Today I’m taking a look at the Nikon Coolpix S560. The Coolpix camera line has been heavily promoted by Nikon and this model is one of the mid-priced ones. Unlike many cameras I review, this one wasn’t a temporary loaner but one my wife has owned for almost a year. So, during this time, what have we found that we liked and didn’t like about it. Read more to find out…
Review Continued Below…
We’ll begin by looking at some of the basic stats for the Nikon Coolpix S560. It is a 10 megapixel, point-and-shoot, style digital camera with a generous 2.7 inch LCD and 5x optical zoom. It has all the usual features of cameras in this price range such as face recognition, automatic face recognition, photo correction, scene adjustment and image stabilization. It has 44MB of internal memory so you’ll want to supplement it with a SD card. In addition to still pictures you can also take movies as well. It’s relatively lightweight, weighing in at just under 5 ounces. It isn’t tiny but isn’t too bulky either.
The photo quality of the Coolpix S560 is what I’d call average for the price range. I’ve seen some similar digital cameras that had better picture quality in some circumstances. We’ve found the camera to work best in natural light or brighter indoor lighting. In low light situations the S560 tries hard but tends to come up short with grainy pictures with auto-corrected peripheral shadowing. The built-in flash also seems to create harsh shadowing in a room without additional lighting. Basically, while the camera gets the job done it doesn’t come close to what you can do with a digital SLR with an adjustable flash unit. For an example of some photos taken with this camera, see my post on Snowing in Georgia.
The user interface on the Coolpix S560 is also average. There’s nothing all that innovative about it but nothing confusing or obtuse either. Pretty much if you’ve used any digital camera before you can pick up how to use this one easily. If you want to get creative you can turn off some of the automatic features. This can help you get better quality photos, especially in low light situations, but, if you’re like me, you don’t want to be futzing around with the camera and miss a good shot. Battery life is also about average for the price range.
However, there are some potentially serious problems with the Coolpix S560 and these seem to extend to other Nikon cameras in the Coolpix line. The problem basically boils down to cost cutting in manufacturing. It seems as if Nikon spent all their money hiring Ashton Kutcher to promote the line and wound up taking some problematic shortcuts in manufacturing of the cameras.
The problem we encountered with the Nikon Coolpix S560 was the “memory card is write protected” message. This problem is caused by a cheap spring that’s used by the camera to detect a write-protected memory card getting locked in place. This causes the tiny write protect switch on the memory card to be moved to the locked position when it’s inserted in the camera. The choice is to send the camera back in for an expensive repair, using a thin tool to push the small switch back or putting tape across the write-protect switch on the memory cards you use with the camera.
Other people who owned various Coolpix cameras have reported problems with the cheap battery door breaking or the LCD screen cracking even with light pressure. All-in-all, these problems point to some serious cost cutting in manufacturing and design.
Overall, we’ve been mostly happy with the Nikon Coolpix S560 aside from the memory card problem. Manufacturing cost cuts are becoming a plague in this price range of digital cameras and almost every brand and model has its little quirks and defects. The Nikon Coolpix is no better or worse than most in this regard and there is sort of a cool factor with it being promoted by a big time celebrity. I can’t really recommend this camera over other similarly priced ones but I strongly suggest that you buy at a good closeout price from a store or seller that has a good return policy. I also recommend that you buy a sturdy protective case and handle the camera carefully to avoid damaging its weak components.