Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
Nikon CoolPix S560
Petite camera with 5x zoom and sensor-shift stabilisation.
- Quick shutter speed and shot-to-shot times, nice design, 5x zoom with sensor-shift image stabilisation
- Shots are extremely noisy, sharpness lacking
It won't produce fantastic pictures but if you're after a no-fuss camera for the occasional happy snap then maybe the Nikon CoolPix S560 will fit the bill.
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
Following on from its predecessor, the CoolPix S550, the Nikon CoolPix S560 is a middle-of-the-road compact camera. It has received a few upgrades, including a larger 2.7in LCD and, critically, sensor-shift stabilisation instead of the much less effective electronic version. However, its pictures suffer in several ways, including high levels of noise and a fair amount of under-sharpening, which mean the output is only suitable for casual users.
One thing that has been noticeably improved on this iteration is the speed. It isn't the fastest we've seen but it's getting there. The CoolPix S550 was quite sluggish by modern standards and the S560 goes quite a way to rectifying this. It started up in just under two seconds, and exhibited a pretty snappy 0.06 seconds of shutter lag and a quick 1.7 seconds between shots. The burst mode snaps off 2.2 frames per second, which is fine if not noteworthy.
Unfortunately, it is image quality that is the S560's downfall, with little done to rectify the problems of its predecessor. One of the most obvious of these is the lack of sharpness, particularly given that this is a 10-megapixel camera. Our indoor chart shots, which are taken in a controlled environment on a tripod, were soft and lacking in crispness. This was also evident outdoors. The snaps will still produce fine regular-sized prints, but once you start making enlargements you'll begin to feel the impact.
Chromatic aberration is evident, too, but it doesn't produce much in the way of purple fringing, which is nice. Instead it resulted in a decent amount of detail loss towards the corners of the frame, but this is standard for a lot of compact cameras.
Noise performance was also relatively poor. Ordinarily you can snap shots up to about ISO 400 on most compacts without any issues, but taking the sensitivity that high on the S560 produces some fairly noticeable grain. Again it wasn't a deal-breaker if you're just making regular-sized prints but the white speckling will be obvious at larger magnifications. Anything above ISO 400 and the noise ramps up a fair bit so we'd recommend steering clear of this unit if you take lots of night shots.
Colour balance was the saving grace of the images. Colours were well-rendered and while they did have the slightly over-saturated tone common to most compacts it was kept under control. We were happy with the combination of accuracy and vibrancy in our shots. As usual, you can tweak the colour mode and there is a custom white balance option as well.
The important new feature to note is the sensor-shift image stabilisation. As this unit has a larger than normal zoom lens for a compact (5x) this is particularly useful, allowing you to make the most of the bigger lens. Apart from this the list of features is pretty standard, with face detection, a collection of scene modes and an automatic scene selector, which should prove useful for novices.
Another thing to note about the camera is that it is fairly small. It will slip comfortably into a pocket or small bag and the metal design feels sturdy. It also looks fairly stylish, with a matte black body and silver edging. The 2.7in LCD screen is a slight upgrade from its predecessor and the extra space is always appreciated.
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