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The good:

Good lens specifications; Smart Portrait System works well; nice design, feature set.

The bad:

Middle-of-the-road performance; ISO 1,600, 3,200 not worth using.

The bottom line:

The Nikon Coolpix S570 is a respectable ultracompact camera, despite average point-and-shoot performance and some high-ISO overpromising.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Simple and stylish, the Nikon Coolpix S570 has a bright, wide-angle lens and 5x zoom helping it standout from the competition; as does its consistently good photo quality below ISO 400. A new specialty mode for portraits and its pedestrian shooting performance make the camera best suited for still subjects and landscapes, though. Also, despite its capability to keep shooting at full resolution in low-light conditions (the sensitivity goes up to ISO 3,200), doesn't mean you'll like the results.

Available in pink, red, blue, and black versions, the S570 is a slim, lightweight camera easily slipped into a pants pocket or small bag. The metal body gives it a sturdy, higher-end feel than its price might suggest. Its lens specifications add to that, hitting all the things good to find on an ultracompact camera.

Its controls are fairly standard and easily learned with little effort from the user. On top of the camera are the power and shutter release buttons with a zoom control around the release. In back to the right of the bright LCD and below the thumb rest are buttons for changing shooting modes, playing and editing images, accessing photo, video, and system setting menus, and deleting pictures. There's a directional pad for navigation and setting exposure, flash, timer, and macro. Again, it's all pretty straightforward.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
One thing that might be confusing is S570's four-way VR Image Stabilization. The name may lead you to believe it has optical or mechanical stabilization, but it has neither. It's completely electronic relying on high ISO settings and shutter speed adjustments along with motion detection to help with hand shake and motion blur.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Shooting modes on the S570 are aimed squarely at snapshooters. The Auto mode gives you the most control with selections for ISO, white balance, exposure compensation, focus area, light metering, and color effects. You can also pick drive modes: single shot, continuous, Best Shot Selector, and Multi-shot 16. Best Shot Selector fires off up to 10 frames and then saves the sharpest image, while Multi-shot 16 compiles a sequence of 16 shots and puts them all in a grid on one photo. There are 15 scene modes with nothing out of the ordinary as well as Scene Auto Selector, Nikon's automatic scene-recognition mode. What is unique is the Smart Portrait System that gets its own spot in the shooting-mode menu. It combines Nikon's previously available Blink Warning, Smile Shutter, In-Camera Red Eye Fix, D-Lighting, and Face Priority AF features into one mode and adds a new Skin Softening component. This type of mode is available from other manufacturers, but Nikon's implementation is fast and works well.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Performance for the S570 is average for its class teetering on the edge of slow. It takes two seconds to wake up and shoot. Subsequent shots will leave you waiting an average of 2.2 seconds between them, jumping to 3.8 seconds if you use the flash. Shutter lag is noticeable in good lighting conditions at 0.6 second; in dim lighting, it's a bit better at 0.8 second. The S570 has a full-resolution continuous shooting speed of 0.6 frames per second. These numbers really drive home that this camera is better for still subjects than moving targets.

Overall, the S570 produces very good photo quality. Many cameras in its class suffer a significant dip in quality when they use any sensitivity above ISO 200. The S570 is actually good to ISO 400 and to some extent ISO 800. The camera lets you limit the auto ISO range to either 80-400 or 80-800. If you're in daylight or bright conditions, I recommend locking it down to 80-400. Again, it did perform well up to ISO 800 with minimal color shift and most fine detail intact, but it's at its best below ISO 400. It can shoot at full resolution up to and including a sensitivity of ISO 3,200. However, both it and ISO 1,600 don't look good because of color shifting and yellow blotching. So while you can keep shooting photos in low-light conditions, you probably won't be thrilled by the results.

Colors are not accurate from the S570, but the results are pleasing. Everything turned out nice, bright, and reasonably natural looking. Typical of compact cameras, highlights tend to blow out, but at least Nikon's D-Lighting system helps bring up shadow detail. For a 28mm-equivalent wide-angle lens, the S570 has little in the way of barrel distortion and has no discernible pincushion distortion when the lens is fully extended. In high-contrast areas of photos there is some purple fringing, but the amounts are below average for its class. Lastly, photos generally looked a tad soft. The softness was consistent from edge to edge, though, unlike models we've tested that soften off to the sides or in the corners.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
There are a lot of cameras competing in the $100 to $200 price range. Some cameras compensate for their mediocre photo quality and performance by loading up on features. The Coolpix S570 comes close to falling in that category, but it seems that Nikon put more effort than usual into the results. It's not excellent, but for someone looking for a reasonably priced ultracompact camera for portrait and landscape shots where speedy performance is less of an issue, the S570 should work nicely.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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