Nikon Coolpix S60 Review

March 9, 2009 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Nikon Coolpix S60 is a 10 megapixel compact digital camera featuring Nikon's distinctive "wave-surface" design and a massive 3.5 inch wide-screen LCD monitor with touch-panel control. The S60 only has two external buttons - On/Off and Shutter Release - with everything else being operated via the LCD screen. Despite its slim dimensions, the Nikon S60 offers a 5x zoom lens equivalent to a focal range of 33-165mm, complete with a sensor-shift vibration reduction system and highest ISO of 3200. In-Camera Red-Eye Fix, Face-Priority AF, Smile and Blink detection and D-Lighting aim to intelligently improve your photographs. The Nikon Coolpix S60 is purely a point and shoot camera, with Scene Auto Selector choosing the best scene mode for you and Best Shot Selector automatically selecting the sharpest of up to 10 shots. The HDMI video output socket provides an easy way to view the Nikon S60's images on a HDTV. Available in Black, White and Bordeaux Red, the Nikon Coolpix S60 retails for around £299.99 / $349.95 / €349.

Ease of Use

The Nikon Coolpix S60 is a very eye-catching camera thanks to its slim, "wave-design" profile, non-zooming 5x lens and massive 3.5 inch LCD screen. The wave design basically means that the camera is thinner at one end than the other. At 9.7cms wide and 2.2cms deep, the Nikon Coolpix S60 will fit into your trouser or shirt pocket without too much trouble. The all-metal body of our Coolpix S60 review sample has a sophisticated glossy burgundy finish, with the sides of the body in a more glossy silver and the LCD framed in dark grey. The Nikon Coolpix S60's weight is about average for this class of camera at 145g. The Nikon Coolpix S60 is very well-made overall, although he On/Off button is too small and recessed, which may prevent the camera from being accidentally turned on, but also makes it difficult to quickly operate. Also the plastic HDMI port and battery/memory card covers don't inspire too much confidence. Otherwise the Nikon Coolpix S60 is designed and built very well.

The Nikon Coolpix S60 is the simplest camera that we've ever reviewed in terms of the number of external controls that it has. I counted 5 in total, if you include the HDMI port, battery/memory card slot and tripod socket. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that I haven't even mentioned the zoom buttons - that's because there aren't any! Instead, as with almost everything on the S60, you zoom the lens via icons on the camera's 3.5 touchscreen LCD panel. Unfortunately the large screen only has 230,000 pixels, a little on the low side for such a big LCD., resulting in a slightly grainy image. The 160 degree viewing angle and, anti-reflection coating and durable acrylic panel do make it easy to share your images with friends and family. The anti-reflection coating also meant that the S60 could be used in all lighting conditions with no problems, even bright sunlight, essential given its reliance on its screen.

Nikon Coolpix S60 Nikon Coolpix S60
Front Front

You'll either love or hate the Nikon S60's touchscreen interface. 2.7 inches of the 3.5 inch screen is used for previewing the scene in front of you, with the left and right occupied by largely clear and intuitive icons for operating the camera. A Home button in the bottom-right opens the camera's main menu system, with further options for Shoot, Scene, Movie, Play, Menu and Setup. The main menu system uses big and bright icons and text, but some commonly used options such as exposure compensation take a frustratingly large of number of finger presses to access. Whilst the S60's target audience of point and shoot beginner won't notice, the more experienced photographer will quickly become frustrated.

A clever feature is the ability to touch anywhere on the screen to focus and expose for that specific part of the picture, making it incredibly quick and easy to shift the focus point around, plus you can scroll through and zoom around your images in playback mode. Also the S60 automatically detects if it is held in portrait or landscape orientation, and rotates the icons / image on screen, although I found it to be rather sluggish in use. Less successful is the touch-sensitive zoom. Operated by your thumb, rather than forefinger as on most cameras, it initially feels completely alien and counter-intuitive. Admittedly it does become second nature after a short while, but is still frustratingly slow, making it difficult to focus on anything that moves quickly. Implementing the zoom control in this way is just one step too far in pursuit of a touchscreen nirvana. You'll also be constantly cleaning the S60's screen of fingerprints, and also constantly charging the battery too thanks to the S60's 140-shot battery life.

Nikon Coolpix S60 Nikon Coolpix S60
Rear Rear

The Nikon S60's emphasis is firmly on point and shoot simplicity, so there are a plethora of options to make it easier to take good photos. The Scene Auto Selector follows in the steps of Panasonic's Intelligent Auto mode by automatically selecting the most appropriate Scene mode and optimizing camera settings for popular situations such as landscapes and macro. Nikon's system is a simpler one, but still very effective for complete beginners. Similarly Face-priority and Smile/Blink Detection technologies take the pain out of taking sharp, well-exposed and happy pictures of your friends and family, although a simple shout of "Cheese" is often more effective at making your subject smile and not blink at the same time.

