Nikon Coolpix S6150 Review
The Nikon Coolpix S6150 fits into the S (Style) range of digital compact cameras. Featuring a 7x optical zoom, Nikon ED glass, a 3 inch touch-screen with 460,000 dots (153,333 pixels) and an EXPEED C2 processor, the S1650 shapes up rather nicely and it looks pretty good too. Aimed at the point and shooter that wants good looks and a decent specification, the Nikon Coolpix S6150 costs around £160 and is available in black, pink, red and purple.
Ease of Use
From the front, the Nikon Coolpix S6150 doesn't look anything special. It's a simple box-shaped camera with a slightly bulging lens barrel to house the 7x optical zoom. The slim flash sits just to the top right of the lens as you face it which could get fingers slipping over it while taking a picture.
On the back, the touch-screen has managed to eradicate all but three buttons which are located to the right side. A small thumb pad is just above to rest it while you're shooting. It would be nice to see the zoom on the screen like we saw with the Nikon Coolpix S100 but instead the S6150 has a small rocker switch wrapped around the shutter release button. The power button is sat next to the shutter release and lights up green when the camera is switched on.
One of the buttons on the back is the direct video button which will begin recording video around a second after you press the button. The reason for the delay is so the S1650 can focus and meter before it starts. Zooming is possible during filming and while the motor does make a noise that can be captured by the microphone when it's quiet, it's insubstantial and in a normal environment shouldn't impose at all.
On the top right shoulder facing the back of the S1650, the camera has a USB and HDMI port for downloading either pictures or video. The S6150 does record video in HD but at 720p, it's not Full HD which is a shame. One advantage of having the ports on the top of the camera is that you can charge the battery in camera directly through the USB. This is great for travelling photographers or when you're away from a mains socket for a long period of time. Remember you don't have to tell the camera that you want to charge via computer - it does it automatically - but you can turn it off if necessary.
Continuing with the buttons, the middle one has a green camera on it and this is for choosing the shooting mode. You have three options: auto, scenes and smart portrait. It would be nice to see a more manual option instead of the smart portrait which can be put in the scene menu. Touching the option will enable it. Once a mode has been enabled, there are two small arrows on the screen; one on the bottom and one to the left side of the screen.
The bottom arrow brings up a screen that allows you to access resolution, touch-screen options, ISO, drive modes, white-balance, video, video focusing modes and wind noise reduction. There's also a spanner icon to go into the set-up menu. Usually, set-up menus are pretty large with lots of stuff to look at and can be quite over whelming. Nikon have simplified it by stripping lots of stuff out or bunching it together. The lists are also thumbnails so they're easier to press and it also makes the screen more welcoming.
The arrow on the left brings up more often used features including flash, self-timer, macro and exposure compensation. This new menu system is certainly easier to navigate than older Nikon menus but it leaves a feeling of sparsity, as though not as much has been put into it. It also reduces the option of expanding your photography because there isn't as much stuff to change.
In all likelihood, a lot of thought has gone into that before the decision was made. That being the case, the Nikon Coolpix S6150 isn't aimed at photographers on the look-out for a pocketable extension of a DSLR. It's a shame because the zoom is impressive enough at 7x optical (28-196mm in 35mm terms) and the S6150 certainly looks the part.
Picking the Nikon Coolpix S6150 up, it feels solid enough and there's a satisfying weightiness to it. Not the weight that will prey on your mind as you carry it around, but will give you peace of mind that it can't be stolen by light fingered passers by. The body is metal but covered in a rubbery coating that feels nice and gives a bit extra grip.
On the bottom, the battery and memory card share a compartment which has a plastic lid. On its own, we don't think it would be very strong, but there's a metal plate under it to add strength. It works because there's only a little bit of play in it and the hinges seem strong enough too. The Nikon Coolpix S6150 is SD, SDHC and SDXC compatible for ultra large memory capacities. It would be nice to have seen USB 3.0 for speedier transfer of a massive amount of pictures, but given the price point, we may be asking too much.
