There are more cameras available around the £100-mark than ever before, but how does Nikon's latest S-series compact compare?
There was a time when £100 wouldn’t buy you that much of a compact camera. Due to production costs, manufacturers had to cut down on specification to meet the price point, with this often affecting the performance of the compacts.
However, in recent times the circa-£100 market has seen the addition of a host of models that have offered specifications and performance belying their price-tag. Nikon’s S-range of COOLPIX cameras offers a host of models around this price-point, with the S2500 being the most recent – but what exactly can you get from Nikon for around the magical £100 price tag?
Nikon COOLPIX S2500 review – Features
The times when one had to compromise in getting a compact under £100 are long gone, and this can be seen in the specification of the COOLPIX S2500. The model features a 1/2.3in CCD sensor with a 12MP resolution, while a 4x optical zoom also features covering a 27-108mm focal range in 35mm equivalent terms, even complete with electronic vibration reduction. The model also features an LCD screen with a resolution befitting it’s price tag – a 2.7in, 230k-dot is hardly going to set the world alight, but it’s more than adequate for review and composing images.
A lot of the camera’s functionality is aimed at those who are either new to photography or want the camera to do the work, with this once again being a common feature of compacts around the £100 price tag. The S2500 features a ‘Smart Portrait’ capture system – the mode features Smile Timer, Blink Proof and Skin Softening features which all combine to help take better portraits. The camera also features Scene Auto Selection technology, whereby the camera will address the scene and choose the right scene mode for the best image from one of 17 different modes.
The COOLPIX S2500 also features Subject Tracking Auto-Focus mode, which is perfect for a moving subject and a relatively high-end feature, while the model also benefits from built-in anti-blur technology, assisting in sharp subjects using four different methods.
Design and Performance
Nikon COOLPIX S2500 review – Design
The Nikon S2500 benefits from an eye-catching design. The body of the camera is aluminium in build and just 20mm thick which means, when you consider the weight being just 117g, the S2500 is an eminently-pocketable compact. The model is also available in four colours – red, pink, black and silver – which just serves to firm the notion that the S2500 is aimed at the entry-level.
For a circa-£100 compact, the Nikon S2500 has a reassuringly solid feel to it, no doubt a cause of the aluminium body. The menu is designed well, covering just the basic of adjustable camera functionality. Buttons are intelligently laid out on the rear of the camera, giving enough space for a comfortable grip of the camera, and in general the S2500 is a very well designed compacts camera.
Nikon COOLPIX S2500 review – Performance
The first thing that strikes you when using the Nikon COOLPIX S2500 is that the focus system is fairly slow. When trying to set focus on a subject, the camera takes a good second, and often more, to find a focal point and then fix. Furthermore, while the addition of subject tracking AF is good in theory, it fails to deliver in practice – the S2500 manages to track the subject well, however when one comes to try and photograph the subject the shutter delay means that the subject has likely left the area focused upon. Start-up time is also fairly slow, although it’s not terrible and won’t leave you standing around for too long waiting to shoot.
The camera’s best shot selector mode, on the other hand, performs well in use and can be a very useful tool when you’re looking to cut down the margin for error when capturing images.
Other performance points are around what you’d expect from a camera at this price-point. The models LCD screen struggles in bright light, though it’s hard to put this down to anything other than the resolution, itself due to keeping the cost down. It’s also worth nothing that the Smart Auto scene selection setting works well, and will take the pain out of camera setting selection for those new to photography.
Image Quality and Value
Nikon COOLPIX S2500 review – Image Quality
In general, images produced by the Nikon COOLPIX S2500 are good enough for a compact camera around the £100 price mark. Tonal range is generally impressive, with a good balance between shadows and highlights, as well as a capacity to expose both evenly. Colour rendition is also pleasing, with white balance generally performing well. One issue is that the compact struggles in displaying fine detail, and this becomes a real issue at higher ISO settings, anywhere beyond ISO 400 becomes difficult to use.
Nikon COOLPIX S2500 review – Value
The S2500 is a lot of camera for the £100 price mark – although the screen may not be the best, and the camera may suffer from having a fairly limited selection of shooting modes and general functionality, it’s still well built and designed compact offering a good level of images.
Nikon COOLPIX S2500 review – Verdict
The market for £100 cameras has really improved in quality over recent years. Where once you’d struggle to purchase anything respectable around that price, there are now a host of models vying for pole position. While the Nikon COOLPIX S2500 does have a few issue, namely average image quality, not the best LCD screen and limited shooting modes, it’s still a great little compact camera and well worth a look.
Auto, red-eye, forced, backlit portrait
Auto, 5 preset
Auto, scene auto, 19 scene modes
2.7in, 230k-dot LCD screen
4x optical zoom, 27-108mm
12MP, 1/2.3in CCD sensor
USB 2, AV Out
SD / SDHC
Li-ion rechargeable EN-EL19
93.1 x 57.1 x 20 mm