To help avoid camera-shake, often the cause of many unsuccessful photos, the Nikon Coolpix S60 not one, not two, but three anti-blur technologies. The Sensor-shift Vibration Reduction option is automatically turned on by default, automatically moving the camera's CCD sensor to reduce the effects of camera shake. This feature can be combined High ISO light sensitivity, although as our Sample Images page shows, you won't really want to use anything faster than ISO 400 if you can avoid it. Finally the Best Shot Selector mode automatically selects the sharpest of up to 10 sequential shots. In practice these 3 features work well together, which should result in fewer pictures ending up in the recycling bin.

Nikon Coolpix S60 Nikon Coolpix S60
Battery Compartment Memory Card Slot

The start-up time from turning the Nikon Coolpix S60 on to being ready to take a photo is fairly quick at around 2 seconds. Zooming from the widest focal length to the longest takes a rather sluggish 3 seconds. Focusing is quick in good light and the camera achieves focus almost all of the time indoors or in low-light situations, helped by the focus-assist lamp. The visibility and refresh rate of the 3.5 inch LCD screen are adequate, with some visible grain. It takes about 2 seconds to store an image, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card, with a very brief LCD blackout and lockup between each image. The Nikon Coolpix S60 has a slow Continuous mode which enables you to take just 0.7 frames per second for up to 3 images at the highest JPEG image quality. The flash recycle time is a little annoying, at about 4 seconds before you can take another photo with flash. Overall the Nikon Coolpix S60 is average in terms of operational speed.

Once you have captured a photo, the Nikon Coolpix S60 has an adequate range of options for playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can scroll through the images that you have taken, view thumbnails, zoom in and out, view slideshows, delete, protect, copy, create a small version of an image and set the print order. There are also a number of Retouch options, including perspective control, D-lighting (which can also be applied as you take a photo), and 4 colour options. Annoyingly you can't view more useful information such as the ISO rating and there is no histogram available during playback or when you are taking a photo.

In use the Nikon Coolpix S60 is a stylish, fairly compact, point and shoot digital camera that relies a little too much on its touchscreen LCD and suffers from sluggish performance. Now take a look at the Sample Images page to find what its image quality is like...

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 10 megapixel High JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

Overall the Nikon Coolpix S60 produces good pictures. This camera's main drawback in terms of image quality is noise, with ISO 400 showing obvious noise and softening of detail. The noise, colour desaturation and loss of detail gets progressively worse as you go from ISO 400 to ISO 800 and finally the completely unusable 1600 and 2000 settings (with ISO 3200 being recorded at 5 megapixels). The Nikon Coolpix S60 handled chromatic aberrations excellently with limited purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations. The 10 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpen setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop. The Nikon Coolpix S60's maximum shutter speed is 4 seconds, which is not great news for night photography enthusiasts, and the quality of the after-dark images is disappointing. Macro performance is below average too, allowing you to focus as close as 9cms away from the subject, with obvious barrel distortion evident. Vibration reduction is a very useful feature that sets this camera apart from its competitors and one that works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. The built-in flash worked very well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure.


There are 9 ISO settings available on the Nikon Coolpix S60. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


ISO 2000 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can't change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


File Quality

The Nikon Coolpix S60 has 2 different image quality settings available, with High being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

10M High (4.10Mb) (100% Crop)
10M Normal (2.28Mb) (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

The Nikon Coolpix S60 handled chromatic aberrations excellently during the review. Very limited purple fringing was mainly present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)


The Nikon Coolpix S60 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 9cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

Macro Shot (100% Crop)


The flash settings on the Nikon Coolpix S60 are Auto, Auto with Red-eye Reduction, Fill Flash, Flash On and Flash Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (33mm)

Auto Flash - Wide Angle (33mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (165mm)

Auto Flash - Telephoto (165mm)
ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some shots of yours truly. As you can see, neither the Flash On setting orthe Red-eye Flash option caused any amount of red-eye.

Fill Flash

Fill Flash (100% Crop)

Auto with Red-eye Reduction

Auto with Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night Shot

The Nikon Coolpix S60's maximum shutter speed is 4 seconds, which is not great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 2 seconds, aperture of f/3.9 at ISO 64. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Vibration Reduction

The Nikon Coolpix S60 has a vibration reduction mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the lens set to the same focal length and ISO speed. The first shot was taken with vibration reduction turned off, the second with it turned on. As you can see, with vibration reduction turned on, the images are definitely sharper than with vibration reduction turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether. Here is a 100% crop of the images to show the results.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)
1/7th sec / 33mm
1/4th sec / 165mm

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix S60 camera, which were all taken using the 10 megapixel High JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 640x480 at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 24 second movie is 24.6Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix S60

Front of the Camera / Turned Off

Nikon Coolpix S60

Front of the Camera / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S60

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix S60

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix S60

Rear of the Camera / Turned Off

Nikon Coolpix S60

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S60

Rear of the Camera / Turned On/ Menu Displayed

Nikon Coolpix S60

Rear of the Camera / Turned On/ Menu Displayed

Nikon Coolpix S60

Rear of the Camera / Turned On/ Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix S60

