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I've reviewed a lot of low-cost digital compact cameras over the past couple of months. Some have been Very Good, some have been Very Bad, but most have been in that middle-of-the-road 7/10 zone; nothing particularly wrong with them, but just A Bit Dull. In theory today's review camera should fall into that latter category too. It's a 12-megapixel ultra-compact with a 5x wide-angle zoom and a 2.7-inch monitor, and sells for around £135, which makes it about as average as you can get, but for a combination of reasons the Nikon CoolPix S570 finds itself elevated into the ranks of the Very Good.
The CoolPix S570 is one of the junior models of Nikon's impressive range of ultra-compacts, at the other end of the spectrum from the technologically advanced S640 and S630. However while it may be a budget model very few corners have been cut on design or construction. It has a strong and well finished all-aluminium body, and is available in black, red, blue, pink or the silver finish shown here. It's a very small camera, measuring 92 x 56.5 x 21.5mm, and quite light at 137g fully loaded, although it does feel slightly heavy for its size, adding to the overall feeling of quality.
Despite its size the S570 handles extremely well. The finish has a slightly matt texture, making it easy to grip, and the rear panel control layout leaves room for a decent sized textured thumb grip at the back. The controls themselves are quite large and mostly well labelled, although the black-on-black etched symbols on the D-pad are a bit hard to see in dim light. The S570 is designed to be easy to use, and the controls and menus are very simple. The zoom control is a rotary bezel around the shutter button, and it is a bit jerky, but with 12 steps between minimum and maximum it's capable of fairly precise framing. The overall impression of using the camera is very good; it feels responsive, capable and easy to get along with.