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The CoolPix S640 is one of a series of recent compact cameras from Nikon featuring the same 12.2-megapixel sensor but with a variety of lens configurations. It sits in the range between the 4x zoom S620 and the 7x zoom S630. The S640 is currently selling for around £190, putting it firmly into the “luxury” bracket, but that price does buy a good range of features, including a 5x zoom lens equivalent to 28-140mm, a 12.2 megapixel CCD sensor and a 2.7-inch 230k LCD monitor. It features lens-shift optical image stabilisation, still an unusual featureon ultra-compact cameras.

The S640 is very small and lightweight, measuring just 91 x 55 x 20.5mm and weighing an insubstantial 135g fully loaded. You could slip it into a shirt pocket or purse and barely know you're carrying it. Nonetheless for such a small camera the S640 is very pleasant to handle. It's not quite as comfortable as the S630, but the buttons are reasonably large and well spaced out, and there is a small thumb-grip area on the back. The semi-matt finish is quite grippy and the camera is easy to hold securely.

As one might expect from the well-respected name of Nikon, the overall build quality is excellent. The body is aluminium with some plastic trim, and the controls are solidly mounted and operate with a nice positive feel. The LCD monitor is especially good, with a very wide viewing angle in all directions and an effective anti-glare coating that means it is usable even in bright sunlight. I was a bit concerned when I noticed that the D-pad doubles as a rotary wheel control, because that usually spells trouble on a compact camera, but the rotary function is only used for menu navigation and has no effect in shooting mode.

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