Nikon has included a Hybrid Vibration Reduction system with the Coolpix S9700, meaning this camera uses a combination of electronic image stabilization and optical image stabilization to avoid camera shake problems. I thought this VR system worked pretty well in helping to reduce camera shake when hand holding the camera, as long as you have plenty of light available in the scene.
Nikon included a small 1/2.3-inch CMOS image sensor with this camera, offering 16 megapixels of resolution. For a model that has a street price of around $350, it would be nice to have a larger sized image sensor; not to be confused with a higher megapixel count sensor.
- Wide angle: 20 in. (50 cm) to infinity
- Telephoto: 6.7 ft. (2 m) to infinity
- Macro: 0.4 in. (1 cm) to infinity
Popup flash units are becoming more commonly found with fixed-lens cameras, especially those with large zoom lenses, because lifting the flash unit away from the camera body gives it a better angle to the scene and often avoids a shadow from vignetting from the extended lens.
Nikon has gone a step further than a typical popup flash with what's found on its S9700. This model has a spring and lever mechanism design that allows the flash to extend a bit farther from the camera body than a normal popup flash unit. This design allows strong flash image quality with the Coolpix S9700, greatly reducing the possibility of red eye and reducing vignetting. It doesn't quite eliminate vignetting, but it is much less than it would be with a smaller popup mechanism or a flash built into the body of the camera.
The flash unit will pop open whenever it's needed, which is a nice feature. There is no button on the camera body that allows you to open the flash manually. You do have to close it manually though.
The flash popup unit is hinged, so it will bend backward and forward without snapping off should you bump it inadvertently.
The top panel of the Coolpix S9700 contains all of the standard buttons you'd expect to find on this type of camera.
The mode dial is on the far right, allowing you to select from eight different shooting modes:
- Auto - Marked with a green camera icon
- Scene - Scene modes
- Smart Portrait - Smiling face icon
- Effects - Apply special effects
- Manual - M
- Aperture Priority - A
- Shutter Priority - S
- Program Auto - P
To the left of the mode dial is the shutter button, which is surrounded by the zoom ring. The shutter button is very large, which makes it easy to find when you're in a hurry.
Farther to the left on the top panel is the power button, which lights green when you initially turn on the camera and which flashes green when the S9700 prepares to go into sleep mode. The power button is small and depressed to the camera body, which makes it tough to press when you're in a hurry.
Although the OLED screen included with the Coolpix S9700 isn't a touch screen and doesn't swivel away from the camera, it's a high resolution screen that looks great; although the colors it displays sometimes seem a bit off. It's a sharp screen that measures 3.0 inches diagonally and that offers 921,000 pixels of resolution. You can select from one of five levels of brightness for the screen, and Nikon gave the display screen an anti-reflective coating, which works well when shooting photos outdoors in sunlight.
The right side of the back panel of the Nikon S9700 has a series of buttons that help you control the camera's various settings.
Near the top of the panel is a thumbpad along with the movie recording button (marked with a red dot). You can start and stop the recording using this button.
Just below the thumbpad is the Playback button and the GPS button.
The four-way button spins, which makes it easy to move through a long list of commands or a series of stored photos in a hurry. You can press the edges of the four-way button to activate various shortcuts to commands, including the flash on top, EV to the right, macro setting below, and self-timer to the left.
Along the bottom of the panel are the Menu button and Delete button. The Menu button doubles as a Wi-Fi button.
Along the right panel of the Coolpix S9700, you'll find ports for both a USB cable (upper port) and an HDMI cable (lower port). Each port covering is attached to the camera with a flexible hinge, and the covering clicks into place.
The rechargeable battery Nikon included with the Coolpix S9700 is rated for about 300 photographs per charge, and my tests showed that number was pretty accurate. I could shoot about 250 to 280 photographs per charge. However using the camera's Wi-Fi and GPS settings regularly will drain the battery much more quickly, leaving you with perhaps the ability to shoot half as many photos per charge.
You'll charge the battery inside the camera using the included adapter and USB cable, or you can charge the battery through a USB connection to your computer, which is a nice feature.
The Nikon S9700 makes use of SD memory cards, although the camera can store about 50 full 16MP resolution images in internal memory, should you fill your memory card in the middle of a photography session.