Nikon Coolpix S4150 £140
6th Oct 2011 | 11:08
Touchscreen 14-megapixel compact camera
Released in August, the Nikon Coolpix S4150 is a mid priced compact in the Coolpix range, with a 3 inch, 460k-dot touch control LCD screen, 14 megapixel CCD image sensor and NIKKOR wide-angle 5x zoom lens.
The Nikon Coolpix S4150 can be picked up for around £140, placing it in the middle range of compact cameras. It offers three different shooting modes - auto, scene and smart portrait.
There are twenty scene modes to choose from including portrait, macro, pet mode (where the shutter noise is muted), museum (no shutter noise or flash) and fireworks. Alternatively you can choose "smart scene" and the camera will pick the scene it thinks will work best for your shot.
The Nikon Coolpix S4150 utilises five different flash modes depending on what mode you're using, including redeye reduction and fill flash. Smart portrait offers users the option of letting the camera take a photo when a subject is smiling and also offers blink detection.
The Nikon Coolpix S4150 doesn't offer a manual mode, but you are able to change aspects such as the sensitivity which ranges from ISO 80 to 3200, the exposure compensation and the white balance, including creating your own custom white balance, which is straightforward.
In camera retouching, resizing and editing is available. The resizing and retouching offer some useful tools for people who do not have access to photo editing software, although the editing options allowing you to add frames and cartoon hearts are likely to be less used by most.
Video can be shot in HD 720p (1280 x 720), VGA (640 x 480) or QVGA (320 x240). You can zoom in whilst shooting a video, but that's about all you can do - the touch screen options are not available during the recording. The decreased quality is immediately evident whilst using the QVGA mode, but the HD video and VGA create film that would be perfectly acceptable to post online.
Build quality & handling
Available in four different colours including red and purple, the Nikon Coolpix S4150 is lightweight and compact at 128grams with a 3.7 inch longest edge, but it feels durable and solid to hold.
The majority of the back is taken up by the touchscreen; the rest of the space is used for five buttons - video record, scene select, play back and the shutter and zoom on the top edge. All the other functions are accessed through the touchscreen menu on the LCD. The buttons are well placed and the camera is easy to hold in your hand, although if you have large fingers it's worth noting that the flash can be easily covered if you're not paying attention.
The screen is bright and easy to view, although it did suffer a little in bright sunlight. The menu options are accessible through two menus - a quick menu on the left where you can change macro, flash and timer modes as well as exposure compensation and a larger lower menu where all the other options are listed.
We found it a little difficult to select the menu options because of their edge location on the screen. Although the camera is provided with a stylus, it is only affixable to the camera via the wrist cord, and is small and therefore easy to lose. If you're using your fingers the screen can be unresponsive and requires at times a forceful application to get it to do what you're asking.
The overall quality of the images is good - they're sharp and crisp with a good balance of well represented colours. Whilst the auto mode fares well the majority of the time, it has its limitations and occasionally overexposes images, especially those taken in bright sunlight.
Smart portrait mode is supposed to take a photo when your subject is smiling, but during our test it was unresponsive and became frustrating for both subject and photographer as we waited for it to decide if we were smiling wide enough. Blink mode, on the other hand, worked well - preventing photos from being taken when a blink was detected.
The images you see on the LCD occasionally differ to the images you see once downloaded, especially those images taken at high ISO settings. On the screen they appear blurry, out of focus and unusable - but once downloaded some are salvageable.
Although it can shoot up to ISO 3200 it's worth noting that at the higher end of the spectrum photos suffer badly from a loss of colour and image definition, even whilst shooting in daylight, and during low light or darkness the camera is unable to take reasonable shots that are in focus without the use of the flash or a tripod.
Chromatic aberration is limited and fairly well controlled, although sometimes visible when zoomed to full capacity.
If you look at the sample images at 100%, you will see a couple of examples where the in-camera sharpening has produced some less than pleasing results. There's loss of picture quality surrounding the faces of the people in the shot, giving them an almost halo like appearance. However, given that it's unlikely that most people will blow up the images to this size, it's not likely to be a big issue for the average user.
As part of our image quality testing for the Nikon Coolpix S4150, we've shot our resolution chart.
If you view our crops of the resolution chart's central section at 100% (or Actual Pixels) you will see that, for example, at ISO 100 the Nikon Coolpix S4150 is capable of resolving up to around 20 (line widths per picture height x100) in its highest quality JPEG files.
Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:
ISO 80, score: 20 (see full image)
ISO 100, score: 20 (see full image)
ISO 200, score: 18 (see full image)
ISO 400, score: 16 (see full image)
ISO 800, score: 14 (see full image)
ISO 1600, score: 14 (see full image)
ISO 3200, score: n/a (see full image)
Noise and dynamic range
These graphs were produced using data generated by DXO Analyzer.
We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using the DXO software.
Signal to noise ratio
A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and better quality image.
For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them please click here to read the full article.
For a full explanation of our noise and dynamic range tests, please click here to read the full article.
Photos have a good overall colour quality, with a sharp, crisp focus
Sunset mode allows you to boost the colour temperature to create more vibrant photos
Using auto mode can result in overexposure for some shots, especially during bright light
Landscape mode also allows you to boost the saturation
Multi focus for portraits ensures all subjects are in focus
An example of the colour quality available via auto mode
Taken at the widest end of the zoom range.
Taken at the telephoto end of the zoom range.
Nikon Coolpix S4150
At £140 the Nikon Coolpix S4150 isn't the cheapest camera in the compact range, but it does have some pleasing options and takes decent pictures while in auto mode. For anyone looking for more control over what they're shooting however they may find the lack of options frustrating and limiting.
It's a small camera, great for a first time buyer or someone who doesn't want the hassle of a thousand menu options. It's got a good all round auto option, with some interesting scene modes for the more adventurous.
The touch screen really needs to be better. It's clunky at best and completely unresponsive at worst. The lack of manual control will put off more serious users and its performance in low light left a lot to be desired.
This is a good camera to sling into a bag or to quickly pack away for the beach, coping well in most ordinary, every day situations. However, using the touchscreen is frustrating for those used to the ease of something like the iPhone, which will be enough to put some off, but if you can live with the stylus this is a good all round camera.