Nikon Coolpix S6000 review: Nikon Coolpix S6000

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.2
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Image quality: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Fast shooting performance; nice features, good design for the money.

The Bad Noticeably soft photos with lots of purple fringing.

The Bottom Line The Nikon Coolpix S6000's features and performance are very good for its price, but its photos are best suited for small prints and Web use.

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When a 5x zoom isn't enough and a 10x zoom is too much (either in size or price), there are the likes of the 7x zoom Nikon Coolpix S6000. Combined with its 28mm-equivalent wide-angle starting point, you get an extra bit of flexibility in a pocketable body that does make a difference, especially when there's just no physical way to get closer. Add in this camera's relatively speedy shooting performance and you have a decent, well-priced compact camera for shooting from the sidelines. It's still a compact point-and-shoot, though, so despite its high resolution and Nikkor ED glass lens, the photos are best enjoyed at smaller sizes as prints or for online sharing with little to no cropping or enlarging.

Key specs Nikon Coolpix S6000
Price (MSRP) $249.95
Dimensions (WHD) 3.9 x 2.2 x 1 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 5.5 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 14 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 2.7-inch LCD, 230K dots/None
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 7x, f3.7-5.6, 28-196mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/H.264 (.MOV)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,320x3,240 pixels/ 1,280x720 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Optical and digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life Li ion rechargeable, 210 shots
Battery charged in camera Yes; by computer or wall adapter
Storage media SD/SDHC memory cards
Bundled software Software Suite for Coolpix (Windows/Mac)

The S6000 is basically a slightly smaller version of its linemate, the 10x S8000. It has the same squarish all-metal body with a smoothly flared lens surround. Also like that model, the S6000's flash is poorly located at the top left, easily blocked by careless fingers. The controls and menu system are fairly uncomplicated, so out-of-the-box shooting shouldn't be much a problem. The menu system is broken into three tabs: Shooting, Movie, and Setup. The layout keeps you from doing too much hunting through settings.

Squeezed between the large thumb rest and the screen, is a record button for movies. Below that is a shooting mode button labeled "Scene" with a playback button to its right; a four-way control pad/wheel with an OK button in its center (Nikon calls it a Rotary Multi Selector); and then Menu and Delete buttons at the very bottom. The control pad is used for menu and image navigation as well as setting the self-timer, adjusting flash and exposure compensation, and turning on macro focus. Should you want to move faster through menus or images and videos, you can spin the wheel instead of doing single presses with underlying control pad. Although the wheel moves easily, you can feel stops. All in all, it's a pretty standard digital camera arrangement.

The S6000 is powered by a lithium ion rechargeable pack that is rated for a measly 210 shots; this was supported in testing, though it was a mix of stills and movies. The battery is charged in the camera by connecting via USB to a computer or the included wall adapter. Using the wall adapter, it takes roughly 4 hours to charge a completely drained battery; longer if charging by computer. The battery and card compartment are on the bottom behind a locking door. Next to it is a Mini-USB/AV port. A covered Mini-HDMI port is on the right side of the camera for connecting to an HDTV or monitor; you'll need to buy a cable, though.

General shooting options Nikon Coolpix S6000
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600, 3,200
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Flash, Custom
Recording modes Auto, Scene, Scene Auto Selector, Smart Portrait, Subject Tracking, Movie
Focus modes Face, 9-point AF, Center, Selectable (99 focus areas), Tracking AF, Macro
Metering modes Multi, Center-weighted average
Color effects Standard, Vivid, Sepia, Black & White, Cyanotype
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) 10 photos

Shooting options are geared for point-and-shoot users. There are two Auto modes on this camera. One is Nikon's Scene Auto Selector, which is the first option in the camera's Scene mode. It adjusts settings appropriately based on six common scene types. If the scene doesn't match any of those, it defaults to a general-use Auto. Then there is an Auto mode, which is like the program AE modes on other point-and-shoots. You can change ISO, white balance, and exposure compensation as well as light metering, autofocus area and mode, and continuous shooting modes. There are also 14 selectable scene modes. All of the scenes are standards like Portrait and Landscape, and there is a Panorama Assist for lining up a series of shots that can be stitched together with the bundled software.

Nikon's Smart Portrait System gets its own spot in the shooting-mode menu. Basically, it combines blink detection, smile-activated shutter release, red-eye fix, skin softening, and Face Priority AF features into one mode. The System works well, in particular for self-portraits, allowing you to take pictures without pressing the shutter release or setting a timer. The blink detection will fire off a second shot if the camera thinks someone blinked (though squinting had the same effect) and skin softening helps smooth out skin tones and can be set to low, normal, or high. Plus, the smile and blink detection and skin softening can be shut off entirely.

The last of the shooting modes is Subject Tracking, and the name pretty much says it all. Place the focus area box at the center of the frame on your subject, hit OK, and the camera will move the box with the subject. If the subject moves out of frame, the camera will do its best to pick up the subject when it reenters the frame. The camera can be set to focus once or continuously and it can prioritize tracking faces, but otherwise everything else is handled automatically. The mode mostly works as promised, but it should really just be an AF area option instead of a whole mode.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Digital camera type Compact
  • Optical Zoom 7 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 14.2 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical