To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Nikon S9900 review

Nikon S9900 front
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £279
inc VAT

Image quality is good rather than great, but the Nikon S9900 is packed with great features and the price is right.


Sensor resolution: 16 megapixels, Sensor size: 1/2.3in, Viewfinder: None, LCD screen: 3in (921,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 30x (25-750mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/21-36, Weight: 294g, Size (HxWxD): 67x113x41mm 

Buy the Nikon S9900 now from Currys

The Nikon S9900 is an update to the S9700, a pocket ultra-zoom camera that we really liked when we tested it in 2014. It uses what appear to be the same 30x lens and 16-megapixel sensor, and once again includes both Wi-Fi and GPS.

We loved the smart, functional design of the S9700, but the S9900 is even better. Its handgrip is more substantial and its rubber texture makes it feel extremely secure in the hand. There’s a new command dial on the top plate, which along with the rear wheel gives direct, simultaneous access to shutter speed and aperture controls.

Nikon S9900 GPS

The most significant change is the introduction of an articulated screen. It’s hinged at the side and can face in virtually any direction, including forwards for self-portraits and upwards for shooting at elbow height. This is a massively useful feature that makes cameras more comfortable and versatile, and it’s the first time we’ve seen it on a pocket ultra-zoom camera. Being able to shoot at elbow height is particularly useful, as bracing your elbows against your waist makes it much easier to hold the camera steady – particularly useful for telephoto shots. The downside is that this is a relatively heavy and chunky camera for its class, weighing 294g and measuring 41mm from front to back. The S9700 was 235g and 34mm. Still, this is a sacrifice we’d gladly take for the benefit of an articulated screen.

Nikon S9900 top

The additional command dial is handy for manual exposure adjustment, but access to various other functions is surprisingly longwinded. There’s no quick-access menu for commonly used functions, so the only way to adjust ISO speed, white balance, continuous mode and autofocus settings is via the main menu. Manual exposure mode is the only situation where the command dial and rear wheel have different functions, and there’s no option to customise any of the buttons. There’s a dedicated button to launch the Wi-Fi connection, and another to view either the current location or captured photos on a world map. These are welcome but we’d have liked to be able to reassign one or both to other functions.

Nikon S9900 top

At least there’s quick access to the autofocus position. After selecting Manual AF Area in the menu, simply pressing OK and using the navigation pad is all it takes to reposition the autofocus area. This is particularly important for telephoto shots where the depth of field is narrow, so it’s more noticeable when the camera has focused on the wrong part of the frame. The on-screen graphic to show the selected area is nice and small but we found that the active area was quite a bit larger than the graphic suggested. It’s a minor point, but it did mean that the camera unexpectedly focused on the wrong subject in a few of our tests.

The Wi-Fi implementation is all pretty straightforward. Connections are to iOS and Android devices only. Photos stored on the camera are quick to browse in the app, and can be transferred at a choice of resolutions. The remote viewfinder mode has controls for shutter release, zoom and self-timer, plus an option to transfer captured photos to the app automatically.

This is a responsive camera, taking around two seconds to switch on and take a photo, and one second between subsequent shots. Autofocus was decisive too. Continuous mode ran at either 5.9fps or 2.2fps, but only lasted for five shots before the camera needed to take a break to save them. We’d have preferred a longer burst of shots but it’s a fairly typical result for this type of camera.

Video is captured at Full HD resolution in AVC format with a choice of progressive scan and interlaced modes. There’s also an option for quarter-speed slow motion at VGA resolution, but sadly the S9700’s half-speed 720p option has been dropped. Quality was generally excellent, with powerful stabilisation keeping handheld shots steady even at the maximum zoom position. Fine details in videos looked a little coarse but we doubt that many people would notice or care.

Our photo quality tests told a similar story. Close inspection revealed a coarseness to fine details. It wasn’t particularly noticeable for high-contrast shapes but subtle textures such as foliage looked a little clunky. Then again, it’s only an issue when printing at large sizes or when heavily cropping photos, and neither of these seem particularly likely. People who want to make A3+ prints will probably spend more on their camera, and the massive zoom range means cropping photos is seldom necessary.

Otherwise, the S9900 performed well for image quality. Focus was reasonably sharp throughout the zoom range, and particularly impressive at the long end of the zoom where many pocket ultra-zoom cameras struggle. Automatic exposures were generally balanced, and flash-lit skin tones were unusually flattering.

