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Nikon Coolpix S6000 review: Nikon Coolpix S6000

The photo quality from the Nikon S6000 is good to very good, but it really depends on how you intend to use the photos. The biggest issue is regardless of ISO sensitivity, the photos are soft, meaning you'll never get very sharp fine detail directly from this camera. As the ISOs go higher, the photos get softer from noise reduction. It can be improved by sharpening with software, but that adds its own problems. On the other hand, this Nikon's noise reduction retains detail in exchange for a painterly appearance, so at smaller sizes subjects will look detailed--even at ISO 800. And while I wouldn't recommend using its highest sensitivity of ISO 3,200, ISO 1,600 is usable in a pinch. In the end, if you're looking to regularly make prints larger than 8x10 inches or typically do a lot of heavy cropping or enlarging before printing, the S6000 is not a good choice. For 4x6-inch prints, the occasional 8x10, and for Web use, though, it can produce very good photos for its price and class.

At its widest, the lens exhibits slight barrel distortion. There's a hint of it at the telephoto end as well. Center sharpness is good, but drops off to the sides and in the corners. You'll want to keep your subject in the center of the lens to get the sharpest results. Also, this camera creates bright, visible purple fringing around high-contrast subjects. If you're not careful about what you're shooting, you could end up ruining photos because of it or end up doing a lot of editing to get rid of it. It's typical of this class of camera, but particularly bad on this model.

The S6000 produces bright, vivid colors. In our lab tests they weren't accurate--particularly reds, oranges, and pinks--but my test shots were pleasing without looking unnatural. White balance is overall good, but a little too yellow/green indoors. Exposure was generally good, too, if occasionally underexposed. If it's not to your liking, though, Nikon's D-Lighting feature in this camera's playback editing options will help rescue detail lost in shadows. Like most compact cameras, however, highlights tend to blow out.

Movie quality is on par with a pocket video camera; it's good but juddery when the shooter or subject is moving. Low-light video is predictably loaded with noise. There is no use of the optical zoom while recording, but a stepped digital zoom is available and there is a continuous AF option. There's a stereo mic in front, too.

The Nikon Coolpix S6000 is a nice camera for its price. It has all the features I'd expect to find for its class including optical image stabilization, HD video capture, and a healthy selection of shooting options. And it's fast, which is definitely a stumbling block for sub-$250 cameras. The S6000's photos are soft, definitely benefiting from sharpening with editing software once they're on your computer. It does limit how large you can print or how much cropping you can do, but if that doesn't bother you then again, it's a nice camera for its price.

Shooting speed
(Longer 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)  
Fujifilm FinePix JZ500
Nikon Coolpix S6000
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR3
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W370

Typical continuous-shooting speed
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

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