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Last month I reviewed the Nikon CoolPix S600, a high-spec 10-megapixel ultra-compact camera near the top of Nikon's premium S series. Today I'm looking at the next model down in the line-up, the S550. Although it looks very similar and also has a 10-megapixel sensor, it is a very different camera in a number of ways.
The CoolPix S550 is one of a new generation of Nikon premium ultra-compacts that started with the launch of the S500 in June last year. The range, denoted by triple-digit numbers, now stands at eight models, ranging from the ultra-slim 7.1-megapixel S200 to the 12.1-megapixel S700. The S550 is toward the top end of the range in terms of specification. As well as its 10.0-megapixel 1/2.3-inch sensor it features a 5x optical zoom lens with a focal length range equivalent to 36-180mm, a 2.5-inch 230k wide-view monitor and electronic image stabilisation at slow shutter speeds. Additional features include face detection and the new must-have, smile detection shutter release.
High-spec ultra-compact cameras with longer zoom lenses are becoming a lot more popular of late, and the S550 has to compete with the likes of the new Casio Exilim EX-Z100, another 10MP camera which has a 4x zoom with 28mm wide-angle (£170), the impressive-looking Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170, which has 10.1 megapixels, 5x zoom with 28mm wide-angle and optical image stabilisation (£170), the even more daunting Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500, which has 10MP, a 5x zoom Leica lens with 25mm wide-angle and optical image stabilisation (£240), and of course the 10MP 5x zoom Canon IXUS 970 IS (£230). The CoolPix S550 is priced at around £200 on the high street, but can be found for as little as £160 by shopping around online, which sounds a bit more reasonable, even though it lacks mechanical image stabilisation.
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