While the S10 includes a manual white balance feature in addition to the usual assortment of presets and auto choices, Nikon throws a curveball and calls its manual white balance Preset White Balance, so when you see it don't get confused--although we were at first. Also, the camera includes three continuous-shooting modes: one is a regular burst mode that continues to capture images as you hold the shutter button; a second captures 16 shots and arranges them in a grid in one image; and the third captures images at intervals of 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or 60 minutes. Like almost all cameras these days, you can also choose from a handful of color modes, including the anticolor black-and-white mode.
Video buffs will like the S10's ability to capture clips at as high as 640x480-pixel resolution and as many as 30fps. More interesting than that, though, is the time-lapse movie mode, which lets you capture as many as 1,800 still images in intervals the same as the interval drive mode, then strings them together into a silent movie as long as 60 seconds. Now you can finally create that time-lapse clip of the sun rising over Aunt Betty's house that you've been dreaming of making since you spent a week camping in her backyard the summer after your fifth birthday.
We were pleased, for the most part, with the S10's performance in our lab tests. It took 1.7 seconds to start up and capture its first image, then took 1.9 seconds between subsequent images without flash, and 2.2 seconds with the flash turned on. In bright lighting conditions, its shutter lag measured a speedy 0.6 second, but slowed considerably in dim light to 2.5 seconds. In its standard continuous-shooting mode, we were able to capture 54 VGA-size JPEGs in 33.1 seconds for an average rate of 1.63fps. When we stepped up to 6-megapixel JPEGs, we captured 39 shots in 31.4 seconds for an average of 1.24fps.
Images from the Nikon Coolpix S10 were very nice with lots of fine detail at its lower ISOs, well-saturated colors, and very little in the way of JPEG artifacts or colored fringing. The camera's automatic white balance served up nearly neutral colors with our lab's tungsten lights; there was an extremely mild warm cast, though some users may even like the effect. The tungsten white-balance setting yielded a slightly greenish cast with our tungsten lights, while the Preset (a.k.a. manual) white balance provided the most neutral results.