Nikon COOLPIX S6500 Review

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REVIEW SUMMARY

Specifications

  • 16.0 MP CMOS sensor
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for photo sharing
  • 12x optical zoom with NIKKOR lens
  • Optical VR image stabilization minimizes camera shake
  • Up to 7 shots per second
  • 1080p HD video with stereo sound
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • 3-inch LCD 460,000
  • Part Number: 26372
  • UPC: 018208263721
  • Release Date: Jan 07, 2013
  • Release Date: 2013-01-07
  • Final Grade: 88 B+

Nikon S6500 Pros

  • Compact, sturdy body
  • Wi-fi for remote shutter release and upload
  • In-camera editing options
  • Detailed, colorful images

Nikon S6500 Cons

  • Some autofocus troubles
  • Tendency to overexpose when shooting both light and shadow
  • Minimum macro distance of 3.2"

ISO

ISO 120
ISO 200
ISO 400
ISO 800
ISO 1600
ISO 3200

 

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Hands-On Review: Nikon Coolpix S6500
Nikon's high-end point and shoot for 2013 is feature packed, but does it live up to its price tag?
By Hillary Grigonis, Last updated on: 6/19/2014

Nikon's more advanced point and shoot models have caught quite a bit of attention in the past few years. The camera giant's newest addition, the Nikon Coolpix S6500, adds wi-fi, a few more megapixels and a longer zoom range over the older S6300. At around $200, this compact shooter includes a 16 megapixel 1/2.3” backside illuminated CMOS sensor, a 12x optical zoom, several scene modes and a good bunch of creative effects. Can the Coolpix S6500 with wi-fi and in-camera photo editing continue to excite?

Nikon Coolpix S6500: Body and Design

Right out of the box, the S6500 impresses with it's sleek, metallic finish that doesn't make it feel flimsy like some cheaper point and shoots. The camera itself is less than 3/4” wide, plus the lens housing sticks out about 1/8” when closed, but all in all this camera fits in a lot of places and, weighing in at under 6 ounces, is meant to travel easy.

The S6500 control set up is pretty straight forward. The on/off button is at the top, next to the shutter button and zoom toggle. Most of this camera's backside is taken up buy the 3” LCD screen (which is nice and bright as well), but there's just enough room for a dedicated video button, scene selection, playback, menu ring with shortcuts, menu option and delete button. At the right side, there are ports for recharging the battery and connecting to the computer. At the bottom is the housing for the battery and SD card, plus a tripod attachment.

Navigating through the controls and features on the S6500 is just as smooth and sleek as the digital camera's exterior. The menu wheel includes shortcuts for macro mode, exposure, self timer and flash, plus the dedicated scene selection button makes it easy to switch things up.

When accessing the features that aren't part of the shortcuts, the menu is pretty straightforward. There are three submenus, one for stills and one for video, plus the usual set up menu—making it pretty easy to find the right options. There is a separate menu in playback mode with options for editing shots. The text is large and easy to read on the bright screen.

Overall, there's not to much to complain about design wise with the S6500. The outside is sleek and compact, and the menu and controls are easily accessible. For some reason, in the quick effects menu, the menu only scrolls over, not up or down, so it's sometimes annoying to sort through all the effects that way, but it's just a minor speck on an otherwise near flawless design.

Nikon Coolpix S6500: User Experience & Performance

The Nikon Coolpix S6500 offers quite a bit of user control for a point and shoot model. There's of course the auto mode, plus 20 scene modes including 3D and sweep panorama. But beyond that, the user can also adjust white balance, ISO, and focus modes, including manual and tracking focus.

At the maximum quality, the S6500 shoots at a rate of 7 fps, and while fast, the burst shooting stops after seven images. There are a few other options though, the low burst is a bit slower, but allows for shooting more sequential images than the high burst. There's also a continuous at 120 fps, but the faster speed trade off is a smaller file size. The Best Shot Selector (BSS) mode is also included, using a burst mode but automatically selecting the best shot out of the group.

After the photo is taken, the preview pops up on the LCD screen, along with editing options, and the user can't take another photo until the screen clears (hitting the menu button also clears the screen). There are a few menu options that make the preview display shorter, but doesn't eliminate it completely. The inability to take a second shot while the preview is displayed is a slight downfall, but using low burst mode prevents it from becoming a big issue.

Use a smartphone as a remote shutter release, then upload images wirelessly with the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility App and Nikon Coolpix S6500.

Wirelessly taking photos understandably takes a little longer, but using the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility app, taking and uploading an image using a smartphone takes less than 30 seconds (wi-fi speed will vary depending on the internet connection). The app can adjust the zoom and take photos wirelessly, or can be used to transfer existing images on the camera to a smartphone or tablet. And like the S6500, the wireless app is simple to use.

Start-up on the Coolpix S6500 is rather quick, around three seconds. There's a bit of a lag when switching from the photo mode to playback, around four seconds or so. All things considered, speed is about average for the S6500.

