Nikon COOLPIX S2
- Snappy performance, stylish design
- Blurred pictures, requires a cradle for connection to a PC
A fairly average camera that has a few things to offer, but suffers from poor picture quality. There are other models in a comparable price range that offer much better images.
Price$ 749.00 (AUD)
The compact Coolpix S2 from Nikon suffers from one unfortunate flaw that makes it very difficult to recommend - it takes average photos at best. While the design is solid, it looks quite nice and was reasonably quick in most of our tests, we felt the images it took were simply not on par with the rest of the competition.
Cased in silver metal, the most prominent feature of the camera body itself is the large, reflective square on the front. This doubles as one of those tricky on-switches that are now commonplace to us but may confuse some consumers. Once you get used to it however, it is a stylish and intuitive way of turning the camera on and off. This is the same sort of switch present on Ricoh's R series, and we think it gives a great look, both there and on this model. We also discovered it acts somewhat like a mirror, helping to frame those self-portraits we all love to take every so often.
The S2 sports a large 2.5" LCD, however this suffers from poor, grainy image quality and a tendency towards dull colours. The keys are laid out on the right hand side of the screen and we found them easy to use. We particularly liked the small button on the bottom, replacing the function wheel as the tool for switching between modes. The body is described as "all weather", which implies it can be used in windy and rainy conditions and overall we thought the minimalist design and hardy case were consistent with this.
Functionally the S2 is a fairly standard point and shoot model. It gives you basic ISO and whitebalance presets as well as a few nice colour modes. There are 15 predefined scene modes, which include a panorama assist mode that allows you to stitch together multiple photos. We particularly liked the continuous shot options, which included regular continuous shot and a predefined 16 shot series which tiles all the images across the screen so you can easily follow the scene unfolding.
Unfortunately for Nikon, the image quality on the S2 really comes up lacking. We took about fifty test shots in an effort to produce something of consistently high quality, but regardless of whether it was outdoors or indoors, sunny or overcast, we regularly encountered a horrible blurring that ruined many pictures. In certain circumstances this was definitely less noticeable, but it was often present to some degree. Many detailed areas and even some simple sections of the photographs degenerated into indistinguishable colour. The edges of leaves vanished into each other and faces were undiscernible from a distance. It is a pity, because the colour representation on the S2 was quite strong. Greens were lush, and blues and reds were rich, without being oversaturated; but ultimately we couldn't ignore the blurriness of the pictures.
Another feature we didn't like, (and one that we've seen on other cameras), is the presence of a cradle. The S2 relies on this cradle to connect to your PC, which we find an unnecessary hassle. It just makes the S2 that little bit more difficult to use on the move and we see no reason why a simple USB connection was not sufficient.
The Nikon S2 responds quite quickly in parts. Power-up is almost instantaneous and shutter lag is short enough as to be unnoticeable. The image write time was slightly longer than normal at about 2.5 seconds, but we were pleased to see that regardless of how many shots we took in succession, we couldn't make the S2 pause to recharge the flash, which is a problem suffered by many models and can lead to significant downtime.
The S2 records video at a fairly standard 640X480 at a speed of 15 fps and the video write time is almost nothing, which is a notable achievement. In our battery life tests, the S2 was about average for a standard compact model. We took just over 400 shots before the battery died, which is enough to please most users, but nothing to write home about.
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