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(Pocket-lint) - The Nikon Coolpix S2500 is a 12.1-megapixel budget compact with a slender 20mm body. Is the S2500 the perfect partner for great images?

The Nikon S2500 is part of the new spring range of Coolpix compacts, bringing the range up to date. The onus is on style as the S2500’s body is a slim 20mm in width, making it easy to slip into a pocket and carry with you wherever you go.

The 12.1-megapixel sensor can capture still images or VGA movie (no HD to be found here) and the 4x optical zoom lens is a 27-108mm equivalent zoom. In addition to the “Standard” shooting mode there’re also other in-camera Colour Options to automatically process with a Vivid, Black & White, Sepia or Cyanotype style.

As the Nikon S2500 can be found for just under the £100 mark, it’s a bargainous point-and-shoot option - but, given the price, don’t expect too many special features to be found here. On the rear there’s a 2.7-inch LCD screen, but the viewing angle is relatively poor - if you’re not facing it straight-on then the contrast is inaccurate. There are also no manual controls as such, although it is possible to adjust the ISO range from 80-3200 (at full resolution).

The Coolpix S2500 is simply laid-out. The rear controls include the main menu and scene mode selector buttons and the d-pad offers macro, flash, exposure compensation and self-timer controls. The macro mode itself isn’t wildly impressive, with even the widest-angle 27mm setting not focusing particularly close to even contrasty subjects.

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There’s also a small built-in flash that’s well placed to avoid any stray fingers and it comes into particular handy for snapping friends in dark, nighttime, conditions.

When switched off the lens is stowed in the camera body to maintain its small size. When it comes to charging the S2500 there is a mains-to-USB type cable that charges up the battery inside the camera itself, without the need to remove the battery and place in a charger.

The Nikon S2500 is a point-and-shoot performer but doesn’t offer much more than that. There are some options to adjust to Face Detection or Subject Tracking autofocus, though the overall autofocus system certainly has its limitations – it’s not especially fast and will often hunt for a subject to focus upon, plus anything remotely close-up or small subject areas are frequently bypassed or overlooked. However a manually assignable AF point can be moved around the central portion of the screen for slightly more control, albeit with the same AF performance. 

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The S2500’s 27mm wide-angle lens means you can fit a fair amount into the scene, though there are wider-angle 24mm lenses available from some competitor compacts. With a 4x zoom the longest focal length is a 108mm equivalent that offers a reasonable distance, though you won’t be able to “close in” on anything particularly far away.

As you’d expect from a budget compact, images aren’t the best quality out there - but then they’re perfectly suitable for the point-and-shoot snaps the S2500 is designed for. ISO 80-200 produce reasonable results, but the higher ISO settings incrementally introduce image noise, loss of colour and detail - particularly the ISO 1600-3200 options. Saying that, there’s just about enough detail through most of the range’s sensitivity and, with the flash deployed, there won’t be much of a reason to venture up the ISO ranks anyway. Processing can be a little crude, with edges lacking the “bite” they ought to have, plus there’s some purple fringing. For online sharing and non-critical work that’s not at full size, however, these points should generally be without much cause for concern. 

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To recap

If you’re looking for a budget point-and-shoot compact to snap day-to-day images without the need for critical detail then the Nikon S2500 can deliver that for under £100. It’s not without its fair share of issues, but it just about wins over thanks to the low price-point

Writing by William Perceval.