Nikon CoolPix S220

Cheap and stylish compact camera with 10-megapixel CCD sensor.

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Nikon CoolPix S220
  • Nikon CoolPix S220
  • Nikon CoolPix S220
  • Nikon CoolPix S220
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Ultra-stylish design, small and light, good feature set for asking price

Cons

  • Patchy flash, image quality is merely adequate

Bottom Line

The Nikon CoolPix S220 is a solid little performer that offers a good performance across the board. Minor imaging issues are made up for by the great design and affordable price tag.

Would you buy this?

The Nikon CoolPix S220 is an entry-level compact camera that merges style and user-friendliness to impressive effect. Boasting an effective resolution of 10 megapixels, a NIKKOR lens with 3x optical zoom, a high sensitivity range up to ISO 2000 and new user-friendly technology (such as BSS and Motion Detection), it’s a surprisingly well-equipped unit that should satisfy most people. It is especially suited to casual users who want a good looking camera that can chronicle their social life — without breaking the bank.

Perhaps the most enticing feature of this camera is its sleek good looks (just look at those primping product pics!) It’s not often an entry-level compact camera stands out from the crowd, but the Nikon CoolPix S220 is one of those rare exceptions. Slim, stylish and attractively coloured, it ticks all the right boxes on a fashion-conscious shopper’s wish list. In comparison, most of its entry-level rivals — such as the FujiFilm FinePix J10 and Canon PowerShot A480 — look decidedly bland and cheap. The version we tested had an aqua green finish, but if that sounds a bit too girly for your tastes, there’s a wide range of additional colours to choose from, including red, black, magenta, purple and several shades of silver and blue.

Along with being eminently sexy, the Nikon CoolPix S220 is also extremely compact. Measuring just 18mm at its thickest point and weighing a mere 100g, it will easily fit into a purse, pocket or handbag, where it can be swiftly forgotten about. This makes it a convenient (and eye-catching) option for a night out on the town. Just don’t combine the green camera with a blue dress (‘blue and green should never be seen’) — especially if you’re a bloke.

Further bolstering the camera’s night-life credentials is the inclusion of Motion Detection technology. This automatically adjusts ISO and shutter speed to compensate for subject movement and camera shake. In other words, it helps to remove streaks of light and ruinous motion blur from your dimly lit photos. When we tested out this feature we found that it worked well, although the results are naturally offset by slightly grainier picture quality.

That being said, the camera acquits itself well in the imaging stakes, both inside and outdoors. The 1/2.33in CCD sensor did a pretty good job of combating noise, with images taken at ISO 400 remaining crisp and well detailed. It’s certainly a big improvement over Nikon’s previous entry-level unit (the miserly 7-megapixel Nikon CoolPix S200). If we had one caveat, it would probably be the auto-flash function, which tended to blow out details. All in all, its picture quality isn’t the best on the market, but for the asking price it remains pretty reasonable.

Another interesting feature on the Nikon CoolPix S220 is ‘BSS’ (Best Shot Selector); a function exclusive to Nikon cameras that shoots a series of sequential frames and then saves the one with the sharpest focus. To be honest, we’re not sure how important this function is — we didn’t really notice much difference when the mode was switched on or off. Still, it’s bound to be appreciated by the camera’s target audience of novice users, if only for the peace of mind.

We found the Nikon CoolPix S220’s user interface to be well laid out and intuitive to use. There are a fair number of modes and features for a budget camera, including adjustable colour, nine ISO settings, face detection, movie recording, seven white balance presets, seven image modes, multiple continuous shot options, manual focus priority and 16 scene modes. Curiously, Nikon has gone out of its way to highlight Food as a particularly exciting scene mode, going so far as to give it its own separate billing in the advertising material. Weird.

The Nikon CoolPix S220 wasn’t brilliant when it came to our speed tests. Although start-up took less than a second, you’ll have to wait a further 3 seconds before your first shot. This is pretty lethargic by modern camera standards and may lead to the occasional lost opportunity (an intoxicated chum teetering and then falling into a pool, say). Subsequent shots are also on the slow side, with a shot-to-shot delay of around 2.5 seconds. Nevertheless, we still think this is a pretty good product for the asking price. As camera-cum-fashion accessories go, it’s a decent little performer.

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