Nikon Coolpix S9600 Review

June 4, 2014 | Matt Grayson |

Image Quality

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 5Mb.


The sensitivity range spans from ISO 125 to 6400. At the lower ranges, there doesn't seem to be an issue with noise. Edges are sharp and aside from a lack of detail in the darker areas, which could be due to the dynamic range, the images at low ISO look good. Some image quality begins to drop off slightly at ISO 200, but it's nothing really to worry about and we only noticed it when viewing the pictures at 100% magnification.

Colour noise begins to poke through noticeably at ISO 800 which is a great performance. Edge definition is still acceptably sharp. ISO 1600 sees a drop in edge sharpness, but it's negligible and colour noise is still being kept at bay for the most part. It does sneak in some places though. The final setting has some bright blobs of colour poking through sporadically which is a shame, but only given the previous performance of the camera. Let's face it, the quality we've seen so far is outstanding for a small sensor. It looks like the lower resolution certainly helped to a degree.

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

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The 22x optical zoom is equal to a 25-550mm in 35mm terms. There's slight barrel distortion at wide-angle, but full zoom doesn't appear to suffer.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


We're happy with the amount of sharpening that the S9600 produces, but when running the pictures through a basic sharpening tool in an editing suite such as Adobe Photoshop, we did notice a slight improvement.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

File Quality

All pictures were taken at full 16 megapixel resolution at the finest setting, with the exception of the resolution test image. You see, there's two settings for 16 megapixel. Both record the same number of pixels, but the compression is different on the normal setting. You can determine whether you're using fine or normal because the fine setting has a star next to the resolution like this: 16M*. Shots taken at this setting are typically around 5.8Mb while a normal setting image can be around 3.4Mb. While that does free up memory space, there's a risk of losing vital detail so if you're shooting a finely detailed image, use the highest possible.

18M Fine (4.63Mb) (100% Crop) 18M Normal (3.18Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_high.jpg quality_normal.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberration is very difficult to find on the S9600 pictures. We found it randomly on a few photographs that had very high contrasting lines with very sharp edging. It doesn't occur on anything except black & white, at the edges of the frame and there's no sign of it in bokeh or out of focus areas.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations 3 (100% Crop)




The S9600 has a close focusing capability of 1cm. We found that this works better if you push the zoom out to the maximum of the macro range. At wide-angle we struggled to get focus. Because of the close proximity to the lens, focus drop off is fast and quite close to the centre of the frame.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


If you don't use the flash there's no trace of vignetting in the corners of the frame. That does happen when the flash is activated and remains at full zoom. When taking portraits, we found that the flash has a nice, even spread with no heavy shadows. There's a slight blue tinge to the catchlights when red-eye reduction isn't used and this subdues when it's switched on. We didn't any actual red-eye though, so the red-eye removal system in the Playback menu wasn't needed.

Forced Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Forced On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Forced Off - Telephoto (550mm)

Forced On - Telephoto (550mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

The flash is a pop-up type and therefore won't see much of an issue from red-eye. In fact, we couldn't replicate it in any way.


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


There are three options to choose from to get a photograph at night. The Night scene mode is on the Command dial on the top plate of the camera. This will automatically select the settings for you to get a decent picture in dark conditions. The night scene used a faster shutter speed than the Auto mode to avoid camera shake and also used ISO 1600. In Auto, we tried a shot at ISO Auto and ISO 125. The latter gave a similar result to the Night scene in terms of exposure although it was a smoother image due to the lower sensitivity. The Auto ISO image gave the best exposure but used a longer shutter speed of 1sec with the ISO 1600 setting.

Night Scene

Night Scene (100% Crop)

night_scene.jpg night_scene1.jpg

Night Auto ISO

Night Auto ISO (100% Crop)

night_auto_isoauto.jpg night_auto_isoauto1.jpg

Night ISO 125

Night ISO 125 (100% Crop)

night_auto_iso125.jpg night_auto_iso1251.jpg