I can't help but wonder whether Nikon has been waiting for temperatures in my part of the northern hemisphere to dip below zero before announcing additions to its appropriately-named COOLPIX range of compact digital cameras. Probably not, but all nine models are released this month and include a new line aimed at today's family, some with built-in GPS, and a powerful new ultra-zoom.

Designed for modern family living

The first three compacts represent a new line of easy to use COOLPIX digital cameras, said to have been created for the modern, fast-paced, connected family. The L810 features a 26x (22.5 - 585mm) zoom lens, lens-shift image stabilization technology, a 16 megapixel CCD sensor and ISO80 - 1600 sensitivity. Users can choose to automate camera settings with 19 scene modes, and the camera has a Sports Continuous Shooting mode to ensure nothing's missed on Sports Day. The 3-inch high resolution (921,000 dot) LCD display should be detailed enough to enjoy in-camera viewing of recorded 720p videos (at 30 frames per second with stereo sound).

For those happy to let the camera take care of choosing the most appropriate settings, the auto scene mode selection on the L26 point and shoot will be of interest. The camera shares the same sensor, sensitivity and video capabilities as the L810 but has a 5x (26 - 130mm) optical zoom lens, and a 3-inch, 230,000 dot LCD display.

Probably the most interesting of the three for me is the ruggedized S30. It's shockproof to 2.6 feet (0.79 meters), and waterproof to depths of 9.8 feet (2.98 meters) but some concessions have been made to keep the price down. There's a 10.1 megapixel CCD sensor capable of 720p video recording, electronic image stabilization and a 3x wide-angle zoom lens and a 2.6-inch, 230,000 dot LCD display.

All three models operate using AA-sized batteries and come in a choice of colors to match your style or mood.The L810 has a suggested retail of US$279.95, while the L26 and the S30 are both priced at $119.95. The latter certainly seems like a good deal for a durable compact.

S-series additions

At the front of the line is the 1.3-inches (30.6 mm) thin S9300 superzoom. This model has built-in GPS, an 18x optical Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens (25 - 450mm), lens shift vibration reduction (VR), ISO125 - 3200 sensitivity and a 16 megapixel, backside illuminated CMOS sensor for better performance in low light situations. It's capable of full 1080p high definition video recording at 30 frames per second with stereo audio and has a 3-inch, 921,000 dot resolution LCD display. The included Li-ion battery is said to be good for about 200 shots per charge.

Thinner still (1.1 inches/26 mm) is the S6300. It too has built-in GPS and the same CMOS sensor as the S9300, but features a 10x NIKKOR ED glass optical zoom lens (25 - 250mm), and a 2.7-inch, 230,000 dot resolution LCD display. Its Easy Panorama mode is said to make 180/360 degree image capture a might easier.

The 0.9-inch (20.8 mm) thin S4300 is described by Nikon as a no-frills touchscreen compact, and as such loses the CMOS sensor for a 16 megapixel CCD sensor, has a wide-angle 6x (26 - 156mm) optical Zoom-NIKKOR glass lens and a 3-inch, 460,000 dot resolution LCD touch display. Its Auto Scene Selector takes care of selecting optimum camera settings for a particular scene, the Face-Priority AF can find and focus on up to 12 faces, and it's capable of recording 720p video recording at 30 frames per second.

The final new member of the S-series is the S3300, the thinnest of the bunch at 0.8 inches (19.5 mm). It features the same sensor as the S4300 but gets a 6x (26 - 156mm) optical Zoom-NIKKOR glass lens and a non-touch 2.7-inch, 230,000 dot resolution LCD display.

The S9300 carries a suggested retail of $349.95, the S6300 is $199.95, the S4300 is $169.95 and the S3300 is $139.95.

Bring on the new high-end P-series models

Nikon has boosted the 36x zoom capabilities of last year's P500 model to a 42x optical Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens (24 - 1000mm) on the new P510 model, and given users some additional zoom control on the side of the lens barrel, too. The camera benefits from a 16.1-megapixel backside illuminated CMOS sensor, Nikon's EXPEED C2 digital image processing engine, optical VR image stabilization and ISO100 - 3200 sensitivity (which can be bumped up to the equivalent of 6400 in Hi 1 mode).

Continuous shooting of five full resolution images per second should catch the action, and those who like to geotag their photos will be pleased by the inclusion of built-in GPS. The huge autofocus zoom can also be used when recording full 1080p high definition video with stereo audio, there's an electronic viewfinder and a tilting 3-inch, 921,000 dot resolution LCD display, and the Li-ion battery is said to last about 240 shots per charge.

The new P310 gets the same fast f/1.8 maximum aperture, 4.2x optical Zoom, NIKKOR glass lens (24 - 100mm) as the P300 before it, but has been given a resolution boost courtesy of a 16.1-megapixel backside illuminated CMOS sensor. There's optical image stabilization, similarly capable ISO sensitivity as its ultra-zoom P-series companion and a Backlight HDR mode that merges three images captured at different exposures for a tonal-rich image.

Nikon says that the P310 has been designed to be the serious photographer's compact companion, and comes with a DSLR-like P/S/A/M exposure control, and a new Zoom Memory function that enables the selection of popular prime focal lengths during shooting. It has the same video capabilities as its new stable-mate, and the same high resolution LCD display but its included Li-ion battery gives about 230 shots per charge.

The most obvious change to the front of the camera (compared to the P300) is the addition of a Fn button - something that isn't mentioned in the product description but seems to point to the ability to set function control for improved handling.

The new P510 has a suggested retail of $429.95, while the P310 is $100 cheaper.

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