a step up in quality from even the newer smartphone cameras. Crucially, this Nikon compact also handles like a “real” camera, with easy-to-use dials and buttons to get at all the main functions. It shoots bursts of stills at a respectable 7 fps, and the built-in flash provides good illumination at enough distance to take full length portraits.

It’s 16 MP sensor may not wow the “more megapixels = better” crowd, but the resolution is more than enough, and I found the image quality and noise control to be consistently better than smaller-sensor/more megapixel cameras, where the size of each pixel tends to get so small that the “extra” resolution just makes the images noisier, in anything but perfect lighting.

Here in the W300, as with their DSLR lines, Nikon’s image processing and noise-reduction software is among the best. I was able to get clear, usable shots in the evening with the available lighting of a rooftop patio/lounge area using the W300.

The W300 offers a clever hybrid image stabilization system, mixing digital with traditional lens-shift stabilization. The lens itself has a 5x optical zoom and a max aperture of f/2.8- 4.9. The camera features different portrait and landscape modes, as well as some manual controls.

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Image courtesy Amazon


The Verdict

Featuring not only WiFi compatibility but Bluetooth image transfer as well, the Nikon Coolpix W300’s wireless systems are among the easiest to use of today’s compact cameras. It was easy to set up the camera to automatically send images to my phone, which is great for those looking to quickly capture moments and put them on social media. This gives the Nikon W300 an almost phone-like level of convenience for Instagramers. But unlike a phone, you can take it into the snow or up a dusty trail without fear.

Finally, one of the biggest benefits I found to the Coolpix W300 was its handy form factor. It is truly pocketable – in fact, it fit more easily in a shirt pocket than did my iPhone 6 plus. For a photographer used to carrying around a full-frame DSLR when working, and sticking with their phone to capture memories and “personal photos” otherwise, this was a big deal, and a great reason to recommend actually picking up such a versatile, waterproof compact camera, even if you already have an SLR and a newer smartphone.

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