Apart from the Wi-Fi connectivity, the S610c offers a number of other significant qualities. As with the rest of the premium S-series, the build quality is excellent, with a strong all-aluminium body. Unlike most other current ultra-compacts the S610c is only available in black, but is attractively finished with a stylish brushed texture. The overall shape of the body is simple and understated, much like the S560, and like that camera it has a textured indented area on the rear panel that serves as a useful thumbgrip.
That’s where the resemblance to the S560 ends though, unfortunately. The control buttons on the back are smaller and more fiddly, and the S610c has one of those rotary-dial D-pads that people seem to either love or hate. Personally I don’t like them, but I have to admit that I’ve seen worse ones than this. It integrates reasonably well with the mode selection menu and does make entering email addresses and WEP keys somewhat easier. I still don’t think it offers any real advantage to a conventional D-pad, but it’s not too bad.
What is bad though is the lack of menu shooting priority. What this means is that on most cameras, if you’re in the menu system adjusting something and you suddenly see a shot you just have to take, tapping the shutter button cancels the menu and returns the camera to shooting mode. The S610c doesn’t have this feature; instead you have to press the menu button again to cancel it, which can be annoying if you’re in a hurry. Fortunately playback mode does have shooting priority, which is something at least.
The S610c has a fairly limited range of automatic shooting options, less in fact than the cheaper S560. It has the usual program auto mode as well as 16 scene programs in Scene mode, with an Auto Scene Selector mode that will set the right scene program for you depending on the situation. It has the latest must-have high tech features including face detection and smile shutter, although it lacks the blink detection feature of the S560. Like the S560 is has a single special shooting mode in the main mode selection menu, but instead of the downright odd ‘food mode’, for the S610c it’s the potentially more useful ‘active child’ mode. I still don’t understand why this wasn’t included in the scene mode options.
Several other useful options are notable by their absence, such as spot metering or the interval timer shooting mode. These are present on less expensive Nikon S-series models, including the S560, which is starting to look like even better value by comparison to this camera.
The S610c has optical image stabilisation which appears to work well enough when the camera is hand held, but I did notice one odd effect. On exposures longer than about a second, with the camera fixed on a tripod, the image stabilisation system actually appears to introduce quite visible shake into what should otherwise be a perfectly stable shot. I have absolutely no idea why it would do this, but I tried it several times and the effect is definitely real. If you’re planning on using the S610c on a tripod I’d suggest turning the VR system off.
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