Nikon COOLPIX S500
- Small design, Low chromatic aberration, Speedy burst mode
- Very slow focus, Some blurry pictures captured in low light
While the COOLPIX S500 is a decent camera when operating in perfect circumstances, the aversion to low light coupled with slow focusing make for a less than satisfactory unit.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
Coming into the market clearly positioned as an alternative to Canon's range of ultra compact IXUS cameras, Nikon's COOLPIX S500 is a slim 7.1 megapixel unit which offers a few nifty features such as Optical Image Stabilisation. Unfortunately, it suffers from some focus and speed issues which really hamper its overall performance.
Our big problem with this model is its focusing. First, the process is extremely slow, with the camera sometimes taking in excess of .9 of a second to focus. While in practice the unit's shutter speed is only about .08 of a second, the massive delay added every time it has to focus greatly slows down the photography experience, and this will be irritating for those who enjoy taking spontaneous snap shots. In our other speed tests this was also noticeable, with its 2.4 second power up time and 2.5 second shot-to-shot time both being slightly disappointing.
The other issue with the S500's focus is its accuracy in less than bright conditions. Our test lab is a dark room lit with tungsten lights aimed directly at the target. We never have problems shooting under these conditions ordinarily, but the S500 repeatedly refused to focus properly on our high contrast chart, leading to soft edges and a lack of detail. This wasn't an issue all the time as every so often we captured a crisp shot, and all of our outdoors shots in bright sunlight were sharp and detailed, but anything taken in dim lighting suffered.
In the rest of our image tests the unit performed reasonably well. Our combination of subjective test shots and Imatest analysis found the S500 to be a solid but not outstanding unit. It exhibited very little in the way of chromatic aberration, with a score of 0.55%, an excellent result. There was no sign of the haloing in high contrast areas that typically plagues compact cameras, and the edges of our shots were crisp and clean.
In our colour test, the S500 scored a moderate 9.45 which is a little behind the competition, but not noticeably so. Most of the primary colours were quite accurate, with yellows being the only exception. The balance, while not exceptional, will be more than adequate for the target market of this camera, and will be fine for small and medium sized prints.
In our final test for image noise, the S500 again performed about average, with a score of .88% at ISO 100. As long as the score is below 1.0% we don't tend to worry too much and although the shots were slightly grainy in parts, as with the colour issues, this is minor and won't be evident in regular sized prints. The S500 did suffer quite badly as we ramped up the sensitivity though, so we wouldn't recommend shooting at anything above ISO 200. Even at ISO 400 the pictures were covered in a fuzzy haze, and anything above this was even worse.
In some instances, new users may inadvertently wind up using the highest sensitivity of ISO 2000, thanks to a very strange design decision by Nikon. As well as activating the optical image stabilisation (which is a funky inclusion on a unit so small), the anti-shake button (represented by a shaking hand) also locks the sensitivity to the highest setting. We can see why they did this in theory, as higher sensitivities tend to help reduce blur, however the shots this model captures at ISO 2000 are just too terrible for even the most ambivalent photographer to use. Thankfully you can turn the stabilisation on separately using the menu.
Aside from the stabilisation, the feature set is what you'd expect from an entry level unit. There are white balance presets, a variety of scene modes and ISO sensitivities ranging up to ISO 2000. Nikons Best Shot Selector is also back, which is basically a bracketing feature that captures pictures at a variety of exposures so you can chose the best one. The burst mode is somewhat impressive, operating at three frames per second, but it only snaps off three shots before pausing.
The S500 has a similar design to previous Nikon ultra compacts. Rather than using a directional pad, they have once again put in a scroll wheel system for navigating the menu, which we don't really like. The interface is clean and easy to navigate, although it isn't as quick or seamless as those on some Canon or Olympus products. The S500 is constructed of thin metal and feels quite durable. It should survive most of the knocks and trauma typically required of a point and shoot camera.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- 2 Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- 3 Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- 4 LG G6 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Boom: SanDisk just dropped the world's largest SD card
- Camera app makers tap into RAW power with iOS, and look forward to dual lenses
- Google Camera 3.2 lets you snap pictures while recording video
- CES 2016: Top 10 trends
- Sony α7S II aimed film-makers and low light photographers
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSecurity ConsultantQLD
- FTFront End .Net Developer. Permanent jobACT
- FTProject Manager - Knowledge Management implementationVIC
- FTTeam Leader Application SupportVIC
- FTSenior MS Dynamics CRM Technical ConsultantVIC
- FTVDI EngineerACT
- FTProject Manager- RiskSA
- CCVDI EngineerACT
- FTOracle Database Administrator (DBA)SA
- FTStorage EngineerSA
- FTChief Security OfficerNSW
- FTProject Coordinator ($280-$300 per day)NSW
- CCSAP ISU Device Management ConsultantVIC
- FTDigital Business Analyst | Online BookingQLD
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- CCSenior Full-Stack Developer (Digital Transformation Project)QLD
- FTSenior Infrastructure Business AnalystVIC
- CCResource AnalystNSW
- FTSenior Data ConsultantWA
- FTContracts ManagerNSW
- TPProject CoordinatorNSW
- TPProject Support AnalystNSW
- TPWeb DeveloperNSW
- FTFull Stack DeveloperQLD
- CCSolution ArchitectNSW