Nikon Coolpix S230
Review Date : Thu, 9 Apr 2009
Author : Cliff Smith
Touch-screen tools add fun to your pics .
|Pros:||Touch-screen, fun playback features, build and image quality|
The Nikon CoolPix S230 is a new premium 10-megapixel compact featuring a 3x zoom lens and a large 3in touch-screen monitor.
Some touch-screens are better than others, but Nikon has fitted a good one to the S230. It is sensitive enough to respond to a fingertip, and the on-screen button points are wide and well-spaced enough even for those of us with large hands.
There is a disadvantage, however; the touch-sensitive coating is slightly reflective, and in bright sunlight it does make the monitor image a lot harder to see.
The most useful touch-screen function is the touch-selectable AF point. Simply tap the screen where you want the camera to focus and an AF point appears there. There are other functions in playback mode including decorative icons such as hearts or musical notes that can be added, and even handwritten notes that can be drawn onto the screen, although a stylus is needed for this option.
Apart from its touch-screen functions, the S230 is a fairly typical 10MP, 3x zoom compact, although it does have a somewhat limited range of options. For instance, it has no alternative metering modes and no colour adjustments apart from those added in playback mode. It has three basic shooting modes; full auto, scene mode (with 19 scene program options including auto scene selector) and the 'blink proof' automatic smile shutter.
The S230 has no mechanical image stabilisation, instead offering a combination of electronic vibration reduction (also available in video mode), a motion sensor with 2000 ISO high-sensitivity setting, and Nikon's usual Best Shot Selector, which rejects blurred pictures. It's not as good as proper VR, but it's better than nothing.
The S230 as a strong all-metal body, and is finished to Nikon's traditionally high standard. It is available in black, purple, or crimson red. Some touch-screens are better than others, but Nikon has fitted a good one to the S230. It is sensitive enough to respond to a fingertip, and the on-screen button points are wide and well-spaced enough even for those of us with large hands. There is a disadvantage, however; the touchsensitive coating is slightly reflective, and in bright sunlight it does make the monitor image a lot harder to see.
The S230's overall performance is a bit on the slow side. It takes nearly three seconds to start up, although it is rather quicker to shut down again. In single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot time of approximately four seconds, which is a bit slow. There is a continuous shooting mode in the sports scene program, but its shooting rate is erratic and quite slow.
The AF system is excellent, focusing quickly and accurately in almost all lighting conditions despite the lack of an AF assist lamp, and the exposure system is just as good, coping well with unusual lighting, including strong backlighting.
The overall image quality is very good, although there is one minor problem. The lens produces a lot of distortion at wide angle, and although there is an option to correct this in processing it still suffers from some corner blurring.
Colour reproduction is excellent, and dynamic range is also above average for its class, capturing shadow detail without blowing too many highlights. Noise control is also very good, with usable images at 800 ISO and even at 2000 ISO it has some redeeming features.
Value For Money
At £190 it is a little expensive for what is at heart a fairly basic compact, but the touch-screen feature does add a number of fun and useful features that go at least some way toward justifying the price.
While the touch-screen interface works well and does add some useful functions, the S230 is quite expensive compared to other 3x zoom 10MP compacts. However it is well made, looks good, is easy to use and has excellent image quality, so if you want a touch-screen you could do worse.