Nikon launches seven Coolpix cameras

Nikon took the wraps off its 2010 Coolpix point-and-shoot camera line today, announcing seven new cameras. The new Coolpix cams range from a 26x optical zoom model to a fast-starting pocket megazoom to a cheapo AA-battery-powered camera.

All of the new Coolpix models are slated for availability in February and March.

Nikon Coolpix P100: 26x megazoom, optimized for darkness

The most powerful new model in the Coolpix line is the 26x-optical-zoom P100 (26mm to 678mm) fixed-lens megazoom, Nikon's first point-and-shoot camera with a back-illuminated CMOS sensor optimized for low-light shooting.

The 10-megapixel Coolpix P100 replaces last year's 24x-optical zoom Coolpix P90 and offers some key bumps in specs as compared to the P90. The P100 shoots full high-definition video in 1080p resolution at 30fps and has on-board stereo mics and a dedicated video-record button; you can zoom in and out and use the camera's autofocus while filming.

Other new features that look promising are a 'Night Landscape' mode, which is sort of a superpowered exposure-bracketing setting: the camera takes 8 shots in rapid succession at different exposure settings, then combines the shots in camera to create a crisp low-light shot.

The P100 also adds an in-camera high-dynamic-range (HDR) mode, a high-speed burst mode that takes 10 shots per second at full 10-megapixel resolution (or up to 120 shots per second at a much-reduced resolution), a pre-shutter cache that buffers up to 40 shots before the shutter button is pressed, and five-way image stabilization (sensor-shift, shutter-speed acceleration, digital, ISO adjustment, and a "Best Shot Selector" for burst mode).

Like the P90, it also has a tiltable 3-inch LCD to help with odd-angle shots, manual controls that include shutter and aperture priority, and a superb macro mode.

The Coolpix P100 is slated for late February availability.

Two new pocket megazooms: Coolpix S8000 and Coolpix S6000

The 10x-optical zoom (30mm to 300mm), 14-megapixel Coolpix S8000 (below) is Nikon's slim new pocket megazoom, serving up exposure-adjustment controls via a rotary dial on the back of the camera next to its 3-inch LCD. Nikon is also touting the camera's boot-up time, claiming it can power on and snap a shot in about 0.8 seconds.

The Coolpix S8000 shoots 720p high-definition video at 30fps and offers four-way image stabilization, a 4fps burst mode, motion-tracking autofocus, backlight correction, and improved flash exposures due to automated ISO and shutter settings. The S8000 is slated for February release for $300.

Another new high-zoom pocket model, the inch-deep Coolpix S6000, will be available for $250 in March. The 7x-optical-zoom S6000 offers a 14-megapixel sensor, 4-way image stabilization, fast boot-up and shutter-release speeds, a 2.7-inch LCD screen, and motion-tracking autofocus.


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