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Nikon Coolpix S60 Review
Date: February 9, 2009
The Nikon Coolpix S60 is a digital camera
targeted to point-and-shoot photographers. It
has 10-megapixel resolution on a 1/2.3 in. CCD
image sensor, and a 33-165mm (equiv.) 5.0x optical Zoom-Nikkor lens, with a maximum aperture of F3.8(W)-F4.8(T). Sensor-shift image stabilization is provided using Nikon's Vibration Reduction (VR) technology.
We find the overall image quality of the Nikon
S60 to be good at ISO 64 with good detail and low noise for a digital camera in this category. As is usual with point-and-shoot digital cameras, images at higher ISOs suffer from noise and detail loss.
|5.0x Wide-anle Optical Zoom
(33mm, 35mm equivalent)
(165mm, 35mm equivalent)
In the pictures above, we show the coverage
for 33mm (equiv.) and then 165mm (equiv). It takes about 2.5 sec.
to zoom from wide-angle to telephoto (I counted
Nikon S60 has Programmed Auto mode which allows you to choose some of the most
important exposure settings, such as ISO, exposure
compensation and white balance. There are also easy-to-use Scene Modes to help obtain the best exposure in common challenging situations.
17.1mm, Programmed Auto, Multi-Pattern
1/8.7 sec., F4.8, ISO 592
Self-timer 10 sec., Tripod used
Macro can be as close as 9 cm (3.6 in.). You can zoom in macro mode.
AF is fast and works very well. It is instant in good lighting and pretty fast and precise in low-light.
The Face Priority AF works extrememly well. In extreme low-light, the AF Illuminator automatically kicks in
(if you've set it ON in the Menu) to
help achieve focus when you half-press the shutter release button.
Best Shot Selector (Menu - Continuous - BSS - ON) is one of Nikon's most practical feature to use when
you need to ensure you get a tack sharp picture. It works by
taking 10 shots in a row (as long as you keep
your finger pressed on the shutter release button)
and then discarding all except the one that comes
out the sharpest.
The Nikon S60 provides two AF Area modes:
- Face Priority mode is the default and automatically detects a face and focuses on it; great for portraits.
- Center-focus area mode focuses at the center of the screen; for when your subject is smack in the middle of the screen.
- In addition, no matter which AF Area mode you select, you can also tap the screen to position the focus area, in effect going into manual AF.
Metering mode defaults to 256-segment Matrix when you do not use digital zoom, switches automatically to Center-weighted if you use less than 2x digital zoom, and to spot if you use 2x or more digital zoom.
The picture on the left shows auto white
balance (AWB) indoors under artificial tungsten
light. The Nikon S60 allows WB to
be set manually via the Menu: Preset WB allows
us to obtain accurate colors (picture on the right). AWB works
well in natural light.
You can set the ISO on the Nikon S60 from 64
to 3200. The 100%
crops above (area delimited by the white square)
demonstrate that noise at ISO 64 is under
control. Noise starts to be visible at
ISO 200 and increases quickly as the ISO goes higher. Images are usable at small prints and for Web display up to ISO 800. Aggressive noise reduction is apparent at ISO 800 when viewed full size. ISO 3200 is at 5M.
Like most other point-and-shoot digital cameras, the Nikon S60 gives its best results in well-lighted situations but finds it challenging indoors for non-flash photography. Images from ISO 1600 to 3200 exhibit too much noise and loss of detail for clean large prints, but might be acceptable for 4x6 in. size prints and for Web display.
Note that Auto ISO ranges from 64 to 800; High Sensitivity (Hi-ISO) ranges from 64 to 1600; and ISO 3200 is only available in manual ISO mode.
|5.9mm, Program AE, Multi-Pattern
1/688.7 sec., F6.4, ISO 64
CA is minimal in everyday shots. In the high
contrast shot above, the corner delimited by the
red square in the middle right, and reproduced at 100%
crop at bottom left, shows minimal purple fringing,
not enough to be concerned with.
|5.9mm, Programmed Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1/2
sec., F3.8, ISO 400
Preset (manual) WB, Macro, Self-timer 10 sec.,
Tripod Used, 100% Crop
The Nikon S60's slowest shutter speed goes
down to 1 sec. in Program Auto mode, and 4 sec. in Fireworks scene mode. This allows
some very limited night photography, and we would have preferred
longer shutter speeds. Generally, with image
sensors, noise becomes more prominent
at slow shutter speeds.
I take an extreme low-light indoors shot. Light
is from two regular household tungsten bulbs on
the ceiling. To obtain a long exposure, I place
Bamm-Bamm under my desk in the shadows. I obtain
focus lock easily since the Nikon S60 has an
effective AF-assist Illuminator. Some experimenting
and I find that I need to up the ISO all the way to ISO 400 to obtain a correct exposure.
[I could not use the 4 sec. of Fireworks scene mode because Macro mode is not permitted in that scene mode.] To ensure sharp focus, I place the AF area
frame on Bamm-Bamm's eyes.
The noise reduction works well (though the presence of noise and detail loss at this high ISO is also quite visible).
The Nikon Coolpix S60 delivers good image quality at ISO 64. Using a high ISO means you might be able to take low-light pictures but be aware that the noise issue and loss of image detail will limit pictures taken at high ISOs to small prints and for Web display only.
The pictures in the Nikon Coolpix S60 Photo
Gallery page provide a good sample of what
the camera is capable of. I have provided samples
at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100
in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 3648x2736
pixels original size (click on the image for the
You can safely assume that most macro shots
and slow shutter speed shots required the use
of a tripod. Any image that is adjusted for levels
in Photoshop has "_adjusted" or some other description appended
to the file name (though the original sized image
is, of course, not adjusted).
I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels.
For those who have their monitor resolution set
to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit
and you should not have to scroll to see the whole
image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels
resolution, start the slide show and then scroll
to the right to position the image within your
screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using
Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode,
and the image should fill your screen nicely.
Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor
display back to normal mode.
To return to this page from the Photo Gallery,
click on the animated graphics of the camera.
Please open and download the original size version
only if you need to and only once
to your hard drive -- and save me some precious