Nikon S700 Review
Nikon Coolpix S700 Exposure
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Very good overall color and hue accuracy, with minor undersaturation of some colors.
Saturation. The Nikon Coolpix S700 oversaturates red tones slightly, but undersaturates bright yellows, greens, and some blue tones just a bit. The strongest undersaturation is in the bright yellows, but overall color was still quite pleasing across a range of subjects. (For those consumers wanting brighter color, the Nikon S700 does offer a Vivid Color mode.) Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.
Skin tones. The Coolpix S700 produced slightly pinkish skin tones, but overall results were still fairly natural. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.
Hue. The Nikon S700 showed fairly small color shifts relative to the correct mathematical translation of colors in its subjects, pushing cyan toward blue and some yellows toward green. True green hues were nearly dead-on, and any other color shifts were really quite small. Overall color is much better than average. Hue is "what color" the color is.
| See full set of test images
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Good color with Manual white balance, though slight color shifts with the Auto and Incandescent options. Slightly less than average positive exposure compensation required.
|Auto White Balance
|Incandescent White Balance
|Manual White Balance
Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was slightly reddish in Auto white balance mode, while the Incandescent setting had a warmer yellow cast. Manual mode was the most accurate overall. The Coolpix S700 required a +0.7 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, a little less than average for this shot. Overall color with the Manual white balance setting is quite good, with only a hint of a pinkish tint to the white shirt. The blue flowers in the bouquet are dark with some purplish tints, which is a common problem among digital cameras with this shot. Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.
Slightly high contrast, but still good overall exposure under bright conditions. Good color as well.
|Auto White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
Outdoors, the Nikon Coolpix S700 performed well, despite slightly high contrast. The camera holds onto a fair amount of detail in the bright highlights, though shadow detail falls apart a little due to high noise, as well as some blurring from noise suppression. Overall color looks pretty good, if a tad undersaturated. Still, results are quite good here, even with the higher contrast.
Very high resolution, 1,700 ~ 1,800 lines of strong detail.
|Strong detail to
1,800 lines horizontal
|Strong detail to
1,700 lines vertical
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,800 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and about 1,700 lines in the vertical direction. Extinction didn't really occur, though lines show dramatic color errors around 1,900 lines. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.
Sharpness & Detail
Fairly sharp images overall, with only minor edge-enhancement on high-contrast subjects. Noise suppression limits detail in the shadows, however.
|Good definition of high-contrast
elements, with minor
|Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression blurs
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of
Marti's hair here.
Sharpness. The Nikon Coolpix S700 captures a lot of fine detail, with good definition overall. Slight enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the crop above left, but results are quite good. There's also evidence of chroma noise in the shadows in this shot, odd to see in this crop. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.
Detail. The crop above right shows fairly high noise suppression, as well as some chroma noise, resulting in limited detail in the darker areas of Marti's hair. Bright individual strands are evident, but definition is fuzzy. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.
ISO & Noise Performance
Low to moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, though stronger noise at the middle settings and very high noise with strong blurring at the highest levels.
|ISO 64||ISO 100||ISO 200|
|ISO 400||ISO 800||ISO 1,600|
|ISO 2,000||ISO 3,200
(2,592 x 1,944 pixels)
The Nikon Coolpix S700 produced fairly low noise at its 64 and 100 ISO settings, though there's a noticeable jump at ISO 200, where the image darkens slightly and fine details begin to blur. At ISO 400 and 800, noise is high, with strong blurring and a cool color shift. ISOs 1,600 and 2,000 show a big jump in noise, with a much stronger noise pattern and large losses of fine detail. It appears the camera attempts to hold onto detail rather than suppress the noise, but the stronger noise pattern is very distracting here. At ISO 3,200, resolution is limited to the 2,592 x 1,944 pixel setting, and the camera's attempts at noise suppression are much more evident, as the image is quite blurry overall.
Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong detail, but slightly high contrast and limited shadow detail. Limited low-light performance at the normal sensitivity settings, capable of capturing bright images in near darkness at the highest settings.
|+0.3 EV||+0.7 EV||+1.0 EV|
Sunlight. The Nikon Coolpix S700 produced fairly high contrast under the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above, with deep shadows and bright highlights. Still, overall exposure is pretty good, with reasonable midtone detail. Shadow detail is limited, both from noise suppression efforts and noise pixels. The camera required about average compensation to get proper exposure of skin tones, at +0.7 EV, and manages to hold onto detail in the white shirt. Though the overall image is a hint dim at +0.7 EV, the highlights in the shirt and face were much too bright with the +1.0 EV setting. In real life, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)
Low light. The Nikon Coolpix S700 proved to be limited in low lighting, capturing bright images at the lowest light level only as low as ISO 800. At the normal sensitivity settings, images were just a little dim even at the one foot-candle light level, which is equivalent to average city street-lighting at night. Color balance was pretty good with the Auto white balance setting. The camera's autofocus system worked well enough for its exposure system, as it was able to focus on the subject almost down to the 1/8 foot-candle light level unassisted, and down to the darkest light level with the AF assist enabled. (A useful trick under these conditions is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)
How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.
NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.
Coverage and Range
A fairly powerful flash at close range, though not a match for the camera's 3x optical zoom. Our standard shots required slightly lower than average exposure compensation, coverage was slightly uneven.
|37mm equivalent||111mm equivalent|
Coverage. Flash coverage was uneven at wide angle, and still uneven (as well as dim) at full telephoto. In the Indoor test, the Nikon Coolpix S700's flash underexposed our subject just a little at its default setting, requiring a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get good results. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced much brighter results at the default exposure setting, but with strong highlights that are too hot. The longer exposure results in a moderate orange-pink cast from the background incandescent lighting, an unflattering result.
ISO 100 Range. At wide angle, flash shots at ISO 100 remained fairly bright out to a distance of about 9-10 feet, decreasing in brightness from that point on. At full telephoto and ISO 100, the target at 6 feet was actually a little dim, getting darker from there.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Auto ISO 615
Auto ISO 474
Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. In the wide angle shot above, the Coolpix S700 performs about as Nikon says it will, producing a good exposure at the rated distance with its ISO set to Auto, though the camera raised the ISO to 615 to get good results, resulting in increased noise. At telephoto, the image is a bit dim, despite the camera boosting sensitivity to ISO 474. Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.
Good print quality, good color, sharp 16x20-inch prints at ISO 64 and 100. ISO 400 images are soft but usable at 11x14, ISO 800 shots are better at 5x7.
The Nikon S700 had enough resolution to make quite good 16x20-inch prints, though with chroma noise in the shadows. 13x19-inch prints were better, but chroma noise doesn't disappear until 8x10. ISO 200 shots are too soft at 13x19, better at 11x14, but detail is soft and chroma noise is strong. ISO 400 shots are soft at 11x14. At 8x10 detail is better. ISO 800 images are soft and smudgy at 8x10, better at 5x7. ISO 1,600 images are bad at 5x7 with increased contrast and high chroma noise. 4x6 images are a little better, but the chroma noise is still strong. ISO 3,200 images are almost passable at 4x6, but very soft.
It's better to shoot no higher than 400, 800 at the outside, even if all you're making are 4x6-inch prints.
Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon Coolpix S700 Photo Gallery.
Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Nikon Coolpix S700 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!
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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.