by Rob Williams on July 4, 2006 in Digital Cameras
Looking for a feature-packed camera that won’t empty your wallet? The S4 features a swivel-lens capable of 10x Optical Zoom, a 2.5″ LCD screen and even includes rechargeable batteries and charger. But does it take quality pictures? Read on..
I took a look at Nikons Coolpix L1 a few months back and was not impressed with the overall package. While the camera took some good pictures with great color, it lacked a few things that held back from a great review. So now I have the S4 on the test bench and hope that it can blow me away. Something the L1 was unable to do.
The S4 has potential. In the Nikon scheme of things, there is a three tiered system for their digital cameras. The L1 was included in the Lifestyle series… or ‘budget’. This S4 is qualified for Style, which is a Lifestyle camera with added features and better capabilities. The last is P for Performance series, but I will get into that one in my P3 review in the coming weeks.
One feature that makes this camera stand-out is already seen in the above picture. Instead of a standard camera with no moving parts, the S4 has a swivel lens. At a closed stance, the lens points upwards, but can be adjusted to be pointing in any direction. Upwards, straight ahead, downward and even towards you. I don’t understand a need for having an adjustable lens like this, however it will definitely make people around you oogle it.
Pictures I took of the camera somehow ‘disappeared’, but these high-res official pictures show off all the features quite well. Before we jump into some testing, here is a list of the specifications.
- Amazing 10x optical zoom performance: powerful 10x Zoom-Nikkor lens with 38-380mm performance (35mm equivalent) gives more compositional freedom than other compact cameras, from tight close-ups to panoramic scenery shots.
- Dynamic swivel design: unique swiveling body lets you direct the lens independently of the LCD for greater range of angles. Shoot from the hip, from overhead, or take great self-portraits.
- Easy to carry for go-anywhere convenience: Compact dimensions and light weight, comfortable grip and compatibility with AA-size batteries, available around the world in alkaline, lithium and other forms, make it an ideal camera for traveling.
- Large, bright 2.5-inch LCD: compose shots easily and with clarity, play them back right away. Large, bright LCD makes menu navigation simpler too.
- In-camera picture improvement: D-Lighting improves images that need light and detail; Face-priority AF automatically focuses on faces for better portraits; In-Camera Red-Eye Fix corrects red eyes; Blur Warning alerts you when an image may be spoiled by camera movement so you can take the shot again.
- Sixteen Convenient Scene Modes for better composition: select the Scene Mode that matches the desired shot and the camera selects the optimal settings automatically for the best results. Four Scene Modes have Scene Assist, which helps you achieve better composition.
- Useful Voice Recording Mode extends versatility: record up to 5 hours of sound (with a 256 MB SD card), a big advantage for meetings, lectures and other events.
- Four Movie Modes add to the fun: three with sound, one for time-lapse; record movies at up to 15fps.
- Effective pixels – 6.0 million
- CCD – 1/2.5-inch type (6.4 million total pixels)
- Image modes – High (2816*), Normal (2816), Normal (2048), PC (1024), TV (640)
- Lens – 10x Zoom-Nikkor; 6.3-63mm (35mm  format equivalent to 38- 380mm); f/3.5; 12 elements in 9 groups; Digital zoom: up to 4x (35mm  format equivalent to approx. 1520mm)
- Focus range – 30cm (12 in.) to infinity (∞), approx. 4cm (1.6 in.) to infinity (∞) in Macro mode
- LCD monitor – 2.5-inch type, 110,000-dot TFT LCD monitor with brightness adjustment
- Storage media – Internal memory: approx. 13.5MB, SD memory card
- Shooting modes – Auto, Scene Assist (Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night Portrait), Scene (Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Sunset, Dusk/Dawn, Night Landscape, Close up, Museum, Fireworks Show, Copy, Back Light, Panorama Assist, Voice Recording), BSS (Best Shot Selector), AE-BSS, Color Options, Blur Warning, Date Imprint, Self- timer (10 sec.)
- With sound: TV movie (640) at 15fps, Small size (320) at 15fps, Smaller size (160) at 15fps;
- Without sound: Time- lapse movie at 15fps
- Capture modes – 1) Single, 2) Continuous (approx. 1.3fps), 3) Multi- shot 16 (16 frames 1/16 in size)
- Number of frames (w/ Internal memory) – High (2816*) approx. 4, Normal (2816) approx. 9
- Built-in flash – Range: 0.4-3.0m/ 1 ft. 4 in. 10 ft.; Flash modes: Auto, Auto with Red-eye Reduction (In-Camera Red-Eye Fix), Anytime Flash, Flash Cancel and Slow sync.
- Interface – USB
- Supported languages – German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, J apanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Russian selectable in menu display
- Power requirements – Two AA-size batteries (Rechargeable Ni-MH Battery EN-MH1-B2 with Battery Charger MH-71, LR6 alkaline batteries, ZR6 oxy-nickel batteries and FR6/L91 lithium batteries), AC Adapter EH-62B
- Battery life (approx.) – Approx. 290 shots with EN-MH1-B2 Rechargeable Batteries, approx. 450 shots with lithium batteries, approx 160 shots with LR6 (AA-size alkaline batteries) (based on CIPA standard)
- Dimensions (W x H x D) – Approx. 111.5 x 68.5 x 37mm (4.4 x 2.7 x 1.4 in.)
- Weight – Approx. 205g (7.2 oz.) (without batteries and memory card)
- Supplied accessories – Neck strap, USB Cable UC-E6, Audio Video Cable EG-CP14, Rechargeable Ni-MH Battery EN-MH1-B2, Battery Charger MH-71, Lens cap, PictureProject CD- ROM
- Optional accessories – AC Adapter EH-62B