The touch-screen could be more responsive. It does obey your commands but you have to be a bit forceful with it. We also found that the position of the arrows to bring up the menu systems was too far into the edge and using just a finger wouldn't bring them up, instead we had to use a fingernail.
We tested the Nikon Coolpix S6150's shutter lag a number of times. In fact, we tried it more than usual because of the results that we got. Normally, a digital compact camera will provide a pre-focused result of around 0.08 seconds. The fastest we got the S6150 was 0.25 seconds. Generally, the results were around 0.30 seconds. Add a flash and you're looking at a delay of nearly a second. We nearly didn't test it without focusing but that came in at around 0.5 seconds. So it takes around a quarter of a second to focus which isn't bad.
Getting the camera to focus can be an issue, though. If the camera is doing anything else such as looking through the menu or if it's in playback mode, the S6150 doesn't work like other compacts whereby you can press the shutter button half way and it will come out of what it's doing and start to focus. Instead, you have to exit what you're doing by pressing a different button or by pressing the shutter release, then you have to focus after that. It sounds picky and maybe it is, but it's the small things that will gnaw away at you if you own this camera. The Nikon Coolpix S6150 has a drive mode located in the bottom menu. We managed to get 12 pictures in a 10 second time period averaging 1.2 fps (frames per second).
|Memory Card Slot
There are three focusing modes on the Nikon Coolpix S6150 and they're used to control the touch AF system. There's the touch shutter, subject tracking and touch AF/AE. The first and last are the same as each other with the exception that the latter doesn't take a picture automatically. Subject tracker will lock onto the area you've touched and keep with it even if it or the camera moves. They all work very well, finding no fault with them throughout the test.
One of the features to be stripped from the camera in order to make it easy to use is the metering modes. On a compact of this specification we expected to see up to three different metering modes but there are none. Still, the camera will use it's segment metering system which is the standard on digital compact cameras these days. It works very well but then Nikon metering always has.
In playback, there's quite a decent amount of things to do on the Nikon Coolpix S6150. Pressing the up arrow at the bottom of the screen brings the playback menu up. There's the option to select favourites, create a slideshow, lock pictures, direct print, edit and draw. To the right of the screen, you can add a number of stars to the selected picture to create a rating for it.
Nikon's new cameras have in-camera charging systems so you can charge directly from USB or connect the USB cable to a mains plug to charge from a socket. There's also a wrist strap and HDMI to analogue (red, yellow & white) video cable which kind of defeats the object. As soon as this cable is used, the digital quality is lost through the analogue leads. The included booklets are thick but multilingual. There's a safety guide and quick start booklet. The full instructions are on the provided CD and a second CD contains Nikon View NX2 for downloading and tagging your pictures.
All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.
Viewed at a normal distance or on a screen, the pictures from the Nikon Coolpix S6150 look perfectly good. They're sharp and well exposed with realistic colours that are true to the real life subject. Magnifying the picture tells a slightly different story, though. Edge definition is broken down slightly on all pictures, even at low ISO and on bright days. Noise starts to creep in shadow areas as well which looks bad. While we were taking the sample shots - many of them in Italy on a bright, sunny day - we had to set the ISO to auto capped at ISO 400. This was simply because unless we were shooting completely still subjects, we got a lot of motion blur. We kept missing great pictures and the only way to counteract it was to allow the camera to raise the ISO.
The ISO range of the Nikon Coolpix S6150 is ISO 80 to ISO 3200. There's been speculation of the need for an ISO rating that only gives a third of a stop difference but if it makes the pictures better, does the end not justify the means?
