Cameras

Nikon Coolpix S700 Digital Camera Review

Read an expert, independent digital camera review of the Nikon Coolpix S700 digital camera.

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Testing/Performance

Color (8.55)

All cameras reproduce colors differently. Some oversaturate colors, making them more vivid but also less natural, while others undersaturate colors, making them more subtle but also dull. Ideally cameras will reproduce colors as accurately as possible. We test color accuracy by photographing a GretagMacbeth ColorChecker test chart and comparing the colors the camera reproduces with the ideal colors of the test chart. The ColorChecker chart is made of 24 different color tiles, representing a broad sample of commonly photographed colors. The image below shows how the Nikon S700’s colors match up to ideal colors of the ColorChecker. The outside squares show the colors the S700 reproduces, the inside squares show the ideal colors of the test chart corrected for exposure, and the small inner rectangles show the ideal chart colors under a perfectly even exposure.

S700-Colors.jpg

Notice how a number of the outer squares blend right into the inner squares. This indicates great color accuracy, with the exception of some of the yellow and blue tiles. The graph below shows color accuracy in a more quantitative way. The background shows the entire color spectrum, while the ideal chart colors are shown as squares and the S700’s colors are shown as circles. The lines connecting the squares and circles show the amount of color error for each tile.

S700-ColorER.jpg

The graph confirms that many of the colors are spot on, except for vivid yellows, greens, and blues. These colors are significantly undersaturated, meaning bright colors in your photographs will not pop nearly as much as they could. Overall, the S700 has a mean saturation of 92 percent, which is more undersaturated than most cameras we have seen this year. The S700 reproduces hues quite accurately, but the undersaturation makes them look flat.

S700-Scores-Color.gif

Resolution (8.32)

Nikon catches up in the point-and-shoot megapixel race with the 12-megapixel Coolpix S700 and P5100, part of its latest batch of cameras. High megapixel counts often improve resolution, but at the cost of other image quality factors, such as noise levels and dynamic range. We test resolution by photographing an industry standard resolution test chart at varied focal lengths and exposure settings. We then run the photos through Imatest, which measures resolution in terms of line widths per picture height (lw/ph), which represent the number of equally spaced, alternating black and white lines that can fit across the image frame before becoming blurred.

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S700-Res-sm.jpg

Click the chart to view the high resolution image](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=S700-Res-lg.jpg)

The S700 proved to be sharpest at ISO 64, f/4.3, and a focal length of 16mm. At these settings, the camera resolved 1912 lw/ph horizontally with 2.9 percent oversharpening, and 1848 lw/ph vertically with 3.6 percent undersharpening. These numbers are impressive, and show that the S700 can produce sharp images without oversharpening them significantly with the processor. The images also stay very sharp across the entire frame, with only faint blurring and color fringing on the edges. Overall, the 12-megapixel S700 scores very well on resolution performance, much better than the 8-megapixel S510. Keep this in mind if you plan to make large prints.

S700-Scores-Resolution.gif

Noise – Manual ISO(5.81)

Image "noise" refers to the ugly grainy or splotchy quality digital photos can sometimes have, especially at high ISO speeds. Cameras with high megapixel counts generally have more noise because the pixels are smaller, so they can fit on the sensor. Smaller pixels characteristically have a worse signal to noise ratio than larger pixels. We test noise levels by photographing our test chart under bright, even studio lights at all ISO speeds available on the camera. We run the images through Imatest, which determines noise levels by the percentage of image detail the noise drowns out.

Related content

S700-NoiseGR.gif

The S700 keeps noise levels very low up to ISO 800, but only with the help of significant noise reduction smoothing. This smoothing is evident at all ISO speeds, but becomes worse at ISO 400 and 800. By smoothing over noise, the camera also smoothes over fine image detail, showing the tradeoff between low noise levels and lots of noise smoothing. The noise levels are incredibly high at ISO 1600 and 2000, suggesting that images shot at low ISO speeds would also have high noise levels without the smoothing noise reduction. ISO 1600 and 2000 have so much grainy noise that they are essentially unusable. Despite this, the S700 still controls noise better than the Coolpix S510.

S700-Scores-ManNoise.gif

Noise – Auto ISO(1.61)

We also test noise levels with cameras set to Auto ISO, under the same bright studio lights as above. The camera chose an odd ISO 329, according to its EXIF data, and had a fair amount of noise. To keep noise levels as low as possible, manually set this camera to low ISO speeds.

**Still Life Sequences

***Click to view the high resolution images*

White Balance (8.45)

Good color accuracy means very little if a camera can’t properly white balance. Each type of light source has a different color cast to it, and cameras must be able to adjust accordingly. We test white balance by photographing the ColorChecker test chart under four different types of light: flash, fluorescent, outdoor shade, and tungsten. We test the Auto white balance setting as well as the appropriate white balance presets.

