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There's not only a cutting edge feature and beautiful curves to look at, but the Coolpix S52c also offers decent photographic features such as a 4cm macro mode, high resolution and interesting picture styles to have fun with your photography.
Nikon Coolpix S52c: Specification
- Zoom: 3x optical
- Resolution: 9Mp
- Image size: 3456x2592
- Sensor size: 1/ 2.5
- Sensor type: CCD
- Colour: Plum Black
- Focal length: 38-114mm
- Aperture: f/3.3-4.2
- Viewfinder: LCD only
- Film mode: Yes
- Screen size: 3in
- Card format: SD,SDHC
- Battery: EN-EL8
- Weight: 125g
- Size: 97.5x59x21mm
- Minimum focus: 4cm Macro
- Screen resolution: 230,000 pixel
- File formats: JPEG
- Connectivity: Hi-Speed USB
- Flash type: Built-in
- Flash guide: 6
- Image stabilisation: Vibration Reduction
- ISO max: 3200
- Face detection: Technology Face-Priority AF
Similarly priced compacts are the Casio Exilim EX-S10 at £204 with 10Mp, 3x optical zoom and auto shutter control for smile, blur and panning detection.
Alternatively, the Panasonic DMC FX35 at £205 offers 10Mp, 4x optical zoom from a Leica lens and a wide 25mm lens.
Nikon Coolpix S52c: Modes and features
Anyone interested in a smooth, trendy looking camera needs to look at this review. Opening the box and I'm bowled over by the smooth, dark red (Plum Black) design with speckles of glitter. I've watched enough episodes of Pimp My Ride to know that it's called the "candy effect".
The curves and unusual design of the camera are great. I love the way the front bows out in the opposite direction to other compacts with the side of the camera hanging out by half a centimetre like a cartoon cliff face which houses the Wi-Fi connectivity. That must be what the 'c' stands for in S52c.
The lens is situated in the top right of the camera with a metal sliding lens cover. The flash sits close by which could mean a problem with red-eye, but if the S52c is anything like previous Nikon's, it'll have built-in red-eye removal.
The top of the camera has the shutter release, power button, Wi-Fi enabler and face detection button for quick portraits.
The back is dominated by the huge 3in LCD screen with only a small area to the right to house any buttons at all. The zoom rocker is ridiculously small at around a centimetre and sits over the built-in speaker. Four other buttons give access to functions and they surround the navigation pad which has a confirmation pad in the centre.
The mode button brings up a virtual mode dial which can be scrolled through by rotating the navigation pad (yes, it's a wheel too) and from here you can access shooting, hi-ISO, scene, microphone, video and the set-up menu.
The menu button has even more for you to occupy your time with. You can change different features such as the resolution, white balance and ISO. The navigation pad also doubles up for access to your self timer, flash, macro and exposure compensation.
A sticker on the front of the camera blares out its main features and benefits, so I'll take a look at those. Resolution is 9Mp so will be suitable to get to A3 size, possibly A2 if you're lucky and have a shot with minimal detail. The Coolpix S52c has an Image Stabiliser which Nikon call Vibration Reduction (VR) and they list this with an ISO3200 feature which suggests to me that they work in conjunction with one another.
If this is the case, then it isn't proper VR as all that's happening is the higher ISO ensures a faster shutter speed hence still images, but the noise will be all over an image at that high setting. In the past, Nikon have tackled this problem by dropping the resolution, but I'll have to take a look at the noise tests to see if that happens.
The feature that will be drawing you to this camera in the first place is the Wi-Fi ability. It works by searching for a Wi-Fi signal when you have some pictures to send to your email address, Flickr account, web space or Nikons own my Picturetown site created especially for this feature. The idea is that you can take some photos, upload them online when you're in a Wi-Fi hotspot and free your card for other shots to be taken.
To access the internet through a Wi-Fi you can go to an area where the connection is free or you'll need the password to continue which means that you won't get into trouble for using bandwidth that you're not allowed to.
Once you've selected your pictures, go into the Wi-Fi area by pressing the envelope button on the top of the camera and it'll take you directly to a text bar with letters and numbers below. The letters are scrolled through using the wheel or pressing up and down. I found a mixture of the two the most convenient. To use capital letters, a second page is available showing those with a third page for icons.
Once you've input all the info, the camera will search for a signal and display all the ones you can use. Any password protected will need to be unlocked, but if you're in a public Wi-Fi area, then the images will send straight away.
Nikon Coolpix S52c: Build and handling
The front of the case feels like the glossy exterior of the Olympus Mju 1200 with its soft, smooth, polished finish.
Moving the camera around, the screen suffers slight motion blur which is unusual as it will be using the same screen as the S600 which doesn't have a problem with it.
The camera takes its own lithium ion battery and the SD card goes in the same bay. The door to open it is pretty innovative. When it's opened, two curved arms push the door right out of the way so no tricky clawing at the battery is necessary.
The lens cover is metal and I think this is a good idea. Too many lens covers are plastic meaning they're flimsy and can be opened easily if the camera is in your bag ending in the lens element getting scratched.
Options in the flash mode are auto, auto with red-eye, flash off, flash on and nightshot.
The Nikon Coolpix S52c does have a red-eye removal editing tool which will kick in automatically when the flash is fired using the red-eye reduction facility. As the picture is sent through the processor, it eliminates any other red-eye by scanning the image and editing it out.
The colour chart image.
Nikon Coolpix S52c: Performance
Every compact is geared up for taking landscape pictures giving preference to blue and green when promoting colours on a chart. The colour chart taken with the S52c shows a definite boost in primary blue with green looking nicely saturated too. The mono tones look nice and the earth colours are nicely balanced. The skin tone looks a bit pale when compared with other cameras I've reviewed recently.
For a small compact like this, the 4cm macro feature kicks some other compacts where it smarts as they crawl along with 10-20cm.
What this means is that I managed to get some lovely detail on the flower as the sun went down one evening.
The macro image.
The portrait result is a little disappointing as it verges on badly underexposed. The overall image has been warmed as the cream wall in the background has a warmer tone to it. The shadow side of the face is too dark and detail has been lost.
Using the flash helps as always and a more balanced result has been achieved. Shadows found on the previous shot have been eliminated, although it has caused its own shadows on the wall. Highlights aren't blown out which is great.
Catchlights have been created and more detail is present on the hair.
The portrait image.
The portrait image with flash.
The normal colour image.
The vivid colour image.
The cyanotype image.
The most recent Nikon compacts have a picture style feature in the menu and this is used to add, reduce or adjust the colour in your image. The options change from camera to camera, but standard, vivid and monochrome are always present. In some models, the differing options could be pastel, sepia or, in the case of the S52c, cyanotype.
This colour option is a monochrome image with a cyan cast. This is especially effective in dark situations such as churches, graveyards or practicing fake ghost images. It gives the shot a cold, aged, decayed feel which can be very effective in the right situation.
The vivid colour works by saturating the image and therefore boosting the colours in the frame. In most cases it looks nice, but can get a bit garish in the wrong scenario. make sure you take a shot in normal colour as well in case it looks radically different on your computer compared to the screen on the camera.
In the shutter lag test, the results came out consistently with a slow result of between 0.10-0.25 seconds. This is pretty slow compared to other cameras in this classification.
The continuous shooting mode manages 20 shots in ten seconds giving a result of 2fps (frames per second) which is pretty good.
One thing I have to mention that I really dislike is the menu. Going into the menu is easy enough, as is looking around it. The colours are nice and bright with good contrast for easier viewing.
However after selecting something, to come out of the menu, you'd normally press the shutter release and be ready to take a picture, but with all Nikon cameras, you have to back out of the menu slowly by pressing the menu button repeatedly until you're out.
Nikon Coolpix S52c: Noise test
A disappointing result from the ISO test with a softening of the image starting from ISO200. However, things don't seem to get worse until ISO800 when purple blotches start to appear on the black card.
Blue spots start to leak over to the grey card at ISO1600 and all detail is gone from the petals at ISO3200. Interestingly, the camera has been kept at 9Mp throughout. Normally, the camera's resolution is moved down to try and repair the damage that the noise creates.
The ISO100 test.
The ISO200 test.
The ISO400 test.
The ISO800 test.
The ISO1600 test.
The ISO3200 test.
Nikon Coolpix S52c: Verdict
This camera appears to have been released for the Wi-Fi capability alone although a model without the feature is also available (Nikon Coolpix S52).
Amusingly, for a camera that's so cutting edge in design and technology, they've included a picture style that gives the effect of a camera from the early days of photography.
If you like your cameras sexy and your technology at the forefront, then this is the camera for you.
Nikon Coolpix S52c: Plus points
Cool new design
Good macro capability
Nikon Coolpix S52c: Minus points
Wi-Fi feature can take some getting used to
Low ISO starts to lose quality
Poor shutter lag performance
The Nikon Coolpix S52c costs around £200 and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here.