DPInterface Nikon Coolpix S9 Review
Compact and affordable, the Coolpix S9 seems to be Nikon's solution for consumers wanting such a camera. It offers 6 megapixels with an internal lens in a stylish little case. Is this the affordable thin camera you've been waiting for?
Nikon S-series comparison
Here's a comparison chart feature all four of the Nikon S-series launched this year:
*As of December 24th, 2006
Size and Weight
(165.1) 96.1 x 45.1 x 23.9 mm (105 g) - Canon PowerShot SD40 Digital ELPH
The Nikon Coolpix S9 is one of the smallest cameras in the very competitive ultra-compact camera category, and a light one too. With its tiny dimensions and light weight, you could bring this camera anywhere.
Open up the Box
This is what's included with the Nikon S9 in the box:
Storage and Power
The Nikon Coolpix S9 has 24 MB of internal memory, which holds up to 9 photos at the highest settings. I'd recommend at least a 1 GB Secure Digital card to start with. The camera doesn't take advantage of high-speed cards.
270 shots - Canon PowerShot SD800 IS Digital ELPH
The Nikon Coolpix S9's 190 shots per charge (CIPA Standard) is below average. The average is starting to hit the 250-shot range. I'd recommend picking up an extra battery if you're planning to shoot for extended periods.
There's only a leather case available for the Nikon Coolpix S9 as an accessory.
The Coolpix S9 looks just like your standard ultra-thin camera, with Nikon's wave design thrown in. The camera is well built, with the except of the tripod mount.
The Nikon Coolpix S9 has an internal lens equivalent to 38 - 114 mm with an aperture range of f3.5 - f4.3. Sounds suspiciously similar to the ones that Sony's ultra-thin T10 and T50 cameras are using.
The flash unit has a range of 25 cm to 3.2 m at wide-angle and 45 cm to 2.6 m, which is slightly below average. The AF-assist/self-timer lamp is located next to the lens, on the other side.
The Nikon Coolpix S9 has a 2.5 inch LCD which consists of 153,600 pixels. The LCD has good low-light and outdoor visibility though viewing angle is not that great. The low resolution is average.
An indicator light and four buttons are nested to the right of the LCD around the directional controller. The top most button moves you around shooting and playback while the one below it brings up a graphical display of the sub-modes you can select.
The directional controller doesn't have too many quick functions but here they are:
Below that is the MENU button and delete photo button.
Over here there's some speaker and microphone holes. There are three small buttons to the right. The first one activates the One Touch Portrait function which uses the portrait scene mode along with Face Priority AF and red-eye reduction. Nikon's face detection (which is software based, I believe) didn't work quite as well as on competition and that button is so tiny, I had to jam it down quite a bit before it could work.
Next is the power on/off and shutter buttons which are on the small side as well. On the far right end, there's a really tiny zoom lever - you can't operate this one easily without digging in using your nail. You can also see the S9's stylish "wave design" here.
There seems to be nothing on the sides of the Coolpix S9.
Over here, there's the memory card and battery slot covered with a fair sturdy cover. Beside that is a plastic tripod mount and A/V Out port.
The Nikon Coolpix S9 shows a low amount of shooting info - with no live histogram or exposure data. All you'll get is simple screen with a center bracket and basic info around it.
Settings you can adjust on the S9 include:
The Coolpix S9 includes an array of scene modes: Portrait, landscape, sports, night portrait, night landscape, indoor, beach, snow, party, sunset, dusk, dawn, close up, museum, fireworks, copy, backlight and panorama assist. The two Best Shot Selector modes take up to 10 shots in a row, picking the sharpest and best exposed ones respectively.
A time lapse photography feature takes up to 1800 shots at a selectable preset interval from 30 seconds to 60 minutes. The Coolpix S9 has a good 4 cm macro mode.
The Nikon Coolpix S9 records VGA movies with sound at 30 FPS till the memory card fills up. That's great, especially for a camera at this price. To record longer movies, you can lower the resolution down to QVGA (320 x 240) or QQVGA (160 x 120). Exposure is automatically adjusted while optical zoom is non-operational. You can choose between single or continuous focus - the latter keeps focusing in movie mode but the AF noise may be recorded.
Movie quality was about average with good video compression and audio.
The Nikon Coolpix S9 clocks a startup speed of 1 second thanks to the non-extending lens. The S9 normally takes about 1/4 second to 1/2 second to focus in good light and up to a full second when it's dark - okay, but there are cameras which do better.
As usual, shutter lag is a little obvious at telephoto in low-light conditions but is otherwise not noticeable. Shot-to-shot speed was 1 shot every 1.6 seconds, longer if the flash is used or when the internal buffer is reached. Flash recharge time using a fully charged battery took 6 seconds. The camera zooms from wide-angle to telephoto within 2 seconds.
In burst mode, the Coolpix S9 shot 5 frames at 1.6 FPS which isn't a very long period. Using the multi-shot 16 mode, the S9 takes and compiles 16 photos into a single collage. The LCD refreshes many times in the burst mode at a respectable rate but don't expect to successfully track fast moving subjects.
The S9 turns off within 2 seconds in record mode.
Checking out the Nikon S9's image quality:
At ISO 64, everything is not noisy at all but soft. Same goes to ISO 100, except here thing's are sharp. Going up to ISO 200, there is a tiny bit of increase in noise. ISO 400 noise is more visible but it's still very good and acceptable for midsized prints and viewing. Chromatic aberration (color fringing) is slightly visible.
The S9's has mildly soft edges, barrel distortion and redeye. Overall image quality is good, with fairly low noise as well.
Check out the Nikon Coolpix S9 photo gallery.
In playback, the Nikon Coolpix S9 can playback stills and movies (With sound) as well as: Protect image, print marking, sound memo, slideshow, resize and trimming. You can also magnify still photos by 10x and take a look around using the 4 arrow buttons. The D-Lighting function can also be applied to images taken. The S9 shows you barely any info about your photos - the screen above is all you'll get.
The Nikon Coolpix S9 is a small, stylish and affordable camera. A 3X zoom lens is self-contained in the camera and the 2.5 inch LCD on the back offers good resolution and viewing. Unfortunately, that LCD previewing won't last long without a viewfinder and below average battery life.
Performance was just average - unless you're a sports shooter or used faster cameras (like Canon or Panasonic) before, you won't mind. Continuous shooting was limited to just several shots, so keep this in mind if you use it a lot.
Some other downsides include a plastic tripod mount, really tiny buttons (Especially the zoom controller), lack of manual controls and shooting info being displayed. Movie zoom is another option unavailable, though you'll find the Coolpix S9's overall movie mode brilliant.
Image quality was good with some reservations in the redeye and softness departments. Though its design is definitely stylish, I don't think the Coolpix S9 is a good deal. Something like the Panasonic Lumix FX3 definitely operates better, faster and with optical image stabilization. Of course, no camera is perfect but the S9 sacrifices some features from the wrong areas.
Camera rating upon 10 (more about this): [Category: Ultra-compact]
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