Nikon Coolpix S6400 Review

May 14, 2013 | Mark Goldstein |


The Nikon Coolpix S6400 is a stylish, slim digital compact camera featuring a 16 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, 12x optical zoom with a wide-angle 25mm view, Full HD video, 3 inch LCD touch-screen and Quick Effects mode for speedy selection of digital filters. This reviewwill put the camera through its paces to see if it meets our high standards. Priced at around £169 / $250, the Nikon Coolpix S6400 is available in black, silver, blue, purple and red.

Ease of Use

It's still not that often we get touch-screen cameras in the office and if you've never had one before, you may find that using it can be a little clumsy at first. It doesn't take long; maybe a few minutes to get out of the habit of looking for a button, then a couple of weeks average use to stop pawing at the screen and upsetting the modes.

Like all touch-screen cameras, the Nikon Coolpix S6400 is a good looking model to appeal to the younger crowd that regularly use smart phones. It's a slim, rectangle with a slight curvy bulge on the front to house the larger than normal zoom lens. Buttons are minimal on the S6400 thanks to the touch-screen, but research has shown that consumers still like to see buttons on a camera, so they've not been made completely redundant. However with tap-to-shoot options and technology available to put every other mode and feature on a touch screen, it could just be a matter of time.

For now, though, the shutter release, power, video record, playback and shoot mode buttons are still in real life. A small rechargeable lithium-ion battery is housed behind a plastic door on the bottom of the S6400. It shares it's space with the SD memory card. The door is made of plastic, as we said, but it does have a thin length of metal running along the inside to give it some rigidity. It works quite well because although the door rattles a bit, this is down to the hinges and not the integrity of the door.

Nikon Coolpix S6400 Nikon Coolpix S6400
Front Rear

The battery powers the Nikon Coolpix S6400 and popping it into life brings up the shooting screen. Initially, there's several options down the left side such as exposure compensation, macro, self-timer and flash options. These disappear after 5 seconds and are replaced by a DISP. (display) button to the right of the screen. Tapping this brings the buttons back on. It's uncertain why this is done but it can be changed in the Monitor settings of the Main menu. When the normal display is resumed, a button that leads to the Main menu replaces the button marked DISP.

The Nikon Coolpix S6400's Main Menu consists of one grey menu list. It's in thumbnail sized squares so that they're easy to select. Scrolling down using the smaller arrows can be tricky if you have larger hands and right at the bottom as the last option leads you into the set-up menu. We like that it's tinged yellow to set it apart from the other options. In there, you can change more in-depth areas of the camera such as the Time&Date, Monitor settings for the screen, Motion detection and Sound settings among others.

The S6400 is an attractive camera with a curvy, fluid design that's covered in a glossy skin. The screen sits flush with the body while the lens bulges out smoothly. The gloss coating gives the camera a plastic feel which is counter-acted by the solid weight when it's picked up. The only downside to the build quality is the plastic tripod bush and flimsy rubbery covering for the HDMI/USB ports.

Nikon Coolpix S6400 Nikon Coolpix S6400
Front Top

The touch-screen is responsive enough for a camera. The difficult part is not comparing it to a mobile phone. They're incredibly responsive by comparison, but they have to be to cope with a busy lifestyle. A camera is used when there's more time. However, we found that flicking through the pictures in playback can be problematic. At this point, we'd like to recommend installing a pinch to zoom feature, mainly to save our own blushes after using it on phones for so long, it's an instinctive thing to do.

Nikon state that the Continuous H setting of the S6400 will record around 10fps (frames per second). When we tested it, we got seven pictures in a little over half a second. With that similar performance for an entire second, it would record nearer 14. It took a further nine seconds to download the pictures to the memory card. The Continuous L setting is slower – recording 20 frames in ten seconds (around 2fps) but won't stop after a second to download. It kept shooting as long as we needed it to, but it did take another 12 seconds to download once we stopped. That suggests the buffer was filling up and it would eventually stop anyway.

Starting the camera up from cold is actually quite fast. However, once it's started, it's as though the camera has been jolted out of a deep sleep and is disorientated. It takes a second to get all the modes onto the screen and if you hold the button down before it's ready, it doesn't register that you've done anything. We got results around 2.8 – 3.2 seconds. The average in our tests is around 2.5 seconds, so the S6400 is slower.

Nikon Coolpix S6400 Nikon Coolpix S6400
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

The Nikon Coolpix S6400 can be started up to playback images taken whether the camera is switched on or not. To look at them if it's off, simply hold the button down for a few seconds. This tells the camera that it's not just been knocked and you want to view them. The images are shown in the centre with basic shooting information on them. An arrow either side of the picture allows you to scroll left or right to view individual pictures. You can swipe with your picture, but this can lead to the pictures skimming through and skipping past several at once. It's hard to stop the camera doing this action once it starts. A small brush icon in the bottom left corner can be pressed to edit the picture that you're on. You can add the Quick Effects available when shooting. It's useful if you wanted to add one but didn't have the time to do it.

The Playback menu can be accessed on this screen. It offers options such as Deleting pictures you've taken, creating a slide-show, setting the print order of pictures, retouching or copying pictures. This latter option is useful if, like us, you got caught out with filling the card up and need to use the internal memory. Once you've cleared some space on the card, you can copy over the pictures from the internal memory to the card and transfer them out. It's the fastest way to get them off the card.

In the box, first you'll come across the Quick start guide. It's a little bit thick for a simple start up guide, but it's in several languages. For the full manual, you need to insert the enclosed CD into a computer. While you're at it, you can also take advantage of the free software that's on the CD. It's called ViewNX 2 and is Nikon's basic editing and tagging software program. Under all this, you'll find the camera, battery, wrist strap and cables.