Nikon Coolpix S230

The Nikon Coolpix S230 is a decent ultracompact camera with a little extra wow factor of a touchscreen interface.


7.0
CNET Rating
5.0
User Rating


Design
Nikon has no trouble pulling off small and stylish with its Coolpix point-and-shoot cameras — even with its lower-cost models. The 10-megapixel S230 is a good example, offering up all the point-and-shoot basics, a couple of extras like face, smile and blink detection, and a big, touchscreen display — all for less than AU$379 in a package that fits easily in a pants pocket. Photo quality is good, but not great, for the money, too, but its performance is slow despite outpacing its forerunner, the Coolpix S210.

Outside of the 3-inch touchscreen LCD on the back, the S230's 3x f3.1-5.9 36-108mm-equivalent lens and 10-megapixel resolution are standard point-and-shoot fare for its price point. The body is tiny at 8cm wide by 5cm high by 1.8cm deep and weighs only 100 grams with battery and SD/SDHC card. The model is available in Australia in three colours: warm silver, gloss red and purple.

Features
Shooting features are straightforward for the most part. The regular Auto mode gives you the most control, letting you set ISO, autofocus area mode (face priority, auto or centre), white balance, and exposure compensation. You get a handful of drive modes as well, which includes Nikon's Best Shot Selector that snaps off 10 shots while the shutter's pressed and then saves the sharpest and interval timer shooting (takes a picture every 30 seconds, 1, 5 or 10 minutes) in addition to a standard continuous setting. If you like your scene modes, the S230 has 15 of them to pick from or you can let the camera choose what it determines most appropriate by using the Auto Scene Selector mode. The camera's movie mode is limited to 320x240 or 640x480 video clips with sound, but no use of the optical zoom. (Video results were comparatively good.)

Nikon improved upon the touch controls on the Coolpix S60 — its first foray into that type of interface — mainly by adding back a couple of physical controls. The S230 has a traditional zoom ring around the shutter release as opposed to the S60's on-screen zoom controls. The other change was including an actual Mode menu button; switching shooting modes on the S60's touch interface had an irritating lag time. These two changes, along with an overall snappier touch response, make the whole shooting experience much more enjoyable. Plus, while the screen size drops from 3.5 inches on the S60 to 3 inches, the S60 only gives you 2.7 inches of that for framing shots. The S230 gives you the full 3 inches.

In playback mode, the S230 loses the S60's iPhone-esque finger swipes for navigation (actually not much of a loss) and instead goes with simple up and down arrows. What we were happy to see stay in was the ability to write on copies of photos, which is fun for drawing on your friends (or enemies) and family, but useful for adding notes to images such as locations or phone numbers.

Photo quality in general is good, and by that we mean it's typical of an ultracompact camera at this price, though not a standout. The S230 has a sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 2000; however, it's best to stay below ISO 200 for the greatest colour, sharpness and detail. At ISO 400 and above there was an increase in softness. Results were also at their finest with Nikon's Motion Detection and Electronic VR image stabilisation turned off as these boost ISO along with shutter speed to minimise blur caused by subject movement or camera shake. Again, detail is best at the lower ISOs, but photos up to ISO 800 were still usable for small prints despite their softness.

Performance and image quality
Colours were natural with the exception of reds, which were a little more vibrant and would blow-out some at higher ISOs. Also, the auto white balance was too warm; take the time to use the more accurate presets or the manual white balance option. Lastly, the lens has some barrel distortion, but it is effectively corrected by the camera's Distortion Control option. However, the lens also creates a fair amount of purple fringing in high-contrast areas, characteristic of this class of camera.

Though it's faster than its predecessor the S210, the S230 is still fairly slow (as is a lot of its competition). This is most noticeable in the time to first shot: 3.5 seconds. The S230's shot-to-shot time averaged 3 seconds without flash and gets only slightly longer with flash at 3.3 seconds. Oddly enough, it has a very good burst speed at 1.6 frames per second. Unfortunately, its shutter lag is at the high end of our acceptable range at 0.5 second in bright conditions and 1 second in dim.

