Nikon CoolPix S620

An ultra-stylish Nikon camera with a 12.2-megapixel sensor and a 0.7-second start-up time.

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Nikon CoolPix S620
  • Nikon CoolPix S620
  • Nikon CoolPix S620
  • Nikon CoolPix S620

Pros

  • Attractive design, solid imaging performance, user-friendly features, blisteringly quick

Cons

  • A bit pricey for what it offers, prominent lens distortion

Bottom Line

The Nikon CoolPix S620 is an above average product that excels in several areas, most notably size and speed. It's also very stylish and comes with plenty of beginner-friendly features. Well worth checking out.

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The Nikon CoolPix S620 is the top-of-the-range model in the company’s Style range of compact digital cameras. Like the Nikon CoolPix S220, Nikon CoolPix S230 and Nikon CoolPix S630, it attempts to bring fuss-free photography to bar-hopping fashionistas.

That’s not to say it’s all swank and no substance — with a 12.2-megapixel sensor, 4x wide-angle zoom lens and a blistering 0.7-second start-up time, it’s more than capable of taking great photos.

We tested the black version of the Nikon CoolPix S620, which lived up to its 'S-for-style' moniker with considerable aplomb. Neither plain nor overly gaudy, it’s a great option for people who want an eye-catching camera without being obnoxious about it.

The understated black finish may lack the wow factor of some of its glossier rivals, but it won’t attract fingerprints either, which is always a plus. Meanwhile, its tiny dimensions of 90x53x23mm mean it should fit comfortably into almost any pocket. In addition to black, the unit is also available in pink, blue and silver.

For operation, the CoolPix S620 has been saddled with the same rotating scroll wheel as its Nikon CoolPix S630 sibling. We aren't particularly fond of this control scheme, which isn't as intuitive to use as a joystick or touch screen. In playback mode, we occasionally found ourselves using the scroll wheel to zoom into a photo, which caused it to flick to the next picture, for instance. On the plus side, the wheel is very responsive and should provide quick navigation once you get used to the unconventional interface.

Like most point-and-shoot digital cameras, the Nikon CoolPix S620 keeps manual controls to a minimum, but it does offer a boatload of consumer-friendly features to make up for this. Some of the highlights include Nikon's Smart Portrait System (which can detect up to 12 faces at once), blink detection (which issues a warning when a subject's eyes are closed), two movie recording modes (for TV playback or the Web), Quick Retouch (an inbuilt picture editor that allows you to adjust contrast and saturation) and a Subject Tracking mode. Subject Tracking attempts to keep moving subjects in focus. It produced very mixed results, but it remains an interesting concept that is sure to improve in the future. For the time being, though, it remains a novel diversion at best.

Alongside its stylish design, the Nikon CoolPix S620’s main selling point is probably its speed. It takes just 0.7 seconds to start up, with almost no additional delay before it captures the first photo. In other words, you can power up the device and start snapping away in under a second. According to Nikon, this gives the CoolPix S620 the distinction of having the fastest start-up time of a camera in its class — an accolade we’d have to agree with. The benefits this offers the photographer are self-explanatory. Thankfully, the camera’s autofocus is equally quick, which should ensure your impromptu pics remain crisp and distortion-free.

When it came to image performance, the Nikon CoolPix S620 acquitted itself surprisingly well. Despite sharing similar optics to the disappointing CoolPix S630, we were very pleased with the quality of its output. Images somehow seemed sharper than its bigger brother, with less digital smearing in complex details. Colours were also pleasingly accurate across the whole spectrum. The 5.0-20.0mm (equivalent) lens is also better equipped for wide-angle photography. By contrast, the CoolPix S630 often required us to take a step backward to fit everything into frame.

Like the Nikon CoolPix S630, the CoolPix S620 offers a maximum ISO sensitivity of 6400, though the results are far too noisy for anything other than tiny Internet thumbnails. Unfortunately, the CoolPix S620 lacks Nikon’s celebrated distortion control function. Consequently, lens distortion was slightly more prominent than usual, particularly when it came to landscape shots. That said, any basic editing package should be able to remedy this problem with minimal fuss.

All up, the Nikon CoolPix S620 is a solid performer that combines looks and functionality to impressive effect. While a little on the pricey side, it should still satisfy fashion-conscious users.

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