When shooting closeups, the Nikon Coolpix S6500 sometimes has trouble with autofocus, but taking a step back usually remedies the issue.

The S6500 is plagued by a few autofocus woes that pop up in some shooting conditions. In general, the autofocus is efficient time wise, though when there are several different objects in the frame, the focus does have a noticeable delay and trouble selecting the subject. When taking close ups, despite using the macro mode, there were several instances where the camera didn't focus. Generally, putting more distance between the camera and the subject solves the issue, since the minimum focus range is 3.2”.

The S6500 also includes manual focus, where the user selects a portion of the screen using the menu controls to determine what is in focus. The S6500's tracking focus works well, though it doesn't re-recognize the subject after it leaves the frame momentarily.

Miniature Effect Toy Camera Effect
Soft Effect Cross Screen Effect

Nikon also included over a dozen special effects that can be used as a setting while taking photos or to edit existing photos right from the camera. Color adjusting modes include cross process, monochrome, vivid, pop of color and selective color. The Coolpix also includes toy camera, soft, painting, high key and low key modes.

Nikon introduced Glamour Retouch with this model, which allows for basic portrait editing directly from the camera. Soften skin, hide under eye bags and whiten teeth right are some of the best options and as in-camera editing systems go, these features work surprisingly well. The features have differing levels to choose from, which helps prevent that over processed look. Most of the eight different options result in a better picture (though the “small face” option is rather odd), and are great for skipping the computer altogether before sharing images wirelessly.

Image Quality: Nikon Coolpix S6500

Thanks to the 16 megapixel back lit CMOS sensor, the S6500 sits above average in the point and shoot category on image quality.

Images are generally detailed and noise is surprisingly low. In a well lit indoor shooting environment, ISO 3200 wasn't quite as detailed (i.e. fewer dust speckles were visible), but there wasn't an obvious amount of noise either. In low light conditions, the S6500 performed great when left on auto ISO settings, at 3200 ISO, the image was quite grainy, typical at this high range.

The Nikon Coolpix 6500 does exceptionally well in low light when shooting still or slow moving subjects.

Color on the S6500 is accurate about 95 percent of the time. In some instances, there was a blueish hue to the image from the artificial lighting, but the images could be color corrected directly from the camera. At the best lighting conditions, colors are generally true to life.

When shooting light and shadow within the same frame, the lit areas tended to be washed out, particularly when zoomed in on the subject. But the exposure is easily adjusted, and as long as the photographer notices the differing light conditions and adjusts accordingly, the photos still turn out well, considering other point and shoots perform similarly in this area.

The Nikon Coolpix 6500 lens allows for a nice depth of field.

The S6500 includes a f3.2-6.5 lens, so the images have a good depth of field to them. The 12x wide optical zoom lens is also a great range for a point and shoot. A digital zoom is also included, which can be switched off since resolution and quality decreases as digital zoom increases.

With 1080p HD quality, video is also pretty impressive on the S6500. The camera doesn't autofocus or adjust exposure as well as a dedicated camcorder and the S6500 needs two hands on video mode to avoid shakes when hitting buttons, but quality, detail and sound are pretty suburb for a point and shoot.

Nikon S6500 Review: Conclusion

The Nikon S6500 is listed for about $220, which seems right on the mark for competing cameras with similar features. The Canon ELPH 330 comes in at $199, but doesn't have as big of a zoom or as many megapixels. Sony's Cybershot WX150 is similarly priced and has more megapixels and a slightly smaller zoom, but no wi-fi.

Photos from the Nikon Coolpix S6500 are well detailed.

For the consumer looking for a compact camera for above average shots that can be easily edited and shared on the internet, the Nikon S6500 is a great option. With the built-in wi-fi and photo editing, it's easy to share quality images without even using a computer. The autofocus can be a bit sluggish at times, but the resulting images are detailed and colorful. For the photographer with the biggest emphasis on speed, there are some similarly priced competitors with faster burst modes that may autofocus better, but for someone looking for an all purpose camera, this is one of our top choices for 2013.

COMMENTS, QUESTIONS, & ANSWERS FORUM BY VIEWERS AND EDITORS

14 comments
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  • 45x45
    Rajkumar

    I got a 4 gb memory card free with nikon S6500, in which i could approx 30 minutes of Hd video recording. Then i purchased a 32 GB class 10 sdhc sandisk card for increasing more video memory space, but i didn't get more pics or video space. Is there any limitation for this, also i didn't find. anything in settings regarding this. And one more thing i face that most of the time it requires more than one try to focus on a subject while taking pics and also on vids. Is it an issue or normal. Kindly suggest. Thank you.

