So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Nikon CoolPix S210
- Slim design, good colour balance, simple interface
- Massive chromatic aberration issues, high levels of noise, a little slow at times
While the slim design and simple interface are both appealing, the massive amounts of haloing in our outdoor shots coupled with the high levels of noise mean the Nikon CoolPix S210 produces less than impressive pictures.
Price$ 329.00 (AUD)
Appearing to follow the motto that 'size matters' Nikon's latest CoolPix unit the S210, sports an ultra slim design making it ideal for frequent travellers and those constantly on the move. However, like some other Nikon compacts we've looked at, the 8-megapixel sensor isn't up to the lofty standards set by some competing manufacturers, meaning if image quality is a big concern you may wish to look elsewhere.
The biggest problem was a massive amount of chromatic aberration. In all of our outdoor shots the vast majority of edges, be they tree branches, car outlines or even people were ringed with thick haloing. This was also extremely prominent indoors in our high contrast test chart shots. We really can't recommend this unit at all if you plan on taking many shots in sunlit conditions.
Image noise was also a problem. Even at ISO 100, Imatest gave it a score higher than many units receive at ISO 200 or ISO 400. While the graininess at this sensitivity wasn't noticeable in small prints it will become problematic at larger magnifications. Furthermore, anything above ISO 200 increases the noise significantly which is particularly problematic on areas of block colour.
The above two factors mean that while the shots were reasonably sharp at times, the overall clarity was a little disappointing at times. Edges that didn't have haloing were often speckled and lacked crispness. They were still perfectly adequate for 4x6in prints and if that's all you're printing to you may not notice many of these issues, but anyone looking to produce larger pictures will quickly feel the impact.
Colour balance was by far the best part of the images. Colours were quite strongly saturated, particularly reds and yellows while blues and greens actually came out a little pale. The S210 offers a custom white balance mode which assisted greatly in achieving an accurate balance of colours although the presets did a reasonable job on their own.
In our speed tests the S210 was a mixed bag. It exhibited a lightning quick 0.05-second shutter lag, whereas the delay from shot to shot was around 2.5 seconds which is a little on the slow side. While power-up to first shot was about 2.1 seconds and the burst mode was somewhat sluggish operating at two frames per second.
As with many other Nikon compacts the S210 offers a simple and intuitive interface. The menu isn't overly cluttered but contains all the basics including focus mode, colour adjustment, ISO and white balance. There are 15 scene modes for novice users as well as Nikon's standard best shot selector, which captures your shot with multiple setting configurations then lets you pick the one that looks best. Vibration reduction makes a welcome return and while it isn't as effective as some optical solutions by competing companies it does a pretty reasonable job of eliminating handshake.
The one area Nikon has done a truly excellent job with on this model is design; the S210 is a fantastic looking unit. It is one of the slimmest models we've had through the office, which makes it ideal as a pocket device or for a tiny handbag. The brushed silver metal body is plain but looks reasonably sophisticated. One other feature worth noting is the high quality 2.5in screen. It has an incredibly fast refresh rate and presents a smooth image regardless of how fast you shift targets.
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