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Inside the S6 is a new 6.36MP CCD sensor (6.0 effective), as well as a new faster exposure and autofocus system. It is also equipped with an AF illuminator, which I found would provide a focus lock in total darkness at a range of about 3 metres.
Also useful for low-light shooting is an exceptionally powerful built-in flash, with an effective range of over 5m at wide angle, or 2.7m at telephoto. Flash metering is also very good, providing just the right amount of fill-in flash even at quite close range. Colour balance and coverage were also very good.
This brings us neatly to the crux of the issue; picture quality. Previous Optio S models have generally produced very good picture quality. Not perhaps the best available, but certainly well above average. Each successively more powerful model has improved on the last, so does the 6 megapixel S6 continue the trend? Happily, the answer is yes.
The Optio S6 is capable of the highest image quality of the series so far, although I will have to qualify that. In order to get the best out of it, you need to make a few adjustments. Shooting in the appalling weather over the past week, I’ve found that the automatic ISO setting has a great fondness for selecting 400 ISO at the slightest provocation, leading to many pictures being ruined by excessive image noise. However by manually setting either 64 or 100 ISO and just holding the camera more steadily it was possible to get much better results in the same conditions.
Apart from that hitch, colour rendition, exposure and focusing were spot on in virtually all conditions, and with the faster AF system more shots were in focus.
All in all, the S6 is a good continuation of a popular and innovative line of digital cameras. It corrects all the weaknesses of previous models, and with its improved performance and image quality it makes a perfect pocket snapshot camera.
If you’re looking for an ultra-compact camera that can deliver good quality pictures with a minimum of fuss, the Optio S6 should certainly be near the top of your list. It is well made, attractively designed, and is one of the smallest and lightest cameras on the market. It has enough options to cope with virtually any shooting conditions, and its excellent low light focusing and flash performance are a big bonus. Considering its very competitive price and the S6 is hard to beat.
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