Nikon Coolpix P330 packs 117inch 122MP sensor and f18 lens, we go handson

Caution Coolpix P310 owners: Nikon's latest point-and-shoot announcement may cause you to weep. The P330, as this year's flavor is to be called, offers a handful of upgrades over its predecessor, which launched in February of 2012. First, there's a new larger sensor on board, with 1/1.7 of an inch to work with, compared to 1/2.3 of an inch on last year's flavor. It'll also snap lower-resolution images, which may sound like a step backwards, but the 12.2-megapixel chip should offer superior image quality, along with a sensitivity range of ISO 80 through 12,800. Also new this year is RAW shooting -- a feature that could help position this mid-range model as a companion shooter for advanced amateurs and pros alike, for those occasions where a full-size rig wouldn't be practical. Finally, there's a 5x, 24-120mm f/1.8-5.6 optic with lens-based VR, a 3-inch TFT LCD, built-in GPS, 1080/30p and 60i video shooting and WiFi connectivity with the optional ($60) WU-1a module.

In an atypical move, Nikon graciously permitted us to photograph the P330 before its official debut, so we have some hands-on pics and impressions to share. The camera itself looks very similar to the P310 -- there's a nifty mode dial up top, along with a zoom toggle, control dial, power button, stereo mics and a pop-up flash. It's a solid-feeling compact, though Sony's RX100 does offer a more premium feel (and shooting experience to boot, but for nearly twice the price). Overall, the P330 is a solid entrant to Nikon's midrange lineup, but at $380, it's a fairly significant investment, too. Expect the camera to hit stores later this month in black and white -- you, dear reader, can thumb through our hands-on gallery for an up-close look today, though.

Nikon Coolpix P330 hands-on

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The COOLPIX P330: Big Performance from a Tiny Camera

The COOLPIX P330 offers a useful 5x wide angle to telephoto (24mm-120mm, 35mm equivalent) zoom and cutting-edge features in a sleek, portable design for exceptional images and HD video. The P330 has a 1/1.7-inch, 12.2-megapixel backside illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor that offers users the ability to confidently capture vibrant photos with low noise. Additionally, the super-sharp f/1.8 lens is the fastest in the COOLPIX line, rendering photos and Full HD 1080p video with striking clarity in a variety of lighting conditions. The lens also includes Vibration Reduction image stabilization to further reduce the effects of image blur when shooting handheld. Designed for the user who wants a sophisticated camera with the option of an advanced feature set, the COOLPIX P330 includes manual controls (P,S,A,M) and can now capture NRW/RAW images.

The P330 also enables users to enhance their photography with the inclusion of various Scene Modes, as well as Nikon's Easy Auto Mode for capturing beautiful imagery during scenic vacations, celebrations or everyday moments, all with the convenience of a small, portable size. Additionally, the camera incorporates Full HD Video with stereo sound, engaged with just a simple press of the dedicated video record button.

This high-performance camera also comes with built-in GPS capabilities so photographers can easily log even their most exotic travels by pinpointing the exact latitude and longitude where the image was captured.

Pricing and Availability
The COOLPIX A will be available in March 2013 for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $1099.95* and will be offered in Black and Silver. The DF-CP1 Optical Viewfinder will be available for a suggested retail price of $449.96*, and the UR-E24 Adapter Ring and HN-CP18 Lens Hood will be sold together for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $129.96*; accessories will be available in March 2013. The COOLPIX P330 will also be available in March 2013 for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $379.95* and will be offered in Black and White.

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Nikon Coolpix P330 packs 1/1.7-inch 12.2MP sensor and f/1.8 lens, we go hands-on