Nikon's S620 is a compact 12-megapixel snapper with a bit screen and a plethora of promises, but can it deliver? We grabbed the camera and headed out of the office to find out.
The S620 is one of the latest cameras in the S-Series from Nikon and sits just under its more impressive tech spec'd brother the S630.
The S630 boasts 12 megapixels, a 7x optical zoom Nikkor lens, vibration reduction and a Sure Grip for "comfortable finger fit" while the S620, £50 less, ditches the 7x zoom in favour of a 4x zoom Nikkor lens covering wide-angle 28mm and a 2.7-inch, wide-viewing angle LCD monitor. It too has 12 megapixels.
It also boasts up to ISO 6400, four anti-blur technologies, new Blink Proof and Quick Retouch features, Subject Tracking AF and Scene Auto Selector. It'll be available in Bright Silver, Calm Black, Noble Purple and Precious Pink.
Quite bulky considering the lack of a longer than 4x optical zoom, the camera is comfortable in hand with that screen dominating the back of the design. The sheer size of the screen compared to the rest of the camera means two main things: the first that you don't get an optical viewfinder and the second; that the dials and buttons to the right are all incredibly small. This isn't a camera for those who want to keep their hands warm with gloves.
A zoom toggle is to be found on the top next to the power switch and other connections to your computer or TV are done via a proprietary connector on the side. There is no HDMI connection as we are starting to see in many of the higher resolution cameras.
Turn it on and 0.7 seconds you are ready to shoot. Pressing the shutter to actually capturing a picture is pretty fast too, with the S620 being responsive in most situations.
Like so many compacts released at the moment, the S620 isn't just about grabbing a picture - we'll come to that in a moment. Nikon has as we've already alluded to bundled a number of features into the camera such as blink and smile detection.
On the blinking front, instead of stopping you actually take a picture, Nikon's approach is to simply inform you that "Someone might have blinked" after the fact. The approach is welcomed and annoying at the same time. Welcomed because you aren't just standing there trying to get the picture to take because someone can't keep their eyes open, but annoying because by the time you review that they have in fact got their eyes closed they've probably buggered off.
Smile detection is as you would expect. Again it won't stop you taking pictures of grumpy people but merely lets the focusing lock on to those who are smiling. Seems if you are a grumpy bastard then Nikon believes you don't deserve to be in focus.
For those with kids there is a tracking option that lets you select a subject and then when they move the focus point moves with it/them. The concept works and sounds like a great idea, however as Mrs Pocket-lint was keen to point out, you've got to get your kids to stand still to lock on to them. The whole experience is akin to what it must be like being in a dogfight in an F18 Hornet. That said once you do have missile lock the in-camera software does a good job of keeping track with your subject: they aren't going to loose you that quickly, well unless they move out of your frame completely.
Get past all the technologies and toys and the picture results are very impressive. Colours are reproduced well with a good contrast between colours with little if no bleeding. We especially like how the camera performed in some of our test photos that featured strong contrasting colours - the Barclays sign and the grills for example. When it comes to people, skin tones are good although do suffer from noise even at lower ISO settings than you would expect.
The S620 is a very straightforward camera that performs well and takes good pictures. Overly noisy pictures could become an issue if you regularly shoot in low light conditions, however the contrast capabilities mean on the whole you'll get nice well-balanced photos.
If you are looking for a slim point and shoot this isn't going to be it, but at least the results, ie the pictures, and the in built tech mean the are better than average.
Those looking for more zoom should also consider the S630.