Nikon S10 Review

 
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Nikon Coolpix S10 Design

The Nikon Coolpix S10 digital camera continues with the swivel lens design that has marked the Coolpix line since the beginning. The all-silver body is compact and light weight, with an understated design aesthetic. Its wedge shape measures about 4.4 x 2.9 x 1.6 inches (113 x 75 x 41 millimeters) at its widest points, and weighs 7.8 ounces (220 grams) without the batteries and memory card installed. The camera should fit into larger coat pockets and purses, and comes with a wrist strap to keep it secure while shooting. The 10x zoom lens doesn't telescope beyond the camera body when powered on, and a flip-open lens cap remains hinged on the side of the lens barrel so you won't accidentally lose it. The S10 fits the hand fairly well, though I found my thumb often blocked the right side of the LCD monitor when holding the camera in shooting position. Overall though, the control layout is well-suited to one-handed shooting.

In its shooting position, with the lens barrel pointed forward, the Coolpix S10 offers a fairly plain front panel, featuring three tiny holes covering a microphone, the lens, flash, and self-timer/AF assist lamp. The 10x, 6.3-63mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 38-380mm zoom on a 35mm camera) features a hinged lens cap that simply flips out of the way when opened. The lens unit can swivel 270 degrees, making it convenient for shooting at a variety of angles. With the lens portion lined back up with the camera body, the S10's front panel has no protrusions to hang on pockets.

On the right side of the camera (as viewed from the rear) is the wrist strap attachment eyelet, connector compartment, and a tiny flap at the bottom that makes way for the cable to the camera's AC adaptor (which plugs into the battery compartment via a dummy battery). Beneath the connector compartment's flexible, rubbery flap is the shared AV/Out / USB terminal, and the flap remains tethered to the camera body when opened.

The left side of the lens barrel is practically featureless, save the shiny silver stripe and the hinge of the lens cap.

The camera's top panel includes a handful of controls, including the Zoom lever, Shutter button, Power button and microphone grille. With the lens in shooting position, the VR (Vibration Reduction) and One Touch Portrait / D Lighting buttons are also visible.

A large, 2.5-inch color LCD monitor dominates the Coolpix S10's rear panel. Along the top of the LCD monitor are the Erase, Menu, Mode, and Record/Playback buttons. Next to these is a small status LED and the Four-Way Multicontroller. A series of raiesd bumps in the top right corner provides a small thumbgrip to help balance the camera in your hand, though there's really no handgrip to speak of.

Finally, the Coolpix S10's bottom panel is quite flat and features the plastic threaded tripod mount alongside the shared memory card / battery compartment. Unfortunately, the compartment's proximity to the tripod mount won't allow quick battery or memory card changes while shooting on a tripod. The compartment door slides outward before opening to reveal the battery and memory card slots, and a small, spring-loaded lock keeps the battery from falling out when the compartment is open.

 

Nikon Coolpix S10 External Controls


Zoom Lever: Located on the very far right side of the Coolpix S10's top panel, this controls the optical and digital zoom in any Record mode. In Playback mode, the telephoto side enables digital enlargement of captured images, while the wide angle side accesses the index display mode. In a settings menu, pressing the lever toward the telephoto side displays a short help page to explain the currently-selected menu option.


Shutter Button: Left of the Zoom lever, this button sets focus and exposure when pressed halfway, and triggers the shutter when fully pressed.


Power Button: To the left of the Shutter button, this button powers the camera on and off. When on, a small green LED set into the button glows.


Four-Way Multicontroller: Positioned in the top right corner of the rear panel, this rocker button accesses a range of camera settings. In Record mode, the up arrow cycles through the available flash modes, while the down arrow accesses Macro mode. The left arrow enables the Self-timer mode. In any settings menu, the arrow keys navigate through menu options, and pressing down on the center of the button confirms selections.

In Playback mode, the right and left arrow keys cycle through captured images on the memory card. If an image has been enlarged, all four arrows pan around the view. Pressing down on the OK button initiates image transfer mode when the camera is connected to a computer.


Shooting / Playback Button: To the left of the Multicontroller, this button switches the camera between Playback and Record modes.


Mode Button: Just left of the Shooting / Playback button, this button displays a virtual multicontroller button on the LCD monitor when pressed. Actuating the Multicontroller on the rear panel selects the main shooting mode, offering Shooting, Scene, Voice Recording, and Movie modes. (Pressing down on the OK / Multicontroller selects the mode.)


Menu Button: Adjacent to the Mode button, this button displays the settings menu (or dismisses it) in any camera mode.


Erase Button: The final button in the series lining the top of the LCD monitor, this button lets you erase the currently displayed image (unless write-protected).


VR (Vibration Reduction) Button: Located on top of the lens barrel (with the lens in shooting position), this button enables the camera's Vibration Reduction mode, which is designed to reduce blurring from minor camera movement.


One Touch Portrait Button: Directly below the VR button, this button displays framing guidelines for portraits in Shooting mode. When pressed, it automatically enables Portrait scene mode, Face-Priority AF mode, and the Advanced Red-Eye Reduction flash mode. You can cancel these settings by pressing the button a second time.

In Playback mode, pressing this button enables the D-Lighting feature, which automatically brightens backlit subjects and adjusts the contrast.

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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