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Nikon Coolpix S6200 review: Nikon Coolpix S6200

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The Nikon Coolpix S6200 is a perfectly average point-and-shoot camera. It does nothing very well, but it's also not completely without worth. Mostly, its value is tied up in its lens and design. It's barely bigger than a deck of cards, yet has an ultrawide-angle lens with a 10x zoom range. The S6200 is also easy to use, has enough shooting features to please most snapshooters, and looks good, too.

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6.8

Nikon Coolpix S6200

The Good

The <b>Nikon Coolpix S6200</b> packs an ultrawide-angle lens with a 10x zoom into a very small body, but still remains comfortable and easy to use.

The Bad

The S6200's autofocus and overall shooting performance are mediocre.

The Bottom Line

The Nikon Coolpix S6200 is not exceptional in any way, but casual snapshooters in need of a pocket-friendly 10x zoom camera should check it out.

But, while its photo quality is good for its class (depending on your needs and expectations, of course), its shooting performance, in particular its ability to focus properly, drove me a little crazy. If you only need an occasional camera for snapshots and like the idea of having a flexible lens in a pocketable body for a reasonable price, the S6200 might be good enough.

Key specs Nikon Coolpix S6200
Price (MSRP) $229.95
Dimensions (WHD) 3.7x2.3x1 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 5.7 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 16 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 2.7-inch LCD, 230K dots/None
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 10x, f3.2-5.8, 25-250mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/H.264 AAC (.MOV)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,608x3,456 pixels/ 1,280x720 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Optical and digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life Lithium ion rechargeable, 250 shots
Battery charged in camera Yes; wall adapter (included) or computer via USB
Storage media SD/SDHC/SDXC
Bundled software Software Suite for Coolpix (Windows/Mac)

The S6200's 16-megapixel resolution means little in terms of quality. The photos are generally soft, noisy, and lack detail when viewed at full size. Those things only increase when you start using higher ISO sensitivities. Also, while colors are good at and below ISO 400, they start to appear slightly washed out and muddy from noise above that sensitivity. This, combined with the increased softness means the indoor and low-light photo quality just isn't very good. So, basically what you have is a camera not unlike many lower-end point-and-shoots: good to very good when you have a lot of light, but disappointing as soon as you head indoors.

Colors are pleasing from the S6200. It seems to pump up some reds and blues, but otherwise, subjects were bright and natural. However, that changes as more noise is introduced above ISO 400. The auto white balance is somewhat yellow-green under fluorescent light and warm under incandescent. If you're shooting under unnatural light, I recommend switching to the Auto shooting mode and selecting a preset or taking a quick manual reading.

Video quality is on par with a basic HD pocket video camera; good enough for Web use and nondiscriminating TV viewing. Panning the camera will create judder that's typical of the video from most compact cameras. The zoom lens does function while recording and moves smoothly and quietly. You will hear it moving in quiet scenes, but potentially more irritating is how slowly it focuses.

General shooting options Nikon Coolpix S6200
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600, 3,200
White balance Auto, Custom, Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Flash
Recording modes Auto, Scene auto selector, Scene, Special effects, Smart portrait, Subject tracking
Focus modes Face priority, 9-area auto, manual with 99 focus areas, center, subject tracking
Macro 4 inches (Wide)
Metering modes Multipattern, Center-weighted (when using up to 2x digital zoom), Spot (digital zoom of 2x or more)
Color effects Standard, Vivid, Sepia, Black & White, Cyanotype, Nostalgic sepia, High-contrast monochrome, High key, Low key, Selective color
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) 6 shots

You won't get much beyond automatic shooting modes on the S6200; it's a pure point-and-shoot really. There are two Auto modes on this camera. One is Nikon's Scene Auto Selector, located under the Scene modes. 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 a regular Auto mode, which is basically the Program auto mode you'd find on other cameras. It'll handle shutter speed and aperture settings, but you can also adjust things like ISO and white balance as well as film colors like Vivid, Sepia, and Cyanotype.

Aside from the Scene Auto Selector there are 16 other scene modes like Landscape and Portrait as well as a Pet Portrait mode. A separate Special Effects mode gives you some creative options like High-contrast Monochrome and Selective Color, which turns everything black-and-white except a color you specify. (The playback menu also has other effects filters you can apply after you shoot, like soft focus for a toy camera look and fisheye.)

If you like shooting close-ups, the S6200 does OK. It can focus as close as 4 inches from a subject, but the 16-megapixel resolution will let you enlarge for a closer look. You'll need plenty of light and/or a tripod to keep the ISO low for the best results, but even still subjects will be somewhat soft and could use some sharpening with software.

Shooting performance is fairly mediocre. Shutter lag, for example, is half a second when shooting in good light and 1.2 seconds in low-light conditions. And that's when I could get it to focus. During my testing I found myself regularly prefocusing over and over to get a clear shot. That might be acceptable if you're shooting stationary subjects like landscapes and architecture, but not active kids and pets. It takes about 2.1 seconds to go from off to first shot, but it's not bad shot to shot, taking an average of 1.2 seconds; turning on the flash drags that out to 3.5 seconds, though. It can continuously shoot for six photos at a rate of 1.2 frames per second.

Nikon S6200 controls
Despite the camera's small size, the controls are easy to press.

The best thing going for the S6200 is its design. Available in five colors, the metal body has a nice feel to it and is for the most part comfortable to use even at its small size. It's only an inch thick, so it can easily slip in a pants pocket--something you couldn't really do with a 10x zoom camera a few years ago.

The controls on back are small but nicely raised from the body making them easy to press with some clicky feedback. There is a one-touch record button for movies, too, so you don't need to switch modes before you capture clips. Nikon dropped the screen size and resolution from this camera's predecessor, the S6100. Like much of this camera, it's OK for what you're paying, but nothing special. Despite the lower resolution, though, setting and menu text are sharp and easy to read. The camera, like most of Nikon's Coolpix models, is simple to operate. You'll still want to read the full manual (included as a PDF file on a CD), but straight from the box you'll be able to start shooting without much trouble.

The S6200's battery is charged in camera via USB. It'll last for about 200 shots and some short movie clips before you need to recharge, but that takes about 3 hours by wall adapter. Of course, that means you won't be able to shoot during that time. The battery compartment, memory card slot, and Micro-USB port are all on the bottom; Mini-HDMI port is on the right side for connecting to an HDTV or monitor.

Conclusion
If you need a simple pocket camera with a wide, long lens for casual snapshots of still subjects in good lighting, the Nikon Coolpix S6200 is an option.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter 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)  
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8
1.5 
2.1 
1.4 
0.8 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot SX130 IS
2.1 
6.1 
2.9 
0.8 
0.6 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H70
2.2 
4.8 
4.1 
0.9 
0.5 
Nikon Coolpix S6200
2.1 
3.5 
1.2 
1.2 
0.5 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
  

Find out more about how we test digital cameras.

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6.8

Nikon Coolpix S6200

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 5Image quality 6