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Old Oct 6, 2005, 3:51 PM   #1
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I admit that I have not been too impressed with the results of the megapixel race in pocket cameras. I find them noisy, hard to operate effectively, "quirky", and more about style than image production. Several recent cameras F-10. Samsung i5, and the Lumix LZ 2 are interesting exceptions and of good value and results. I did not expect this Nikon S-4 to be much of anything and only got it because I basically love all cameras - even those with "warts". I am having the same reaction with this camera that I had with the Fugi F-10. I keep looking at it and its results and wondering what rock I have been living under. I cannot believe this camera produces such lovely images. It does not seem possible that such a "clumsy" "plastic", "totally automatic", "twisty" thing delivers such stellar results. I don't like anything about it except its stunning results. When I use the "best shot" mode that acts as an image stabilizer this camera shoots excellent low light pictures and even with my inability to hold it steady it will pick the clearest image and usually its a keeper. Even at full telephoto, handheld, in eveing light I took some outstandingly clear, sharp shots. The white balance outdoors is spot on and the colors natural. I have dropped the exposure compenstation -.3, kept auto white balance, auto iso (seems to default to 50 much of the time), and kept BSS mode on so that for each image I have it take 3-4 snaps. I find that my "hold" steadies after the initial pressing of the trigger and that sharp images and usual even when I know that I am shaking like a leaf. When I review the shots on my PC with the shooting data the information is truly puzzling. I am getting clear, sharp images at very slow speeds and iso of 50. These pictures are hand held and not braced against my chest or face. On the moniter the images do not really shine but on the pc they are very sharp and clear without the oversharpening issues of many pocket cameras. These images print very well. In hight contrast areas this camera does well without the halos, fringes and unusual colors on edges. I keep wondering how this camera does so well when it feels so awkward. Battery life is great. Itook 600 pictures before having to change batteries. Also it has quick focus even in low light situations. Being somewhat "jaded" about cameras I almost returned it after taking it out of the box. It is an "ugly duckling" that feels like a bar of soap with some extra "stuff" bolted on. But when I looked at some of the telephoto images it produces it makes some of them just "pop". They jump off the pc with that special quality that I occassionally get with a good slr. This camera excels at longer ranges and seems to be able to handle several light zones without blowing highlights or producing muddy under exposed images. I could say a whole lot more but I'm beginning to feel a little nutty in my praise of this strange looking thing. I just wanted to let other camera folks know what a little gem this camera is and it is truly the opposite of a "style cam". No style but great results. I like to use long telephoto lens to "stack" and "isolate" objects. This camera does it better than my Pana Z10 and beloved Uzi 2100 and seems to have more detail than my A-1. I'm going to keep it but I will feel faintly embarrased if someone sees me taking pictures with a pretzel. Nikon suprised me good.
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Old Oct 10, 2005, 11:01 AM   #2
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Hey, thanks for the review.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"I just don't understand what the deal is with this camera. How did you get yours? This camera was supposed to be out on the market already. Buy.com is selling it for $339 - good price and I like buy.com, but they dont' have it in stock yet. Seems that the e-commerce places that claim they have it in stock don't - I've called and checked. It also seems that no one on this site seems to know when it is truly being released.

If I buy the S4, it will be my third generation 'pretzel' camera. I've had a 900 and a 990. I really like both, but it's time to upgrade and go smaller.

I'd buy the S4 outright, but I want to handle one first. My 900 and 990 are bulky and are a drag to haul around on vacations. I want to know how it feels in my hands versus say a Canon SD500.

I'm glad to hear you are enjoying it. People are still impressed with the 1 Mpixel pictures I have taken on my 900. Only knowing the 900 and the 990, I don't know how anyone could be dissatisfied with Nikon's picture quality.

Thanks, Steven
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Old Oct 14, 2005, 3:31 AM   #3
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sfk, your description of this S4 is impressive.

I wonder if you could impress us further by posting some of the stellar, stunning lovely images you have taken? Especially some at full zoom.

With thanks.
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Old Oct 14, 2005, 8:52 PM   #4
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Compusa has one sale for $399 though

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Old Oct 24, 2005, 10:46 AM   #5
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OK, I received my S4. I bought it at buy.com for $339 and shipping was free. I received it four days after I bought it.

I havne't really used it yet except to snap a few quick pictures. The slow flash recharge with the blank screen is annoying, more annoying than I thought. Personally I'd rather pack a few extra batteries around and have it recharge much quicker with the screen on. I think this could be a firmware upgrade and could be an option in a menu - make everyone happy!

The size is great, it makes my Coolpix 990 look massive and bulky. It's easier to use the my 990. However, this camera seriously lacks any gripping surfaces.Thereisvery little 'space' to hold on to the camera, this is a serious oversight. I hope Nikon offers a replacement panel with some grip. And they don't include a wrist strap, just some shoe lace, neck length lanyard thing. I'll look for a wrist strap as I don't want to be handling this thing without one. This was a trivial money thing for Nikon, yet a big impact on how they value the hardware. And the lens will wear out quickly and need to be replaced. Both the strap and lens cap on my 990 were robust, attractive, and functional.

The 10x zoom is great, but the digital zoom is useless on the monitor.

The 2 1/2" monitor is awsome. The little joystick takes a bit to get used to, but once you do, you can move through the menus very quickly.

Since I don't have near the DC expertise that most of you have, I won't be of much help bringing you further information.

Kudos on the size, the menus, the zoom, and the monitor. Boos on the pastic tripod mount, slipperiness, and long flash recharge. Minor fixable boos on the wrist strap and lens cap. I can easily purchase these fixes - something with a nice Canon or Kodak label!
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Old Nov 1, 2005, 4:57 PM   #6
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I am fairly new to digital cameras and I don't really know a lot. I was just up at the camera store and saw the Nikon S4 and wow! sfk, thank you for such a good review on it!

I have to say, I really loved the quirky way it looks and works, very unique to me - I only have a small Nikon Coolpix 2000, and I really liked everything about the S4. The salesperson was saying that Nikon was the best lense hands down (his opinion), but everything just looked so great on that camera.

I've been considering the Cannon S2 IS, the Fuji S5200, and the Sony DSC-H1 - but when I saw that Nikon S4, it just seemed to "call" me!! I still haven't quite made up my mind yet, but the S4 is in the lead so far!

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