Auto (6.76)

The S700’s Auto white balance is very accurate using the flash, mediocre under outdoor shade, but poor under fluorescent and tungsten light. The images below show the color casts that your images will take on in the various light conditions.

Preset (10.14)

The S700’s white balance is significantly more accurate when using the white balance presets. The S700 is very accurate under tungsten and white fluorescent light, and mediocre under outdoor shade (using the Cloudy setting) and when using the flash. Interestingly, the white balance is more accurate under the flash in the Auto setting than the Flash preset. Yet overall, the presets are more accurate than the Auto setting in this camera, especially when shooting indoors.

S700-Scores-WB.gif

Low Light (5.86)

In addition to testing color accuracy and noise levels in bright light, we test how cameras perform in less-than-ideal shooting conditions. We test camera performance in low light by photographing the ColorChecker chart at light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux. 60 lux is as bright at a room lit softly by two table lamps, 30 lux approximates the brightness of a room lit only by a 40 watt bulb, 30 lux is about as bright as a room lit by a large television screen, and 5 lux is quite dark and tests the limit of the sensor. All shots are taken at ISO 1600.

The S700 can just barely expose at 5 lux, showing that it has a limit in low light, but should be able to expose in most shooting situations. However, noise levels are incredibly high in low light at ISO 1600, making images look like they were taken in a blizzard. The high noise levels obscure the images so much that color accuracy is degraded as well. This is not a terrific camera for low light shooting.

We also test long exposure performance with cameras set to ISO 400. The S700 can slow its shutter to 4 seconds in Night Landscape mode (which lacks manual ISO control), and can only take exposures as long as 1 second in normal Shooting mode. The 1 second exposure at ISO 400 had fairly low noise, but also some significant color error. There isn’t much room to experiment with long exposures on the Nikon S700.

S700-Scores-LowLight.gif

Dynamic Range(5.55)

Dynamic range is an important aspect of image quality. In tells how well a camera can capture detail in photos with high contrast. A camera with good dynamic range can show detail in bright highlights and dark shadows in the same photograph. We test dynamic range by photographing a backlit Stouffer step chart at every ISO speed a camera offers. The Stouffer chart is made of a long row of small rectangles, each a slightly different shade of gray, arranged from brightest white to darkest black. The more rectangles a camera can discern, the better its dynamic range.

S700-DynRangeGR.gif

The Nikon S700 has excellent dynamic range at ISO 64 and 100, but then falls off at higher ISO speeds. At ISO 1600 and 2000, dynamic range is so poor that images will be barely useable. Dynamic range is closely associated with noise levels, and you can see how this dynamic range graph mirrors the noise graph further up the page, only inverted. Overall, the S700 has pretty average dynamic range, scoring slightly better than the Nikon S510.

S700-Scores-DynRange.gif

Speed/Timing – All speed tests were conducted using a Kingston Ultimate 120X 2GB SD Card, with the camera set to highest resolution and best quality, unless otherwise noted.

Startup to First Shot (7.2)

The S700 takes 2.8 seconds to turn on and take its first shot. This is about a second slower than the lower-priced Nikon S510.

Shot-to-Shot (8.7)

The Nikon S700 has several multi-shot modes, including Continuous, BSS, Multi-shot 16, and Interval Timer Shooting. In Continuous mode, the camera takes 3 shots approximately 1.3 seconds apart, and then slows to a shot every 3 seconds. This isn’t fast enough to capture many good sports action shots. In BSS mode, the S700 takes 10 shots in 10 seconds, but only saves the sharpest one. In Multi-shot 16 mode, the camera takes 16 shots, each 1 second apart, and stitches them into one full-sized collage. This is a fun mode to play around with, but not too practical.

Shutter-to-Shot (9.0)

The S700 has no measurable lag when the shutter is held halfway down and prefocused, but a lag of 0.3 seconds when it is not prefocused.

Processing (5.4)

The camera takes approximately 2.3 seconds to process one 4 MB full resolution best quality photo taken at ISO 174 (according to the EXIF data).

Video Performance(3.09)

Bright Indoor Light – 3000 lux

We capture footage of our color charts under bright studio lights to see how cameras render color in Movie mode. The S700 has good color accuracy for tungsten studio lights, but has a bit more noise than we usually see in such bright light. This noise is visible in the video.

Low Light – 30 lux

In low light, the S700 has far worse color accuracy and high amounts of noise. The camera can’t expose video properly at 30 lux, showing that it has clear limits in low light. This isn’t a camera for shooting video of your friends at a club, or your family at sunset.



