Summary

Our Score

6/10

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Nikon Coolpix S5

It’s a funny thing, but last week I ran out of my allotted 1,000 words trying to describe all the features and options of the Olympus E-500 DSLR. This week I’ve got a camera that’s so simple I’m going to be hard pushed to find 1,000 words to describe it.

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Launched in February this year, the Coolpix S5 is one of two new cameras in Nikon’s S range of ultra-slim pocket compacts. The S series itself is relatively recent, starting with the 5.0 megapixel S1 launched around this time last year. All the cameras in the series share the same basic layout, with a 3x optical zoom non-protruding lens mounted in the top right corner of the front panel, and only a bare minimum of external controls. The S5 has a 6.0 megapixelssensor, a high resolution 2.5in LCD monitor, and a strong metal body. It measures 93 x 59 x 20mm and weighs 165g including battery and card – it may be neither the slimmest nor the lightest camera on the market, but it is small and light enough to slip into a shirt pocket or purse without leaving much of a bulge.

Like all Nikon compacts the build quality is exemplary. The finish is protected by a scratch-resistant lacquer, and the LCD also has a scratch-resistant acrylic outer layer, so the camera should survive an accidental in-pocket encounter with you car keys without too much damage. For its size the S5 feels surprisingly substantial, and it has a feeling of real quality about it. As well it might, because with a list price of £299.99 and a street price of around £235 it is well above the average for a camera in this class. With cameras such as the smaller and lighter Casio EX-Z60, Sony DSC-W50 or Pentax Optio S6 available for under £200 the Coolpix S5 needs to be something special if it’s going to compete. The Nikon brand name alone, unimpeachably reputable though it may be, simply isn’t enough these days.

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What it does offer is simplicity of operation that will appeal to most first-time users, which is slightly ironic since the S5 contains more advanced technology than most other cameras. I’ll come to the clever stuff in a bit, but first let’s look at the handling and performance.

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