Nikon's garnered quite a reputation for manufacturing commendable ultra compacts, and it continues to impress with the Nikon S630.
This sexy devil comes with a gray metallic finish shell with an impressive raw metal polish. The mix of dull and shiny metal parts on the camera's body adds aesthetic appeal by playing with both - contrasting textures as well as contrasting shades of gray. The camera is just about the right size - 58 x 97 x 26 mm - and its 140-gram body is very well balanced, making it really convenient to hold.
The shutter button is placed on the body's top, at the right distance from the edge so that your index finger rests on it comfortably, with a zoom toggle embracing it. The embedded power button's burrowed slightly below the camera's profile ensuring that it never gets pressed by mistake.
The facing side of the camera has a limited amount of buttons that give you all the functionality you need control of, in a minimalistic, intuitive way. There's a scene mode toggle button, a preview button, a menu button and a delete button. Above those buttons, there's a stylish steely dial that doubles as a four way navigation pad, with an OK button in the middle.
Besides the buttons, there's a 2.7-inch LCD screen that displays 230,000 pixels, and performs just like any other LCD of good quality, even in brightly lit conditions. There's a really amazing thumb grip at the top right corner of the facing side of the camera, that makes it all the more ergonomic and convenient to grip it.
The solid build quality of the S630 doesn't falter at all, and impressed us to no end. From the minute you grab the camera, you know that you're yielding a high quality piece of hardware.
The Nikon S630 features a high density CCD sensor that allows for pictures of up to 12 megapixel. The camera features 7x optical zoom, which is commendable for an ultra compact, especially since it works real well with the camera's fantastic mechanical image stabilization. Even at full zoom, image details don't suffer.
The camera has a set of modes perfect for the quality conscious consumer, including a plethora of scene modes for every occasion. The camera lacks any form of manual modes, making it completely inadequate for the semi-enthusiastic photographer. The camera does however, have face recognition and a pretty impressive macro mode, whose results you can see below.
In macro mode, the lens could focus on objects as close as an inch and a half, with no loss of quality. The camera did suffer in low light macro shots though, but that's understandable, since one needs a really stable hand to keep the camera in place for prolonged exposures during low light, low ISO shots.
The camera's detail levels are impressive, color reproduction was vivid, and auto-white balance was spot on in both indoor and outdoor scenes. The shutter lag and boot-up to shot time was limited, making it a highly efficient travel companion for all those split second shots. The camera's ISO sensitivity was disappointing though, and the detail levels started getting lost after ISO 200.
It featured ISO settings as low as 64 and as high as 6400 though (at 3 MP). The ultra low 64 ISO worked really well in well lit shots, but the higher ISO settings were completely useless for all but small web images. Even the night mode was less than impressive.
Overall, the Nikon S630 forms a solid backbone of features for the pure consumer who is quality and style conscious, but offers nothing for those who wish to dabble with manual modes to enter the realm of amateur photography. If you're looking for solid, stylish consumer camera, the S630 is sure to satisfy with its satisfactory performance, 2GB free memory card, and rather hefty, but justifiable price tag of Rs. 24,950.
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