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Over the past couple of weeks we've been working our way through some of the latest luxury compact cameras from the top brands. We've covered high-spec models from Canon, Panasonic, Fujifilm and Ricoh, so today it's the turn of Nikon, with its new Coolpix S600 premium ultra-compact.

In terms of specification the S600 is the second-from-top of the Coolpix S-series, surpassed only by the 12-megapixel S700 reviewed here in January. The S600 is a 10-megapixel model, featuring a 4x zoom Nikkor lens with a 28mm-equivalent wide angle, optical image stabilisation, a 2.7-inch high-resolution wide-view monitor and a robust brushed-steel body available in either gunmetal or black. Despite that tempting list of features it measures a pocket-friendly 88.5 x 53 x 22.5 mm and weighs just 130g.

Needless to say, a camera like this doesn't come cheap. The S600 has a current list price of £249.99, and even the online discount retailers are asking around £220. The most obvious comparisons are with the Panasonic FS20, which is slightly cheaper at £180, and the 5x zoom Canon IXUS 970 IS, which with a list price of £299.99 makes even the Nikon look reasonably economical.

While Nikon has a healthy share of the digital SLR market, up until a couple of years ago it was lagging a long way behind Canon, Panasonic and Sony in the premium compact market. Its AA-powered L-series of budget compacts was doing okay, but there's not a lot of profit in sub-£100 cameras. The introduction of the S500 in the middle of last year was a pretty obvious attempt by Nikon to move in on a lucrative market dominated by Canon's Digital IXUS models. Since then the S-series has expanded rapidly, with six more models derived from the design of the S500, including of course the S600.

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