In the end, the Nikon Coolpix S230 is a decent, good-looking, point-and-shoot ultracompact camera that happens to have the convenience of an intuitive touchscreen interface. If you're very critical of photo quality or need something very fast, this probably isn't the camera for you (there are other options). But if you're looking for a cool camera to keep with you at all times for snapshots, the S230 is worthy.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot
Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)
Typical shot-to-shot time
Shutter lag (dim)
Shutter lag (typical)
Casio Exilim EX-Z250
2.8
3.7
3
0.5
0.3
Canon IXUS 870 IS
1.2
3.2
1.9
0.8
0.4
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150
1.9
3.7
1.5
0.9
0.4
Nikon Coolpix S230
3.5
3.3
3
1
0.5
Nikon Coolpix S210
2
3.4
3.1
1.5
0.9

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second) (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Nikon Coolpix S230
1.6
Casio Exilim EX-Z250
0.5
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Post comment as
rachelzx
5
Rating
 

rachelzx posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Small, compact

The Bad:Picture quality, broke before 1 year of owning it

Picture quality was grainy and really not worth the price. It broke about 5 months after buying, and was sent to the shop, was fixed and brought back, then about 6 months after that it broke again, and im not bothering to get it fixed, ill look for a new one.

 

AugzD posted a comment   

The Good:Touch Screen, Compactness and Vibration Reduction

The Bad:Lacklustre image Quality when shooting greater than 5mp

Picked one up earlier today for a Birthday gift at a $teal. Features are great, only thing it could have done better with was if it had a better processor in it to keep up with the likes of Panasonic, Olympus, Canon Etc. overall not too shabby for the price range/class it's in.

 

Geoff posted a comment   

I bought mine overseas for my wife's birthday. She was very pleased to have a 10mp camera but after taking several shots we realised it was no better than our Sony 3.5mp I bought 7 years ago.

Definately not worth the price look elsewhere.

 

andy ( girl ) posted a comment   

The Good:touch screen! sooo cool

The Bad:photo quality, screen photo quality

I just bought this camera yesterday, and i absolutely fell in love with it. The touch screen was so cool, but the image quality was very bad. When you played back the picture on the screen of the camera, it loked very sharp and bad. The photos were very blue in tone and quite white. Returning it back today. Very sad, because this camera looked very nice, and was easy to use and the touch screen was fabulous.

 

kale posted a comment   

The Good:Touch screen

The Bad:Image quality

Bought it today, taking it back tomorrow.

Nice looking camera, like the touchscreen, easy to use. The image quality is awful, its grainy, the colour contrast is poor and there are artefacts all over the picture. My 3.2 MP camera on my Nokia N70 takes nicer photo than this 10 MP dedicated camera. Very Disappointed.

I'm exchanging this for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS15 digital camera first time tomorrow.

 

bebe posted a comment   

The Good:none

The Bad:multiple

I just purchased this camera today and it was a complete disappiontment! For a 10 megapixel camera it has been the worst quality pictures I've seen. (and I've had many camera) Even my Canon Power Shot which is only 7.2 megapixels is way better than this horrible camera.

 

ckl posted a comment   

I got it yesterday and i did not like it at all. the view on the screen is not even clear, it looks pixie. Also takiing the pics isnt any better either. arghhhh definitely returning it.




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User Reviews / Comments  Nikon Coolpix S230

  • rachelzx

    rachelzx

    Rating5

    "Picture quality was grainy and really not worth the price. It broke about 5 months after buying, and was sent to the shop, was fixed and brought back, then about 6 months after that it broke again,..."

  • AugzD

    AugzD

    "Picked one up earlier today for a Birthday gift at a $teal. Features are great, only thing it could have done better with was if it had a better processor in it to keep up with the likes of Panason..."

  • Geoff

    Geoff

    "I bought mine overseas for my wife's birthday. She was very pleased to have a 10mp camera but after taking several shots we realised it was no better than our Sony 3.5mp I bought 7 years ago.
    ..."

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