So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Nikon COOLPIX S200
- Slim, sturdy design
- Soft pictures, lots of haloing, colour reproduction below par, slow shot-to-shot time
A disappointing compact camera from Nikon, the Coolpix S200 has numerous imaging issues which mean that it's smooth, stylish design isn't enough to make it an attractive option.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
Sporting a slim design and a 7.1 megapixel sensor, we were expecting good things from the Coolpix S200, a member of Nikon's new line of compact cameras. Unfortunately it let us down in several areas, with soft pictures, high levels of haloing and below average colour reproduction.
The most obvious issue upon opening our test shots was haloing. Towards the edge our shots, in high contrast areas, there was an extremely obvious blue halo around certain elements of the picture. This was visible even when the shot was viewed at a small size and really detracted from the picture. Despite this, Imatest gave the S200 a score of .103% for chromatic aberration, which is quite a reasonable result and falls in line with similarly priced cameras. We noticed some minor blurring and fringing towards the edges of our shots, but the haloing was simply too prominent to ignore.
Our sharpness test had mixed results too. By default, many Nikon point and shoot cameras have a mode that will sharpen your picture if it detects that it is blurred. This sounds like a nifty idea, but one look at the resulting shots quickly dispelled that notion. Whatever algorithm is in place grossly oversharpens, and this makes the pictures look almost like cut outs. Imatest quickly corroborated this, highlighting 43% oversharpening in those particular shots, which is the highest score we've ever seen. We'd strongly recommend turning this mode of in the menu prior to using the S200.
With this option turned off, the oversharpening dropped to almost nothing; however the camera still only achieved a score of 1372. While this result is decent, many other 7.1 megapixel models perform better. This was evident in our shots, as they weren't as crisp or detailed as many produced by competing units.
The bad news continued with the colour reproduction tests, where the S200 scored 9.51 in Imatest. Most compact models score around 7, so again this is below average, although the good news is, no one colour was noticeably worse than the others. Most of the colours were slightly oversaturated, but even so, this won't be hugely noticeable in day to day snaps unless you're really looking for it.
In our noise test, the S200 performed a little better, scoring .83% at ISO 100, which is slightly above average. At this level, we noticed no obvious signs of noise, with clean, speckle free pictures. However the noise ramped up considerably as we increased the sensitivity. While ISO settings up to 1000 are on offer, we'd recommend avoiding anything above ISO 400, as the noise created at ISO 800 and above is just too high to justify.
The S200 was a little slow in our speed tests, particularly with its 2.9 second shot-to-shot time, which was too sluggish for our tastes. Meanwhile it took about 2.5 seconds to startup and had a shutter lag of .08 seconds, both of which are about average.
The unit's feature set is a little sparse, but this is to be expected from an entry level compact camera. It has the aforementioned ISO settings, as well as custom and preset white balance modes. There is a burst mode, but it is quite sluggish, operating at about 1.2 frames per second, and several scene modes for more inexperienced users, but nothing to really capture the imagination.
The S200 fairs a little better in design. It is as slim, metallic unit which slips easily into a pocket and has a sturdy, tough feel to it. The somewhat angular shape, combined with minimalist aesthetic makes it look quite smooth, and it should suit people after an eye catching device to show off to their friends. The controls are all fairly standard, with a five-way directional pad and menu key doing the brunt of the work. Nikon has forgone a function wheel or mode switch on this model, instead using a simple 'Mode' button to switch between the various configurations. Everything is relatively easy to use and the menu is kept nice and simple, so novices will have no trouble.
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