Back in 2002 Nikon launched one of its most successful models, the Coolpix 4500, a powerful high quality 4-megapixel, 4x zoom camera that became a workhorse for all types of specialist photography, thanks mainly to its 28mm filter thread which allowed it to be attached to telescopes, microscopes, spotting scopes and a wide range of other optical devices. Based on earlier swivel-body Nikon cameras dating back to the Coolpix 900 of 1998, the 4500 enjoyed a production run of four years, as testament to its excellent design and superb image quality.
Unfortunately there’s not much room for a four-year-old 4MP camera in today’s market, so Nikon has finally replaced the 4500 with a new swivel-body design, the Coolpix S10, which was launched last month. The new model features a 6-megapixel CCD, a big 10x optical zoom lens, a 2.5in 230,000 pixel LCD monitor, 800 ISO sensitivity and all the latest technical gizmos, including face detection and vibration reduction. However it has lost the one thing that made the 4500 special, that 28mm filter thread. What are all the astronomers, birdwatchers and forensic pathologists going to use now?
The S10 has a recommended price of £299.99, but is available for £245.95 online. It’s expensive compared to other consumer orientated super-zoom cameras such as the Kodak Z650 or Fuji S5600, but cheaper than the more advanced models such as the Kodak P712 or Canon S3 IS.
As usual with Nikon cameras, build quality is of a very high order. The swivel mount is reassuringly solid, as are the controls. As with previous swivel-body Nikons, the part housing the lens is made from high-impact plastic while the main part housing the monitor, card and battery is metal, although both are finished in the same matt silver. The lens doesn’t extend or retract, but the camera comes with a snap-on hinged lens cover to protect it when not in use.
The swivel body design is something you either love or hate, and I’ll admit right now that I’ve never been a big fan of it. I’ve been reviewing digital cameras long enough to have tested the Coolpix 900 when it first came out, and I didn’t like it then either. I just can’t get used to the handling, and I’ve had longer to try than most. Some people really seem to like it though, so I guess it’s just a matter of taste.