We spent a really long time trying to find a good update for my old superzoom before going on safari. Our initial favourite was the Canon SX30IS, mostly due to the customer images on the Amazon page. We spent a good few weeks trying out both this camera and the Canon (with a bit of a Fujifilm thrown in), and we just couldn't decide between them. So we ended up plumping. We actually plumped for the Canon. But we took it home, and we were both saying nice things about it because it had cost so much money, but actually the camera wasn't blowing us away. It was barely better than my old Panasonic Lumix FZ18 and the photos in low light left a fair bit to be desired. Not only that but it had difficulty with the macro focusing on certain things and it took ages to write to the memory card (which may have been down to the fact that I was only using a Class 4 memory card, but the same memory card in the Nikon is much faster).
Anyway.. in the end we decided to take the Canon back, actually because the Amazon price had come down so it was now £50 cheaper than Jessops and we had a good return policy.
But as we were going to Jessops we were trying to think of reasons to take it back because saying it was £50 cheaper on Amazon felt a bit mean as they'd been helpful. Turned out we each had a plethora of reasons why we didn't like it. So we took it back and started looking again and once we'd realised the Canon's flaws, the Nikon seemed like a shining beacon! So we bought the Nikon and having had it for only a day now I can say I'm absolutely overawed by it in the way I expected to be by the Canon but never was.
The zoom is fantastic, the photos in low light are just amazing, even without the flash.. and with the flash, instead of showing up every last flaw, it gives a true to life representation of the subject. The scene modes are fantastic (I do like to take the occasional manual shot, but if I'm honest 90% of my photos would use the auto mode -- I'm not a photographer, I just like to take photos). Worth a particular mention are the Easy Panorama mode and the Pet Portrait mode. In Easy Panorama you can just sweep around the room.. horizontally or vertically, 180 degrees of 360 degrees and it just puts the photo together, as if by magic. So easy to use you can't go wrong and the Canon's panoramic mode (Stitch assist) is just not a patch on this. The Pet Portrait mode is fantastic for any pet owner. You might think you wouldn't need a special mode to take pictures of your cat/dog/snake/parrot, but it's a bit more animal friendly than that. The functionality I suppose is no different from the smile shutter.. it just locks in on your pet's face and takes a burst of photos with your pet's face in focus and looking at the camera, but it turns off the shutter sound, the focus light and the flash, so it's much less distressing for your pet. Of course my only pet is a cat so there's no telling how good this mode is on a pet stick insect, but so far so good!
The HS movie mode I must admit is absolutely useless in low light. But I suppose if you're taking 90-odd FPS there's not enough time to let the light in. In daylight it seems much better.
Also, while the HD video is 1080p compared to the Canon's 780p I do concede that the Canon performed better in low light (for videos only -- photos there's no comparison, Nikon wins hands down).
Can't comment on the battery life as I haven't really had it long enough. We got 2 hours use out of it when we first bought it, but not sure whether that was a full charge or not (as just straight out of the box). The battery it comes with only says it's 1.1Ah so I suspect battery life will be the camera's downfall, but with replacement batteries available on Amazon for £5 it doesn't really matter to me. The only thing is that it'll be tricky to charge two batteries when they have to be in the camera, but the charger+battery sets are only around £15 so not breaking the bank.
The only other thing I'd say the Canon would win on is the screen. And even then, the quality of the Nikon's screen I believe is better, but I really liked being able to flip the screen out (rather than just up and down).
But overall I'm so impressed with the quality of the Nikon. The photos are just fantastic, and I love that instead of holding the camera up while it writes to my slow memory card it carries on going and only stops you from going into playback mode if it's still writing to the memory (so you never miss a shot). The continuous shooting is also a dream, where on Canon it was just not worth using.
Another thing which is so minor, but so useful, is the extra zoom control functionality on the lens.. which by itself would be completely unnecessary but you can set this to control the manual focus which makes it so much easier than fiddling about with buttons!