Bottom of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S60

Top of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S60

Side of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S60

Side of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S60

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S60

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S60

Battery Compartment

Nikon Coolpix S60

Memory Card Slot



Nikon have certainly succeeded in making the Nikon Coolpix S60 stand out from the point-and-shoot digicam crowd, with a distinctive look and feel that extends to its almost completely touchscreen operation. Ultimately, though, this is also the most frustrating aspect of the camera. It initially feels liberating, if also a little bewildering, to be able to focus, zoom, scroll and select using nothing more than your forefinger or the more accurate supplied stylus. After a while, though, you'll start to grow weary of having to press the screen six times just to tweak the exposure compensation, or accidentally hitting the wrong icon, or waiting for the sluggish interface to catch up with your thought process. Comparisons to Apples' iPhone are obvious, but the Nikon Coolpix S60 is certainly not an iPhone in camera clothing, lacking its finesse, speed and overall intuitiveness.

Image quality is fine if you take pictures in well-lit situations, with largely accurate colours and white-balance, hardly any signs of unwanted colour fringing, plus effective built-in flash and vibration reduction systems. Stray into more dimly-lit environments, like your local pub, however, and the Nikon S60 exhibits obvious noise and softening of detail at ISO 400 and faster, rather negating the ability to freely pick from the range of ISO speeds on offer. The rather poor macro mode, limited shutter-speed range and inability to change the in-camera sharpening level are also frustrating. Beginners will love the plethora of hand-holding technologies on offer, with the Scene Auto Selector especially noteworthy, but if image quality is top of your hit-list, the S60 will only disappoint.

Thankfully this appraisal doesn't apply to the camera as a complete package. The Nikon Coolpix S60 is still a fun camera to use that produces good results in the majority of places that its target audience will use it. If you don't expect too much from it, then the Coolpix S60 is a stylish, if rather expensive, beginner's camera with a twist.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 3.5
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 3

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix S60 from around the web. »

If you like the idea of a touch screen, then Nikon Coolpix S60 should appeal to you. It is an ultra-compact point-and-shoot digital camera in a sleek and stylish all-metal body with a 3.5-in. touch panel LCD. There are only two traditional buttons: Power and Shutter Release; everything else is accessed by touching, tapping, sliding and flicking your finger on the LCD screen. Though it's not as slick as an iPhone, the S60's touch screen is still lots of fun once you get used to the touch controls.
Read the full review » »

As an ultra-compact digital camera, the Nikon Coolpix S60 lives in the category with the most models. Luckily, this model does several things to distinguish itself. To start, its 3.5" LCD is the largest which can fit in an ultra-compact. Add a non-protruding slightly wide 5X optical zoom lens with stabilization and the S60 shows itself as a unique offering. The cost of this uniqueness is a touch-screen interface which can frustrate users trying to use the camera beyond pointing and shooting.
Read the full review »


Effective pixels

10.0 million

Image sensor

1/2.3-in. CCD; total pixels: approx. 10.34 million


5x Zoom-NIKKOR; 5.9-29.5mm (35mm [135] format picture angle: 33-165mm); f/3.8-4.8; 12 elements in 10 groups; Digital zoom: up to 4x (35mm [135] format picture angle: 660mm)

Focus range (from lens)

60cm (2 ft.) to infinity (∞), Macro close-up mode: 9cm (3.5 in.) to infinity (∞)


3.5-in., wide, approx. 230k-dot, wide-viewing angle TFT LCD with touch screen control and anti-reflection coating

Storage media

Internal memory (approx. 20 MB), SD memory cards*1

Image size (pixels)

3648 x 2736 (High: 3648*/Normal: 3648), 2592 x 1944 (Normal: 2592), 2048 x 1536 (Normal: 2048), 1024 x 768 (PC: 1024), 640 x 480 (TV: 640), 3584 x 2016(16:9 : 3584), 1920 x 1080(16:9 : 1920)

Vibration Reduction (VR)

Image sensor shift VR

ISO sensitivity

ISO 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 2000, 3200*2, Auto (auto gain ISO 64-800), High ISO Sensitivity Auto (ISO 64-1600)


Multi-connector (Hi-Speed USB, Audio/video output, DC input), HDMI mini connector

Power sources

Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL10 (supplied), AC Adapter EH-63 (optional)

Battery life

Approx. 140 shots with EN-EL10 battery

Dimensions (WxHxD)

Approx. 97.5 x 60 x 22 mm (3.8 x 2.4 x 0.9 in.) excluding projections


Approx. 145 g (5.1 oz.) without battery and SD memory card

Supplied accessories*3

Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL10, Battery Charger MH-63, USB Cable UC-E13, Audio Video Cable EG-CP15, Strap AN-CP14, Stylus, Software Suite CD-ROM

Optional accessories

AC Adapter EH-63

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