Nikon’s compact digital (S)uccessor

Photokina is coming and the pre-announcements are coming with it. Today it’s Nikon’s turn.

I thought I’d pick out one camera to mention: The Nikon Coolpix S10.

Nikon Coolpix S10

It’s only one of many Nikon compact cameras with Vibration Reduction built in. The other cameras are the thin, periscope style S7c and the more standard compact L5. (The S9 and L6 don’t have vibration reduction.)

By the way, Nikon’s designations are quite confusing. The key is understanding that Nikon uses the letter designation to denote the budget for the camera: L = budget, S = stylish, P = professional. Then the number after it is in order by time. This leads to confusion like the L6 being worse than the L5 and the S7c being an S8 with WiFi, and both being better than the S9. And the S10 being completely different than the S8 or S7c… more like a newer S4. Very silly!

Why pick this camera

The S10 harks back to the most innovative design in digital compact photography, the swivel. In 1999, that meant the hard choice between the Nikon Coolpix 950 and the Olympus C-2500L that I ended up with.

I just didn’t “get it” at the time and wanted something with TTL ability.

Now I “get it.” Digital compact cameras offer a distinct ability to rethink formfactor and this style Coolpix was the first, and is still among the best. This design allows you to hold it at your waist, compose the shot using the LCD viewfinder instead of an optical one, and then take the shot.

So what? Well candids work really well this way because it doesn’t even look like you are taking a shot. Simply turn off the shutter sound in the preferences and you are good to go. LCD viewfinders show the exposure/metering and white balance instantly as well as have an histogram readout. We take that stuff for granted, but it was a big step in 1999 when LCD’s weren’t very large, bright, or viewable.

For casual shooters, the D-lighting (in-camera automatic dodge and burn), automatic digtal red eye removal, and the face priority AF will be nice.

I could care less about the 10x zoom (in the unsurprising 35mm effective focal length of 38-380mm), The ISO 800 capability will be “nice, but nothing to rave about” as we’ve been spoiled by Fuji’s SuperCCD and ISO 1600 compacts. The 2.5″ LCD is something that’s really important for this camera design—it’s super bright and has a 170 degree viewing angle. It has a very respectable 5 frame (JPEG fine) buffer with five shot buffer.

I swear, if this thing did NEF, I’d be in love. But it probably won’t and Nikon isn’t targetting me with this camera.

They should. This body type is a perfect body type for dSLR owners. Learn from the LX1 and reduce the focal range so you can go wider and add RAW support! Increase the size of the buffer too while you are at it and add a few more dials/switches and a few less scene modes. Trust me, there are a lot of people who would desire nothing more than a professional level 950.

One more reason

There is a reason I brought up this camera because it caused me to do a double take when I read it:

“Image-Sensor shift Vibration Reduction (VR) produces sharp, blur-free results in unsteady situations.”

Huh? Nikon using sensor shift instead of optical vibration reduction? That’s got to be a shot across someone’s bow (reason here). I don’t know who. But it seems to me all the valid reasons (i.e. not the “get photographers to waste money on IS/VR/OIS lenses” justification) for using optical image stabilization and not using sensor shift just died an ignominious death with this camera.

(BTW, the S7c uses electronic vibration reduction (a la Casio) instead of optical image stabilization or sensor shift. I’m not sure why because Konica-Minolta DiMAGE X1 has sensor-shift anti-shake in a similar form factor.)

5 thoughts on “Nikon’s compact digital (S)uccessor

  1. I’ve tried out the S4 extensivly here in the office.
    The VR in that thing is more than useless. The only thing it seems to do is drain your battery faster. Maybe this will be more successfull.

  2. Perhaps that’s because there is no VR in the S4 — essentially its Achilles heel. If the VR in the S10 (however they do it) works well, it should do quite nicely…the camera shop I work at has a lot of people looking for a compact high-zoom camera interested in the S4 except for the lack of VR.

  3. Damn… sooo close. I’ve got a 995 and I love the swivel feature, and that I can screw on any 37mm (or 28mm w adapter) lens; I don’t want to give up my truley amazing fisheye. But I need to step up the resolution and the VR would be awesome for those crazy weird angle quick snaps. Why can’t Nikon make a pro dSLR w/ the swivel?!?

  4. Well the reason not a dSLR has probably to do with the reflex mirror negating the ability for live LCD preview without some serious compromises.

    However, I agree with the spirit of your view. Why no pro-level 995 sequel?

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