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Nikon Coolpix S630 Digital Camera Review

The Nikon Coolpix S630 curves like a Falcata, but is it as sharp as it's design? Matt Grayson finds out.

|  Nikon Coolpix S630 in Compact Cameras
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Nikon have updated their Style range of compacts and one of them is the S630. Different to the S620 by the larger 7x optical zoom.
Nikon Coolpix S630Nikon Coolpix S630: Specifications
  • Zoom: 7x optical
  • Resolution: 12.2Mp
  • Sensor size: 1/2.33in.
  • Sensor type: CCD
  • Max. image size: 4000x3000
  • File type: JPEG
  • Sensitivity: ISO64-6400
  • Storage: SD, SDHC
  • Focus types: Contrast-detect AF, face priority, auto, manual, centre
  • Normal focusing: 60cm-infinity
  • Close focusing: 2cm-infinity
  • Metering types: 256-segement matrix, centre-weighted
  • Exposure compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3 step increments
  • Shutter speed: 4sec-1/1500sec
  • Flash: Built-in, 60cm-5.5m (wide), 60cm-3.5m (tele)
  • Monitor: 2.7in TFT LCD
  • Interface: USB 2.0
  • Power: Li-Ion battery
  • Size: 96.5x57.5x25.5mm
  • Weight: 140g
Nikon Coolpix S630: Features
One thing that sticks out about the new camera is the styling with its slight curved body creating a faint arch that theoretically fits to the hands better. Its design fits with the range that it's been made for. There are three ranges under the Coolpix name; Professional, Style and Life. Each camera's designation is preset with the appropriate letter according to the range it belongs to.
Nikon Coolpix S630
A 7x optical zoom lens sits in the slim body.
Nikon Coolpix S630
The top plate is bereft of features with only the power button and shutter relreas available to press.
On the front, the Nikon Coolpix S630 is a simplistic design and this mindset is continued throughout the rest of the camera with only the power and shutter release on top although the zoom rocker does wrap around the latter.
Like a separate block of metal has been slotted into the shell, a curved ledge leads away from the thumbpad on the back which sits above the main operation buttons. Two primary buttons control whether you're in shooting or playback mode and the control dial sits below it. All the buttons double up with the exception of the playback ones which are independent.
A large, although not the largest, 2.7in LCD screen sits flush with the back of the camera and dominates the left hand side. This is an indication of consumers wanting bigger and bigger screens but also want the smallest cameras. Something will have to give and it looks like it's going to be the screen.
Nikon have expanded on the anti-shake options of the Coolpix range and there are now four available. As well as VR (Vibration Reduction) which moves the sensor in the opposite direction to the movement to combat the problem, you can also take advantage of High ISO (ISO6400), motion detection and Best Shot Selector (BSS). High ISO isn't the best option as it reduces image quality because of increased noise and because the camera changes the resolution to 3Mp automatically. This means that pictures won't be able to be printed large if you want to do that.
Motion detection will also see when the subject or camera is moving too much and take steps to try and prevent it while BSS will take a selection of 10 shots and choose the best one from the results.
Nikon have elaborated on the auto scene selection where the camera will detect what type of picture is being taken and change the scene mode to suit it. They've added a Blink proof option which will take two photos if your subject keeps blinking. The camera will save the one where the eyes are open. This is on top of the Blink warning system where a message flags up that a person is blinking and advises to take another shot and smile detection which takes a shot automatically when a smile is detected.
Nikon Coolpix S630: Build and handling
Nikon's Style range sits in between the Performance range such as the Nikon Coolpix P90 and the Life range such as the Nikon Coolpix L16. In a way you get the best of both worlds in this type of compact because you benefit from a higher build quality of the P series with all the ease of use and compactness of the L series.
Nikon Coolpix S630
A Li-Ion battery is used in the Nikon Coolpix S630 but the battery door is flimsy.
I'm a little disappointed with the battery lid as it has no metal parts to strengthen it and bends a bit too easily for my liking. A Li-Ion battery is hidden away in this compartment and the SDHC card slides down neatly beside it.
The curved body certainly holds better in the hand as it conforms to the natural shape better so top marks on ergonomics. Everything is where it should be and the menus are as simple as they can be.

