Compared to... Kodak EasyShare V610

The choice for anyone wanting a truly compact 'big zoom' is still pretty limited and at the moment the S10 has only one or two direct competitors (although we expect this to change over the next few months). For our first comparison we'll use the unique Kodak V610, which also offers a 10x zoom in a very compact body (in this case covering the range with two separate zooms and two CCDs). It's 6MP too, but it doesn't offer the advantage of image stablization.

We have included samples at each camera's lowest sensitivity setting, ISO 400 and ISO 800.

Note: The V610 doesn't have a custom (measured) white balance function, so these are the most neutral results we could get (after trying the various presets), using Auto White Balance. The color cast in these shots is purely down to the white balance being unable to correct completely our studio lighting.

Studio scene comparison (S10 @ ISO 50, V610 @ ISO 64)

  • Nikon S10: Program AE mode, ISO 80, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.7 EV compensation
  • Kodak V610 : Program AE mode, ISO 64, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.33 EV compensation
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI
Nikon Coolpix S10
Kodak EasyShare V610
ISO 50, 1/80 sec, F3.5
ISO 64, 1/97 sec, F4.1
2,091 KB JPEG
1,044 KB JPEG

Putting aside for a moment the V610's less than stellar output quality, let's look at what the S10 can do. Color is, typically for a Nikon compact, very natural and - unlike so many consumer compacts - it isn't over-saturated, Disneyland-style. The lens also appears to be surprisingly capable, with decent sharpness in the center only dropping off very slightly towards the corners (unless you're photographing something flat - see the photo tests for details).

Of course the output is far from perfect; if you look at the full studio shot you can clearly see the barrel distortion even here, zoomed in to around 60mm equivalent. The S10's output looks very slightly soft, and Nikon has obviously turned up the software sharpening a little to compensate, though to be fair the output is a lot cleaner-looking than a lot of compact cameras. There is also a touch of jagginess to some diagonals, but none of this is going to be a problem at normal print sizes.