Nikon Coolpix S630 review:

Nikon Coolpix S630

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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Definition is suprisingly good at low ISOs; 7x optical zoom is good in a camera of this size; sports fans may be tempted by the 11fps shooting.

The Bad Average lens quality; picture quality drops off rapidly as the ISO goes up; face-detection modes are muddled and only partially effective; cramped controls.

The Bottom Line The Nikon Coolpix S630's specs may be mouth-watering, but real-world shooting quickly reveals the limitations of its technology. While the S630 looks nice, its controls are cramped and awkward, making the camera doubly disappointing. The technology might explain the price, but the results are pretty average

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6.5 Overall

The £270 Nikon Coolpix S630's 12-megapixel sensor pitches the camera just below the 14.5-megapixel S710, but its 7x zoom offers more than twice the range and it's packed with technology, including auto scene selection, ISO 6,400 and 11 frames per second continuous shooting. But how well does it all work?

Not many other pocket-sized compacts give you a 7x optical zoom. Nikon's Vibration Reduction system helps reduce camera shake when you zoom in on distant subjects, as does the super-high sensitivity.

If action is your thing, as long as you don't mind shooting at a reduced resolution (3 megapixels), you can capture up to 20 frames at a rate that not even a professional digital SLR can match.

Nice colours, good definition and hardly any distortion -- in test conditions and at minimum ISO, the S630 produced a pretty impressive test shot, but real-world photos may be different (click image to enlarge)

Nikon's worked hard at making the S630 very beginner-friendly. The full auto mode takes care of everything, even selecting the best scene mode automatically. If you think you know better, you can switch to the camera's manual scene-selection mode -- there are 16 options to choose from. A third mode offers the camera's continuous-shooting, high-ISO and face-detection options (including smile and blink detection), while the fourth and final mode lets you shoot movies at a 640x480-pixel resolution.

All of these features are wrapped up in a smart-looking body that comes in a choice of colours. So far so good.

There's a big difference between the things a camera can do and how well it does them.

The 7x zoom is disappointing for two reasons. Firstly, it's not a wideangle zoom -- the minimum focal length is a somewhat restrictive 37mm equivalent. Secondly, it's not especially sharp at the edges of the picture or at long range.

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