Resolution

We also record footage of our resolution test chart to see how sharp cameras are in Movie mode. The S700 recorded 263 lw/ph horizontally with 18.4 percent undersharpening, and 285 lw/ph vertically with 11.5 percent undersharpening. These are decent numbers, but the footage still shows ugly jagged edges from the video compression.

 


Outdoor Motion

We take cameras outside to capture moving cars and pedestrians on the street. The S700’s video looks very similar to the S510’s; good-looking exposure, but substantial moiré, visible noise, stuttering as objects move off the frame, and rather dull colors. Overall, the video looks decent for a digital camera, but doesn’t look as good as the similarly-priced Canon SD870 IS, for example.

Components



Viewfinder (0.0)

There isn’t room for an optical viewfinder on the Nikon S700. This is just as well. Few compact digital cameras offer accurate views through their optical viewfinders. The 2.7-inch LCD screen is used as a viewfinder. It has good contrast and a good refresh rate so motion isn’t choppy. Unfortunately it isn’t completely accurate. It shows 97 percent of the view vertically and horizontally. This inaccuracy could frustrate photographers who are particular about framing. Users can show or hide information – though not easily because the option is in the Setup menu – and add a framing grid. The LCD makes a better post-recording viewing monitor than it does a live preview screen.

LCD Screen(7.5)

S700-back.jpg
The Nikon S700 has a 2.7-inch LCD screen with 230,000 pixels. The resolution looks nice and smooth and the picture on it is nicely contrasted. The screen has some of the widest views we’ve seen: it can be viewed from extreme angles at the sides, above, and below.

The S700’s LCD has an anti-reflection coating but still isn’t stellar when under harsh lights. It looks washed out and the anti-reflective surface casts a purple glare. This can be partially remedied with the five-step brightness adjustment, but even a backlight boost can’t compete with the sun.

There is no display button on the camera body like on most cameras. The S700 ‘s display information and brightness can only be changed in the Setup menu, so these adjustments take longer than the average model.

The glare and the difficult view in sunlight are common on digital cameras, but the 97 percent accurate live view isn’t typical. That is simply unfortunate. However, the view is 100 percent accurate in the Playback mode.

Overall, this is an above average screen when compared to other compact digital cameras. The 12-megapixel Olympus Stylus 1200 has a similar 2.7-inch LCD with the same resolution, but the 12-megapixel Panasonic FX100 has only 207,000 pixels on its 2.5-inch screen.

Flash (5.75)

The Nikon S700 has a built-in flash, located on the left side of the front. Its placement to the side doesn’t make for evenly lit pictures. This translates to a very bright spot on the right side of the image that washes out details and makes for lopsided exposure.

The flash specs indicate that it is effective from 1 foot to 15 feet, 8.9 inches with the lens zoomed wide and as far as 7 feet, 10.5 inches when zoomed in. We took some pictures with subjects about two feet away and the cursed bright spot washed out the right half of the image, so Nikon’s specs are generous on the range. For portraits that aren’t that close-up, the flash’s light is more effective although it tends to make faces look pastier than they are.

The flash mode can be changed by pushing the top of the multi-selector/rotary dial. The following options appear: auto, auto with red-eye reduction, off, on, and on with slow sync. The red-eye reduction mode sends out two distinct preflashes before sending out the final flash. This seems to work well in keeping eyes naturally colored.

It takes the camera just under 4 seconds to reboot its flash for the next shot. This is typical and perhaps a bit above average. The overall performance of the flash is below average though: the uneven coverage and pasty glow don’t bode well for most pictures.

Zoom Lens(7.0)

One of the features-of-the-moments is long zoom lenses. Point-and-shoots, such as the Olympus 830, Sony T100, and Casio V8, are surpassing the standard 3x optical zoom lens. The Nikon S700 remains at the old standard, though, with its 3x optical Nikkor lens. This provides an unimpressive 7.9-23.7mm range, equivalent to 37-111mm in the more widely known 35mm format. This is a narrow range compared to most cameras.

The lens is noisier than it should be. It doesn’t sound like a Harley Davidson, but it does make a squeaky electronic noise that would be annoying in otherwise quiet locations. The zoom control on the back allows the lens to stop at six focal lengths within its range. It moves smoothly when zooming in, but is much choppier when zooming out. It seems to breathe and backfire before stopping, which takes more time and makes more noise.

The S700’s 37-111mm zoom range isn’t impressive. When compared to other 12-megapixel models, the Nikon’s lens is subpar for the most part. The Canon SD950 has a wider and longer 3.7x, 35-133mm lens. The Olympus Stylus 1200 has a wider 3x, 35-105mm lens. The Panasonic FX100 has a much wider 3.6x, 28-100mm lens. The Kodak EasyShare V1253, however, has the same 3x zoom range as the S700.

The Nikon S700 has an advantage with its optical vibration reduction system. A few competitors have this: the Canon SD950 and Panasonic FX100 have optical image stabilization systems. Nikon’s system shifts the image sensor when the camera is bumped or jiggled, minimizing blur in images. Unfortunately the stabilization doesn’t work in videos: only an electronic system is available.

The S700’s lens is constructed of seven elements in five groups. It telescopes outward from the camera in three segments. It has a max aperture of f/2.8 at its widest 37mm focal length and f/5.4 at the 111mm focal length. The minimum aperture remains at f/8. Of note is the 4x digital zoom that can be turned on in the Setup menu, but should generally be avoided because it ruins the image quality.

Many compact digital cameras’ lenses produce significant barrel distortion but the S700’s doesn’t produce much at all. It keeps images nice and straight even when the Macro mode is activated and subjects are in close range. There is a distortion control option in the Recording menu, but even with it turned off the lens performs well. The 37-111mm range isn’t impressive, but the image stabilization system and the straight images are big plusses for the Nikon S700.

Design / Layout

Model Design / Appearance(7.0)

The Nikon S700 is billed as a stylish digital camera with its sleek all-metal body. The brushed metal body looks sophisticated but can also look plain to some too. There are chrome highlights around the lens, top, and sides. The wrist strap eyelet and the buttons are also chrome colored to add a little flair. The S700 looks like a compact digital camera for adults: it doesn’t come in wasabi green or any outlandish colors that would make it look like something straight out of a high school girl’s handbag.

Size / Portability(7.75)

One of the greatest assets of the Nikon Coolpix S700 is its size. It is very compact with its 3.5 x 2.1 x 0.9-inch measurements and has very flat surfaces. It can easily slide into a pocket because of its pancake-like profile. It weighs a mere 4.6 ounces unloaded even with its metal face plate. The S700 aims to be extremely portable and, like many cameras its size, comes with a wrist strap eyelet on its right side. The included strap is made of cheap fabric and isn’t much thicker than a shoestring, but it’s better than nothing.

Handling Ability (6.25)

The S700 may be incredibly convenient to tote around in a pocket or handbag, but it isn’t as easy to handle. The same elements that make it convenient are the ones that make it hard to hang onto. The flat surface of the front doesn’t provide any hand or finger grip. The smooth and silky feel of the metal face plate doesn’t help either; this camera will slip right out of sweaty palms or sunscreen-slick fingers.

On the back side of the camera, there is a divot on the right side that is so shallow it is hardly noticeable. It is an attempt at a thumb grip, but it fails. Nikon added a few plastic bumps on the right edge by the divot to mark where thumbs shouldn’t venture beyond, but they won’t stop a slippery thumb from sliding into the abyss.

Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size(6.75)

All of the controls on the camera body are the same silvery color. Most of them are plastic. The exceptions are the power and shutter release buttons on the camera’s top. They have a shiny chrome sheen and metallic feel.

The buttons on the back are all plastic. They are small, but are spaced far apart enough that most users won’t have problems activating them. All of the controls are properly labeled either with text or icons.

The most interesting control on the Nikon S700 is the rotary dial. It can be pushed on the sides like a traditional multi-selector or the ring can be rotated. The dial itself is cheap plastic and spins easily, but there are about eight speed bumps around the circle that provide some feedback as to where users are navigating.

All in all, the Nikon Coolpix S700 offers controls and buttons that are typical of compact digital cameras and then adds some flourish with the rotary dial.

Menu (7.5)

The menu system is easily found with the text-labeled menu button to the upper left of the rotary dial. The menu system shows up with a light gray – almost white – background and dark gray text. When an option is selected, the background turns yellow and the text turns black. There are few live views because of this opaque background. Only the white balance and color options come with a framed live view behind the menu. The following is the Recording menu.



 


Users can navigate in the traditional multi-selector style of pushing one side of the selector dozens of times or can easily plow through menus with a swipe of the thumb across the rotary dial.

The Setup menu is more difficult to find. It is not linked with the Recording menu. Instead, it is placed on a virtual mode dial that appears when the mode button is pushed.



Menu navigation is much better than most compact digital cameras because of the S700’s rotary dial. The menus have large fonts that are easy to read, but more live previews of and a better placed Setup menu would improve the menus.

Ease of Use(6.25)

There are a few elements that make a camera easy to use. A mode dial certainly helps because users can easily find what they want. Properly labeled controls are a plus as is a help guide. The Nikon S700 meets about half of the criteria. It doesn’t have a physical mode dial, but a virtual one appears when the mode button is pushed. This isn’t the same as having a physical one on the camera though. The controls are mostly properly labeled, but the icon for the exposure compensation to the right of the multi-selector got wrapped around the corner and can’t be seen from the back. The S700 gets full points for having a help guide though. The telephoto end of the zoom toggle has a question mark icon and gives brief explanations for exposure modes and menu items. For instance, the distortion control option is described as, "Correct the peripheral distortion that characteristically occurs with zoom lenses at wide angles." Props to Nikon for this feature.

