Steve's Conclusion

By

Steve's SnapShot
S01_WH_front34l_lo.high.jpg
  • 10.1-Megapixel Imaging Sensor
  • 2.5-Inch, 230,000 dot Touch LCD Screen
  • 3x Optical zoom lens: 29-87mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Electronic VR
  • Intelligent Auto mode
  • 720p HD video recording
  • Built-in Flash
  • 7.3GB internal memory
Pros
  • Incredibly small, discrete and easy to carry
  • Touch LCD makes camera control easy
  • Large internal memory means no need for external storage media
  • Very few and easy to use camera controls
  • Electronic VR image stabilization
Cons
  • Poor image quality, comparable to a smartphone camera
  • Can be difficult to operate for someone with large hands
  • Flash is very weak
  • No HDMI output for HD movies for an HDTV
  • Memory is not expandable
  • Battery life is not spectacular and there is no way to swap out for a fresh battery
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.6 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 4/10 to 1 second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 1.14 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 2.88 seconds
  • All tests were taken using the camera's internal memory, Auto mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Nikon CoolPix S01 is more of a novelty ultra-compact than a serious camera. While it is very easy to use, its lack of a burst mode and poor image quality has left us wanting more.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for the smallest camera possible. Could be excellent for a younger person who is looking for convenience and "cool" factor, more than image quality.
Nikon's Coolpix S01 brings new meaning to the concept of an ultra-compact digicam. This tiny camera is barely bigger than half of a deck of cards, and thinner. It is also one of the easiest to control in terms of operation. There are no fancy shooting modes besides its smart automatic and scene modes. Even though it is so small, it still contains a 10.1-Megapixel imaging sensor, 3x NIKKOR optical zoom lens, 7.3GB of internal memory, built-in rechargeable battery and a 2.5-inch Touch LCD screen. Some of these features, like the built-in battery and the internal memory mean that there is no external memory card slot to expand the memory and there is no possibility of having a spare battery, just a few drawbacks to the compact size.

Shooting with the S01 does take a little time to get used to. It can be hard to hold onto, especially for someone with larger hands. Once you have gotten used to it, its operation is incredibly easy. With so few controls on the camera body and so few options in the menu, anyone will have it figured out in no time at all. The 2.5-inch, 230,000 dot Touch LCD screen is not the most responsive that we have ever seen, but with the very large icons in the menu system, making a selection is not a problem. The touch screen capture also works pretty well. Viewing and composing with the LCD screen is also pretty easy, as the display is nice and bright. With no adjustments on the brightness however, it may be hard to see in bright situations. 

As small, portable and handy as this camera could be, when we look at our outdoor images, we see that same image quality that you would get if you pulled out your smartphone and started shooting. The first thing that we see is the images are very grainy, even at the camera's lowest ISO settings. This takes away from the overall sharpness and quality of the image. Framing is assisted by the 3x NIKKOR optical zoom lens, which offers a zoom equivalent of 29-87mm with a maximum aperture of f/3.3-5.9. This range is ok for your typical snap shots, but don't expect too much versatility from this lens.

Shooting indoors was a little trickier, since the camera does not have a tripod mount. With a range of under 5ft. at the wide end, the flash is not very helpful either. To capture our indoor images, we rested the camera on top of a tripod and captured the two images, since there is not a controllable ISO setting. Both of our samples show a lot of noise, leaving everything soft and the magazine titles impossible to read. 

Our Portrait sample was by far the best looking image that we captured. Shooting very close to our subject and using the flash, the camera did pretty well. The exposure is great and this image shows more detail that any other from this camera. We also did not see any redness in the eyes of our subject, thanks to the camera's red-eye reduction preflash. So, if you're one who's looking for an extremely compact digicam to snap photos of your friends, the S01 might appeal to you.

Again with the 720p HD video, it came out very grainy and again it was not any better than you would get from a current smartphone. Since there is no HDMI output, the videos can only be watched on the LCD screen, a TV at standard definition resolution with optional cables, or downloaded to a computer. They play back fairly smoothly on either, making them easy to watch. Sound is captured with a tiny built-in microphone, that is incredibly sensitive. You will not get high quality sound, and if you are near anything that makes constant noise, it is possible that it's the only thing that you will hear.

The S01 has an internal battery, which cannot be removed. This is something to think about since Nikon claims that it can only capture approx. 190 shots on a charge. While completing our tests, we were able to capture approx. 100 images and videos, with the camera still showing a full battery icon. This should easily meet Nikon's claims and give you 175 to even 200 images on a charge. Charging the camera is done through USB, either by plugging it into a computer or using the USB power adapter that is supplied with the camera. 

Steve's Conclusion - The Nikon CoolPix S01 sets a new standard in terms of size for an ultra-compact digicam. Featuring a 10.1-Megapixel imaging sensor, 3x NIKKOR optical zoom lens and a 2.5-inch Touch LCD screen, it will definitely be a conversation starter when you pull it out. Unfortunately, that is where the excitement stops. While it has decent performance, it does lack any type of burst shooting mode. It also really lets you down when it comes to image quality, hardly rivaling the quality of a smartphone. With a MSRP of US $179.99, there are plenty of other options for ultra-compact cameras with far better image quality, but none of them will be quite this compact.



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