Photo quality in general is good, and by that I 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 2,000; however it's best to stay below ISO 200 for the greatest color, 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 stabilization turned off as these boost ISO along with shutter speed to minimize 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.
Colors were natural with the exception of reds, which were a little more vibrant and would blowout 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. But, 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. However, 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 touch-screen 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.
(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)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)