Nikon Coolpix S3600 Review

June 6, 2014 | Matt Grayson | |

Image Quality

The pictures taken throughout the test were taken at full resolution and the finest compression rating unless otherwise stated. At full size, the pictures range from just under to just over 8Mb. Reduce the compression rating to lose more information and that's roughly halved. You can perform this action in the resolution menu by choosing the 20 megapixel option that doesn't have the star. It will use less information and thereby allow more pictures to be stored, but the image quality will suffer on fine detail subjects.

Noise

Noise levels at low ISO settings are great on the S3600. There's no indication of noise in dark areas or otherwise. The changes begin to appear at ISO 200, which is expected given that the difference between ISO 80 and ISO 100 is only around a third of a stop. Small amounts of colour noise can be seen at ISO 200, though.

The noise exacerbates throughout the range with bright blue spots starting to appear at ISO 400 and edge definition taking a direct hit. ISO 800 sees the blue spots turn purple and spread out over the image. Mid-tones and highlights are still untouched at this point but salt & pepper noise also begins to be troublesome.

At ISO 1600, noise reduction ramps up production to stamp out the problems, even at the expense of image detail. Darker areas merge and the images take on the painted look of smudged images. ISO 3200 gets so bad that Nikon have set the resolution to 3.8 megapixels. By knocking down the resolution and deactivating some pixels, certain types of noise are eradicated because they're created by noise from neighbouring pixels. There is still a little present on our test image, but it's not bad overall.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso80.jpg iso100.jpg
   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso400.jpg
   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso1600.jpg
   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

 
iso3200.jpg  

Focal Range

The focal length of the Nikon Coolpix S3600 is 25-200mm in 35mm terms. That's an 8x optical zoom, which is very handy in such a small body.

25mm

200mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

File Quality

There are two settings at 20 megapixels to select when shooting. The normal setting is defaulted on the camera and you have to change it in the Main menu to have the star next to it if you want a higher compression to record larger files. 20M* images record around 7.5Mb while dropping to 20M with no star records images around 4.2Mb.

16M High (7.55Mb) (100% Crop) 16M Normal (4.27Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg

Sharpening

Adding some sharpening in does work in some scenarios, but if the camera has been steadied and a low ISO used, the difference it makes is negligible.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The S3600 lens is high quality and we found difficulty finding any chromatic aberrations. There are one or two when a dark foreground is over a bright background.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Macro

The closest focusing distance of the s3600 is 2cm and that's pretty good. Centre sharpness is also good. Image quality drops off fairly early, though.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

The camera does get vignetting at wide-angle and the definition at the corners of the frame is increased when flash is used. The vignette remains throughout the zoom range regardless of whether the flash is on or off.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (200mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (200mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

The flash didn't produce any red-eye in the photographs whether the red-eye reduction feature was on or off. There's also a red-eye removal feature in the Playback menu but we didn't need it on any of our pictures.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Night

The Night scene mode on the S3600 has two settings for hand-held night photography and for tripod based. We shot a test image in both settings as well as two shots in the Auto mode with auto ISO and ISO 80 settings.

The lighter images are the ones that were higher ISO which therefore let more light in. The two in Auto mode differ through the the ISO alone whereas the Night scene modes also adjusted the shutter speed.

Night Scene Handheld

Night Scene Handheld (100% Crop)

night_scene_handheld.jpg night_scene_handheld1.jpg
   

Night Scene Tripod

Night Scene Tripod (100% Crop)

night_scene_tripod.jpg night_scene_tripod1.jpg
   

Night Auto AutoISO

Night Auto AutoISO (100% Crop)

night_auto_isoauto.jpg night_auto_isoauto1.jpg
   

Night Auto ISO80

Night Auto ISO80 (100% Crop)

night_auto_iso80.jpg night_auto_iso801.jpg