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Nikon CoolPix S700
- Good colour balance, noise low until ISO 400, very low shutter lag
- Shots not always as crisp as we'd like, some haloing, quite pricey
Nikon's S700 isn't an incredible compact camera, but it does the job combining good pictures with a reasonable feature set, which will be fine for most consumers.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
An upgrade to the earlier S500, Nikon's latest CoolPix S700 doesn't reinvent the wheel, but its combination of a high resolution sensor, a sturdy and attractive design along with a decent feature set make it a reasonable choice for point and shoot users looking to upgrade this Christmas.
Featuring a massive 12.1-megapixel sensor, the S700 produces some of the highest resolution shots you'll get from a compact camera. In general the image quality was good, although we expected more from a sensor of this quality.
Sharpness was hit and miss. At times we encountered some fringing which gave our shots a decidedly soft look, while at others everything was crisp and clear. During these clear patches Imatest returned solid results for the S700, but the occasional soft edges did detract a bit from our shots.
There was some fairly prominent chromatic aberration evident in our shots. High contrast edges show noticeable haloing in some instances, but it wasn't as consistent as we've seen in many other cameras so it had less of an impact.
Colour response was impressive, with Imatest giving this camera a strong score in these tests. As usual reds tended to be slightly oversaturated, while the other primary colours were somewhat pale. The end result is a fairly natural balance that will suit happy snappers nicely.
Meanwhile with regards to noise the S700 performed as expected. At ISO 100 everything was clean and sharp and noise ramped up steadily as we increased the sensitivity. ISO 400 is perfectly usable for small and medium print sizes, although anything above that sees a sizeable jump in noise levels.
Its results in our speed tests were impressive. Most noteworthy was the almost non-existent .04 seconds of shutter lag. Shot-to-shot time and power up time weren't quite that good, but they were fine at two seconds and 2.2 seconds respectively. Our only disappointment was the burst mode, which is extremely slow at just a frame a second.
The feature set is fairly standard for a Nikon compact. Novice users will appreciate the Best Shot Selector, which picks the sharpest of a number of shots captured at once when you push the shutter button. If that isn't enough there are 15 scene modes as well. ISO sensitivities can be set as high as ISO 3200 if you use the right shooting mode, but at this level pictures are completely useless.
The S700 comes with sensor-based image stabilisation, instead of the lens-based system on its predecessor. It performs slightly worse in our opinion, but the difference is negligible. Face detect makes a welcome return as well alongside the usual array of focus and metering options. We found the camera's metering worked relatively well, although it had a habit of overexposing some shots taken in bright scenarios.
One other feature worth noting is the distortion control, which is designed to combat barrel distortion. However it seems to do this by cropping the picture, which reduces the resolution and field of view, making it of limited usefulness.
Design wise the S700 is impressive. Its dark chrome metal body is very sturdy and it looks fantastic. The controls are the only downside feeling cheap, plasticky and a little clunky to use. We found the interface a little sluggish at times, but not drastically so.
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