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Nikon Coolpix S500 Compact Camera

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Nikon Coolpix S500 Compact Camera

    TechHive Rating

The Nikon Coolpix S500 delivers top-notch image quality. At $300, it may seem a little pricey for a compact camera with a relatively standard 7.1-megapixel sensor, a 3X zoom lens, and a 2.5-inch LCD. Into its tiny and tough metal body, however, Nikon has also packed such features as automatic face detection and optical image stabilization, though most compact cameras now offer those features.

I got some great shots with the Coolpix S500 during a rainy weekend trip to Oregon. The face detection usually set accurate focus and exposure for my indoor portrait shots, but it sometimes failed to find people who slightly tilted their heads or wore glasses. The optical image stabilization helped me avoid blurry images in dull lighting conditions or at maximum zoom, by reducing the effect of any hand movement during the exposure.

I also found useful Nikon's Best Shot Selection (available on many Nikon cameras), which takes a series of shots and keeps just the one it determines is the sharpest. You can increase the camera's sensitivity up to ISO 2000 to cope with moving targets in low light, but even daylight shots at this level contained so much noise that they were barely worth having. I noticed little noise, however, in images shot at ISO 400, a big improvement over how most compact cameras performed until recently.

You operate most of the controls with your right thumb; they might be a little small for users with big fingers. A scroll wheel makes navigating menus and quickly adjusting a few settings easy. Especially handy is the ability to click to the right and spin to alter the exposure compensation, but I was disappointed to find no histogram display to help you judge the effect. The camera also has no room for an optical viewfinder, so you must compose all of your shots on the LCD screen. (For more on important features to look for when buying a camera, consult "How to Buy a Digital Camera.")

In our image-quality tests, the Coolpix S500 earned impressive scores. We saw very accurate exposures both with and without flash. Some of the images could have been a little sharper, but we observed especially natural-looking color and little distortion. The camera took a commendable 234 shots on a single charge in our battery tests.

For a compact camera so small, the Nikon Coolpix S500 delivers very good image quality. Features such as face detection and image stabilization make shooting faultless photos easy, every time.

--Paul Jasper

This story, "Nikon Coolpix S500 Compact Camera" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    The S500's face detection and optical image stabilization help it deliver top-quality shots.

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