Nikon's Coolpix S6 is a disappointing entry into the compact camera market. While it does offer most of the features you'd expect, its pictures are below par, and struggled in our image quality tests.
- Nice design
- Sharpness issues, colour issues, chromatic aberration issues
It is stylish, and does have some decent features, but the CoolPix S6 really falls down with regards to image quality. There are better deals elsewhere in the compact camera space.
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
The biggest problem was with clarity; the CoolPix S6's pictures just weren't sharp enough. Imatest gave it a score of 1240 for sharpness, which is a little below our expectations for a 6 megapixel model. Many compacts with similar resolution sensors score 1400 to 1500 in this test, so the S6 is a little behind the pack. This was obvious when looking at our pictures, which showed some noticeable fringing and blurring. This won't be evident at small magnifications, but if you're looking to make any sort of enlargements it may become an issue.
Similarly, Imatest also revealed slightly higher than normal levels of chromatic aberration, awarding the CoolPix S6 a score of .156% here. Most compacts score slightly above .1%, so again the S6 falls behind the competition. We spotted noticeable haloing in areas of high contrast and quite a bit of blurring towards the edge of our shots, corroborating this result.
The CoolPix S6's colour performance wasn't any better, scoring 9.73 in Imatest's colour checker test. A good result for a compact is seven or below, and it was clear from our shots that there were noticeable errors in this regard. The most obvious of these was in the blue spectrum, which was quite oversaturated. Strangely it exhibited some visible noise not really present in other colours. As expected, there was also some noticeable inaccuracy in reds, but this is a common situation with most compact cameras.
Our final test is for image noise, and while the CoolPix S6 did slightly better here it was still left languishing. With a score of .87% in Imatest's noise test, it exhibited some slightly visible, but not particularly problematic noise. There was some minor speckling in our test shots, but not enough to be visible on small to medium sized prints. The noise scaled reasonably well with higher sensitivities too, the camera scoring 1.42% at ISO 400. This isn't a great result by normal standards, with some light chroma noise visible in our pictures, but as a percentage increase on the original result it is quite reasonable.
Image quality aside, the CoolPix S6 is a fairly solid camera. It offers all the standard features of a compact unit, including white balance presets (although no custom mode), ISO sensitivities up to 400, 12 scene modes, a 3fps continuous shot mode and multiple focus points (centre and manual). There is also Nikon's Best Shot mode, which, while activated, continues to capture shots while the shutter button is depressed, then picks the sharpest of these and saves it.
Our speed tests returned fairly strong results. The CoolPix S6 exhibited .09 seconds of shutter lag, a relatively quick 1.7 seconds between shots and 2.4 seconds of power up time.
The CoolPix S6's design is one area where it truly excels. With a curved, black aesthetic, it certainly looks quite classy, and the large 3in LCD display is certain to please plenty of users. The controls are also a little different, with the standard five-way navigational pad replaced by a scroll wheel, used to navigate the menus. The rest of the buttons are fairly standard, with menu, trash, mode and playback keys rounding out the unit's controls. Overall, the CoolPix S6 is lightweight, attractive and definitely one of the better designed compacts we've recently reviewed.
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