The S225’s overall performance is reasonably good, considering its relatively low cost. It starts up in a little under two seconds, and shuts down again even more quickly. In single-shot mode at full resolution it has a shot-to-shot cycle time of approximately three seconds, which is about average for the class, but bizarrely in continuous shooting mode it’s actually slightly slower. It also lacks an audio cue to let you know when it’s shooting.
The autofocus is very good in normal daylight, and the auto area selection is good at correctly choosing the main subject. It focuses quickly and accurately at all zoom settings, but its performance unfortunately deteriorates rapidly as light levels fall. In light that’s still bright enough to read by it fails to focus altogether, and since it has no AF assist lamp there’s nothing it can do about it. Macro focusing is also not terribly reliable.
Image quality is unfortunately not as good as I’d hoped, although it does have some frustratingly good points. Exposure metering tends to favour highlights, and the limited dynamic range of the small sensor means that contrasty shots lack shadow detail. The D-Lighting option applied in playback does help a bit, but shadows are still murky and lack detail. Colour reproduction is generally good, although bright yellows do tend to over-expose.
The lens is of surprisingly poor quality, which is not something I’m used to saying about Nikon cameras. It produces a lot of barrel distortion at wide angle, has very poor overall sharpness especially towards the corners, and suffers from chromatic aberration. The distortion control option corrects the barrel distortion, but the lack of sharpness remains a problem. Distortion correction in processing is all very clever, but it’s really no substitute for a decent lens.
Annoyingly the S225 has extremely good high-ISO noise control. It produces very little visible noise even at 800 ISO, and the 1600 and 2000 ISO maximum settings are far from terrible. Even the highest setting could be used for small prints. If only the rest of the camera matched up to this performance Nikon – and Jessops – would have a real winner on their hands.
The Nikon CoolPix S225 a very pretty little camera. It is well made, sensibly designed and performs reasonably well. It is lacking in interesting features, but it is very easy to use. It has excellent high-ISO noise control, but unfortunately it is badly let down by inferior lens quality and restricted dynamic range.