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The Nikon Coolpix S630: Is This Budget Camera Worth the Cost?

written by: Shawn S. Lealos•edited by: William Springer•updated: 6/23/2011

The Nikon Coolpix is a nice, inexpensive camera that takes beautiful pictures in the right conditions. However, there are problems with these cameras when the lights are not right or the area is too dark. Here are the pros and cons of the S630 model to decide if it is worth the purchase.

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    • Compact Digital Camera
    • 12.0 megapixels
    • 1/2.33 in. CCD sensor
    • Built-in flash
    • 2.7 inch TFT-LCD monitor
    • Rechargeable Li-ion EN-EL12 battery
    • Dimensions (W x H x D): Approximately 96.5 x 57.5 x 25.5mm
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    Rating Average

    nikon-coolpix-S630 The Nikon Coolpix S360 uses the EXPEED Image Processor, which custom tunes the camera to take the best natural looking pictures. The camera also offers a Sports Continuous Scene Mode which shoots up to 11 frames per second if the resolution is lowered to 3MP or less. This allows you to capture up to 20 frames of high speed action.

    The zoom on the camera is a 7x Optical Zoom, glass lens. The lens provides wide angle shots (37mm) and telephoto coverage (260mm). There is also an Optical VR Image Stabilization that helps offset the camera shake, which is supposed to help get better pictures in low light or unsteady situations. Motion Detection allows the camera to recognize moving subjects and compensate for the movement. The camera also possesses what is called a Best Shot Selector, which takes up to 10 shots when the shutter is pressed and saves the best.

    From the sound of it, this camera offers big bang for the buck.

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    The Quality of Images

    Tony Todd at ComicpaloozaHouston at NightQuiddich Match at ComicpaloozaMichael Olmos and Bob LaytonOutdoor shot
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    Rating Average

    With that all said, the camera is not always as good as promised. With the stabilization mode, it is supposed to make up for shaky cam and low light while the Motion Detection is supposed to detect and compensate for moving targets. However, while in action, neither of these works as well as you might hope. As you can tell from the photos above, there are some problems when taking photos with the camera involving movement or low light.

    The biggest problem for me involves shooting without optimal lighting. Now, for a normal person with a camera this is something that will hurt their photos every time. The Nikon Coolpix S360 is a lower priced camera designed for the consumer and for the first picture above, the lighting was not even that bad. The shot was taken in an auditorium lit well but the lights over the subjects were not as bright as the rest of the room. The images looked great before taking the picture but, as soon as the picture was snapped, the camera adjusted, using the above mentioned features, and it immediately darkened, leaving me with few quality pictures from the event.

    The camera is even worse when snapping pictures outdoors at night. The second picture was more of the same as the camera adjusted to the situations and made the final output look much worse than what I saw in the viewfinder when I took the picture. Needless to say, this camera is horrible for shooting anything without bright light. The third picture shows how bad the performance is when targets are moving and proves the Image Stabilization and Motion Detection are not everything Nikon advertises them to be.

    However, the camera is very nice when taking photos in well lit places. The fourth picture above is also taken in a large auditorium, but the area in this photo is well lit and the picture came out beautiful. Plus, as you can tell from the fifth shot, outdoor shooting can also be quite beautiful when the light is right. The lesson learned here is to know what it is you want to shoot and understand the limitations of this camera when deciding whether or not to purchase it.

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    Price to Value

    Rating Average

    For the price ($200), the Nikon Coolpix S630 can be a great camera. When the light is right or when it is sunny outside, this camera takes beautiful photographs. The zoom is great and, if you time the zoom just right in the photo, you can zoom in more in the camera itself to end up with a fabulous picture that many other cameras in this price range will never accomplish.

    However, there are limitations. The low light shooting is poor and the shutter speed is very slow. When the light is low or there is a lot of movement, the camera has a difficult time focusing. It is also important to understand white balancing with the camera because the auto white balance option is not the best. However, if you manually set that balance, it will help in many trouble areas. But there is no getting around the low light problems as well as the problems with fast paced action shots. The camera advertises itself to be a quality tool in both of those areas and it is not.

    Know what you are getting. For the price, it is a nice camera but has limitations.

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    Personal Experience

    Buy this camera from

    Images from author's personal collection.