Modes

Auto Mode (6.0)

There is no true Auto mode on this digital camera. There is a set of Scene modes that truncate menus and are mostly automated. The other mode is more of a Program mode because it allows control over white balance, ISO, exposure compensation, and other parameters and remembers those settings.

Movie Mode(6.75)

The Nikon Coolpix S700 isn’t a camcorder. It isn’t a hybrid digital camera either. It has a Movie mode but it isn’t very impressive. It records videos at 640 x 480 and 320 x 240-pixel resolution. The top resolution only shoots 30 fps, while the QVGA has 30 and 15 fps choices. There is also a 160 x 120-pixel movie mode that records choppy footage.

There are two interesting options in the Movie mode: time-lapse and stop-motion movies. The time-lapse movies allow users to snap a still image every 30 seconds or 1, 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes and then string them together to make a movie. The stop-motion mode allows users to snap still images at their own pace and even provides a translucent overlay so the clay or whatever subject can be perfectly adjusted. This is a cool feature and very fun to play with.

There aren’t many other options in the Movie mode menu. The autofocus can be changed from single to full-time and the electronic vibration reduction can be turned on and off. The image stabilization is disabled as is the camera’s 3x optical zoom lens. 2x digital zoom is available – just enough to make subjects a little fuzzy.

The S700 has an odd quirk in its Movie mode: it takes a moment for the video to begin, and the audio ends about a half-second before the video ends. That is annoying. There are also a few performance issues, like its inability to shoot decent video in low light, outlined in the Testing/Performance section.

Movies can be reviewed in the Playback mode but they cannot be edited and even the volume cannot be adjusted. Once again, the Nikon S700’s Movie mode isn’t anything special.

Drive / Burst Mode(6.5)

The Nikon Coolpix S700’s Burst mode is tucked into the Recording menu. It has a decent amount of options: single, continuous, BSS (best shot selector), multi-shot 16, and interval timer shooting. The single drive is the default, of course. It takes about 3 seconds in between shots. The continuous drive is the real Burst mode: it can take three pictures in 3.9 seconds. This isn’t that fast – especially when compared to similar digital cameras that can snap 2 fps – but is speedier than most functions on the S700. The BSS mode takes 10 pictures but saves only one; the camera automatically selects the sharpest image. The Multi-shot mode takes a small picture every second and stitches the 16 shots into a 5-megapixel quilt. The interval timer takes a picture every 30 seconds or every 1, 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes.

The self-timer shoots out an orange beam to indicate the 3 or 10-second delay before snapping a picture. This function can be set by pushing the left side of the multi-selector.



Playback Mode(7.5)

The Playback mode is accessed by pressing the button to the upper right of the rotary dial. Once in, there are several playback options that appear on a virtual dial when the mode button is pushed. From here, pictures can be viewed on a calendar or listed by date. The Setup menu is accessible and audio can be played back from a position on the virtual dial.

In the standard Playback mode, individual pictures can be viewed and magnified up to 10x. Voice memos up to 20 seconds can be added if the OK button is held down consistently. These cannot be rerecorded or erased on the camera, so users have one shot to get it right.

Many of the Nikon S700’s playback options are presented in the menu.



The D-Lighting option is an automatic fix for underexposed images. It works well in brightening darkened images, but can’t do anything for blown out, overexposed pictures. In the menu, there is a before-and-after-type preview that is handy and shows just how effective this feature is.

Pictures can be deleted one at a time with the designated button on the camera body, or they can be deleted all at once or in batches through the deletion feature in the Playback menu. This streamlines the process.

The 2.7-inch LCD screen has wide views and great resolution so it is good for gathering groups of friends around and viewing slide shows and videos. Movies can be played back but the volume cannot be adjusted and the clips cannot be edited.

Overall, the Playback mode has basic options, which can be viewed on a very nice LCD monitor.

Custom Image Presets(8.0)

The Nikon Coolpix S700 has 16 scene modes, 15 of which are located in the preset menu. The other mode, Hi ISO, is located directly on the virtual mode dial. The Hi ISO mode is designed for indoor or other shooting in darkened places. It allows users to turn off the flash and still capture subjects. Noise may get involved though; the noise jumps when the ISO is above 400. The ISO is automatically set by the camera to a maximum of 1600.

The camera’s other 15 modes include Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night Portrait, Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Sunset, Dusk/Dawn, Night Landscape, Close-up, Museum, Fireworks Show, Copy, Backlight, and Panorama Assist. There isn’t a recording menu for these modes; the only option that can be changed in a menu is the image size. The options on the multi-selector are available in almost every mode, so exposure compensation is still on tap.

