With its high-gloss metal case and giant 3.5-inch, iPhone-like touchscreen, the Nikon Coolpix S60 just begs to be touched. But your lust will turn to disgust once you get to know this camera’s internal quirks. In this case, beauty is only skin deep.
It’s immediately obvious that the S60’s touch panel is what separates it from other point-and-shoot cameras. Other than the power and shutter buttons, all of the camera’s controls are accessible by touch command. You can give the camera the finger or use the included guitar-pick-like stylus.
Tapping the icons, menus and submenus takes you through the camera’s many settings and picture modes. While some of the icons are easy to interpret, others require the 170-page manual be close at hand. The Scene Mode alone has 19 icons to choose from, including modes optimized for shooting food and museum art to dusk/dawn portraits and fireworks. You can even draw on pictures using the stylus. Although these sketches can be fun (look! Aunt Sally has a mustache!), they tend to look pixilated when transferred to a PC screen or printed.
As with the iPhone, a simple flick of your finger on the S60’s screen lets you scroll through the images in the camera’s puny 20MB internal memory or its optional SD card. And with its gyroscopic sensor, merely rotating the camera will change the image view to either portrait or landscape orientation. But unlike the iPhone, the wide screen (which extends all the way to the edge of the camera’s case) offers little space to hold the camera without inadvertently touching a setting or activating the zoom or wide-angle functions. Sadly, there is also a lag of a few seconds for some settings to execute, adding further frustration to the interface.
The camera’s optical image stabilization is a handy — and necessary — feature, along with distortion control and white-balance controls. Still, photo quality varied from sharp for well-lit outdoor shots to not-quite-sharp, unintentionally soft-focus images. The 30fps .avi videos offer excellent sound but grainy images. And you’ll probably need a backup battery since the one included can poop out after only about 70 shots, especially if you use the touchscreen often.
For the casual user, Nikon’s Coolpix S60 is a fun camera to use, especially with all its built-in settings for specific shots. It’s the perfect party companion — but if you take it home with you, you’ll probably wind up being disappointed.