Nikon Coolpix SQ Review

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Nikon Coolpix SQ

Steve's Conclusion

Evaluating the Nikon Coolpix SQ is like judging a figure skating competition; both technical merit and style must be equally considered. The unique design, light weight, and small size of the all metal body allow it to be worn as a wardrobe accessory, turning heads as well as photographing them. This stylish body houses a very functional 3 megapixel imager and a swiveling 3X Nikkor zoom lens. The SQ provides several modes of operation including Automatic, Scene, and Manual. There are 15 Scene modes available, covering most shooting conditions this camera will be used in. Manual mode provides only limited adjustments, including White Balance, metering mode, drive mode, Best Shot Selector and autofocus mode. Therefore, the SQ is most suitable for the beginner through intermediate photographer.

The Coolpix SQ shooting performance is average. Startup time is about 4 seconds. Shutter lag from pre focus to image capture is about 2/10 second, and about 8/10 second including autofocus time. Shot-to-shot time was about 1.5 seconds without flash. The SQ does have a continuous shot mode, allowing the capture of 4 frames in about 2.5 seconds. While this performance is not robust, it's sufficient for most family and travel shooting situations.

Because it has no optical viewfinder, Nikon produced an exceptional LCD viewfinder for the Coolpix SQ; it is among the best that we have used in the bright Florida sun. Its Advanced Brightness Control allowed images to be previewed and reviewed even with direct sunlight falling on it. This viewfinder also complements the SQ's movie mode (with sound), easily allowing you to follow a moving subject for the full 40 seconds permitted.

We are pleased that Nikon have finally included an AF-assist lamp in a Coolpix camera. It allowed the SQ's autofocus system to produce sharp images in conditions of low ambient light to total darkness. Some subjects found the green lamp to be too bright and were startled by its intensity, as evidenced by the resulting photo. With a bit more tweaking, we're sure that Nikon will get it right. The use of the built-in flash produced pleasing images within its limited range; as with most consumer digicams, you'll find that it works best in portraits or photos of small groups. Outdoors, the SQ occasionally over-exposed very bright environments (our beach shot and the back of the red brick building) and blew out the highlights. Overall the images were fairly sharp, properly saturated and true to the original colors. The Nikkor lens produced noticeable barrel distortion at wide-angle, and pin cushioning at full telephoto.

While we rate the Nikon Coolpix SQ a 10 on the style scale, it deserves a 8 on technical merit, a one point deduction based on the startling brightness of its autofocus-assist lamp and lens distortion at the extremes of its zoom range and another point deducted for over-exposure in very bright outdoor shots. Is it a winner? You'll be the ultimate judge of that, imposing your own set of values on the style and photographic qualities of this camera. Don't forget to carefully examine our sample photos.

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Sample Pictures

Want a second opinion?

DC Resource's Coolpix SQ review

Imaging-Resource's Coolpix SQ review

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