The compact camera market is like Ikea on a Saturday – busy and aggressive. Snappers have to work hard to grab attention and Nikon’s Coolpixes have, after a weak start, sharpened up their act with the S630.

Alongside 12MP stills it packs a 2.7in LCD, 7x optical zoom and anti-blur tech onto those already crowded shelves.

Up close and personal

A super-powered zoom might not be a deal-breaker, but it gives the S630 bragging rights over the Canon IXUS 100’s 3x zoom and the 5x magnification on Panasonic’s FX550. Although the zoom isn’t the smoothest, you’ll be grateful for the increased length for more potent close-ups.

The S630 can’t hold a candle to the slimline dimensions of Sony’s T-series or Canon’s IXUS 100 but its curvaceous lines have their own appeal. A contoured design makes it incredibly comfortable to hold and there is a natural resting point for your thumb near the shutter release.

Anti-fuzzy logic

The S630 uses four anti-blur settings. There’s vibration reduction and motion detection for when you nudge the camera or if the subject makes an unexpected move, while Best Shot Selector picks the sharpest photo from up to 10 sequential images.

The High ISO setting – top whack is ISO 6400 – is the most creative of the anti-blur mob. This reduces the risk of fuzzy images with fast-moving targets, like cars, planes, and friends who always dodge their round in the pub. The only disappointment is that it doesn’t work in the S630’s top resolutions, just 3MP and lower.

Face detection is all present and correct with three grin-tastic functions. Smile mode snaps a shot when your subject gets all toothy and the Blink Warning is a clever menu-based alert that’s shown on the LCD. Top marks go to the Blinkproof setting that captures two images and lets you save the ‘eyes open’ one.

Review continues after the break...

Performance: a game of two halves

While the Coolpix S630 is certainly easy to use, the snaps don’t quite cut the mustard – there’s fine detail but the colours are a little on the soft side. If it’s pure photo quality you’re after, Sony’s Cyber-shot T900 and Panasonic DMC-FX550 remain better choices.

Still, while the S630 isn’t the slimmest and doesn’t have HD movie recording – just 640x480 VGA quality – it’s a fine choice if you want a user-friendly compact with some nifty extra features. Even if Ikea would probably call it Glob.

Stuff says... 

Nikon Coolpix S630 review

Impressive anti-blur modes and a smart 7x optical zoom, but washed out colours hold it back