Nikon Coolpix S6400 Review

May 14, 2013 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


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.

Image Quality

All images were taken at full resolution unless otherwise stated for the resolution test. At full resolution with fine compression, pictures are around 7 – 7.5Mb in size. Knock it down to 16 megapixel without the star setting and you get file sizes of around 3Mb.


Low ISO noise performance on the S6400 is a mixed bag. Mid-tones show a great performance with sharp edges and clean colours. Go to dark areas, such as shadows and the colours become smoothed out as though noise reduction software is at work. If it is having to work at this stage, that's not good news for the later settings. The results stay pretty much the same until ISO 400 when there's a dollop of sharpening added to the mixture. Salt & pepper noise becomes more visible due to this. But again it only really affects the darker areas.

Going to ISO 800 is like using a different camera. It's as though noise reduction has simply packed up and gone home. Green blotches smother the darker areas, and are starting to bleed into the mid-tones too. Edges are starting to buckle under the amount of noise. Strangely at ISO 1600, the noise problem hasn't escalated anywhere near as much as what we thought it would but ISO 3200 has a terrible cast to it from noise all over the image.

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Nikon Coolpix S6400. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso125.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix S6400 has a 12x optical zoom lens which equates to 25-300mm in 35mm terms.  The lens doesn't appear to suffer from any barrel distortions at either end of the zoom range. The zoom action is pretty fast although if it's working another action and you try and zoom, it won't register and you have to let go and start again.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

File Quality

The Nikon Coolpix S6400 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.

High (100% Crop) Normal (100% Crop)
quality_high.jpg quality_normal.jpg


Because of the amount of noise present, adding any kind of sharpening simply exacerbates the problem.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

We struggled to find evidence of chromatic aberration. The Nikon Coolpix S6400's lens is good quality although we did find it in some places. Even then, it's only faint.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations 3 (100% Crop)



The Nikon Coolpix S6400 only has a close focusing of 10cm. That's on the low side by today's standards. The advantage is that subjects with straight lines such as our memory card doesn't suffer from distortion. The image does start to blur as you venture out towards the edges of the frame but it looks good.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The Nikon Coolpix S6400 suffers from slight vignetting at the edges when at either wide-angle or full zoom, albeit only slightly at full zoom.

Forced Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Forced On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Forced Off - Telephoto (300mm)

Forced On - Telephoto (300mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

The red-eye function is operated in the flash menu, not in the Main menu. However, we found that the camera doesn't suffer from causing red-eye, so you shouldn't find it too much of a problem.


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

Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


We took two pictures: one in Auto mode and one in Night scene mode. Night mode pushed the ISO up to 1600 to get as fast a shutter speed as possible. It only managed to get to 1/15sec while the one second exposure in Auto was controlling the ISO and capping it at 125. Ironically, the 1/15sec exposure would have still produced camera shake if I was hand-holding the camera. So the picture quality suffers in that mode for no reason in some cases.

Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)

night_auto.jpg night_auto1.jpg

Night Scene

Night Scene (100% Crop)

night_scene.jpg night_scene1.jpg

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix S6400 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

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 51 second movie is 110Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S6400

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S6400 / Lens Extended

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S6400

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S6400

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S6400

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S6400 / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S6400 / Shooting Mode Menu

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S6400 / Shooting Menu

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S6400 / Playback Menu


Nikon Coolpix S6400

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S6400 / Setup Menu

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S6400 / Quick Effects Menu

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S6400 / Help Menu

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Top of the Nikon Coolpix S6400

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Bottom of the Nikon Coolpix S6400

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S6400

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S6400

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S6400

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S6400

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Memory Card Slot

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Battery Compartment


Using the Nikon Coolpix S6400, it's plainly obvious that it's a very capable little camera. It seems to be fast at most things such as starting up from cold and it has a good focusing system on it. The lens seems to be good quality due to the lack of aberrations and distortion. The only thing that really lets the S6400 down is the noise.

What dismays us the most about the Nikon Coolpix S6400 image quality is that it could offer so much more. It has a back illuminated sensor and processing technology straight from the DSLR range, so why are we getting noise so early? The fact that noise reduction software is working so much at ISO 125 is disturbing. Still, everyday images are pretty good with not a great deal of quality loss.

Aside from a couple of areas such as the flimsy rubber HDMI port and wobbly pin on the battery cover, the S6400 is well built. Because we're now used to the ultra sensitive screens of our smart phones, the comparable lack of response on the S6400 gets infuriating at times. If you don't have a smart phone, it's likely you won't have any issues with it. However, the on-screen buttons need to be jabbed instead of tapped and – again with the processor – if the camera is doing something else, it locks all other commands.

