The S51c’s odd, wave-like design certainly makes it stand out from the IXUS box-with-a-lens crowd, but we’re not sure it’ll look as cool ten years down the line.

Still, its feature count is bang up to date, and the requisite eight megapixels of resolution will certainly go down well with number crunchers.

Top-notch LCD

Inside, the three times zoom NIKKOR lens is pretty much par for the course, while the three-inch LCD is slightly larger than most cameras in this class. But the good news is that Nikon hasn’t traded size for quality, because the screen is top notch, easily good enough for framing your pictures, but also sharp and clear enough to review the shots you have already taken.

The rotary menu system looks pretty enough, and makes good use of the large screen, but it’s a tad long winded compared to the competition. It runs smoothly enough, it’s just that if you want to access the shooting modes, for example, a second button press is needed.

Slow starter

Still, all the buttons respond quickly, and the whole system is very smooth. The options you can access are all pretty useful also, with niceties such as a quick access High ISO for shooting in low light easily accessible. The only other downer is that it takes a little but too long for the camera to start up; there’s a good chance you might miss the instant snap you are after.

The big news as far as badge collectors are concerned is the Wi-Fi option – the standard S51 doesn’t have wireless as standard. Here it provides instant uploads of your images to Nikon’s My Picturetown server, or allows you to email images directly to friends and family – which is great for passing on that instantly memorable shot.

Bags of detail

And as long as your skills are up to it, it should be a good-looking image, because this is a fine little camera for the price. Detail levels are high, but without too much in the way of digital noise through cramming so many pixels on such a small CCD, and in good light lines are sharp and well defined.

Shooting in lower light is a mixed blessing, with the flash lacking oomph, but the high ISO setting working well as long as you can out up with some graininess. Colour reproducing is also up there with the best compacts, which all goes to make this a very good snapper – especially if you want to impress your friends with instant images from wherever you are.

Stuff says... 

Nikon S51c review

The S51c combines good looks, neat technology and quality images in one reasonably affordable package