Nikon's annual overhaul of its Coolpix point-and-shoot lineup offers a lot of what we expect to see out of compact standalone cameras in the coming year: A lot of optical zoom, an emphasis on rugged frames, and built-in wireless sharing capabilities.
Those first two features concentrate on things that your average smartphone camera can't do, while the last of them is an attempt to make a standalone camera a more-attractive proposition for your average share-everywhere smartphone shooter.
While the company didn't announce an Android-powered follow-up to last year's Coolpix S800C, three new Coolpix cameras announced today offer built-in Wi-Fi capabilities for sharing images and video directly from the camera. Another of the new announcements is compatible with Nikon's separately-sold WU-1 Wi-Fi adapter, and as such, it's the first non-DSLR Nikon camera to work with that Wi-Fi module.
Long-zoom cameras with connections: Nikon Coolpix P520 and S9500
The highest-end new addition to the Coolpix lineup is the 42X-optical-zoom Nikon Coolpix P520 (24mm to 1000mm). It's not Wi-Fi-capable out of the box, but the Coolpix P520 works with Nikon's $60 WU-1 Wi-Fi adapter. The adapter lets users pair the camera wirelessly to iOS and Android devices via a free Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility app; from there, you can wirelessly transfer images from the camera to a mobile device and use paired mobile devices as remote controls for the camera.
In terms of core specs, the Coolpix P520 it isn't much of a departure from its Coolpix P510 predecessor. The optically stabilized Coolpix P520 offers the same zoom reach, manual exposure controls, built-in geotagging features, and 1080p video capture as the P510. The differences include a tilt-and-swivel 3.2-inch LCD screen and a higher-resolution 18-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor. Due in February, the Coolpix P520 is priced at $450.
The far-more-pocketable Coolpix S9500 has a 22X-optical-zoom lens (25mm to 550mm), which is a bit longer on the telephoto end than last year's 18X-zoom Coolpix P9300. Like its predecessors in the easy-to-use S9000 series, the 18-megapixel Coolpix S9500 skips out on manual exposure controls, but it's loaded with now-common features such as 1080p video recording, in-camera geotagging, and an extensive range of scene modes, creative effects, and post-shot retouching features.
However, unlike previous models (and the new Coolpix P520), the S9500 has a 3-inch OLED display and Wi-Fi baked right in. The camera will use the same free Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility app for Android and iOS as the P520 to enable wireless-sharing and remote-control features when paired with a phone or tablet. Priced at $350, the Coolpix S9500 is also due in February.
New Wi-Fi rugged camera: Nikon Coolpix AW110
Wi-Fi connectivity is also built into one of Nikon's new ruggedized point-and-shoots, the 5X-optical-zoom Coolpix AW110, which also has built-in GPS. The 16-megapixel AW110 offers 1080p video recording and a 3-inch OLED display, and it's rated as waterproof down to 59 ft. underwater, freezeproof to temperatures as cold as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and drop-proof to tumbles up to 6.7 ft.
The camera's built-in Wi-Fi is compatible with the Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility app for Android and iOS--probably not while the camera's 50 ft. underwater, though. The Coolpix AW110 is slated for February at $350.
Sub-$200 Wi-Fi camera: Nikon Coolpix S5200
Priced at $180 and due in February, the 16-megapixel Coolpix S5200 is a lot more modest in specs and price than Nikon's other new Wi-Fi-enabled offerings, but it does offer the same compatibility with the Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility app for camera-to-mobile sharing and remote-control functions. The Coolpix S5200 has a 6X-optical-zoom lens (26mm to 156mm), a number of in-camera effects and photo-retouching modes, and shoots 1080p video.