The vari-angle screen, photo filters and glamour effects make it seriously fun to use.
Gesture control doesn't work, it's a bit slow to process effects and image quality is not top priority.
The bottom line:
Not a camera for enthusiasts but as fun as your mobile and better at photography.
Nikon Coolpix S6600: Review
The concept of the selfie photograph has become so huge in today's world of social networking profiles that the word made it into the Oxford English Dictionary in August 2013. So then, it should be of little surprise that imaging company Nikon has dreamed up a compact to perfect the art of the digital self-portrait.
This is the Nikon Coolpix S6600. It's a device with a £199 price tag that buys you a 16MP image sensor and a 12x optical zoom lens. More importantly, though, its 2.7-inch LCD screen is a full, flip-out vari-angle display which you can turn all the way back on itself to the point where you can be looking straight at the lens and also at the shot that's about to be taken at exactly the same time. Throw in eight glamour retouch features and built-in Wi-Fi for photo sharing, and you've got a compact born and bred for parties and social networking. Sounds good on paper, so how does it fare in real life?Nikon Coolpix S6600: Pocket camera
That screen aside, there's very little either noteworthy or novel about the Nikon S6600. It's small and light. It weighs just 165g and measures 97 x 57 x 27mm. So, it's something like the size of a stubby mobile phone and, just as one would hope and expect, it fits in your pocket nicely enough with the added bonus that you can turn the screen around and when you stow it so that your keys and coins won't scratch the display.
In the aesthetics department, it's certainly classy enough. The plastic finish of the front face is smooth and modern, and the back has a matte metal look. There's nothing freakish or awkward about the position of the battery, memory card slot or the basic controls on the back but it does take a little getting used to that both the scene selector and the playback mode controls are on the top of the camera next to the shutter release, power and zoom.
There's only two things that would make this compact easier to use. The first is a video record button on the top. The vari-angle screen means that you end up shooting from the hip and even lower quite a lot and the switch on the rear isn't always easy to find. The other modification is that the S6600 is screaming out to be touchscreen controlled. All the retouching functions would work fantastically well. It's just a pity that it would probably end up pricing this device out of the market if Nikon had ended up including one.Nikon Coolpix S6600: Selfie style
The flip-out, full spinning, 2.7-inch LCD screen on the Nikon S6600 absolutely makes this camera. It's a worthy and welcome inclusion in a compact and far from typical in these kinds of models. Even at its most basic, it's superb for taking to parties or grabbing a two-shot of you and your buddy out and about wherever you are without having to ask some random to grab the pic for you. This screen means that you can compose it just the way you want and capture a moment while it's still there. Given that much of photography is about trying to do just that, it's not something that we credit lightly.
The fun begins when you decide you wish to take things a bit further. The S6600 has eight beauty effects to make any one or more of your subjects even prettier than they already are. You can whiten teeth, whiten eyes, widen eyes, remove bags, smooth skin, make cheeks rosier, brighten faces and make faces smaller too. You can take any one of these to the extreme or, more effective is just to select one or two of them at their lower settings. Ultimately, none of these will turn you into Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie but they're highly effective at removing the odd flushed face, smoothing out a bad skin day or making a 6am snap look a little less wired.
Finally, there's also a gesture control mode that Nikon has squeezed in to help out with those times when you want to prop your camera up on a wall but would rather not have to make the self-timer dash. Instead, the idea is that you raise you palm and then tell the device whether you want to take the shot or zoom in or out a bit first by moving your hand around to select some on-screen options. It's a really nice idea but sadly it doesn't work. It's quite good at sensing your palm but not much cop at any functions beyond that. It's a pity but certainly not an experience-ruiner.Nikon Coolpix S6600: Effects and filters
Everyone loves a bit of post-production these days with preset filters all the rage over the more laborious and painstaking boredom of spending your life in Photoshop. Like all good camera manufacturers, Nikon has shown its customers that effects aren't just for mobile phones and there's a very healthy selection indeed available inside the S6600. It's all the usuals from Pop Art, Cross Process and Toy Camera all the way to colour selections, Fisheye and Miniature mode too. You can even set the camera to offer up these settings straight after you've captured each shot just like Instagram although that does slow things down a bit.
Speaking of which, that's one of the major issues we have with this compact camera. Yes, it's great to have all these fun features, filters and beautifying effects but the image processor insides isn't quite up to the task. It can do the job but it takes half a second or two too long. If only Nikon had put a more powerful computer inside to crunch those graphical numbers, then this would be a very impressive compact indeed.
Finally, there is one mode that will offer hours of fun and it's not one we've come across before. Hidden between the high and low key options is Mirror which captures a symmetrical image. You can get lost in patterns and funny faces for quite some time.Nikon Coolpix S6600: Picture quality and video
If you're used to using a CSC, DSLR or even a high end compact camera, then the results from the S6600 are a bit disappointing. The colours are well handled and, when sharp, photos look excellent but the reality is devices like this one are more about the fun than they are about pure image quality. They're simply not built with big enough image sensors and the manual settings to ensure that your snaps are perfect every time.
Things are mostly good outdoors but, as soon as you get into artificial light situations, you really need the flash to get anything that's neither too noisy nor too blurred to use. It's also not that good at keeping up with your subject when in motion in daylight either. In the majority of the family snaps that we grabbed, the young kids tended not to come out as clean as they could, and that's pity. Our advice would be to shoot in Sports mode where possible to avoid this kind of problem rather than rely on the Smart Scene selector to do it for you. Ultimately, though, one shouldn't expect the Earth in terms of image quality from a device like this one.
That said, we would like to give a quick nod to the video at this point which was largely excellent. The sound recording is a bit tiny, naturally, but footage was always well focused and the vari-angle screen makes it really good to use.Nikon Coolpix S6600: Wi-Fi and uploads
As with just about every camera we're seeing this year, the Nikon S6600 comes with a Wi-Fi module built in. You can't use it to hop onto your home network or any other local loop out there. It's all about broadcasting a mini-system of its own. The idea is that you can then set your tablet or smartphone to hook up with it and use the Nikon Wireless Mobility app to transfer images, take remote control pictures or add a geotag from your device's GPS.
As ever, it's a nice touch but perhaps not vital. The best uses are for sharing pictures with others while out and about as well as uploading to Facebook and Twitter. It would be nice to have the facility in the app to go straight to these social networks but that's not the case. You need to transfer the pics first and then go to your mobile or tablet's image library and take it from there. It's not super smooth but it certainly works.Nikon Coolpix S6600: Verdict
Photography purists should stay well away from the Nikon Coolpix S6600 but then photography purists have no business in the the mid-to-low-end compact market. This is a party camera, a people's camera and a self-portrait camera and of that there should be no mistake. The image quality could be better and it really needs to process the funky effects a lot quicker but, if you're after something to take on a night out, touch up and then post to Facebook while you're still revelling, then the S6600 is a really good option.