Expert testers love the Nikon Coolpix S9100 -- but too many owners complain that this ultra-zoom camera freezes up or otherwise breaks within the first few weeks of use. This deal-breaking flaw doesn't show up in expert tests, and many owners report no problems, either. In fact, top experts find little to criticize about the S9100. Its compact, 7.6-ounce body conceals a versatile lens that extends from a wide-angle 25 mm all the way out to 450 mm, an 18x zoom. It's a fast worker -- there's little autofocus lag, for example -- and the 12.1-megapixel image sensor churns out good-looking photos in bright light. There are no manual controls, but experts say they don't miss them: The S9100 offers a lot of automatic shooting modes that do a great job controlling the settings on their own.
The S9100 advertises full 1080p HD video, but testers have mixed opinions about its quality: DPReview.com says it looks "excellent," but CNET and PC World find it just average -- about like an inexpensive pocket camcorder. Image quality does tend to get soft and noisy in low light, but no more than any other pocket ultra-zoom. Still, the repeated owner complains about the S9100 keep it from earning a Best Reviewed pick. That goes to the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V (Discontinued) , which gets consistently good feedback from both experts and owners.
Owner reviews at Amazon.com are vital, because they reveal serious problems with the Nikon Coolpix S9100 that don't show up in expert tests. Tests at DPReview.com, CNET, PC World and ConsumerReports.org are carefully designed and executed, but they can't find flaws that appear only after weeks of use.
Six pocket ultra-zoom cameras go head to head in this test. With its fast shooting, portable body, long zoom and overall good image quality, the Nikon Coolpix S9100 ties for first place and wins a rare Gold Award.
Review: Compact Camera Group Test: Travel Zooms, Barnaby Britton, Scott Everett and Kelcey Smith, July 2011
The Nikon Coolpix S9100 makes CNET's list of the best mega-zoom cameras. It does show some flaws -- namely, photo and video quality that Joshua Goldman describes as "soft" in some situations -- but overall, it's a fast, fun, solid camera.
Review: Nikon Coolpix S9100 (Silver), Joshua Goldman, April 20, 2011
3. PC World
Even without manual controls, the Nikon Coolpix S9100 thoroughly impresses Tim Moynihan. It's compact, easy and fun to use and "rarely ever takes a bad photo."
Review: Nikon Coolpix S9100, Tim Moynihan, May 13, 2011
Editors here test 27 ultra-zoom cameras, including the Nikon Coolpix S9100, for image and video quality, ease of use and versatility. Cameras are then ranked from best to worst in a handy chart.
Review: Digital Cameras, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
So many owners complain about their Nikon Coolpix S9100 "freezing" or otherwise breaking after just a few weeks that it gets almost as many 1-star ratings as 5-stars. Still, many report no problems.
Review: Nikon Coolpix S9100 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera, Contributors to Amazon.com