    Reply 30 days ago
    • Thumb 45 ai hillary 45x45
      Hillary Grigonis

      Hello Rajkumar. Most point-and-shoot cameras like this are only designed to take short clips and will stop recording after about half an hour, that's not an issue with the memory card, the camera just isn't designed to process that much video. You should however be able to fit more images on the 32 GB card, as well as multiple 30 minute video clips, over the 4 GB card. I did note autofocus issues in my hands-on review, so it's not a setting you are missing or anything. On autofocus, the camera automatically picks a focus point, sometimes it just doesn't select the same one you had in mind! Refocusing will select a different point.

      Reply 30 days ago
  • 45x45
    Eileen Hull

    I want to buy a remote for this camera. Can you tell me what one will work with it?

    Reply 30 days ago
    • Thumb 45 ai hillary 45x45
      Hillary Grigonis

      Hi Eileen! Do you have a smartphone or tablet? With the wi-fi, you can use a phone/tablet as a remote control, and the app (I believe it's called Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility) is free! Unfortunately, I believe all of the Nikon remotes are used for DSLRs, I don't think there is one available for the S6500 outside of using the Nikon app.

      Reply 30 days ago
  • 45x45
    Bonnie Hague

    I am looking for speed in taking pictures at a NASCAR race track, yet have a good zoom in a point & shoot camera. I presently have a Nikon Coolpix S10 with a 10X optical and find it VERY slow. What are some other options in this size and price range.

    Reply 30 days ago
    • Thumb 45 ai hillary 45x45
      Hillary Grigonis

      Hi Bonnie. The Canon SX280 is a nice compact with 20x zoom and can take pictures quickly, 14fps (http://www.digitalcamera-hq.com/products/canon-powershot-sx280-hs). That's currently our top pick for compact zooms, and it has the speed you need. If it's a bit too much price-wise, then you could also look at the Nikon Coolpix L620 (http://www.digitalcamera-hq.com/products/nikon-coolpix-l620).

      Reply 30 days ago
  • 45x45
    Bhavishya

    Can you guide, what exactly is meant by manual focus in S6500. Also how to do it.

    Reply 30 days ago
    • Thumb 45 ai hillary 45x45
      Hillary Grigonis

      It's a little different than a DSLR, but you can select an area of the composition to focus on using the LCD screen, I believe this option is in the shooting menu, under "AF Area Mode", select Manual, then you should be able to select a portion of the composition using the arrow buttons.

      Reply 30 days ago
  • 45x45
    David Hill

    Are you able to use the zoom and focus while actively video recording?

    Reply 30 days ago
    • Thumb 45 ai hillary 45x45
      Hillary Grigonis

      Yes, both zoom and focus are available while recording.

      Reply 30 days ago
  • 45x45
    Lindsey

    Whats the best way to set it for dark setting with a moving object when you can't use a flash, such as an aquarium?

    Reply 30 days ago
    • Thumb 45 ai hillary 45x45
      Hillary Grigonis

      Try using the Night Landscape mode or the Dawn/Dusk setting. Night portrait will use the flash, so avoid that one if you don't want the flash.

      Reply 30 days ago
  • 45x45
    Connie

    Are you able to see an image on the screen in the bright sunlight? Thanks, Connie

    Reply 30 days ago
    • Thumb 45 ai hillary 45x45
      Hillary Grigonis

      I found the screen to still be quite clear when taking pictures in the sunlight. As with any electronic viewfinder, it is a little more difficult to see the screen in the sunlight, but the screen was still clear enough to take photos without straining.

      Reply 30 days ago

Nikon Reviews

Nikon has long been one of the top manufacturers in the industry, and their products are still solid options today. The camera giant is continuously releasing new products with enhancements in image quality and performance.

It's hard to go wrong with a Nikon DSLR. With a different model available for every skill level from beginner to professional, Nikon's DSLR's have always been top notch. Their latest DSLRs have seen improved noise reduction, enhanced video quality and upgraded designs over cameras from just a few years ago.

Nikon made an interesting move in the realm of mirrorless cameras—instead of pushing for bigger sensors, Nikon instead has focused on speed. The Nikon 1 line cameras use a 1” sensor, which is larger than your average point-and-shoot but smaller than the Micro Four Thirds options. While the 1 line doesn't have much resolution, their cameras boast speeds upwards of 15 fps—no other mirrorless line currently comes close to that level of speed.

Nikon's compacts aren't as much of a sure thing as their DSLRs—some of their smaller cameras are quite impressive, while others are beaten out by competitors. We liked their higher end consumer point-and-shoots like the COOLPIX S6500, but be careful with their budget compacts. They offer quite a range of compact cameras, just be sure to read the reviews on the individual camera first.

Nikon offers a full range of cameras from tiny budget models to professional DSLRs. More often than not, if you go with a Nikon, you're getting a solid camera.

We here at Digital Camera HQ offer unbiased, informative reviews and recommendations to guide you to the right camera. We're not an actual store; we're just here to help you find the perfect camera at the best price possible by using our camera grades. Let us know if you have any problems or questions, we're happy to help.