Nikon CoolPix S600
- Optical image stabilisation, fairly good image quality, fast startup time
- Some purple fringing issues
A solid compact camera from Nikon, if you have a bit of money to spend the S600 offers a few nice features such as vibration reduction and in-camera red-eye correction on top of some fairly good 10 megapixel images.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
Sitting towards the top of the Nikon compact camera range, the CoolPix S600 is equipped with a variety of features and settings that should appeal to the photo enthusiasts. Meanwhile its 10 megapixel sensor, while not the best around, captures some fairly impressive images. The camera also boasts an extremely fast startup time, rounding out one of the better packages Nikon has brought to market recently.
With a relatively hefty $549 price tag, the S600 will give you a lot of bang for your buck. One notable inclusion is the optical image stabilisation or VR (Vibration Reduction) as Nikon calls it. Many previous Nikon units have had digital stabilisation which is inferior to its optical image stabilisation counterpart and we found the lens shift system on this camera did a pretty good job at eliminating hand shake. The unit also features a 28mm wide angle lens, which is a bonus for those who just can't fit enough in to their regular shots.
The rest of the feature set is a little more standard with a face detect focus mode and a variety of colour and exposure options included. Manual white balance seems to be becoming a regular feature on Nikon's compact cameras which is a great benefit. Nikon has also included an in camera red-eye compensation feature which seems to do a reasonable job keeping the "devil-eye" issue to a minimum.
Another noteworthy feature is the camera's startup speed. It is ready for action in just 0.7 seconds after hitting the power button, which is one of the fastest power up times we've seen. In our other speed tests the unit was a little more sedate but it still offered shutter speed and shot-to-shot times competitive with other models.
Image quality is one area where the Nikon compact cameras have struggled in the past and while the S600 doesn't take the best pictures we've seen, it will be adequate for most users. The 10 megapixel sensor captured fairly crisp, sharp pictures with minimal blurring and good resolution. They were perhaps not quite as sharp as those images produced by other 10 megapixel units but this won't be noticeable unless you plan to make massive enlargements.
Chromatic aberration was a slight issue, particularly in outdoor shots where prominent purple fringing was noticeable around the edges of trees and foliage. In our indoor tests shots using a high contrast chart, there wasn't as much haloing evident, but there was a little loss of detail towards the edges of the frame.
Similar to Nikon units we've looked at previously, the colour balance was fairly good without being sensational. Nothing was too strongly saturated, which is a common problem in compact cameras. In fact certain cooler colours such as greens and blues came out a little pale at times and the overall balance was fairly soft and natural looking. Our test software Imatest revealed some minor inaccuracies across the primary colours but nothing particularly noteworthy. This performance was no doubt assisted by the aforementioned custom white balance option, which can really make a difference in tricky lighting scenarios.
Meanwhile image noise was slightly higher than normal but if you stick to lower sensitivities you shouldn't have too many issues. While the camera boasts up to ISO 3200 settings above ISO 800 are basically unusable. Even at ISO 200 we noticed some very fine grain and by ISO 400 this was a little more prominent although still well controlled.
Aesthetically the S600 is quite smooth if a little plain. It's basic slim, silver chassis won't help it stand out in a crowd, but it is sturdy and looks quite nice.
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