For £170, the features on the Nikon Coolpix S6400 are pretty good. You get a decent lens, a nicely designed compact with a glossy exterior and a touch-screen on the back. The deal breaker will be whether you think the image quality is good enough to pay out the money for.

4 stars

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

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Nikon Coolpix S6400.

Canon IXUS 510 HS

The new Canon IXUS 510 HS is a stylish and well-appointed compact camera. Also known as the ELPH 530 HS, the Canon IXUS 510 HS offers a wide-angle 12x zoom, 10 megapixel CMOS sensor, 3.2 inch LCD touchscreen, built-in wi-fi and full 1080p HD movies. Read our in-depth Canon IXUS 510 HS review complete with full-size sample images and video.

Fujifilm FinePix Z1000EXR

The Fujifilm FinePix Z1000EXR is a stylish new compact camera, sporting a 3.5-inch touchscreen, 16 megapixels, 1080p HD video, wi-fi connectivity and a 5x optical zoom lens. Read our detailed Fujifilm FinePix Z1000EXR review to find out if it's all style and no substance...

Olympus VR-320

The new Olympus VR-320 is an affordable travel-zoom camera with a 12.5x, 24-300mm lens and a 14 megapixel sensor. Other key features of the Olympus VR-320 include a 3 inch screen, 720p HD video and a 1cm super macro mode. Priced at £159.99 / $179.99, is the VR-320 just too cheap to be true? Read our in-depth Olympus VR-320 review to find out...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX90

The Pansonic Lumix DMC-FX90 is a cutting-edge compact camera that offers an almost entirely touch-screen interface and wi-fi connectivity. The FX90 also offers a bright f/2.5, 5x zoom lens, 12 megapixel CCD sensor, 3 inch LCD screen and 1080p HD video. Read our expert Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX90 review complete with sample images and video.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9 is a brand new travel-zoom compact camera. The stylish Panasonic SZ9 offers 16 megapixels, a 10x zoom lens (25-250mm), 3 inch LCD screen, built-in wi-fi connectivity, 10fps burst shooting and 1080p HD movies. Read our expert Panasonic DMC-SZ9 review now...

Pentax Optio S1

The Optio S1 is the first model in a stylish new range of compact cameras from Pentax. In addition to its dashing good looks, the Pentax S1 also offers 14 megapixels, a 5x zoom lens, 2.7 inch screen and 720p movies. Available for just £119.99 / $199.95, check out our Pentax Optio S1 review to find out if it's all style and no substance...

Ricoh CX6

The CX6 is the latest travel-zoom camera from Ricoh based around a 10.7x 28-300mm lens. New features for the 2012 model include an even faster hybrid auto-focus system, aperture and shutter priority modes, higher-resolution LCD screen and a 3fps burst mode with auto-focus. Read our expert Ricoh CX6 review to find out if it can keep up with the travel-zoom competition.

Samsung ST200F

The Samsung ST200F is an affordable travel-zoom camera with a 10x zoom, 16 megapixels, 3 inch screen and built-in wi-fi. Read our in-depth Samsung ST200F review to find out if it's worth the modest outlay...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 is an affordable compact camera with a wealth of advanced features. A 10x zoom lens, 18 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, 10fps continuous shooting and Superior Auto and Background Defocus modes, Full HD movie recording and even 3D photos are all on offer. Priced at around £180, read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 review to find out if it lives up to its full promise.

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix S6400 from around the web. »

The Nikon Coolpix S6400 is a stylish compact camera with a 16 megpixel sensor and 12x optical zoom. It is available in blue, purple, red, silver and black for £214.00.
Read the full review » »

The Nikon Coolpix S6400's curvy body is one of its few distinctions. It does a decent job of taking photos, but its interface and other quirks don't make it a particularly endearing camera to have and to hold.
Read the full review » »

On paper, the Nikon Coolpix S6400 would appear to have just about everything you want from a digital compact camera of its class. With a 12x optical zoom, 3-inch 460,000-dot touchscreen, 16 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, Full HD video recording, a host of direct controls, 20 scene modes, small, lightweight body and a modest price tag, what more could you ask for from a compact camera?
Read the full review »


*¹ Not compatible with Multi Media Card (MMC).

*² Based on Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA) standards for measuring battery life.

*³ The maximum size for a single movie is 4 GB, and the maximum recording time for a single movie is 29 minutes, even when there is sufficient free space on the memory card. If the camera becomes hot, movie recording may stop before these limits are reached.

