Nikon CoolPix S630 review: Nikon CoolPix S630

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The Good Excellent design; 7x optical zoom in a compact body; ISO range limiter; good photo quality up to ISO 400.

The Bad Slow performance; photos can look over-processed, soft.

The Bottom Line The Nikon Coolpix S630 puts a little extra zoom in your pocket, but you might not find the high-resolution photos it shoots out pleasurable.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Image quality 6

The Nikon Coolpix S630 is a nice camera. In fact, it's so nice it borders on bland, but is saved from being so by a 7x optical zoom. The photo quality is pleasant enough (though not perfect), its design is excellent, and it has a respectable set of shooting options. It could be a little faster, but otherwise the S630 is just a good compact with some extra zoom range and there's nothing wrong with that.

Key specs Nikon Coolpix S630
Price (MSRP) $279.95
Dimensions 3.8 inches wide by 2.3 inches high by 1.0 inch deep
Weight (with battery and media) 5.7 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 12 megapixels, 1/2.33-inch CCD
LCD size, resolution 2.7-inch LCD, 230K dots
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 7X, f3.5-5.3, 37-260mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/Motion JPEG
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,000x3,000 pixels (4:3)/640x480 at 30fps (16:9)
Image stabilization type Optical and electronic
Battery type, rated life Li-ion rechargeable, 220 shots

The S630 is a little thicker than usual for Nikon's S-series cameras. That extra depth is for the 7x zoom lens out front, but it doesn't stop this camera from easily fitting in a pocket or small handbag. Available in five colors--black, blue, purple, silver, and red--it looks more stylish head-on than from the back where things get more functional. The right side swoops out a bit leaving a large thumb rest that was appreciated more and more while using the zoom ring around the shutter button on top of the camera.

Below that are the Mode and Play buttons followed by a scroll wheel/directional pad and two more buttons for the settings menu and deleting photos while shooting or in playback. Controls are very straightforward and even if the menus aren't much to look at, they're easy to navigate and a simple tug to the right on the zoom pulls up the Help system. Plus, you can get through them as fast or slow as you want with either the scroll wheel or directional pad.

General shooting options Nikon Coolpix S630
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, Fixed-range auto (ISO 64-200, 64-400); 64; 100; 200; 400; 800; 1,600
White balance Auto, Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Flash, Manual
Recording modes Auto, Scene, Scene auto, Sport continuous, High sensitivity, Smile, Movie
Focus Face priority AF, Auto AF, Manual AF, Center AF
Metering Matrix, Center-weighted
Color effects Standard, Vivid, Black & White, Sepia, Cyanotype, Pastel
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) 4 photos

When it comes to shooting controls and options, the S630's feature set is not terribly deep, making it inadequate for anyone wanting to experiment. It has taking simple snapshots down cold, however. Recording modes are kept pretty lean with Auto giving you the most shooting control, including the ability to limit the ISO range the camera uses. There are three specialized shot modes, too. Smile mode, which snaps a picture whenever it picks up on a smiling face, includes a Blink Proof setting that'll fire off a second shot in case it detects the subject blinking (and it works, but the person has to be fully facing the camera). A Sport Continuous mode works well for capturing action, but does lower the resolution to 3 megapixels and increase the sensitivity to a minimum of ISO 640. This not only creates some extra image noise, but it'll also cause outdoor/well-lit photos to overexpose. Lastly, there's a High Sensitivity mode for low-light shooting, but it too drops photos to a 3-megapixel resolution and sets the ISO range from 640 to 3,200. (To be fair, the thorough instruction manual warns about these things and explains how and when best to use the special settings.)

Performance is on the slow side for the S630. It takes just shy of 4 seconds from power on to first shot. Its shot-to-shot time is 3.1 seconds; using the flash adds 0.3 second to that time. Shutter lag is OK at 0.5 second in bright conditions and 0.8 in dimly lit situations. In its regular continuous shooting mode at full resolution, the camera can capture 0.8 frames per second.

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