Nikon Coolpix S70 Review

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  • Pros

    • Bright 3.5 inch OLED
    • 720p HD video
    • Slim, attractive
  • Cons

    • Inconsistent image quality
    • Few exposure controls
    • Overexposure in images

Nikon has released a few different touch screen point and shoot digital cameras, but the Coolpix S70 is their first with an OLED screen (288k dot resolution, 3.5 inch touch panel OLED) instead of the typical liquid crystal display. Being that the S70 has only one button on the entire body (an optional shutter button on the top), it relies exclusively on hand gestures to control every other feature. These include swiping gestures to scroll through images, pinching motions to zoom in and out of images, and the touch screen shutter that captures an image with a touch of the screen.

Nikon Coolpix S70

The feature set also includes 720p (1280×720) HD video capture at 30 fps, an effective 12.1 megapixel CCD image sensor, NIKKOR optics with a 5x optical zoom, Touch Shutter and Autofocus, Vibration Reduction image stabilization (a combination of optical and electronic methods), macro shooting, and active D-Lighting to improve detail in high-contrast and dark areas of an image.

The real headline-grabber, though, is still that OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) monitor for playback, framing, and control of the camera. According to Nikon, it “offers the benefits of vivid color reproduction, sharp contrast and the absence of afterimages.”

An OLED draws much less power than an LCD, especially because it doesn’t need to be backlit, and is designed to offer more dynamic range, deeper blacks, and weigh less than a traditional LCD. This adds up to a display that is smaller, brighter, and holds a better tonal range. All in all, it is supposed to give you a better image on screen and save you some battery life in the process.

A lot of comparisons can be drawn to the Nikon Coolpix S60, the S70’s predecessor, because of its slim profile, touch panel LCD, 5x optical zoom, and touch auto focus. Much has been retained from the first generation, but the S70 differs in resolution from the S60’s 10 megapixel sensor to the S70’s 12.1 megapixels, Touch Shutter, OLED monitor and a sliding lens cover that starts the camera up.

Nikon Coolpix S70

Both the S60 and S70 have an internal lens that does not extend. They share almost the exact same dimensions (S70 has a 0.8 inch depth, and the S60 has a depth of 0.9 inches), but weighs less (S70 weighs 4.9 oz., while the S60 is 5.1 oz.).

The Coolpix S70 sports your classic boxy point-and-shoot look and feel, and features a rubberized front panel for your hand’s grip. A chrome-like finish wraps around the edges of the aluminum alloy camera body. With only a few changes that can be made to exposure like ISO, white balance, and exposure compensation, the S70 is almost entirely automatic.

Ergonomics and Controls
Nikon left only a shutter button and the sliding cover over the lens to make all other controls digital. With the lack of buttons, the S70 relies entirely on the touch screen OLED for menus and control over shooting options.

Nikon Coolpix S70

The camera is small, measuring 2.4×3.8×0.8 inches, but has a weighty feel to it because of its metal construction. Although there is a rubberized (faux-leather like) right front panel for handholding the S70, it will go mostly unused because of the large OLED on the back is mainly designed for four finger holding, instead of a hand rest for your trigger finger.

Nikon Coolpix S70

Menus and Modes
The OLED monitor seems expansive, as it is larger than most LCD screens, with the exception of other touch screen digital cameras. Everything is controlled via the back monitor, including all settings, playback, shooting mode, etc. There are four shooting mode options that can all be selected by clicking on the green camera icon on the top left of the screen, or via the Home button in the bottom right:

  • Easy auto: A completely automatic shooting mode that selects the optimum settings for shooting and exposure. All you need to do is press the shutter.
  • Auto mode: The most manual of the shooting modes, allowing you to control things like white balance, exposure compensation, ISO, continuous shooting, flash, etc.
  • Scene mode: There are 17 different scene modes that range from sports to a panorama assist.
  • Movie mode: Shoots 720p (1280×720) HD video at 30 fps, with sound.

The menu system of the S70 is attractive and easy to navigate, though you’re not likely to use them heavily since this is such an automatic digital camera. The easiest way to change the camera settings is in the Auto mode, where there are several boxes surrounding the monitor that help you change different settings. For example, there is the Green Button in the corner to change the shooting modes with a Playback button under it to review your images. There is also a mock zoom lever icon that operates zoom function which to be honest, is extremely sluggish and unresponsive.

One unique feature of the Coolpix S70 allows the user to adjust image brightness by use of slider bars in different Scene modes such as Portrait and Night Landscape.

Overall, the menus are laid out logically and are easy to understand, even for a first-time user, although it may take a few minutes with the camera to get used to the Touch Shutter.

At the beginning of this review I mentioned the benefits of the OLED technology utilized by the S70, such as power saving and better image playback. For the most part, the S70’s monitor somewhat achieves this.

Nikon Coolpix S70 Nikon Coolpix S70

It is 3.5 inches in a wide 16:9 aspect ratio, but still plays back images in the standard 4:3 aspect ratio. After using the camera and checking out the images I captured, I could not, at all, tell the difference between it and your standard LCD screen. This may be because the 288k dot resolution is a little low. I ran into a few instances when an image appeared to be in focus on review, then later when I uploaded it to a computer screen, was obviously blurry. A boost in resolution may have helped me distinguish whether or not my images were properly focused.

I also found the functionality of the touch display to be unreliable. I say this because I had trouble occasionally enacting certain functions, such as changing the shooting mode, and I found myself pressing more than a few times on the same spot before it would work. It left me wanting the haptic feedback of the Samsung TL225’s touch monitor that I reviewed last month.

As far as framing and playback of the images are concerned, it’s easy to frame them up, but playback is a little stilted as well. When you are using the swiping action, used for when you want to peruse through your different images, it didn’t work every time I swiped. This might be a result of oils left by the human hand. My overall impression of the display is that Nikon should be commended for adding this new technology, but should have offered more in terms of resolution and touch control.

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