Product name COOLPIX S6400
Type Compact digital camera
Number of effective pixels 16.0 million
Image sensor 1/2.3-in. type CMOS; approx. 16.79 million total pixels
Lens 12x optical zoom, NIKKOR lens
Focal length 4.5-54.0 mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 25-300 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
f/-number f/3.1-6.5
Lens construction 8 elements in 8 groups (1 ED lens element)
Digital zoom magnification Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 1200 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
Vibration reduction Lens shift
Motion blur reduction Motion detection (still pictures)
Autofocus (AF) Contrast-detect AF
Focus range [W]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 1.2m (4 ft) to infinity, Macro mode: Approx. 10 cm (4 in.) to infinity (wide-angle position), (All distances measured from center of front surface of lens)
Focus-area selection Face priority, auto (9-area automatic selection), center, manual (focus area can be selected using the touch panel), subject tracking, Target finding AF
Monitor 7.5 cm (3-in.), widescreen, approx. 460k-dot, TFT LCD (touch panel) with anti-reflection coating and 5-level brightness adjustment
Frame coverage (shooting mode) Approx. 96% horizontal and 96% vertical
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 96% horizontal and 96% vertical
Media Internal memory (approx. 78 MB), SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card *¹
File system DCF, Exif 2.3, DPOF, and MPF compliant
File formats Still pictures: JPEG, 3D images: MPO, Sound files (Voice Memo): WAV, Movies: MOV (Video: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, Audio: AAC stereo)
Image size (pixels) 16M (High) [4608 x 3456(fine)], 16M [4608 x 3456], 8M [3264 x 2448], 4M [2272 x 1704], 2M [1600 x 1200], VGA [640 x 480], 16:9 [4608 x 2592]
Shooting Modes Auto, Scene (Scene auto selector, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night portrait, Party/indoor, Beach, Snow, Sunset, Dusk/dawn, Night landscape, Close-up, Food, Museum, Fireworks show, Black and white copy, Draw, Backlighting, Easy panorama, Pet portrait, 3D photography), Special effects, Smart portrait
Continuous Shooting Single (default setting), Continuous H (images are captured continuously at a rate of about 10 fps), Continuous L (up to 19 images are captured continuously at a rate of up to about 2 fps), Pre-shooting cache (up to 5 frames at a rate of up to 18 fps), Continuous H: 120 fps (50 frames are captured at a speed of about 1/120 s or faster), Continuous H: 60 fps (25 frames are captured at a speed of about 1/60 s or faster), BSS (Best Shot Selector), Multi-shot 16
Movie HD 1080p(fine) (default setting): 1920 x 1080/approx. 30 fps, HD 1080p: 1920 x 1080/approx. 30 fps, HD 720p: 1280 x 720/approx. 30 fps, HS 60 fps: 1280 x 720, HS 15 fps: 1920 x 1080
ISO sensitivity (Standard output sensitivity) ISO 125-1600, ISO 3200 (available when using Auto mode)
Metering mode 256-segment matrix, center-weighted (digital zoom less than 2x), spot (digital zoom 2x or more)
Exposure control Programmed auto exposure and exposure compensation (-2.0 - +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)
Shutter Mechanical and CMOS electronic shutter
Shutter speed 1/2000-1 s, 1/4000 s (maximum speed during high-speed continuous shooting), 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode)
Aperture Electronically-controlled ND filter (-2 AV) selection
Range 2 steps (f/3.1 and f/6.2 [W])
Self-timer Can be selected from 10 s and 2 s
Range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto) [W]: 0.5-6.2 m (1 ft 8 in.-20 ft), [T]: 1.2-2.9 m (4 ft-9 ft 6 in.)
Flash control TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes
Interface Hi-Speed USB
Data Transfer Protocol MTP, PTP
Video output Can be selected from NTSC and PAL
HDMI output Can be selected from Auto, 480p, 720p, and 1080i
I/O terminal Audio/video (A/V) output; digital I/O (USB), HDMI mini connector (Type C) (HDMI output)
Supported languages Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (European and Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
Power sources One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 (included), AC Adapter EH-62G (available separately)
Charging time Approx. 3 h (when using Charging AC Adapter EH-69P and when no charge remains)
Battery life *² Still pictures: Approx. 160 shots when using EN-EL19, Movies (actual battery life for recording) *³: HD 1080p(fine) (1920 x 1080): Approx. 20 min when using EN-EL19; HD 1080p (1920 x 1080): Approx. 20 min when using EN-EL19; HD 720p (1280 x 720): Approx. 25 min when using EN-EL19
Tripod socket 1/4 (ISO 1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 95.4 x 58.6 x 26.7 mm (3.8 x 2.4 x 1.1 in.) (excluding projections)
Weight Approx. 150 g (5.3 oz) (including battery and SD memory card)
Temperature 0°C-40°C (32°F-104°F)
Humidity 85% or less (no condensation)
Supplied accessories Camera Strap, Stylus TP-1, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 (with battery case), Charging AC Adapter EH-69P, USB Cable UC-E6, Audio Video Cable EG-CP16, ViewNX 2 CD, Reference Manual CD
Optional accessories Battery Charger MH-66, AC Adapter EH-62G

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