Looking at the results of ISO 80 and ISO 100, there's no difference in noise and edge definition which means that one of them could be removed if need be. In our test, the shutter speed for ISO 80 is 1/25 second while the ISO 100 is slightly faster at 1/30 second. With the widest lens setting at 28mm, the ISO 100 rating could give a sharper picture handheld. In our everyday sample shots, we did have trouble getting sharp pictures at ISO 80. That's not to say we didn't get sharp pictures at that setting - on the contrary. However, it was a lot more difficult.
ISO picture quality remains pretty good through the low to mid end scale with only slight discolouration coming in at darker areas. At ISO 800 salt and pepper noise appears with green colouring in mid-range areas. It appears that ISO 1600 the camera's noise reduction software can't cope with the noise being produced and as well as purple blobs appearing, the picture takes on a cast. Interestingly, the ISO 3200 setting has the cast removed although there's green and blue spots in random areas.
ISO 80 (100% Crop)
ISO 100 (100% Crop)
ISO 200 (100% Crop)
ISO 400 (100% Crop)
ISO 800 (100% Crop)
ISO 1600 (100% Crop)
ISO 3200 (100% Crop)
The Nikon Coolpix S6150's 7x zoom lens offers a versatile focal range, as demonstrated by the examples below.
The Nikon Coolpix S6150 has 2 different image quality settings available, with Fine 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.
|16M High (6.61Mb) (100% Crop)
|16M Normal (3.52Mb) (100% Crop)
Focusing on the S6150 is great with nice, sharp pictures but we did find a benefit in using a sharpening tool in a photo editing suite such as Adobe Photoshop.
Original (100% Crop)
Sharpened (100% Crop)
Despite not having an ED lens element fitted to the camera, the Nikon Coolpix S6150 hardly showed any signs of suffering from chromatic aberration. We had to hunt extensively to find any and it made us wonder whether fitting an ED lens would've eradicated it altogether. It's worth noting at this point that the camera does have a bit of a problem with lens flare and this can sometimes be mistaken for chromatic aberration.
Example 1 (100% Crop)
The macro mode on the Nikon Coolpix S6150 can focus no closer than around 10cm. Not what we're used to and looks disappointing when compared against other cameras of a similar specification that will focus at half the distance and closer. Still, those that will focus closer will also suffer from barrel distortion. We couldn't find any problems with it on the S6150 so it seems that Nikon have sacrificed close focusing for image quality. A noble gesture but could be one overlooked by consumers who simply want to photograph that funny coloured beetle on holiday and it won't focus on it.
Technically, centre definition is excellent, we got a lovely sharp picture in the lab test and in the field test we had the same results. The only drawback was that we kept moving in too close initially and it was trial and error to finally get the right distance.
The S6150 does suffer from slight vignetting when the flash is off but the flash being fired doesn't solve this. Even at telephoto we found a darkness edging in at the corners.
Forced Off - Wide Angle (28mm)
Forced On - Wide Angle (28mm)
Forced Off - Telephoto (196mm)
Forced On - Telephoto (196mm)
And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the On or the Auto/Red-eye Reduction settings caused any red-eye.
|On (100% Crop)
Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)
The preset night scne mode warmed the picture too much on our test so we switched into auto, used the custom white-balance setting (which is great and very easy to use) and got a much more pleasing look.
Night Auto (100% Crop)
Night Scene Mode
Night Scene Mode (100% Crop)
This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix S6150 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel High JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.
Sample Movie & Video
Front of the Camera
Front of the Camera / Lens Extended
Isometric View / Lens Extended
Rear of the Camera
Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed
Rear of the Camera / Turned On
Rear of the Camera / Shooting Menu
Rear of the Camera / Main Menu
Top of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Front of the Camera
Memory Card Slot
We always have high hopes for Nikon because they always make such nice cameras. So when we get something like the Coolpix S6150 we get a bit disappointed. That's not to say that it's a bad camera, we just expect more from them.
For the price, the build of the Nikon Coolpix S6150 is decent enough and there's enough features to keep the happy snapper going. The stuff normally found in the main menu has been stripped right back and that's not such a bad thing. It makes it more appealing to the consumer that doesn't care about the ins and outs of a camera.
