Nikon Coolpix S6 review

Started May 2, 2007 | User reviews
gnarayan
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Nikon Coolpix S6 review
May 2, 2007

I got this camera more than six months ago so I think I've played with it enough to get a good feel for it.

At the time I got it from a camera store going out of business for $150 which was a steal and is still cheaper than what its going for now. For me it was great value for money but at its current price (~$200) I'd look at at the A710IS.

Its pretty solidly constructed and has survived a couple of drops, one on its beautiful 3 inch LCD (though i don't recommend trying that). I'm not a person who cares a lot for form but it must be said that this is neat looking camera. That is unfortunately the biggest problem with it as well. Theres no good way to hold it steady. What you instinctively want to do is hold it between your thumb and index finger with both hands and frame with the large LCD. This will not work well in low light because the camera favors long exposure times and you won't be able to hold it steady (I really wish it would just boost the ISO instead because the ISO 200 shots are really reasonable for a P&S). It works better for me if I hold the lower half of the camera, even covering up the lower fourth of the screen and shooting with BSS on (hold down the shutter it takes multiple shots and picks the best one)

Features wise it does have the wifi but I never use it and would have happily traded it for IS. I really like the dial wheel for navigation. You have no manual features other than WB/EV so you sort of game the camera into doing what you want with the scene modes. You'll find yourself wanting Museum and Sport Mode a lot for the no flash long exposures and the fast focus respectively. In retrospect I should have gotten a camera with more manual controls but c'est la vie.

Whatever in camera trickery is going on with the scene modes do work reasonably well so if your scene actually does match the scene mode then use it because its quicker than playing around with various other settings in the regular shooting mode. The lack of manual controls does actually decrease the ease of use (what you don't just point and shoot!!!) because you quickly find that you want some more control over things like aperture in low light (so its easy to use if you aren't terribly bothered about the final results I guess).

IQ is fine (for a fairly dumb P&S). I like that Nikon has not tried to cram 10 Mpix into this thing and degraded IQ, and I like that the ISO only goes up to 400 and is perfectly usable at that level (despeckle works quite well). I think the preset white balance modes are all slightly off and will produce a green cast in some pictures that you can correct with levels/curves in GIMP or photochop. Using the custom WB works better.

There is vignetting at the wide end of things and its annoying but can be corrected. The images are pretty soft on occasion and this can be harder to fix especially if you are already working with jpegs which don't really lend themselves to PP.More annoying is the barrel distortion at the wide end and this can be a PITA if you are trying to shoot a panorama.

I like the multiple focus areas and generally keep it on the AF select mode (you hit ok - more the focus box around and hit ok to confirm the focus area - works nicely if your subject isn't centered). The macro mode and face modes work like they are supposed to. This is true of the scene modes generally. I like the panorama mode with its overlay. The only exception being the vivid color setting which is perhaps a bit too saturated. Generally I keep it ISO 100 and have the AF select and BSS thing on and with similar settings you wont miss as many shots. Auto WB is a bit of a prayer I'm afraid and if you have the time use the custom WB. Its also preferable to turn the ISO up and shoot with available light or use the exposure compensation than use the flash which I think is a bit white and too harsh.

Battery life is decent and lasts 200ish shots longer if you don't review shots on the large LCD as much.

Movie quality is fine and the sound is actually reasonably acceptable. If it does lose focus in movie mode with the continuous focus on then you are not going to get it back. This happen sin low light if something passes between you and the subject. Like the waitress in a jazz club were you are quietly trying to record a set.

Overall a solid camera that needs a lot more manual controls even if they are in menus and could benefit with IS. Image quality is very good if there is lots of available light, not much fringing, no noticeable jaggies with the SHQ jpeg. In low light its ok if you figure out how to grip it. I'd not be afraid to bump up the ISO (I put it at 200 if it looks cloudy even). Because of the lack of manual controls everything is just a little more fiddly than it needs to be. The goal of not having manual controls is to make things easier to use with less thinking but I find myself thinking harder to figure out which scene mode would work well in a given situation. Today if size/looks/weight is not a issue then there are other alternatives (canon A710IS) but if you can get it cheap and you want something that is thinner than many cell phones and slips into a pocket then this works well. If you spend a bit more then you can get IS with the Canon SD700IS but you still don't have manual controls. I will likely let my girlfriend have this and get something with more manual controls.

Finally, I just take out the SD card to transfer pics and you can get a cheap 5 buck travel charger from most stores for the battery. This allows you to not carry around the base and the ridiculously large included charger. Also the hand strap they give you with this thing will get ripped apart by velcro (something to consider when getting a camera case)

Problems:

Auto WB is stupid a lot of the time. Slight green casts.
Body shape lends itself to unsteady grip. Consciously correct grip and use BSS.
If focus is lost in movie mode it is not coming back.
Some vignetting, annoying barrel distortion, some softness.
Very occasionally in macro mode you get a "Cannot focus. initializing lens" message. Back off you are likely just too close to the subject.

All of above correctable. Just wish it had more manual controls and IS.

 gnarayan's gear list:gnarayan's gear list
Ricoh GR Olympus E-510 Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm 1:2.8-4.0 SWD Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 Panasonic Leica D Summilux Asph 25mm F1.4
gnarayan's score
3.6
Average community score
3.5
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