Nikon CoolPix S640 review

Ben Pitt
29 Mar 2010
Nikon CoolPix S640
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Impressively fast to switch on and focus but not so nippy from then on. Otherwise, it’s an unremarkable, slightly overpriced camera.



1/2.33in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 5.0x zoom (28-140mm equivalent), 110g

With its 12-megapixel sensor, 5x zoom lens and 2.7in screen, the S640 risks blending in with countless other mid-price compact cameras. Not every compact claims start-up and autofocus performance to rival a digital SLR, though.

We measured a fraction over one second between switching on and capturing a photo. SLRs often manage half that, but it’s still a fine achievement. Autofocus times were even more impressive, with just 0.2 to 0.4 seconds at the wide-angle end of the zoom. It took up to a second at the telephoto end in low light, but this is undoubtedly an extremely responsive camera.

Our admiration wore off when we tried to take quick successions of shots. There was around 2.3 seconds between frames, but sometimes the camera kept us waiting for up to seven seconds. Continuous shooting ran at a pedestrian 0.8fps. This is a fast camera for those who like to snap on the spur of the moment, but not for those who like to take lots of photos quickly and pick the best one later.

Otherwise, there’s very little to distinguish the S640 from other 12-megapixel ultra-compacts, many of which cost around £40 less. We like how the navigation pad doubles as a wheel for quickly adjusting settings, but the controls are limited, with no manual exposure or focus options. Video capture is poor, with a basic 640x480 resolution, no optical zoom function and terrible sound quality.

Our image quality tests revealed sharp focus and reasonable colour reproduction, although sunlit faces came out rather pink. Noise made subtle details appear a little scrappy in outdoor shots and obliterated all details in low light shots. We also found that the speed of the autofocus sometimes came at the expense of accuracy, with a few shots coming out slightly softer than the lens was capable of.

The S640’s responsive performance is welcome, but for image quality there’s no contest between this and Fujifilm’s F200EXR.

Basic Specifications

CCD effective megapixels12.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2.33in
Viewfinder magnification, coverageN/A
LCD screen size2.7in
LCD screen resolution230,000 pixels
Articulated screenNo
Live viewYes
Optical zoom5.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent28-140mm
Image stabilisationoptical, sensor shift
Maximum image resolution4,000x3,000
Maximum movie resolution640x480
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG; AVI (M-JPEG)


Memory slotSDHC
Mermory supplied45MB internal
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery Life (tested)270 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV
HDMI output resolutionN/A
Body materialaluminium
Lens mountN/A
Focal length multiplier5.6x
Kit lens model nameN/A
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables

Buying Information

Warrantytwo years RTB

Camera Controls

Exposure modesauto
Shutter speedauto
Aperture rangef/2.7 (wide) to f/6.6 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution)100 to 6400
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 5 presets, manual
Additional image controlsnone
Manual focusNo
Closest macro focus1cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, spot, face detect
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, multi-shot