Picture quality is good on the S6150. We found that primary colours are precise and not over saturated. Softer colours are recorded sympathetically and we like how it handles complex colours too. We're surprised that the metering system only uses segment but that's the most common used type these days so should it really matter? And will the person that the camera is aimed at notice that it's missing?
Thanks to the Nikon ED lens element, we had trouble finding any chroma on the sample pictures taken with the Nikon Coolpix S6150. The only thing it really suffered from was lens flare. Granted, that was in direct sunlight but we've shot into the sun before with other cameras and not got it as bad as this.
Nikon have three ranges of camera: Life, Style and Performance with the letter of the model number signifying the classification it falls into. The S series are in the middle with a reasonable build and reasonable picture quality. They don't have top of the range tech and that's reflected in the price. They're designed to look good and we think they fulfill that brief. If you're the type of person that goes for a camera that looks good over high performance or you need something to look nice on a night out that simply takes good pictures without worrying then the Nikon Coolpix S6150 will fit into that.
|Ratings (out of 5)
|Value for money
Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix S6150 from around the web.
Feature-packed and keenly priced, the Nikon Coolpix S6150 compact camera is a great choice for cash-conscious buyers. It's also well suited to those who would rather avoid the more technical side of photography.
Read the full review »
The Nikon Coolpix S6150 sits towards the top of Nikon's Coolpix Style range of compact cameras, and accordingly it packs a rich feature set in a slim, high-class camera body – all for under £160.
Read the full review »
The Nikon Coolpix S6150 was announced in August 2011, with a 16 megapixel sensor and 7x optical zoom. It is available in black, red, violet and pink for £139.95.
Read the full review »
*1 Not compatible with Multi Media Card (MMC)
|1/2.3-in. type RGB CCD
|Optical 7x zoom, NIKKOR lens; Focal length: 5.0-35.0mm (35mm format equivalent to 28-196mm); Aperture: f/3.7 to 5.6; Lens construction: 9 elements in 7 groups (one ED glass element)
|Maximum 4x (35mm format equivalent to approx. 784mm)
|Focus range (from lens)
|Approx. 50 cm (1 ft. 8 in.) to infinity (at wide-angle setting), approx. 1.1 m (3 ft. 7 in.) to infinity (at telephoto setting), Macro mode: approx. 3 cm (1.2 in.) to infinity (2 positions from the widest end)
|Vibration Reduction (VR)
|ISO sensitivity (Standard output sensitivity)
|ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, Auto (ISO 80 to 1600)
|7.5 cm (3-in.), approx. 460k-dot, wide-viewing angle TFT LCD monitor (HVGA), [Resistive touch panel], Clear color display, anti-reflection coating and brightness adjustment
|Internal memory (approx. 20 MB), SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card1
|HD 720p: 1280 x 720 (30 fps), VGA: 640 x 480 (30 fps), QVGA: 320 x 240 (30 fps)
|Interface/Direct print compatibility
|Hi-Speed USB/PictBridge, mini HDMI
|Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12 (1050 mAh), AC Adapter EH-62F (option)
|Number of shots per charge2 (battery life)
|Approx. 210 frames with EN-EL12
|Dimensions (width × height × depth)
|Approx. 97.9 x 58.0 x 26.6 mm/3.9 x 2.3 x 1.0 in. (excluding projections)
|Approx. 172 g/6.2 oz. (including battery and SD memory card)
|Camera Strap AN-CP19, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12, Charging AC Adapter EH-69P, USB Cable UC-E6, Audio Video Cable EG-CP16, Stylus TP-1 and ViewNX 2 CD-ROM
|AC Adapter EH-62F, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12, Charging AC Adapter EH-69P, USB Cable UC-E6, Audio Video Cable EG-CP16, Stylus TP-1 and Battery Charger MH-65