The 12-megapixel Nikon Coolpix S570 is a solid camera at the popular price point of around £160. Simple and stylish, the camera has a bright, wideangle lens and 5x zoom that help it to stand out among the competition. The same applies to its consistently good photo quality below ISO 400. A new specialty mode for portraits and its pedestrian shooting performance make the camera best-suited for still subjects and landscapes, though. Also, it's able to keep shooting at full resolution in low-light conditions (the sensitivity goes up to ISO 3,200), but that doesn't mean you'll like the results.
Punches above its price
Available in pink, red, blue, black and silver versions, the S570 is a slim, lightweight camera that's easily slipped into a trouser pocket or small bag. The metal body gives it a sturdy, higher-end feel than its price might suggest. Its lens specifications add to that impression, offering all the things that are good to find in an ultra-compact camera.
Its controls are fairly standard and easily learned. On top of the camera are the power and shutter-release buttons, with a zoom control around the release. On the back, to the right of the bright LCD and below the thumb rest, are buttons for changing shooting modes; playing and editing images; accessing photo, video and system-settings menus; and deleting pictures. There's a directional pad for navigation and setting exposure, flash, timer and macro. Again, it's all pretty straightforward.
The shooting modes on the S570 are aimed squarely at snapshooters. The 'auto' mode gives you the most control, with selections for ISO, white balance, exposure compensation, focus area, light metering and colour effects. You can also pick drive modes: single shot, continuous, 'best shot selector' and 'multi-shot 16'. Best shot selector fires off up to 10 frames and then saves the sharpest image, while multi-shot 16 compiles a sequence of 16 shots and puts them all in a grid on one photo.
There are 15 scene modes, as well as 'scene auto selector', Nikon's automatic scene-recognition mode. What's unique is the 'smart portrait system', which gets its own spot in the shooting-mode menu. It combines Nikon's previously available 'blink warning', 'smile shutter', 'in-camera red-eye fix', 'D-lighting' and 'face priority AF' features into one mode, and adds a new 'skin softening' component. This type of mode is available from other manufacturers, but Nikon's implementation is fast and works well.
The S570's 'electronic VR' image stabilisation relies on high ISO settings and shutter-speed adjustments, along with motion detection, to help deal with shaking hands and motion blur.
Average performance, decent pictures
The S570's performance is average for its class, teetering on the edge of slow. It takes 2 seconds to wake up and shoot. Subsequent shots will leave you waiting an average of 2.2 seconds between them, jumping to 3.8 seconds if you use the flash. Shutter lag is noticeable in good lighting conditions, at 0.6 seconds. In dim lighting, it's slightly better, at 0.8 seconds. The S570 has a full-resolution continuous-shooting speed of 0.6 frames per second. These numbers really drive home that this camera is better for capturing still subjects than moving targets.
Overall, the S570 produces very good photo quality. Many cameras in its class suffer a significant dip in quality when any sensitivity above ISO 200 is used. The S570 is actually good up to ISO 400 and, to some extent, ISO 800. The camera lets you limit the auto ISO range to either 80 to 400, or 80 to 800. If you're in daylight or bright conditions, we recommend locking it down to 80 to 400. Again, the S570 does perform well up to ISO 800, with minimal colour shift and most fine detail left intact, but it's at its best below ISO 400. It can shoot at full resolution up to and including a sensitivity of ISO 3,200. But photos at both ISO 3,200 and ISO 1,600 don't look good, due to colour shifting and yellow blotching. While you can keep shooting photos in low-light conditions, then, you probably won't be thrilled by the results.
The S570 doesn't produce accurate colours, but the results are pleasing. Everything turns out bright and looks reasonably natural. As is typical of compact cameras, highlights tend to blow out, but at least Nikon's D-lighting system helps bring up shadow detail. For a 28mm-equivalent wideangle lens, the S570 has little in the way of barrel distortion, and no discernible pincushion distortion when the lens is fully extended. There's some purple fringing in high-contrast areas of photos, but the amount is below average for the S570's class. Finally, photos generally look rather soft. The softness is consistent from edge to edge, though, unlike models we've tested that soften up towards the sides or in the corners.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The Nikon Coolpix S570 has loads of similarly priced rivals. Some cameras compensate for their mediocre photo quality and performance by loading up on features. The S570 comes close to falling into that category, but it seems that Nikon has put more effort than usual into the results. The S570 isn't excellent, but, for someone seeking a reasonably priced ultra-compact camera for portrait and landscape shots, where speedy performance is less of an issue, the S570 should work well.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet