Even though the Nikon Coolpix W300 is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket or a pair of baggy shorts on vacation, it comes with a lot of important features. A standard 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor gives it 16 megapixels, the ability to shoot 4K or 1080P video, GPS, Wi-Fi, an altimeter, and an underwater depth gauge. It’s also waterproof, which is unusual for a waterproof camera. This helps more adventurous users avoid going deeper than the 30 meters that the W300’s waterproofed capabilities say it can go. In reality, most people will be playing in the hotel pool. In addition, the camera claims to be dust-proof and to be able to be dropped from heights of up to 2.4 meters and survive. We still don’t think it’s a good idea to get sand in its insides.
So, of course, because this is a camera that can take a little rough and tumble, the relatively small but very useful 5x optical zoom lens with a range of 24-120mm in 35mm terms is built into the camera itself. None of the time does it come out of the body. The wide range also means that this camera is best for taking landscape and portrait photos, which are two of the most popular types of photos. Cameras of this type usually come with lenses that can open up to f/2.8, which is about what you’d expect.
A slot for an SD memory card is found under a lockable flap on the side of the camera, which opens downwards and outwards. There is a slot for this card under the flap. The small lithium-ion battery that is needed to power the camera comes with a USB cable and a mains plug in the box. This means that, as a cost-cutting measure, the battery is charged in the camera. There isn’t a separate mains charger.
Nikon W300: Specifications
- Sensor: 1/2.3-inch 16-megapixel CMOS
- Sensitivity range: ISO125-1600 (extendable to 6400 in Auto mode)
- Video: Up to 4K resolution
- Lens: 24-120mm equivalent in 35mm terms, 5x optical zoom
- Monitor: 3-inch, 921K dot resolution
- Viewfinder: No
- Battery life: 280 shots or approx. 1 hour of 1080p video
- Color options: Black, yellow, orange, or camouflage
- Dimensions: 11.5x66x29mm
- Weight: 231g including battery and SD card
Nikon W300: Build and Handling
The Nikon Coolpix W300 is bigger than the point-and-shoot compacts of old because it is strong and has square-ish edges and screws that can be seen. But that’s kind of the point, because, if you think about it, a toughened digital compact camera is the only digital compact camera worth owning these days, when most of us have smartphones instead of point and shoots. Because no one wants to make them anymore. However, don’t worry, because the W300 is still small enough to fit in a jacket or rucksack side pocket, or even in our jeans at a pinch.
The W300 came in a lot of different colors when it first came out in 2017, including camouflage, canary yellow, and regular black, which was the one we had in for review. It has a lot of practicality on its sleeve or faceplate. Core specifications are printed on the front of the camera, which is an interesting move by Nikon. There isn’t much to grip on here, except for a raised roughened edge on the faceplate, a roughened top plate and shutter release button, and six raised plastic bumps on the back to keep our thumb from sliding around. However, if the handgrip had been bigger and more prominent, it would have made the device less compact and easier to move around. Robustness and practicality seem to be the main goal here.
Nikon W300: Performance
If we’re paying more attention to our subject than our framing, it’s easy for a stray fingertip to poke into the edge of the picture. This is because the Nikon Coolpix W300’s lens is built into the camera and is not in the middle. It has two stereo microphones built into the faceplate right below the lens. There is also a small built-in flash that can be used to add extra light when needed.
As we’d expect, when the camera is turned on and the rear LCD lights up for a second or so, it’s pretty much auto-everything point and shoots from here on. A large, slightly raised shutter button and a nail head-sized on/off button are all that are on the top plate. Here, there isn’t a shooting mode wheel. Instead, selections are made with a combination of a shooting mode button on the back of the camera and a menu that appears on the screen.
The 3-inch, 921K-dot resolution LCD is clear enough for us to compose shots and capture a wide range of subjects, but we still had to enlarge parts of our images in the field to make sure they were clear enough. The back of the camera also has a familiar four-way control pad with playback, delete, and more menu buttons, as well as a way to switch to macro mode, bring up exposure compensation settings, set a self-timer, or turn on or off the flash, as needed. Generally, responsiveness is what we’d expect from a pocket camera, in that it’s good but not as quick as a mirrorless compact or a DSLR. Battery life is good for about 280 shots from a full charge, which isn’t great but isn’t bad either.
At the widest setting of 24mm, images can look a little fish-eye, but by zooming in on our subject a little before we press the shutter release button, we can make some simple corrections in the camera. Also, even when it’s cloudy, the camera can add a lot of contrast and depth to its JPEG images, which means that the images don’t need much if any, editing later. We also liked the look of the Nikon’s images when compared to waterproof cameras from Olympus and Ricoh. This means that, overall, the Nikon Coolpix W300 is still one of the best “tough” cameras on the market right now.
- Offers the ability to grab images we might not dare otherwise attempt
- Waterproofed to a decent 30 meters depth
- Broad zoom range provided by internally stacked and protected 5x lens
- Small controls can prove fiddly, particularly with wet fingers
- Auto exposure proves inconsistent
Nikon W300: Conclusion
As a point-and-shoot camera, it can be used by everyone in the family, from kids to adults, to take still and video photos. It can also be used in all kinds of weather. In spite of the fact that the Nikon Coolpix W300 is five years old, it still lets us take pictures that we wouldn’t risk with more expensive cameras or even our smartphones in fun and/or adventurous situations where we would never risk our more expensive cameras or even our smartphones.