The Nikon Coolpix S620, a well-designed, entry-level compact, but with more features behind the scenes than meets the eye. Does the Nikon S620 have a unique enough sell point for it to land in your shopping basket? What Digital Camera Nikon S620 review...
The Nikon Coolpix S620 – the little brother of the S630 – is a 12 megapixel, 28mm wideangle compact camera with 4x optical zoom (28-112mm) to its name. Boasting a rotational rear thumbwheel to speed up menu scrolling, as well as subject tracking, smile detection and Nikon’s high dynamic range-pushing D-lighting feature, is the Nikon S620 a strong enough compact to shake off the competition? The What Digital Camera Nikon S620 review checks out the detail…
Nikon Coolpix S620 review – Features
The Nikon S620 comes armed with a wide 28mm lens – and with 4x optical zoom that offers a respectable 28-112mm. From wide through to mid you’ll have the ability to snap a variety of subjects and, although not the widest of lenses equipped to a compact, the 28mm has notably broad angle of view that’ll stop you backing up against too many walls to squeeze everything in. The Nikon S630, on the other hand, has a 37mm 7x optical zoom lens – so the two cameras really are entirely different kettles of fish.
There are more options tucked away inside the Coolpix S620 than initially meets the eye. It features a 2cm from lens macro mode, Nikon’s ‘vibration reduction’ image stabilisation, smile detection & blink warning, plus even more complex subject-tracking auto focus (that follows your subject around the screen) options. A 2.7in LCD screen with 230,000 dots sits on the back and it’s possible to shoot up to an ultra-sensitive ISO 6400.
Nikon S620 review – Design
Nikon has kept things nice and simple in the design of the S620. Whilst not ultra-thin, it’s a notably slender camera. Whilst we looked at the nice polished pseudo-silver model, there are pink, purple and black alternatives to keep everyone happy. The finish is very nice in all cases, refraining from overpowering hot colours; the subtle whisper of colour maintains the camera’s elegance.
Control-wise the Coolpix S620 is relatively simple – namely due to its limited number of buttons. Now, whilst too many buttons can baffle as to how to work a camera, too few buttons can cause a similar issue. Admittedly the Nikon S620 falls into the latter bracket, shy of control buttons. Almost everything is achieved via the menu system, so an extra function button or so wouldn’t have gone amiss. However, the usually static d-pad on the rear has been transformed into a rotational device – so whilst the four directional buttons are maintained to select options, it’s also possible to rotate the wheel to quickly scroll through menu options too. This does actually speed up proceedings significantly, though with the occasional slip up (where you rotate accidentally, rather than selecting an option).
The Nikon Coolpix S620 has a relatively large 2.7in LCD screen too, which sits snugly on the back. It runs almost from the very top to bottom and, considering the size of the compact itself, dominates the rear making it ideal for preview or playback.
Nikon S620 review – Performance
The Nikon Coolpix S620 starts up nice and quickly. Indeed the spec sheet boasts that all functions are engineered for fast response. For the most part this is true, though if you rush between taking a shot and quickly trying to adjust a setting such as ISO, the buttons will be irresponsive for a split second. So not as lightning-fast as could be.
Macro mode works as close as 2cms from the lens, but this is only apparent at the wide end of the zoom.
The LCD screen views well and, whether above the head or below the waist, it’s still easy enough to see all the action. Of course bright sunlight will reflect and cause some difficulty with viewing, but the S620 fares relatively well against this. A viewfinder does lack however, so it’s always a case of braving the sun.
Mode-wise the Nikon Coolpix S620 tucks the scene modes inside the menu. From the outset the feel is very much that this is an ‘auto’ point and shoot compact. There is a ‘Scene Auto Selector’ option, perhaps Nikon’s somewhat quiet resolve to ‘intelligent auto’ that widely features on competitors’ models. Here the basic controls are taken over for you, auto selecting the most appropriate scene mode for the subject at hand.
It’s perhaps the Subject Tracking mode that’s most impressive. Point your camera up to the subject and click ‘ok’ to begin tracking your subject around the frame – they can even leave the frame and return and continue to be tracked. It can get a little confused with bustling scenes with a lot of movement, but for the most part it’s a top mode to have on a compact – a little similar to that found with the Panasonic FX550, albeit minus the touch screen option.