Nikon Coolpix S51c Optics


Good results with the 3x optical zoom lens, fair performance with the 4x digital zoom.

38mm 114mm 4x Digital Zoom

The Nikon Coolpix S51c's optical zoom covers the equivalent of a 38-114mm range, typical among consumer digital cameras. Results were good at wide angle, with just minor softening and chromatic aberration in the corners. Results at telephoto were also quite good. The 4x digital zoom is very soft, with no preservation of detail, which is not unusual for a 4x digital zoom.

A tiny macro area with good detail and high resolution, though strong blurring in the corners. Flash power was too strong up close.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Nikon Coolpix S51c's macro setting performed fairly well, capturing a very small minimum area of 1.35 x 1.01 inches (34 x 26 millimeters). Detail and resolution were both very good, though strong blurring in the corners extends deep into the frame. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode, but the S51c's is a bit strong.) The flash produced an uneven exposure here, and overpowered most of the frame. Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the Coolpix S51c.

High barrel distortion and moderately high pincushion.

Barrel distortion at 38mm is 1.2%
Pincushion at 114mm is 0.4%

The Nikon Coolpix S51c's 1.2% barrel distortion at wide angle is higher than average among the cameras we've tested, and very noticeable. At the telephoto end, the S51c's pincushion distortion was also on the high side, and again, quite noticeable in our test images. This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

Chromatic aberration
Moderate but bright, noticeable effect on images at edges.

Wide: Moderate and bright,
top left @ 200%
Wide: Moderate and bright,
top right @ 200%
Tele: Moderate,
top left @200%
Tele: Moderate,
top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is moderate at both wide angle and telephoto, showing about 6-7 pixels of bright coloration on either side of the target lines, with wide angle being a little worse than telephoto. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) The effect is noticeable in several of our test shots.

Corner Sharpness
Minor softening in the corners.

Wide: Slightly soft in the corners
(upper left)
Wide: Sharp at center
Tele: Softer in the corners
(upper right)
Tele: Sharp at center

The Nikon Coolpix S51c produced slightly soft corners in a few shots. At wide angle, the top corners were a bit softer than the bottom corners, but better than most. At telephoto, corners showed a little more blurring, but results are still quite good for this class of camera.


Excellent accuracy with the LCD monitor.

38mm eq., LCD 118mm eq., LCD

The Nikon Coolpix S51c's LCD monitor produced very good results here, showing about 101% frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 99% at telephoto. (It's difficult to measure accurately with so much geometric distortion.) An excellent performance.


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon Coolpix S51c Photo Gallery .

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