Without the flash, a tendency to use slow shutter and ISO speeds in low light meant that motion blur was a common problem. We found it necessary to set the shutter manually when shooting people in low light. The mode and command dials made this easy to do, although it’s frustrating that the camera doesn’t reveal what ISO speed it has set itself to. Some noise was visible even in brightly lit photos, but noise was handled well as the ISO speed went up. We were able to push it up considerably higher than the Auto ISO mode recommended.

Image from the Nikon S9900 ^ The biggest perk for a camera like this is the ability to go from a wide-angle 25mm (equivalent) focal length… (1/400s, f/3.7, ISO 125, 25mm equivalent)

Image from the Nikon S9900 ^ … all the way to a 750mm telephoto. It’s as good as it gets for a pocket-sized camera. (1/125s, f/6.4, ISO 125, 750mm equivalent)

Image from the Nikon S9900 ^ Focus is reasonably sharp but there’s a coarseness to details when viewed up close, especially for dense textures. (1/125s, f/4.5, ISO 125, 60mm equivalent)

Image from the Nikon S9900 ^ Focus is excellent at the long end of the zoom. (1/500s, f/6.4, ISO 125, 750mm equivalent)

Image from the Nikon S9900 ^ It’s not a bad choice of camera for capturing solar eclipses. (1/2,000s, f/8, ISO 125, 750mm equivalent)

Image from the Nikon S9900 ^ This telephoto shot in overcast conditions looks excellent despite the raised ISO speed. However, most of the shots in this series had focused on the branch stump and not the bird. (1/125s, f/6.4, ISO 360, 750mm equivalent)

Image from the Nikon S9900 ^ The 1/8s shutter speed selected by the camera is excessively slow and results in motion blur. (1/8s, f/4.5, ISO 400, 51mm equivalent)

Image from the Nikon S9900 ^ Raising the ISO speed to 800 (giving a 1/15s shutter speed) reduces motion blur and has a negligible impact on noise levels. (1/15s, f/4.5, ISO 800, 51mm equivalent)

Image from the Nikon S9900 ^ Even ISO 3200 looks OK at modest dimensions. The camera’s Auto ISO mode is too conservative so some manual intervention is required for best results in low light. (1/50s, f/4.5, ISO 3200, 51mm equivalent)

The Panasonic TZ70 has the edge for image quality with its crisper fine details and slightly lower noise levels. The difference isn’t massive, though, and becomes largely academic if photos are only ever viewed on screens and printed at modest sizes. Both cameras are packed with useful features, but for us the S9900’s articulated screen and GPS hold more appeal than the TZ70’s viewfinder and superior Wi-Fi functions. The S9900 is also quite a bit cheaper as we go to press, with the TZ70 selling for £350.

Even though it’s far from perfect, the S9900 is the camera we’d happily spend our money on. It’s a Best Buy. Though if it doesn’t quite fit your needs then check out our regularly-updated Best Cameras list and buying guideBuy the Nikon S9900 now from Currys

Sensor resolution16 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3in
Focal length multiplier5.56x
Viewfinder magnification (35mm-equivalent), coverageN/A
LCD screen3in (921,000 dots)
Orientation sensorYes
Photo file formatsJPEG
Maximum photo resolution4,608×3,456
Photo aspect ratios4:3, 16:9, 1:1
Video compression formatQuickTime (AVC) at up to 15Mbit/s
Video resolutions1080p at 25/30fps, 1080i at 25/30fps, 720p at 25/30fps, VGA at 25/30fps
Slow motion video modesVGA at 100fps (1/4x)
Maximum video clip length (at highest quality)27m 13s
Exposure modesProgram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed range8 to 1/2,000 seconds
ISO speed range125 to 6400
Exposure compensationEV +/-2
White balanceAuto, 5 presets, manual
Auto-focus modesMulti, flexible spot, face detect, tracking, target finding
Metering modesMulti, centre-weighted, face detect
Flash modesAuto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modesSingle, continuous, self-timer, panorama
Optical stabilisationYes
Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths)30x (25-750mm)
Maximum aperture (wide-tele)f/3.7-6.4
35mm-equivalent aperturef/21-36
Manual focusNo
Closest macro focus (wide)1cm
Closest macro focus (tele)2m
Card slotSDXC
Memory supplied473MB
Battery typeLi-ion
ConnectivityUSB, micro HDMI
WirelessWi-Fi, NFC
Body materialPlastic
AccessoriesUSB cable, wrist strap
Size (HxWxD)67x113x41mm
Buying information
WarrantyTwo years RTB
Price including VAT£279
Part codeVNA791E1

Read more

Nikon S9900 front
Nikon S9900 review
Compact cameras

Image quality is good rather than great, but the Nikon S9900 is packed with great features and the price is right.

£279 inc VAT