Image quality is generally impressive, although there are a few areas of disappointment. The metering system performs very well, and although there isn't a spot metering mode as such it generally performs to a level at which you don't miss it.
The large focal range can sometimes be an area for concern due to lens flare, although this isn't generally the case with the S9500. Apart from some instances when shooting in to direct sunlight, the compact general avoids these issues.
Click on image to view photo gallery with test shots
The relatively large megapixel count on a smaller sensor also raises concerns over noise at high ISO settings. Noise on the S9500 is negligible up to ISO 400, and even at ISO 800 there's very little loss image quality through noise.
At ISO 1600 and 3200 detail is generally wiped away by quite aggressive noise reduction, with shadow detail blocking in and grain appearing in areas of fine detail.
It also worth noting that Nikon has avoided a high ISO of 6400 – a settings common in most compacts – no doubt in some part due to the potential performance and lack of usefulness at such a setting.
Given the relatively high price tag of the S9500, it's going to have to offer a feature set that makes people want to move away from their smartphone. The good news is that the large focal range, strong image quality and general good level of performance all impress.
Throw in the fact that the camera offers the Wi-Fi functionality to transfer images captured to a smartphone for uploading to the web, and the camera starts to look like a complete package.
It is lacking in some of the more advanced manual features that you might look for if you're an experienced photographer, but if you're looking to make the step up from smartphone photography it’s a good option.
The Nikon S9500 is a feature-packed compact that offers a good level of performance and image quality to match.