Unfortunately, the Coolpix S6's manual controls are limited. ISO sensitivity, white balance, and exposure compensation can be changed in the camera's menu system. Like most point-and-shoots, the Coolpix S6 lacks a true manual focus mode, but a specific focus zone can be manually selected with the wheel. The Coolpix S6 has no aperture- or shutter-priority shot modes.The Nikon Coolpix S6 is a relatively peppy performer, rattling off shots at a reasonable rate. After a wake-up time of just 2 seconds, the camera snapped a shot every 1.8 seconds thereafter. Even with the onboard flash enabled, we could take a photo every 2.1 seconds. Shutter lag was a moderate 0.5 second in bright light, although dim light caused the lag to balloon to 1.7 seconds.
Burst mode was quick but not breathtaking. We fired off 41 shots at the highest resolution in just less than 32 seconds, yielding a rate of 1.3fps. At the lowest-quality setting, that dropped to 2.1fps, grabbing 73 shots in about 34 seconds.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Color accuracy and range are excellent, and the Coolpix S6's exposures are generally on target. Its palette is rather neutral and faithful to the scene, not oversaturated as with many other point-and-shoot cameras. The Vivid color setting gives images a little more warmth and pop but doesn't go too far. Flesh tones are warm but not ruddy, even with flash at close range, and the camera's automatic white balance is fairly accurate under most conditions.
The lens exhibits very little chromatic aberration, which causes the purple or green fringing commonly found along strongly backlit or high-contrast edges, and it can yield sharp images. But certain lens artifacts tend to crop up, including significant softness, as well as vignetting (darkening) at the corners of the S5's frame, especially at the wide end of the zoom lens' range. We also noticed significant barrel and pincushion distortion--lines curving inward at the telephoto end and bowing outward at the wide end, respectively. Thankfully, most of these image flaws will probably go unnoticed by casual viewers looking at prints. The camera's edge sharpening is occasionally too aggressive in high-contrast areas with thin lines, such as power lines in front of a white wall, which gives them light halos.
Noise performance in the Coolpix S6 is similar to that of other small-sensor point-and-shoot cameras; ISO 50 is very clean, ISO 100 is also clean, ISO 200 has noticeable noise, and ISO 400 is very noisy and speckled but still usable.