Nikon Coolpix S630
Colours are really nice and the metering has worked quite well in a tough condition.

Nikon Coolpix S630: Performance
I tested the Nikon Coolpix P90 and was extremely impressed to get a result of 0.04sec which I thought was either a fluke of my reactions or that Nikon had got their act together on compact responsiveness. I'm happy to say that I got the same short lag of 0.04sec on the S630 as well which means it's not just me. This also puts Nikon at the forefront of compact performance and is ideal for candid photography of children or street scenes.
Continuous shooting managed to get six shots in the 10sec burst test which means a performance of 0.6fps (frames per second). It's not the best result I've seen and borders on disappointing which is unfortunate but all is not lost. The S630 offers more than one burst option such as BSS (Best Shot Selector) which takes ten shots and chooses the best one of them all and Multi-shot 16 which takes 16 thumbnail images and saves them as one large image. This is pretty unnecessary in realistic day to day photography and I can't understand Nikon's insistence on keeping it in. Still it must serve some purpose for users somewhere.

Nikon Coolpix S630It was a little overcast on the day of the landscape test but fringing is still apparent, albeit minimally. I like the detail available in the grass and on the flagstones that lead down the lock to the balance beam.

I took a chance shot of some Daffodils and I'm really happy with the colour that's been reproduced. Dynamic range isn't too bad as there's detail in the shadow area although to the detriment of the highlights as the Daffodil that has the sun on it is a little blown out.
Nikon Coolpix S630
Portrait mode is a tad warmer than program mode.
Nikon Coolpix S630
A decent result from the program mode, though with good detail and skin tone.
Nikon Coolpix S630
Using flash has lightened the image nicely without looking like a flash has been used.
Nikon Coolpix S630
The colourchart has boosted blue and yellow but is holding back on the others. the earthy colours such as brown and forest green are acceptable though.
An ounce of warmth is noticeable in the portrait mode image compared with the program mode version. This should happen but I think is something that's getting more and more rare in cameras with every new release.

Flash has cooled it down a lot too and I like the way all modern compacts are using flash more intelligently to look as though they're not actually using it.

Looking at the colour test image shows a saturated blue and yellow but appears to hold back on the other colours. That'll explain the daffodil image looking so punchy but that's not to say that the other colours have been forgotten about.

Brown still looks rich as does forest green and despite being a fraction on the pale side, the skin tone tile looks pretty good. The pastel colours are a bit too pale but the mono tones are nicely balanced.

Nikon Coolpix S630: Noise test
ISO64 is understandably smooth and this carries on until around ISO400 where noise starts to creep in to the image and is seen at normal size. ISO3200 and 6400 drop the resolution to 3Mp in an attempt to control the noise problem from such a small sensor but it's limited in what it can do and Noise still takes over the whole image with some aggressive colouring in all areas.
Nikon Coolpix S630
The ISO64 test.
Nikon Coolpix S630
The ISO1600 test.
Nikon Coolpix S630
The ISO6400 test.
Nikon Coolpix S630: Verdict
For a little compact I don't think it's too bad. I think if you had this as something to stick in your pocket on those family days when the bag you're carrying will have sandwiches in, then it'll do the job nicely. It seems to prefer sunny days, but then don't we all?

One thing it will be useful for is those quick reaction times due to it's fast response. Candid shots, airshows, motorsports would all benefit from a camera will fast reactions.

It's let down in the noise area and the battery lid being really flimsy but if you can look past this then you've got a nice little compact.

Nikon Coolpix S630: Plus points
Good colours
Good flash performance
Fast response
Nice design
Good low ISO results

Nikon Coolpix S630: Minus points
Noise at mid to high levels
Flimsy battery door
Fringing on low contrast areas





The Nikon Coolpix S630 costs around £248 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Nikon Coolpix S630

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