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Nikon Coolpix S600 Review
Date: March 24, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008 - Here's what I receive
in the box:
- Coolpix S600
- No Memory Card included [Nikon sent me a SanDisk 256MB SD memory
card for the review]
- Wrist Strap
- Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL10 (3.7V 740mAh) in a plastic pouch
- Battery Charger MH-63 with Power Cable
- Interface Cables: A/V; USB
- English and French Instruction Manuals: Quick
Start Guide; User's Manual
- Software CDs: Nikon Software Suite for Coolpix (Nikon Transfer 1.0.2, ArcSoft PanoramaMaker 4)
The Nikon Coolpix S600 is an attractive digital camera with an all-metal body and clean design. I like the sweep of the lines on top of the camera and the engraved "Coolpix" on the front. There is a large and bright 2.7-in. LCD on the back and the Rotary multi selector (à-la-iPod) is just way cool and fun to use. The controls are on the small side, so try if you have large hands and fingers.
Startup time, according to Nikon, is of the order of 0.7 sec. Press the Power ON button and the lens extends fast and the image appears almost instantaneously on the LCD screen. It all takes less than 1 sec. on my stopwatch. If you opt to display picture info, it takes another sec.
For photographers, what is important is what I call, T2FP or "Time to First Picture." This is the time the camera takes from Power ON to being ready to take the first picture.
Press the Power ON, then press the shutter release button to record the first photo. Result: it takes a good 2 sec. before the camera snaps the first picture. So, yes the image does appear on your LCD screen in less than 1 sec. but the camera is not ready yet to take a picture; it'll be another sec. before you will be able to snap the first picture. That's still quite good for this category of cameras.
The Nikon 4x optical zoom starts at a satisfying 28mm wide angle focal length. It's great for wide landscape and large group shots. The 112mm (equiv.) is perfect for taking portraits from a comfortable distance (instead of getting "in your face"). It also has optical VR image stabilization to counteract the effects of camera shake and effectively reduce blur.
The Nikon S600 may be a point-and-shoot model but it has lots of practical features "under the hood." I mentioned VR already. It also has Preset WB, allowing you to obtain correct colours in artificial light settings. Area AF allows you to move the AF frame to one of (11 x 9 = ) 99 points on screen. BSS (Best Shot Selector) allows you to take up to 10 pictures (as long as you keep the shutter depressed) and then the camera selects and keeps the one that is the sharpest.
Manual AF Area: Off-center focusing without need to recompose
One feature I really like and which is appearing in more and more digital cameras is Manual AF
Area which allows you to specify where the camera focuses out of 99 focus areas. This allows you to put the camera on a tripod, compose the scene and then move the AF frame to the focus area you want. This greatly facilitates obtaining sharp pictures in macro photography where prefocusing with a half-press of the shutter release button and then recomposing can often result in blurred pictures (since even a few mm movement toward or away from the subject can lose the focus).
Other useful features include the ability to zoom in and crop a picture in-camera as well as making a smaller version for Web display. The original picture is untouched and a copy is saved in each case. If you do not like to post-process your pictures, these features might just make your life easier.
As is becoming more and more common now with
digital cameras, the Nikon S600 includes internal memory, approx.
45MB of it, and so a SD memory
card is not included in the box. At the 10M* image mode, 45MB can store about 9 images. A 256MB
SD card will hold about 48 10M* images, and
a 4GB SDHC Card will hold about 775 10M* images.
At 640x480 30fps, you'll be able to store approx.
32 sec. of movie in the 45MB Internal Memory,
approx. 2 min 52 sec. on a 256MB SD Card and as many 10 min. clips (the max. length of a clip is 10 min.) as a 4GB SDHC Card can hold. I recommend a 2GB SD
Card or as large a memory card as you can afford.
As pointed out, the S600 also accepts the 4GB SDHC (SD High Capacity) card.
The Nikon S600 allows the date or date and time to print permanently on each picture as in the old film days. If you like to have the date printed on your prints (it's sometimes nice to imprint the date for vacation and family event pictures), this date imprint function is available. However, remember that with digital cameras, each picture always has a corresponding EXIF info recorded with it. The EXIF info records the date the picture is taken, together with other pertinent exposure information. My recommendation is to simply specify in the DPOF that you want the date printed out on your prints only; the original image will not be marred by a permanent date imprinted onto it. Note that not all retail print shops can print DPOF dates (requires a DPOF-compatible printer).
Included in the box is a Li-ion battery EN-EL10
that can take approx. 190 pictures (CIPA Standard). That's not a lot of pictures
if you are going on an extended photo shoot session, such as a wedding and reception, so we recommend a fully recharged spare battery. Included is a battery charger MH-63 with a power cord. The battery charger will recharge
a new or fully exhausted battery in about 100 min.
Note that Nikon does not include an image viewer anymore on its Software CD. Only Nikon Transfer and ArcSoft PanoramaMaker are included. The S600 uses USB 2.0 High Speed to transfer images from the camera to my computer and transfer speed is therefore fast.
The Nikon Coolpix S600
is an enjoyable camera to use. It's compact enough to carry in my trousers pocket, so it is always available for a quick shot. The controls are very intuitive and I personally find the Rotary multi selector to be fun to use. Though it is a point-and-shoot digital camera, I find the manual options (preset WB, Area AF, ISO, exposure compensation) enough to allow me to adjust the exposure to obtain correctly exposed pictures. I find the S600 to be reliable, to expose accurately and to easily capture the shot I want.