This may be Nikon’s most stylish and well-specified compact ever, but how does it perform?......
Nikon may be a major force in DSLRs but their compacts have rarely set the world on fire. The S7c may be the model to change that.
The S7c boasts every gizmo in Nikon’s arsenal. There’s no manual control but 11 subject modes plus full auto covers most eventualities, and the camera includes Nikon’s D-Lighting to boost shadow and highlight detail in difficult situations. Four assist modes provide on-screen framing guides for the artistically impaired. For low-light work Vibration Reduction fixes camera shake electronically, while High ISO mode boosts the signal to ISO 1600. In Face Detection mode a smiley face icon seeks out faces in the scene on which to focus. When you get home, you can download your pics using the supplied docking station or via Wi-Fi.
This is easily Nikon’s best-looking digital compact, possibly ever. The gently curving facia, the matte black and chrome finish, and the giant 3in LCD screen have a real wow factor. But the best bit is the rotary multiselector, which in addition to the standard compass point functions also rotates, iPod style. This circular navigation is continued in its use of a mode menu. Its only black mark is the tiny thumb rest – it isn’t wide enough to give you a firm grip.
The S7c performs most tasks with aplomb. Quick to start up, little lag between shots, good battery performance. Exposure and focusing rarely erred, though heads need to be fairly big in the frame for face detection to work.
The 7MP CCD used in the S7c has a history of producing superficially sharp images that break up when you enlarge them, and it’s no different here. This occurs even at ISO 100, and at ISO 1600 images become crayon drawings. Stick to prints no bigger than 5x7in and you’ll be happy.
Value For Money
You get a whole load of features in a beautiful package for under £300, which I’d say is reasonable.
On paper the S7c has almost everything you?d want on a point-and-shoot camera and it delivers too, as long as you don’t enlarge the images too much. Under close scrutiny, over-zealous processing and noise reduction turn fine detail to mush.