Product Type: Nikon digital cameras
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A super cool review of the Nikon Coolpix
Nikon Coolpix S560
Member Name: thebigc1690
Nikon Coolpix S560
Advantages: Looks good, durable and a good range of user interactive settings .
Disadvantages: Not the most vivid of colour capture and a few other problems (see review) .
The Nikon Coolpix S560 is the latest in a range of Nikon point and shoot digital cameras and a direct step up from the Coolpix S550. In my opinion this was released a bit quickly after the S550 and it makes me wonder if Nikon were ever truly happy with the 550 that they felt the need to release its successor within just a few months of it being released itself.
In the camera market however, you need to give Nikon the benefit of the doubt because they have been producing great cameras since before time itself it would seem. In this day and age when you can buy mobile phones with 8 megapixel cameras built in it is hardly surprising that we are seeing tiny cameras like this S560 from Nikon with 10 megapixel resolution and 5 times optical zooms but we must not be fooled by all this.
Buying a camera should never be based on megapixels alone, take this ten megapixel point and shoot and put it up against a six megapixel DSLR and the DSLR will win hands down every time, this is simply down to the quality of the glass (lens). All that said, Nikon have upped the qualityof the lens since the earlier Coolpix models as well as giving it a larger screen on the rear and including a decent image stabilisation, which has gone on to make this a very decent point and shoot digital camera.
Image stabilisation within point and shoot digitals is becoming fairly common but just because it is there doesn?t mean it works and with some cameras it is no more than a gimmick. With the Coolpix however you really do get away with shooting in poorer light or using a tighter zoom and eliminating hand shake, do not expect miracles but if you don?t have the steadiest of hands and quite often get blurred images then this will certainly help.
The other thing point and shoot cameras try to match the modern DSLR`s for is start up times, the start up time of my Sony A900 DSLR for instance is blink of an eye stuff, a mere fraction of a second so you can catch a perfect moment and not miss it waiting for the camera to start. Nikon point and shoot digitals are never usually the quickest and this one although better than earlier ones is still nowhere near lightning fast at just over 2 seconds.
On the subject of speed, the other thing no point and shoot can do as quickly as a DSLR is auto focus but again Nikon have gone some way to improving this in this particular unit and again whilst not the best it is faster and quieter than previous Coolpix cameras.
As with most point and shoots these days you get an impressive range of settings, such as macro, sunlight, low light, fireworks and the likes. However these are never very accurate and certainly do not come close to being as good as when you set the setting yourself based on what you see through the lens. Thankfully most point and shoots (this one included) now go some way to allowing the user to set up shots manually like a pro would with a DSLR.
This Coolpix offers you the ability to set your own choice of ISO, shutter speeds, aperture and even allows for exposure compensation to be used and also white balance settings to be adjusted. Dont worry though because if you did not understand a word of that, you can still choose auto and simply point and shoot. The white balance settings on this and the exposure compensation modes work well for such a small unit and again although they cannot come close to DSLR standards, I was quietly impressed.
All the mumbo jumbo of what the camera can do often seems to pass people by when they are choosing a camera with many people simply going for the smallest best looking camera with the most megapixels. Perhaps that is why Nikon have gone so out of their way to make this one of the smallest, feature packed, good looking little cameras on the market. With dimensions of only 93 x 54.5 x 23.5 mm and being as light as the proverbial feather this camera will easily fit into a pocket just as it would a small hand bag. It looks really good in all its available colours (black, silver and pink at the minute with probably more to come) and it also looks very state of the art.
Often with cameras as small as this you get a sort of feeling like within a few weeks of owning it, it will simply fall apart but as well as looking good this Coolpix feels quite good to handle and despite its tiny frame the buttons and controls are not too crammed in and the whole thing feels very sturdy and durable.
There are tons of other features within this little camera but giving mention to them all would turn this review into a novel, so my advice would be simply to compare features when looking to buy and see which camera has what and also have some sort of idea what features you would benefit from and I can safely tell you that in this price range if the features are available on a choice of cameras as well as this one then this Coolpix will probably be the best option by virtue of the fact that Nikon have put their years of DSLR experience into making sure they work.
The price you will be looking at if you look to purchase one of these cameras will be somewhere between £165.99 which is the cheapest I have seen it to date and £205.99 which is the most expensive I have seen it on offer at. If you can pick it up for around the lower end of that scale then I say you are getting decent value for money but at the higher end you are getting close to being able to afford a starter DSLR and if you are serious about your photography and not looking for a tiny camera then that is the way to go.
This camera is not designed to compete with DSLR`s of course and it`s more direct competition comes from the superb Sony cyber shots and the ever increasing range of other feature packed tiny point and shoots. The only cameras I would put way out in front of these Coolpix models is the Sony cybershots but to get one with the same features as this you will be looking at spending about £50 more.
Now every point and shoot digital camera has its limits and its faults and this one is no exception, for instance Nikon have gone out their way to prevent the lens from throwing up barrel distortion and chromatic aberration but this seems to have affected the sharpness of the final image and there is in my opinion more detail and colour sharpness in images taken by earlier Coolpix models. The other main problem is one that all point and shoot digitals have and that is the production of red eye in images when the flash is used.
There are settings on this camera to allow you to adjust how the flash operates and this includes a red eye reduced setting but unfortunately red eye is still apparent no matter what you do, this is simply because the flash is so close to the lens and it really cannot be avoided. Another issue I have with this and all point and shoots is their claim to be able to shoot video, what they produce is merely poor quality moving images and in anything less than perfect light the video will be so bad you will wish you had not bothered.
The last real complaint about this unit is the macro setting, Macro settings on point and shoots try to take the place of using a macro lens on a DSLR and they cannot do it in most cases. Some Sony cybershots have good macro settings but in the main point and shoot lenses just cannot cope with this. Macro shooting is basically shooting an image at very close range to capture perfect detail, most lenses cannot focus very close up and that is why you get proper macro lenses for DSLR`s. For me the macro setting on this is little more than a gimmick.
Ok now for the real winning points on this camera, I found the face priority focus setting to work very well and as mentioned earlier the white balance settings are very, very good for a point and shoot camera. I also like the fact that this camera uses a Lithium Ion rechargeable battery rather than relying on AA`s like most point and shoots because digital cameras go through batteries at an alarming rate, our friends at Sony have been using lithium ion batteries in their Cybershots for some time now and it is good to see other manufacturers finally getting this right.
Other good points with this camera are the continuous shooting modes, the clear large screen on the rear, the ease in which it can be linked to a PC or laptop through the USB cable, the instruction manual which is very easy to follow and explained vey clearly and I loved the software that came with the camera, the coolpix software suite will be a great toy for many amateur photographers to tamper with their final images and try to perfect them or just give them interesting effects.
This is a camera that I would recommend but I would also say has limitations, for it`s price it is probably the best in its range but if you want crisper clearer images with brighter more vibrant colours when cropped or zoomed in then you should consider spending a few more pounds and look at the Sony Cybershot range (I can?t say fairer than that)!
LOOKS - 9/10
BUILD QUALITY - 7/10
EASE OF USE - 8/10
FUNCTIONS AND FEATURES - 7/10
IMAGE QUALITY - 6/10
VALUE FOR MONEY - 7/10
OVERALL - 7/10
Thanks for reading
Summary: recommended for people looking in this price range but if you can spend more you can buy better!
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