Nikon Coolpix S2 digital camera review

4 out of 5
£300

For

Stylish digicam sealed against the elements with good resolution and folded optic 3x optical zoom lens.

Against

Small controls make handling a tad fiddly with some image quality issues.

Svelte, stylishly cool digicams are all the rage at the moment with Sony and now Nikon following the trend-setting Konica Minolta X-series models with a slim, upright style camera featuring periscope-like, folded optic lens technology.

But the S2 adds a new level of cool to its multi-coloured brother the S1, in that it comes in what Nikon describes as an ‘All Weather' weatherproofed, full metal jacket. While it's unlikely the camera would cope with a complete dunking, it's more than able to hold off a summer shower or a dowsing on a wet ride at a theme park.

The metal body features an exceptionally shiny slide-away cover that also acts as the on/off control revealing the lens and small, built-in flash. The very shiny surface looks nice but if you're anything like me, you'll quickly find yourself obsessed with cleaning off the many fingerprints that quickly mar its surface.

Specification of note includes sensitivity from ISO 50 to ISO 400, shutter speeds range from 8 to 1/2000th second and you get 15-scene modes into the bargain including the ubiquitous portrait, landscape and night scene modes. The large, 2.5-inch colour screen is excellent to use in all but the brightest conditions but the lack of an optical viewfinder is necessitated as the screen uses up nearly all the camera back-plate real estate, making the camera's control and handling decidedly fiddly.

The 3x zoom lens has a 35-105mm focal range with a modest F/3.0 maximum aperture, and it is this that hails the start of my few grumbles.

The lens suffers from marked barrel distortion and the restrictive maximum aperture makes camera shake an issue in lower lighting conditions or at full zoom, where the effective maximum aperture of F/5.4 becomes an issue for steady shots.

The only other issues are fringing in high contrast parts of a scene and a drop in image sharpness at the edges, presumably the latter an issue related to the lens design and that barrel distortion. However, exposures are generally very good while colour is excellent, even a bit OTT in some shots, providing the type of colour that really leaps off the screen or photo print.

Verdict

Given my grumbles you'd be forgiven for thinking I don't like this camera, not so. It's a gem, if a little flawed around the edges. Anyone making standard sized prints from its images will be more than happy with its results and it is so nice to look at you'll be hard pressed not to flaunt it wherever you go, just be careful you don't wear it out by over-polishing that shiny face plate.