Review: Nikon Coolpix S600

Aspiring photographers and casual snappers, don't let the Nikon Coolpix S600's size fool you. When it comes to cameras, good things can come in small packages.

With a 4x optical zoom lens and a fast startup time, this slick and compact point-and-shoot camera ($300) is perfect for the on-the-go photographer who doesn't have the time to operate a full digital SLR. The easy-to-use scroll wheel and menu make it convenient to go through photos and quickly change camera settings. The wide 2.7 inch LCD screen gives photographers a much better look at what they are shooting. The camera uses SD cards and comes with 45 MB of built-in memory.

The S600 produces great pictures and works well indoors and outdoors. With an ISO range of 100 to 3200, the camera gives you versatility in low and bright light conditions and still provides good results. The color range and saturation are great for a camera of this size and level.

It's also great for amateurs who just want a camera for quick party snapshots and family photos. The S600 also features a new active child mode that will track and focus on moving subjects as you shoot. The automatic red eye reduction feature goes above and beyond the normal red eye reduction and attempts to correct any remaining hint of red eye left from the flash.

More advanced shutterbugs will enjoy most of the camera's new features, but might be put off by its simplicity. It lacks the "real feel" of manual controls and changeable lenses. Although the camera itself is well designed, the battery charger is slightly clunky, unlike the conventional small pocket chargers that have often come with cameras this size. With its long cord, it's not a charger that you'll take on the road.

Overall, using the camera is a pleasurable experience. Although it can be slightly limiting for the experienced photographer, the Coolpix S600 is a great first camera for someone who is ready to be introduced to digital cameras or is looking for an upgrade from older models.