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Nikon Coolpix S230 Digital Camera Review


Digital Camera Review by: Katrina Putker 


The entire range of Nikon Coolpix cameras are physically well designed and appealing to the eye and the 10-megapixel S230 is no exception. With an RRP of $379.00 and a list of features aimed mainly at the point-and-shoot market, it is likely to be a hit with those wanting consistent image quality coupled with portability and style.

The S230 is as neatly designed as the S220 and while it is slightly larger at 91mm x 57mm x 20mm, it has a more minimalist feel about it overall due to the majority of functioning and controls being operated electronically via the impressive touch screen interface.

As a result, there are only four buttons and a zoom toggle present on the body and all other operation is controlled via touch on the generous 3inch LCD that dominates at least three quarters of the camera’s back.

The touch controls themselves are logically and obviously laid out, and are well-sized with appropriate separation between them so as to ensure even the largest of fingers stay in control at all times.

The biggest frustrations with many touch screen devices are generally their non-responsiveness and/or their inability to decipher exactly which selection has been made. Thankfully, neither of these issues are relevant with the S230, which, on the contrary, is a breeze to operate.

The LCD touch surface is treated with what Nikon describe as an anti-reflection coating that helps to ensure high visibility across a variety of lighting conditions, particularly outdoors in bright sunlight where visibility is traditionally decreased.

The screen itself doesn’t seem to be heavily affected by finger marks or smudges as a result of its AG coating, which is particularly relevant given the S230 is predominantly a touch screen unit.

Unfortunately the electronic preview displayed via the LCD is quite low in resolution and often appears extremely noisy. Fortunately however, this preview is not a true indication of the final image that will result, which more often than not has much finer grain and sharper detail overall.

The S230’s powerful built-in flash will, on occasion, over expose and create unwanted hot spots in an image, but is otherwise relatively far reaching (up to 4.6m) for a unit of its size.

Image quality is good overall for a camera in this price range although the S230 rarely produces pin sharp results. In the majority of cases, images appear slightly softened, although this is unlikely to be noticeable at the standard 6 x 4inch print size or when uploaded to websites and social networking sites online.

The 6.3-18.9mm focal length lens, with 3x optical and 4x digital zoom, appears to be the same as that on the S220 meaning it suffers from the same limited reach and lower grade optics. Where the S220 showed evidence of blue chromatic aberration, the S230 has more trouble with purple fringing in high contrast zones, however this is unlikely to be visible to an untrained eye.

Users have the option of using the S230 in automatic ‘point-and-shoot’ mode, which will determine the best camera settings for the scene composed or instead, they can choose from a list of sixteen scene modes designed to produce optimal results in specific shooting situations including: dusk/dawn, portraits, landscapes, sports, night shooting, backlit situations, panoramas, and food etc.

Scene auto mode is also available should users prefer to trust the S230 to determine for itself the best shooting mode for the given situation, however it is not always accurate and may mistakenly give undesired results, in which case users are advised to manually choose the appropriate scene mode or for guaranteed results, switch back to auto mode.

Movie mode with sound (via the built-in microphone) is available in four different sizes in either NTSC or PAL format, and separate audio bites can be created via voice record mode that once transferred to a computer, can be reviewed using either QuickTime or any other WAV-compatible audio players.

Voice memos can also be recorded for specific images to help users later recall information regarding the location, subjects, or event in a photograph etc. and is a handy feature that may prove especially useful for those who tend to let images build up on their memory card over time and soon forget details about their own photographs.

The S230 starts up relatively quickly for a camera in its class and takes approximately three to four seconds to process in between shots depending on whether or not the flash is used.

Any in-camera editing or adjustment of images can be a slow process when users are presented with the ‘please wait for the camera to finish recording’ screen, and considering the array of editing options available (colour and distortion control, paint, re-size, quick retouch, D-lighting etc.) this can be quite often.medal-gold-r.jpg

The paint function is particularly fun to play with as it allows users to draw or write directly onto images and add stamps and borders as well.

Nikon’s Best Shot Selector (BSS) technology automatically shoots a series of images and saves the one with the sharpest focus, which is a useful feature to rely on when at full zoom or for those with unsteady hands who often find their images are blurred.

The Coolpix S230 is available in three colours: silver, purple, and red, and the box kit comes with the camera, a wrist strap, AV and USB cables, a dedicated Li-ion battery and charger unit, Nikon Software Suite, a manual, warranty card, and Quick Start Guide.

It is a reliable, highly portable unit overall with a sleek and simplified design complimented by the intuitive touch screen interface that many users are likely to favour ahead of external buttons and controls.


Appearance rating 4.5 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
3 stars
Lens quality
3 stars
View finder / LCD screen 4.5 stars
Value for money 5 stars
RRP (AUD) $379
Effective Pixels 10 Million mega pixels
Image Sizes 6 Sizes
Lens - zoom wide [mm] 36mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens -zoom tele [mm] 108mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens - Optical Zoom Yes, 3x
Resolution Settings From 640 x 480 to 3648 × 2736
Shooting Modes 16 Scene options
Face Detection Yes, up to 12 faces
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Focus Range [cm] 60cm - infinity
Aperture Range F3.1 - F5.9
Aperture Priority No
Macro Yes
Macro Range [cm] 10cm - infinity
Shutter Speeds Auto
Shutter Priority No
ISO Auto ISO 80-800 or Manual ISO settings 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 2000, High-Sensitivity mode (ISO 80-800)
LCD Monitor Yes
LCD Size 3" LCD, Touch Screen
Viewfinder No
Flash Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction, Off, Fill flash, Slow sync
Hot Shoe No
White balance Auto, Preset manual, Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Flash
Self Timer Yes, 2s and 10s
Movie Options Yes. Limited only by memory card size.
Video Out Yes
Storage Type SD memory cards
Storage Included [Mb] 44MB Internal Memory
Image / Audio Formats Compressed [JPEG (EXIF )], mono/wav file, AVI movie
Connectivity USB
Power Source AC Adapter EH-62D
Battery Options Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL10
Dimensions (W) 91mm x (H) 57mm x (D) 20mm
Weight 115g

About Nikon


The history of Nikon dates back to 1917 when three of Japan's leading optical manufacturers merged to form a fully integrated optical company. By the end of the century Nikon would have accumulated an immense poll of know-how and experience to become a world leader in not only optics and imaging but also industrial equipment and health and medicine sector.

Today Nikon designs, develops, manufactures and markets a gamut of optical, photographic and optoelectronic products globally. You will find them at work in virtually every corner of the earth. If it has something to do with light, Nikon has something to do with it.

The driving force behind Nikon is technology. Not only in manufacturing and assembling the finest lenses or most comprehensive photography system in the world, but also in making the glass itself. That is why Nikon products have gained worldwide customer satisfaction, and even professional recognition worldwide.

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