Nikon Coolpix S9700 Review

May 22, 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.

Noise

The Nikon Coolpix S9700 is the top of the line camera before going into the Performance range of cameras and that's where the prosumers sit. Couple this with the back-illuminated sensor technology and we want to see something good come from the noise test.

The sensitivity range of the S9700 is ISO 125 – 6400. At ISO 125, the picture quality is fantastic. There's no noise present at all, edges are sharp and there's lots of colour available. In fact, noise doesn't start to affect picture quality until ISO 800 which sees a drop in edge quality. There's also a little smudging of colour, but nothing to worry too much about and it's only really noticeable at full magnification.

Move on to ISO 1600 and we can see noise starting to affect the picture quality. In fact, the turn for the worse is particularly steep at this point. Edge quality has nose-dived again, primary colours are starting to wash out in order to remove colour noise, but it's still invading.

At ISO 3200, nearly all colour has been drained form the pictures to reduce the effect of colour noise. The final setting simply can't stop the tide and bright blue colour blobs take over the pictures. Still, it's a great performance from the camera.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso125.jpg iso200.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

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ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

 
iso6400.jpg  

Focal Range

The focal range of the S9700 is 25-750mm in 35mm terms. That's more than enough to deal with anything that life can throw at you, from carnival floats to distant boats.

25mm

750mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Sharpening

We like how the camera handles JPEG sharpening, but if you do decide that you want to add a little more in an editing suite such as Adobe Photoshop, it wouldn't be detrimental as long as you keep it to the low ISO images.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

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

File Quality

All images were taken at the Fine setting which is a separate menu to the resolution in the Main menu. There were massive variations of exposure from 7.15Mb to 4Mb at Fine setting. The night shots are even as low as 2Mb. We had to check the settings. Adjust the Quality to Normal and the camera will drop more information from the shot making it less detailed, but it frees up precious space if you're running out.

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

Chromatic Aberrations

One area that we found the S9700 fails on is the removal of chromatic aberration. It occurs when the lens can't focus all the colours onto the sensor and lines of colour appear on contrasting edges. On images from the S9700 we found thick blue and orange lines on edges that were generally light on dark. However, there were a few instances of vice versa.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg
   

Chromatic Aberrations 3 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 4 (100% Crop)

chromatic3.jpg chromatic4.jpg

Macro

Close focusing on the S9700 is an incredible 1cm. That easily gets you a close up of an interesting lizard. Because of the close proximity of the lens to the subject, image drop off comes in quite early. However, the centre sweet spot is ultra sharp.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

Adding flash to the pictures definitely adds a strong vignette at wide-angle. This problem settles out towards the top end of the zoom range. Without flash, there is still a little vignette, but it's barely noticeable and certainly won't be on everyday pictures.

Forced Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Forced On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Forced Off - Telephoto (750mm)

Forced On - Telephoto (750mm)

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

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

Night

We took three shots at night on a very foggy early morning. We tried the camera in Night scene Tripod and Night scene Hand-held as well as shutter priority. The Hand-held setting has selected a high ISO to combat camera shake and a shutter speed to ensure it gets a sharp result. However, we're left with a noisy image.

The Tripod and shutter priority modes have selected a low ISO 125 setting with us opting for centre-weighted metering and a slightly shorter exposure time with exposure compensation at a third of a stop under. The images in shutter priority are much sharper than the Night scene modes.

Night Shutter Priority

Night Shutter Priority (100% Crop)

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Night Scene Tripod

Night Scene Tripod (100% Crop)

night_scene_held.jpg night_scene_tripod1.jpg
   

Night Scene Handheld

Night Scene Handheld (100% Crop)

night_shutter_priority.jpg night_scene_held1.jpg