The general performance of the Nikon COOLPIX P310 befits its status as an advanced compact, and it is generally a pleasing compact to use. To start off with there is very little, if any, noticeable delay in powering up the camera, with the P310 ready to shoot almost instantly after the power button is pressed.
The focus system on the P310 is another area that offers good performance. The model has a range of focus settings, including subject tracking, face priority and target finding AF. There are generally accurate, although the subject tracking AF does struggle at time to keep pace with a fast target. If you’re happy to leave the focus in full auto, then the 9-area auto select performs just fine.
One disappointment with the model’s manual focus is that it’s not full manual focus as such – instead the P310 allows the user to select from 99 pre-determined focal points, from which the model will then take a reading and focus accordingly. This is normally adequate, although full manual focus would be preferable.
The design of the P310, being of an advanced bent and thus featuring a pair of command dials and front ‘Fn’ button, results in a compact that’s a pleasure to use. All of the settings are easily modified, giving you the feeling of being in complete control of the camera.
Continuous shooting speed and frame rates are one area of contention, with Nikon quoting a rate which, while accurate, is a bit misleading. The headline continuous shooting speed is 6fps – however, if you select this frame rate you’ll only be able to capture five frames at full resolution, making it not entirely useful. The model does offer an alternative 1fps shooting rate, in which you’ll be able to shoot for thirty frames, and is thus eminently more usable.
Image quality, while generally good, does suffer from a slight lack of reliability regarding the model’s metering and white balance. The P310 displays a tendency to both underexpose and overexpose on occasions, though not regularly, in equal amounts and measure. White balance, meanwhile, is also unreliable at times, with images varying from warm to cold in shooting situations. That being said, these two issues are not ever-present, and generally it performs quite well.
Outside of the slight lack of reliability regarding metering and white balance, image quality is generally good. As is often the case with Nikon compacts, colours display a pleasing natural palette, as opposed to being too vibrant, which not only provides good result out of the camera but also offers room to manoeuvre in the image editing stage. The general tonal range of images is also pleasing, with a good balance struck between shadow and highlight detail (when metering decides to behave).
Noise at high-ISO settings is also well controlled, with a good amount of the P310’s ISO settings proving eminently useable. Noise at setting up to ISO 400 is barley visible, with what noise there is well controlled. At higher settings noise does become a bit of an issue, but once again the in-camera noise reduction technology performs more than adequately. It’s a shame that there isn’t an option to shoot Raw, and thus apply your own noise reduction in post production, as you can’t help but feel that results could be even better if this was the case.
The Nikon P310 is a 16.1MP advanced compact with a 4.2x optical zoom. Given that it costs close to £300 you would be entitled to expect something above the ordinary. Whether it’s a headline-grabbing zoom, bombproof construction or a generally high specification, compacts costing this much really need to offer something extra to justify the added expenditure. The P310 just about manages this with its bright f/1.8 maximum aperture, full manual control and 921k-dot LCD screen. However, the lack of Raw capture is disappointing and there are also a few reliability issues with metering and white balance. Overall then, while it's certainly competent the P310 doesn't quite do enough to earn itself a TrustedReviews recommendation.