The Panorama Assist mode does not make panoramas in the camera. It merely provides a semi-translucent overlay of the previously taken image on one edge so users can accurately line up the next shot.

The Scene mode selection is good. It doesn’t have anything too bizarre but provides more than just the basics. The help guide (telephoto end of the zoom control) is also handy in choosing a Scene mode from the menu.

Control Options

 

Manual Control Options      

This digital camera won’t impress photography enthusiasts because it hardly has any manual controls. It has a few – white balance and ISO – but not enough to attract true photographers.

Focus

Autofocus (7.5)

Speed is an issue on this digital camera and it came into play in this area. The autofocus system isn’t as slow as some. We measured a shutter lag of 0.3 seconds on the S700 but the high-end P5100 had an awful 0.7-second lag. The slow autofocus system is far from DSLR quality but isn’t as bad as most competitors.

The Nikon S700 has four autofocus modes: face priority, 9-area, center, and manual. The face priority mode is a big step up from the scary smiley version included on previous models. The S700 is much faster and can detect up to 12 faces instead of just one. The 9-area autofocus works well - although not incredibly speedily. The center and manual focus options are fastest because the camera doesn’t have to search for the subject. The manual mode allows users to move the autofocus point to 99 areas around the frame.

The S700’s contrast detection system can focus as close as 1 foot, 7.7 inches (50 cm) normally or 2.4 inches (6 cm) in the macro mode. Because the system uses contrast detection, it can have a hard time in low light or with low contrast subjects. The orange autofocus assist beam is there to help; it can be turned on in the Setup menu.

Overall, the Nikon Coolpix S700 has a decent autofocus system that isn’t incredibly fast but is quicker than some others on the market. Its face priority autofocus mode is quick and fairly reliable too.

Manual Focus (0.0)

 The S700 doesn’t have a manual focus mode.

ISO(8.25)

The Nikon Coolpix S700 has a wide range of ISO options: 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 2000, and 3200. The manual settings up to 2000 are available at full resolution but the top ISO 3200 setting is only available when the image size is set to 5 megapixels or less.

The automatic ISO setting tops off at ISO 1000, which is more of a range than offered by most digital cameras. Many compact cameras’ auto ISO modes truncate the range to fit under ISO 400, although there are a few recent models offering higher auto ISO ranges.

The S700 has a new Expeed image processor that promises lower noise output in relation to its ISO sensitivity. There are more details in the Testing/Performance section, but the camera was only partially successful at this. The S700 did perform better than the S510 in this area, but the S700 reduced noise with the help of an overzealous noise reduction system that also smoothed over details in images. The smoothing is visible all the time but worsens beyond ISO 400. While the Nikon S700 has a healthy ISO range, it is best to use its upper end sparingly.

White Balance(7.0)   

This Coolpix has the same white balance settings as previous models. It includes Auto, Preset manual, Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, and Flash. The manual mode can easily be set with the sub-menu and its cancel and measure options. There is a live preview of the white balance behind the menu but the view is obstructed by the menu text.

In general, the white balance presets performed better than the automatic setting; there are more details about this in the Testing/Performance section.

Exposure (7.25)

This digital camera provides similar exposure control as other compact digital cameras. It doesn’t allow users to adjust the shutter speed and aperture individually but it does allow users to tweak the exposure compensation on a +/-2 scale in steps of a third. The exposure compensation may be hard to find. It isn’t in the menus; it is located on the multi-selector. Its icon on the right side can hardly be seen though because it wraps around the side, making it hard to see from the back. 

If the exposure isn’t desirable, users can employ the D-lighting option in the Playback menu for a quick exposure fix. There is no hope for overexposed images, but it fixes underexposed images and does a decent job.

Metering (5.5)

The Nikon Coolpix S700 has a 256-matrix metering system, but it cannot be controlled. Most digital cameras have multi, center, and spot options, but the S700 doesn’t even have an option in the menu. Judging from its performance, it appears to be a center-weighted default.

Shutter Speed(0.0)

The S700 has a mechanical and charge-coupled electronic shutter that offers the typical compact digital camera shutter speed range. The shutter speed slows down to 4 seconds and goes as fast as 1/2000th of a second. The shutter speed cannot be manually chosen; it is selected by the camera depending upon the metering system and the selected exposure mode.

Aperture (0.0)

The Nikon Coolpix S700 has an electronically controlled aperture that moves between f/2.8 to f/8 when the lens is zoomed wide, and f/5.4 to f/8 in telephoto. The aperture is automatically selected by the camera.

Image Parameters

Picture Quality / Size Options(7.75)

The Nikon Coolpix S700 is one of a handful of compact digital cameras that have a whopping 12.1 effective megapixels on their imaging sensors. The S700 has a 1/1.72-inch CCD with 12.43 total megapixels that has the ability to produce large and detailed images.

The top image size of 4000 x 3000 pixels is available at high and normal compression settings but the rest are available only at normal compression. The remaining options are 3264 x 2448, 2592 x 1944, 2048 x 1536, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480, and 3968 x 2232 (16:9).

We ran some tests to determine how effective the resolution is; the tests are outlined in the Testing/Performance section. The resolution proved better than the 8-megapixel Nikon S510 – as it should – but it wasn’t as sharp as a 12-megapixel camera should be. An overabundance of noise reduction smoothed over fine details to reduce noise at the expense of fine details.

In the Playback mode, users can resize images to 640 x 480, 320 x 240, and 160 x 120-pixel options.

Picture Effects Mode (6.25)

There is a small handful of color effects in the Recording menu. Besides the standard color mode, there are vivid, black-and-white, sepia, and cyanotype options. These aren’t as elaborate or plentiful as the color filters on the Canon SD950 but are more than adequate for the average photographer.

Connectivity / Extras

Connectivity

Software (7.0)

This Nikon digital camera includes a software suite that includes, of all things, Kodak EasyShare Software. It also includes ArcSoft PanoramaMaker 4, Nikon Transfer software, and QuickTime.

It doesn’t take long to install the Nikon Transfer software from the CD-ROM. That’s probably because there isn’t much to it. It can upload pictures from the camera only, and doesn’t do much else. It can’t edit images either. It saves them into designated folders and allows users to view them. Most computers come with a program preinstalled that does this same function. Nikon’s Transfer software is a waste of disk space.

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Nikon Transfer Software

The Kodak EasyShare Software takes quite a few minutes to install. It tries to amuse users with a slideshow of how awesome the program is: "calendar view lets you quickly find your pictures by day or by month." Once the software is installed and opened, users must manually add pictures to the program. Pictures can be loaded in folders, so it’s not terribly tedious, but it isn’t automatic either. Images can be viewed as thumbnails with a sliding bar that adjusts the size of the thumbnails. There are a few quick buttons just above the viewing window to view image details, print, add to an online print order, select all, tag as favorite, tag to hide, rotate, and delete. Above these icon buttons are larger buttons for more functions: add pictures, new album, edit, burn CD/DVD, and slide show. Along the left side of the window are various multimedia functions: my collection, print at home, e-mail, order prints online, creative projects (a marketing plug for Kodak’s photo mugs, cards, etc.), and EasyShare center.

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Kodak EasyShare Software

The editing features of this version of Kodak EasyShare Software are decent. They include crop, rotate, red-eye fix, auto enhance, scene balance, color balance, scene effects, and fun effects. There is also a help function that can be found in any of the program’s windows. The EasyShare software is an odd inclusion because it is made by another camera manufacturer, but if the Transfer software is indicative of Nikon’s software offerings then it is best to stay away from their programs anyway.

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Kodak EasyShare Software

Jacks, ports, plugs (4.0)

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The S700 has a single port on its bottom that connects to a multi-connector cable that has AV-out and USB functionality. The port on the bottom is open, exposing it to dust and moisture and making it vulnerable to more wear and tear. Most ports on digital cameras are located on the sides and are protected with rubber covers. The placement of the S700’s port is worrisome because users will have to rest the camera on its front or back to plug it in. This will likely cause the surfaces to get scratched.

Direct Print Options (5.5)

The PictBridge-compatible Nikon Coolpix S700 can create print orders in the Playback menu. The second option down, print set, allows users to select and check images for printing. Users can choose to print an image 0-9 times. If users would like to imprint the date, that must be done separately in the Setup menu. Some digital cameras allow users to imprint the date in the same sub-menu as the print orders, but not the S700.

Battery (3.25)

The S700 comes with a skinny EN-EL10 lithium-ion rechargeable battery that gets about 150 shots before it needs to spend some time in the charger. The battery fits into a slot on the bottom of the camera beneath a flimsy plastic door. The door looks like it could break off at any moment; oddly, the camera still works when the compartment door is open. Battery capacity is rated at 3.7V, 740 mAh. The 150-shot battery life is a bit below average for a trim camera like this with a skinny battery. The Canon SD950 gets 240 shots per charge and the Panasonic FX100 gets 320 shots. The Nikon S700’s charger is included in the box, and it takes about 100 minutes to fully charge.

Memory (4.25)

The Nikon S700 includes 52MB of internal memory. This is more than what the average camera offers, but keep in mind that it offers more resolution than the average camera too – and thus needs more space to record images. Nine full-resolution images can be recorded to the internal memory. The camera also has a card slot in the same compartment with its battery, so users can insert an SD or SDHC card to snap more than nine images. In the Playback mode, images can be moved from the internal memory to the card and vice versa.

Other features(3.5)

Voice Recording Mode – On the virtual mode dial there is a microphone icon that represents the voice recording mode. It allows users to record mono audio – albeit not the best quality – for up to five hours at a time.

Overall Impressions

Value(5.0)

The Nikon Coolpix S700 was announced in August 2007 and released the following month. It originally retailed for $379.95 and can be found online a few months later for about $320. The S700’s main selling points are its excellent 12-megapixel resolution and its convenience in a 0.9-inch body. Beyond that, though, its components are basic: 3x lens, 2.7-inch LCD screen, and spotty flash. It isn’t worth the original price for sure and even the recent online price isn’t stellar enough to make it a tempting purchase. The Nikon S510 is meant to be the budget model as it has many of the same features and a smaller price tag.

Comparisons

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Nikon Coolpix S510 – This digital camera is the sister model released at the same time as the S700. The S510 has 8.1 megapixels, sells for $299, and has many of the same modes and features. Both have new image processors with improved face priority autofocus systems and 3x lenses with optical vibration reduction. The S510 does not have the distortion correction feature that is in the S700 and its ISO tops off at 2000 instead of 3200. It also has a 2.5-inch LCD instead of the 2.7-inch version on the S700.

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Canon PowerShot SD950 IS – Yet another 12.1-megapixel digital camera in the mix. This model comes in a titanium shell and has a 3.7x optical zoom lens with image stabilization. Sounds fairly familiar, but the SD950’s face detection recognizes a whopping 35 faces instead of Nikon’s 12. It has the same LCD resolution but has a smaller overall 2.5-inch size. Announced the same week as the Nikon S700, the Canon SD950 retails for even more at $449.

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Kodak EasyShare V1253 – This slim digital camera also has 12 megapixels and a 3x optical zoom lens. It has a much larger LCD screen at 3.1 inches but an inferior digital image stabilization system. The Kodak V1253 has face detection and HD capture and video recording. The movies record 720p at 30 fps. It has more Scene modes and less manual controls. Its white balance settings aren’t as complete and its ISO tops off at 1600 in full resolution. The V1253 retails for $299.

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Olympus Stylus 1200 – The flagship of the weatherproof Stylus lineup has a metal body, 3x lens, and 2.7-inch LCD screen. It also has 12 megapixels, making it nearly an identical twin to the Nikon S700. The Olympus 1200, however, has digital image stabilization rather than an optical system. Perks include in-camera panorama stitching and a "Perfect Fix" function that automatically adjusts the exposure in the Playback mode. The Stylus 1200 retails for $349 but can be found online for less than $300.

 

 

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX100 – This 12.2-megapixel digital camera offers a wider 28mm 3.6x optical zoom lens with an optical image stabilization system. It has a smaller 2.5-inch LCD screen with less resolution of 207,000 pixels, but it has a more powerful flash that lights up to 52 feet in front of the camera. Its movies record at 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720 pixels, and its Burst mode moves at a quick 2 fps clip even at full resolution. The Panasonic FX100 retails for $399.

Who It’s For

Point-and-Shooters – These consumers will love the ease of use and convenience of this pocket camera, but are the 12.1 megapixels really necessary?

Budget Consumers – At $379, these consumers will find another model and perhaps settle on the Nikon S510 that offers nearly all the same features with a little less resolution and a lower price tag.

Gadget Freaks – The sleek and metallic camera body is attractive and the monstrous resolution is a plus, but the S700 is otherwise bland when it comes to true gadgetry.

Manual Control Freaks – There aren’t enough manual controls to attract this audience.

Pros / Serious Hobbyists – Without manual controls and decent handling, the S700 is far out of the running for hobbyists. It isn’t even a thought for a pro.

Conclusion

Conclusion

The Nikon Coolpix S700 keeps the megapixel competition alive with its 12.1 megapixels and 1/1.72-inch image sensor. It performed well in our resolution tests, but will most photographers that use this camera actually print posters and take advantage of the resolution? Probably not. It will just take longer to download the images to a computer.

Still, the new S700 outperformed its predecessor in every test. Overall, it’s a good camera. The ultra-resolution S700 has a somewhat bland feature set: narrow 3x optical zoom lens, spotty flash, and 2.7-inch LCD screen. The LCD has excellent wide views and good resolution, and is perhaps the camera’s strongest component next to its image sensor.

These components combined with automated modes, a few manual controls, and a Movie mode that is hardly worth mentioning put the Nikon S700 in a sea of similar slim digital cameras; it’s not a standout.

Sample Photos

Sample Photos

Click to view the high resolution images

Specs / Ratings

Specs Table

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