Nikon CoolPix S230

10-megapixel Nikon compact camera with 3in LCD touch screen.

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Nikon CoolPix S230
  • Nikon CoolPix S230
  • Nikon CoolPix S230
  • Nikon CoolPix S230
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Excellent touch screen, impressive feature set, stylish design

Cons

  • Touch screen costs $100 (compared to CoolPix S220 model)

Bottom Line

The Nikon CoolPix S230 is an impressive compact camera that ticks every box on the casual photographer’s wish-list. With that being said, the cheaper Nikon CoolPix S220 offers an identical imaging performance, albeit without a swanky touch screen.

Would you buy this?

While perhaps better known for its professional SLR range, Nikon has been making a bit of a splash in the consumer-level market in recent years. The company's recent compact cameras, such as the Nikon CoolPix S220 and Nikon CoolPix S60, have managed to deliver on all fronts, impressing us with their style, image quality and, above all, affordability.

Joining this esteemed collection is the Nikon CoolPix S230 — a re-jigged CoolPix S220 with a touch screen. While perhaps a teensy bit overpriced compared to its contemporaries, it remains a solid offering that we feel no hesitation in recommending. On the other hand, those who aren’t fussed by having a touch screen should plumb for the afore-mentioned Nikon CoolPix S220 — it’s essentially the same camera with a cheaper price tag.

The Nikon Coolpix S230 shares many of the same specifications as the entry-level S220 (our review of which can be found here). Both models sport identical 1/2.3in CCD sensors, 3x f3.1-5.9 (36-108mm-equivalent) lenses, and a maximum resolution of 10 megapixels. The only thing that separates the S230 model from its cheaper sibling is its enlarged 3in LCD touch screen. (The S220 made do with a 2.5in display and traditional joystick configuration.) With an RRP of $379, the CoolPix S230 is $100 more expensive than the S220, which is an unfairly steep premium in our opinion. On the plus side, we’re happy — and somewhat surprised — to report that the touch screen works a treat.

We have come to rue the existence of touch-based technology in recent years, due to a barrage of gimmicky products that were hampered by its implementation (recent examples include Sony’s Cyber-shot DSC-T500 and DualSlim’s Slider phone). However, the Nikon Coolpix S230 is cut from better cloth.

Whether you’re sorting through preview thumbnails or adjusting exposure levels, its touch screen remains intuitive and highly responsive. This is mostly thanks to the extra-large icons, which even the meatiest of fingers should be able to effortlessly traverse. It’s one of the few touch-screen cameras we've seen that delivers on both style and ease of use. (Whether it’s worth $100 is still debatable though.)

The Nikon Coolpix S230 is available in five colours, ranging from plum to jet black. We tested the silver version, which is very attractive. Compared to other sub-$400 cameras, the unburnished silver finish and ultra-slim dimensions almost put the camera in a class of its own. Weighing in at 115g and with dimensions of 91x57x20mm, it’s slightly bigger than its S220 cousin but should still fit inside most jacket pockets without problem. The enlarged touch screen is also suitably eye-catching, especially when viewing photos. As fashion accessories go, this camera is definitely a winner.

As it shares the same optical components as the S220, we were unsurprised by its identical performance in our imaging tests. Both cameras acquit themselves pretty well across the board. The Nikon CoolPix S230’s 1/2.33in CCD sensor did a good job of combating noise, with images taken at ISO 400 remaining crisp and well detailed. By contrast, Nikon’s previous entry-level unit was plagued with imaging issues, especially in dark environments. That being said, we did find images to be somewhat on the soft side, which led to occasional loss in detail. Nevertheless, picture quality remains perfectly reasonable for the asking price, with no deal-breaking aberrations to spoil prints.

Another interesting feature on the Nikon CoolPix S230 is BSS (Best Shot Selector), a function that shoots sequential frames and then saves the one with the sharpest focus. Other goodies include face detection, nine ISO settings (including ISO 2000), an Intelligent Automation mode, 16 scene modes, four movie modes and a photo retouching tool — not bad for a $379 camera.

In summary, the Nikon CoolPix S230 is a worthy option for people who want the convenience and 'cool factor' of a touch screen. Everyone else should probably stick to the Nikon CoolPix S220.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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