Nikon CoolPix S51c
- Wireless connectivity, nice design
- Some noise and sharpness issues, sluggish operation
Nikon's CoolPix S51c offers a good option if you want to quickly and easily share photos with family and friends, however image quality aficionados maybe a little put off by the noise and slightly soft look of the shots.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
Nikon's Coolpix S51c is a basic 8.1-megapixel point-and-shoot camera which has the added bonus of Wi-Fi connectivity. The wireless feature is nifty, allowing you to easily share pictures with family and friends but it does have some limitations, and while the pictures are quite good, image quality purists should probably look elsewhere.
In a sea of almost identical 7.1- to 8.1-megapixel compact cameras, you need to do something to stand out, and the wireless implemented here is a perfect example. It works by connecting to Nikon's PictureTown database and uploading your shots there. You are then given the option to e-mail a person or group of people, notifying them that new pictures are up and giving them a link. The process can be a little fiddly at times, especially when WEP keys are involved, and entering a long series of names and e-mail addresses can be a downright pain with no keyboard, but once you have everything setup the system operates nicely.
We'd have liked to see direct and constant wireless transfer to your PC, meaning you could be wandering around with a notebook in your bag and your shots would upload as you captured them, but this implementation certainly has its uses, particularly for keeping people up-to-date while you're abroad.
The images produced by the S51c are good, and will be adequate for small- and medium-sized prints, but at higher magnifications they are a little behind many competing 8.1-megapixel models.
Noise was evident even at ISO 100 and while it was fine and quite discreet, it was noticeable when we closely studied the shots. Imatest gave the camera a score of 0.70 per cent which is marginally higher than we usually see. The good news is it didn't ramp up too badly as we increased the sensitivity, and everything up to ISO 400 is perfectly usable.
Shots were a little soft at times and there was some haloing on high contrast edges even towards the middle of the shots. Imatest awarded the S51c a score of 1306 for sharpness, which isn't great for an 8.1-megapixel model. Pictures will be crisp at most print sizes, but at anything past about 10x8in you'll start losing some clarity.
Chromatic aberration was about standard, with Imatest awarding a score of 0.137 per cent. Haloing seen in earlier tests reappeared here, plus there was a little loss of clarity towards the edges of the frames, but it was no worse than on most competing models.
Colour representation was decent although the camera struggled a little with warm colours. Reds and yellows were a little darker and richer than we'd typically expect. Imatest awarded the S51c a score of 9.63 for colour, which is a fine result but does not make this camera standout from others currently on the market..
Users looking for a quick photo taking experience had best look elsewhere, as you won't be capturing anything too quickly with the S51c. It came up lacking in the majority of our speed tests. With a mammoth 3.8 seconds power up time, 2.3 seconds between shots and a shutter lag of 0.16 seconds, there is nothing quick about this model. Even the focus is a little slow.
The feature set is basic, offering rudimentary control of white balance, ISO sensitivity and focus mode. There is a burst mode that operates at 1.2 frames per second, as well as image stabilisation and Nikon's Best Shot Selector tool.
Fashion conscious buyers should be pleased with the S51c's design. While the front is a relatively standard brushed silver it is nicely matched with a gloss black back plate and the whole body is built of metal making it quite sturdy. The controls are simple and should pose no problems for novice users.
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