Nikon Coolpix S6300 Digital Camera Review$199.95
It's probably unfair to judge a camera like the Nikon Coolpix S6300 too harshly. It's a cheap, near-disposable compact digital camera—typically around $130 from reputable online merchants, despite its $199.95 MSRP. Its optical zoom and physical controls give it an edge over even the best smartphones, and you can't really argue with the price. But the truth is, it's just not very good.
Let's start with the outside. The S6300's body feels cheap. It's plasticky, coated in a glossy paint that scratches easily, and generally feels toy-like. The buttons have a pleasingly tactile response, but we're not optimistic about their durability. How about that LCD? At 2.7 inches it's on the smaller side these days, and its 230,000-dot resolution is half (or less) of what some of its competitors offer, making it a real pain to try to gauge your work in-camera.
The internals are hardly any better. The 10x zoom is generous for a camera in this class and price range, but the sad fact is that image quality gets progressively worse the more you zoom in. At full zoom there's hardly any resolution to speak of, chromatic aberrations have reached truly annoying levels, and the vibration reduction system can't always keep up. The 16-megapixel BSI sensor looks good on a spec sheet. And indeed, images in bright light can come out looking pretty good so long as the camera exposes properly, but unfortunately it has a distinct tendency towards overexposure. If you need to crank up the ISO in low light situations, you're not going to be pleased with the results—aggressive noise reduction compounds poor native noise characteristics and you're just left with a muddy mess.
In general, the S6300 provides more features than we'd expect, but the camera's performance and image quality often fails to back them up. It's nice to have eight different movie formats at your disposal, and in bright light we were pleased with the S6300's video. But unfortunately, videos shot in dim light are just as underwhelming as photos shot in the same conditions. Seven continuous shooting modes are totally rad, but what's with the 6-shot buffer?
You can do worse than the S6300 if you're shopping for an inexpensive compact camera, but that's more of an indictment of the class than an endorsement of this particular model. And you can definitely do a lot better. The superior Canon ELPH 110 HS (our Best Value P&S of the Year) has already dipped into the same street pricing bracket this holiday season, making it a far more tempting option if $130 is your upper limit. If you can't get your mitts on the Canon, we can see S6300 making a good stocking-stuffer for a young niece or grandson. For yourself, or anyone else, you should probably shop around.