Choosing a super-zoom camera (part 7) - Nikon Coolpix S9100 & Olympus SZ-30MR

3/26/2012 11:54:38 AM

Choosing a super-zoom camera (part 7)

Nikon Coolpix S9100


5 stars

$284 including VAT

 So far, the S9100 is our best choice of super zoom pocket digital camera. Canon SX230 HS is being honored, but S9100 is another excellent choice, especially for the price.

The neat cover contains 12MP illuminated sensor, 18x zoom and 3 inches screen, 910,000 pixels. It's faster to use, with only 1.5 seconds between shots in normal use, and pad get more roles of wheel to make adjustments. We prefer direct access to ISO, white balance settings and manual exposure controls, but the camera has some useful features, including focus point options that can be anywhere in frames.

10fps continuous mode only lasts 5 images, but other modes run continuously at 1.7fps for 12 photos, along with the faster mode up to 120fps with reduced resolution. It records video in slow motion.

Extend 1080p video up to 29 minutes along with the remaining time countdown. Excellent image quality and little noise from zoom and autofocus motor, although hand-held remote videos are rather vibrated.

Illuminated Sensor design reduces background noise level, but not as good as Canon SX230 HS. Slowest ISO speed of S9100 is 160, while of the SX230 HS is 100, but the image of Canon's better at ISO equivalent speed.

The lens creates sharp details throughout its zoom range, except the loss of small strokes in the corner in the medium to long focal length. Again Canon overshadows the Nikon about lens sharpness. Nevertheless, Nikon larger zoom offset it, especially with a minimum focal length 25mm wider.

Canon SX230 HS won the Best Buy with excellent image quality, but nothing more. Nikon’s 25mm wide angle zoom position, faster continuous performance (but shorter lasting), video operating time longer, moving focus point option and sharper screen and turn it into another excellent  alternative choices, and it’s a real bargain with only 180 pounds.


Identify. Canon SX230 HS has a bit better image quality, but Coolpix S9100 camera is still excellent with its own strengths attractive.

Super zoom digital camera. 12MP (4.000x3.000), 18x optical zoom (25-450mm), 3 inch LCD (921,000 pixels), SDXC slots (74MB internal), Li-ion battery, 62x105x35mm, 214g, 2 year RTB warranty.

Olympus SZ-30MR

4 stars

$350 inc VAT

The 24x Zoom SZ-30MR is big for such a thin camera. Body is deeper than the competition but still consistent with jeans pocket, and contoured handgrip makes it the most comfortable pocket-sized ultra-zoom camera to hold.

Navigation Pad is also a wheel to provide quick access to the main settings. Dial mode lacks of manual exposure options, but has the assortment of scene modes, panorama stitching, creative filters and 3D image will prove popular with casual users.

Shot-to-shot performance is quite fast with 1.8 seconds. Taking telephoto shot is slower because the focus sometimes takes 1 or 2 seconds before locking on to its target. Continuous mode runs at 5.8fps for 5 photos, but the digital lens-distortion editing which is applied in other occasions has been disabled. Another continuous mode avoids this problem and runs at 1.5fps for 12 photos.

1080p video recording lasts 29 minutes; sharp detail, but the stability has struggled to combat vibration when we zoomed in. Clear stereo soundtrack, but the zoom motor makes more noise than other cameras. You can also capture 16MP images while recording video.

The focus was quite good, the camera based on digital sharpening and sharp optics to provide 16MP images. Other cameras have managed sharpness for each pixel better, but the huge zoom and resolution of the SX-30MR made it the best type to take telephotos. Super Macro mode was OK, focusing on subjects in a few centimeters away to provide stunning close-ups. The clear illuminated pictures have exposed grain and blur shadow of the delicate structures. The noise reduction is applied in low light, but while these images are not prominent when viewed carefully, they are nice to resize for computer screens.

SX-30MR can not compete with the Canon SX230 HS on image quality, but large zoom, stunning macro function and capability to take photography and video simultaneously make it attractive the people who just view them on screen.


Verdict. SX30MR doesn’t have the best quality picture but it has many interesting features and incredible lens for such a small camera.

Ultra zoom camera. 16MP (4.608x3.456), optical zoom 24x (25-600mm), 3-inch LCD (460.000 pixels), SDXC slot (60MB internal), Li-ion battery, 69x106x39mm, 226g, 1 year RTB warranty.



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