In use, the COOLPIX S2600 once again gives of signs of its low price tag and place at the budget end of the market. Although the camera features a start-up time in line with other compacts in the price range, the same can’t be said of the camera’s focus system.
In well-lit scenes the S2600 copes just about fine with focus – identifying the desired point promptly and accurately enough. However, as soon as you encounter an area of minimal contrast, or a dimly lit scene, it’s noticeable how the S2600 will begin to either hunt for focus or focus on the wrong area of the frame.
As mentioned earlier in the review, the COOLPIX S2600 features a low-resolution LCD screen and this is very noticeable in use – the screen is very difficult to see in bright light, and even when it is possible to see the screen it’s difficult to gain an accurate impression of the quality of the image.
With regards to the quality of the image, unfortunately this is another area in which the S2600 hardly excels, with the camera falling foul of a number of image quality issues.
The S2600 displays a limited dynamic range – although shadow detail is generally well preserved, highlights readily blow out frequently and therefore lose the photographer image detail.
The 5x optical zoom also isn’t with its flaws. Harsh fringing is evident in areas of high contrast, with objects bridging the two demonstrating an unhealthy outline of either purple or green depending on the side of the frame they sit.
It’s not all terrible news though with regards to image quality. Exposures are generally reliable – although with the tendency to blow highlights the camera could benefit from underexposing. Colour rendition is also pleasing, with the S2600 showing a good, natural palette in most shots.
ISO performance, however, is another area where the S2600 suffers. At settings of 400 and above noise hampers image quality to quite an extent, causing loss to fine detail. The settings of 800 and 1600 as so poor as to suggest they’re avoided all together.
The compact camera market has transformed in recent years and, as a result, consumers are justified in wanting more for their money than ever before. This is worthy of consideration when assessing the S2600 and judging how well it delivers for its price tag. In spite of the reasonable specification and undeniably slim and compact body that will easily slip in to a pocket, there are too many flaws for the S2600 to come highly recommended. For example, the LCD screen is relatively small and of poor quality and a range of image quality issues are present. So while it’s not going to break the bank, the market is such at the moment that there are better compacts available for this price.