Nikon Coolpix S3600 Review
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The Nikon Coolpix S3600 is a slim digital compact camera hosting an array of features, such as an 8x optical zoom, Hybrid VR system, EXPEED C2 processor and Target Finder AF. It's also designed to be incredibly easy to use. In this review, we'll discover exactly how easy it is and if it's worth the price. Available in a range of colours, the Nikon Coolpix S3600 costs around £130 / $140.
Ease of Use
Large cameras can be great if you're going to big events or looking to take your photography more serious. Sometimes, it's more convenient to take a something smaller. The Coolpix S3600 from Nikon is just that. It's a thin camera – only 19.9mm from front to back – yet holds an 8x optical zoom without any bulge around the lens area. Joining the lens on the front of the camera is the tiny AF emitter and a slim flash which has a reach of 0.5 – 3.5m at wide-angle and 1.5-2m at full zoom and that's in ISO Auto, so it shouldn't change regardless of the sensitivity setting the camera is in.
Because small seems to be the key word when designing the Nikon Coolpix S3600, the top plate has a teeny power button that can prove difficult to operate if you have big hands. The power button is located in the usual place and a compact zoom switch is hidden beneath it to preserve space. On the back, the 2.7 inch screen takes up the majority of the available space with the operational buttons lining the right side. The formation is a standard navigation pad with four buttons surrounding it. The green camera accesses the modes you can shoot in such as Auto, Smart portrait, Digital effects, Scenes and Easy auto. The latter being the mode that will simply do absolutely everything for you.
The only thing you get to adjust in the Main menu is the resolution of the Nikon Coolpix S3600. The Digital effects are interesting if you enjoy playing around with the overall look of the pictures. You can choose from popular effects such as Sepia, Black & white, Toy camera and Vivid colour as well as some lesser known ones such as High key, Low key and Cross process. The latter harks back to the days of film whereby developing a colour print film in colour slide processing liquid (or vice versa) produced some interesting results in colour reproduction. It's interesting that in our sprint to move away from film, we now want to replicate it as much as possible.
Should you need to alter any in depth features of the Nikon Coolpix S3600, this can be done in the Main menu by pressing the Menu button towards the bottom of the camera. The automatic modes on the Mode menu will only open up basic options on the Main menu. It's not until you use the Auto mode that you'll see the benefit of the menu system. In there you can alter the resolution, white-balance, ISO, drive modes and focus areas. Pressing left will take you out of the Shooting menu and you'll find that it's split into three sections.
The second section is dedicated to video and is quite sparse by comparison. It allows you to change the resolution, focus and image stabiliser modes as well as adjusting the wind reduction feature. Finally, the Set-up menu is more intense and has options to change in-depth features such as the Motion detection, time & date and Language to the more obscure such as the welcome screen, date stamp and blink warning. The S3600 is compatible with the Eye-Fi memory cards which uses WiFi to transfer images to a computer.
The menu is clear and concise. There are no sub-menus aside from the multiple options within a category. The colour coding is dark grey framing with a light grey centre panel and yellow highlight over the black lettering. It's simple if a little uninspiring. It gets the job done, though.
Start up time from cold is relatively slow at 2.4sec. Given recent advancements across the board, we expected to see around 2sec at least. Many cameras are coming out these days with start up times of under 2sec, so to see a camera at over 2sec is disappointing. In continuous mode, the S3600 has three modes to choose from (aside from the Single shot default setting). Continuous shooting fires a succession of images at around 1.1fps (frames per second) to a maximum of six shots, according to the Nikon website. We managed to get seven pictures in a ten second period, which is an average of 0.7fps. We couldn't emulate the frame rate that Nikon have stated on their website even at the start of the ten second test when the frame rate is typically faster.
To access the pictures you've already taken, you simply press the blue arrow on the back of the camera. You can do this even when the camera is off, you just have to hold the button down a bit longer. The most recently taken image will show up full size on the screen with some basic image information such as date & time, resolution and file number. You can press the Ok button which takes you into the Quick effects menu system. This is pretty cool because it means that you don't have to worry about applying the effect at the time of shooting. The camera will save the edited image as a new file too.
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If you remember, pressing the camera button during recording brings up a Mode menu. Well, pressing the arrow button in Playback brings up a similar menu. You can choose various ways to display the pictures you have such as Favourites, Chronologically, Auto and straight forward playback. In the Playback menu – which is accessed via the Menu button – you can perform simple edits to your pictures using the Quick retouch, D-lighting or Glamour retouch options. You can also remove red-eye, set the order to print pictures, produce a slide-show, protect and rotate images as well as copy them and add a voice recording.
In the top of the box, there's a Quick Start Guide, which looks huge but is in multiple languages. It's only a simple guide to get you started. The full manual is found on the CD also enclosed in the box. Below these are the camera, wrist strap, lithium ion battery and a USB cable which attaches the camera to the charging unit. There is a setting in the Main menu whereby the camera will charge off the computer by using the USB cable. You don't have to set anything, the option in the menu is to switch it off.