Nikon CoolPix S52

A basic Nikon compact

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Nikon CoolPix S52
  • Nikon CoolPix S52
  • Nikon CoolPix S52
  • Nikon CoolPix S52

Pros

  • Minimal chromatic aberration, stylish design

Cons

  • Extremely slow at times, pictures somewhat grainy

Bottom Line

Nikon's CoolPix S52 is a decent and quite stylish digital camera. It looks great and takes fairly good photos, although they have some noise issues and the camera's performance is painfully slow at times.

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Identical in many ways to the CoolPix S52c we reviewed a little while ago but without Wi-Fi connectivity, the Nikon CoolPix S52 is a decent but not outstanding compact camera. It has a stylish design and some basic features, but suffers a little in terms of speed and general performance, making it somewhat of a trial to use.

Like the CoolPix S52c, this unit sports a 9-megapixel (Mp) sensor. It does a fine job when taking basic photos and will produce prints that will look good at small and medium magnifications, but they have some issues that become noticeable at large sizes.

Photos are generally quite crisp and clear, although we have seen some 8Mp models that outperform this unit in terms of detail. Edges tended to be sharp and there were no signs of over- or under-sharpening. Chromatic aberration was also well controlled, with only slight haloing on high-contrast edges and no visible softening towards the edges of the frame. There was some fairly prominent purple fringing outdoors but we didn't find it too distracting.

The big issue we had was with image noise. Even at ISO 100 and 200 there was some noticeable graininess. It was light and small, but was still quite obvious when looking at the images at their native size. At ISO 400 the noise became blotchier and more colourful but images were still usable until ISO 800, where some detail loss began to creep in.

Colour balance was fairly standard for a compact camera, with strongly saturated hues, particularly the primary colours. Everything looked bright and vibrant and the balance should suit most consumers. Exposure wasn't handled quite as well, however, with a strong disparity between light and dark and some detail loss in shadowed areas.

Where the S52 really falls down is speed. Despite not having a large lens, the unit takes 3-4 seconds to power up, which is unacceptable. The shutter is also extremely sluggish, exhibiting 0.2 seconds of lag. Shot-to-shot time was slightly speedier at 2.2 seconds, but the burst mode is somewhat slow at two frames per second.

The features available are pretty standard for a Nikon compact. It has Nikon's best-shot selector, which is essentially a bracketing mode, along with Face Detect. You can also adjust the colour style, as well as focus mode but that's about it in terms of creativity.

Aesthetically, the S52 is stylish and smooth looking. It has a slightly wave shaped silver face and a gloss black back, which should help it appeal to the fashion-conscious buyer. It is also slim enough to slide easily into a pocket. The controls are fairly standard, with the directional pad doubling as a scroll wheel for easy navigation. The interface could use a little work, but on the whole it is intuitive and easy to understand.

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