Nikon CoolPix S710
14.7-megapixel compact camera with a 28mm, wide-angle lens
- Extremely high resolution, wide-angle lens, well balanced colours, manual features
- Painfully slow in all respects, shots look a little soft by default
Nikon's CoolPix S710 would be a fantastic compact if not for its incredibly slow performance. Its shots look good, with excellent detail and well-balanced colours. It also sports a bevy of nifty features. However, the speed issues really damage the user experience.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
As the flagship model of Nikon's compact S series of cameras, the CoolPix S710 has some impressive specifications. Some, like the 14.7-megapixel sensor, have an impact, while others, such as the maximum sensitivity of ISO 12,800, are basically useless. On the whole it is a good performer with some niggling speed and image issues that prevent it from being a must-have this Christmas.
Its resolution is extremely high, even by modern standards, so it's no surprise that the unit captures fairly impressive snaps. They are a little softer than we expected, but the resolution and level of detail are excellent. Chromatic aberration is evident, with some prominent purple fringing outdoors; this is not unexpected, and there was minimal softening towards the corners of the frame. Overall, the pictures will be crisp enough for most print sizes. The S710 also has a 6x zoom.
Many compacts struggle to keep saturation in check, but the S710 did a good job. Bright colours, like blues and greens, were lively without being too vivid, and skin tones were accurate. Exposure levels were a little off at times, with some detail lost in dark areas, but this wasn't a major problem.
The camera's noise performance was standard. Shots taken at ISO 100 and ISO 200 were fine. At ISO 400, a little colourful chroma noise crept in but the level of clarity remained consistent. It wasn't until ISO 800 that we saw any kind of drop in sharpness, but even those shots were fine for small and medium prints. It wasn't until ISO 1600 that everything began to look particularly fuzzy. Even though the unit offers sensitivities up to ISO 12,800 they are unusable in all but the direst of circumstances.
The real killer for the S710 was its performance in our speed tests. In almost every respect it is one of the slowest units we've looked at recently. Taking a mammoth 3.5 seconds to start up, it certainly isn't a camera for spontaneous snaps. Similarly, the huge 0.3 seconds of shutter lag and 4 seconds between shots mean any kind of speedy photography becomes a trial. This really is a deal-breaker, as it makes the user experience much more painful.
Fortunately, the features set of this camera impresses. It sports a full suite of advanced features including aperture, shutter and program priority as well as full manual mode. The wide-angle, 28mm lens also makes a big difference; as has become standard, it's supported by Nikon's vibration-reduction image stabilisation. This does a solid job of minimising blurring.
A number of scene modes are present, along with face detection and smile detection. There is a burst mode, too, but it is quite sluggish, snapping 1.8 frames in a second. The focus and metering options are somewhat basic but should do the job, and you can adjust the colour preferences as well as setting a custom white balance mode.
The S710's design is fine but nothing noteworthy. It is quite boxy and weighty, which may disappoint users after something incredibly portable. Still, the dark graphite metal body looks smooth and the controls are nicely laid out. There is also a sizeable 3in display, which makes framing shots a breeze.
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