Three new cameras and a replacement broaden the range of offerings in Nikon's S line, which offers solid features, imposing styling, and impressive image quality, but has yet to really vie for dominance with the strongest competitors in the ultra-compact market. All four new models bring more advanced features to the table, including large, sharp LCDs, improved high ISO performance, Nikkor optics, and in several cases, Optical Vibration Reduction.
Priced competitively, the S520, S550, and S600 fill cost and features gaps in Nikon's current Coolpix lineup between the S510 and the flagship S700 ultra-compact. With what could now be fairly called a full range of slim, stylish models coming to stores this March, we're looking for Nikon to compete even more strongly in this segment against the likes of Canon and Sony this season.
At 18mm thick, S210 offers slim elegance
Nikon leads off its series update with the 8 megapixel Coolpix S210 pocket camera. At less than three-quarters of an inch thick, the new ultra-compact offers impressive step-up features including Vibration Reduction and a 3x zoom wrapped in an aluminum body.
Designed to provide high performance while emphasizing user-friendliness, the S210 comes in several unique colors (including Plum, as seen above).
Retail pricing should be around $180.
S520 to replace current S510
The Coolpix S520 replaces the current S510 model, offering a similar range of specs: a 3x zoom, 8 megapixels, and a 2.5-inch LCD all carry over from the predecessor, as does Optical Vibration Reduction. Key improvements in signal to noise ratio and noise reduction, courtesy of Nikon's EXPEED processing concept, offer key improvements in high-ISO performance.
Improved post-shot but pre-save Red-Eye Fix and upgrades to Nikon's Face-priority AF make the S520 more appealing for snapshot portraits, and in-camera D-Lighting can be used to correct backlit exposure issues.
An improved in-camera image organization system and Face Zoom-In review option top the list of playback-side improvements.
As with the S210, styling is also a crucial part of the total S520 package: the camera is available in a similar range of interesting colors seen in the S210.
Expect a price tag of around $230 at the S520's March release.
Upgraded zoom, resolution in S550
Moving up the series, the new Coolpix S550 sports several key improvements, including 10 megapixels of resolution and a 5x Nikkor zoom lens.
Available, as with previous new offerings, in a host of exciting colors, the S550 offers new soft features include a Smile Mode, which holds the shutter until subjects are smiling, and a Blink Warning function, which, as the name implies, displays a warning message if the camera believes subjects have blinked. An interesting idea, Blink Warning will eliminate the need for the post-shot zoom to confirm that eyes are open assuming it works as advertised.
Trading Optical VR for higher resolution and a longer zoom, the S550 should price out in the same range as the S520 – around $230.
Sleek, wide-angle S600 promise Nikon S speed
Several of the current Nikon S models are known for having little to no discernible shutter lag, and the COOLPIX S600 promises similarly remarkable speed in a sleek, compact package.
As with the S550, the S600 features 10 megapixels of resolution, but switches out the S550's 5x zoom for a 4x unit with an equivalent wide-end range of 28mm. A 2.7-inch LCD and Optical VR, in additions to EXPEED-derived high-ISO image quality improvements, should make the S600 a strong contender in the premium ultra-compact market.
Priced right at $300, the S600 may be the most exciting announcement of this bunch in our view, especially in the graphite-on-graphite scheme shown above.
Full specs for all four cameras will be posted as soon as we can get our hands on them.
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