November 2009 More Nikon Reviews
The Nikon S70 is an awful camera. I wouldn't buy one.
I borrowed one to test because I was intrigued by what was touted as a 3.5" OLED touch screen. OLEDs are the future replacement for LCDs and plasma displays.
The bad news is that the screen on the Nikon S70 is very low resolution. You can see every pixel and it is not sharp. Today's better LCDs are much better.
It's not a full 3.5." When shooting normal images, it is only 2.8" diagonal. The top and bottom are cut off, so the image has to be shrunken to fit vertically, so you've only got an image 2.8" diagonal when shooting or playing. Worse, the nasty touch-screen buttons cover part of your image as you're trying to shoot.
The S70 cheats and defaults to the silly cropped 16:9 shooting mode, which also chops off the tops and bottoms of your picture, so that the short screen does fill up for in-store demos. If you shoot in this mode, you'll notice that the photos are too wide and most of your subjects only fill the middle of the image.
The touch screen of the Nikon S70 is awful. It's not as bad as Canon's touch screens, but the Nikon S70 touch screen is still too slow to respond. None of these cameras comes anywhere close to a real touch screen like an iPhone or iPod Touch.
With the Nikon S70, you have to press deliberately, and wait a moment for the camera to respond. It is not a live, real-time touch screen like a spacecraft or an iPod.
The on-screen fonts are fugly. They look like something is broken, but I've seen the same problem on the Nikon S1000PJ. Because the OLED screen has such low resolution, Nikon uses aliased fonts so they look sharp, but are blocky and ugly, like some atrociously simplified and boring version of Fink Sans.
Nikon S70, rear.
There are no controls or buttons, except for the shutter button. Everything has to go through the slow touch-screen interface, even zooming and selecting play or record. This is horrible: you can't zoom while holding the S70 easily in one hand; you have to hold the S70 carefully with one or two hands and use your thumb to look for and tap the [ T ] and [ W ] spots on the screen.
Nikon S70, top.
When you do hit the [ T ] and [ W ] spots, there is also a delay in response. If you hold one down, the zoom goes too fast and you miss your spot. Good luck playing hide-and-go-seek with these two controls trying to compose your shot.
I was never able to get the flash to turn on. There was no response to pressing the flash control icon.
I was never able to find any histograms, which are useful for gauging exposure.
It is cute that the shooting control icons rotate when you rotate the S70. It is not cute that they are written over your image as you're trying to compose. When you half-press the shutter, most go away, to be replaced by shutter speed and aperture info.
Playback is a bitch. There are no controls to move forward or back. You have to swipe the screen like an iPod or iPhone, but response is too sloppy. Worse, holding the camera vertically, you have to swipe vertically to go forward if back. Even worse, when holding the s70 vertically on playback, every vertical image has to stop and rotate itself each time you switch to it!
The S70 is no iPod or iPhone. The S70 is crappy by comparison for playing images. Two-finger zooming sort of works, but it's balky and slow. Any Canon Powershot works much faster.
4,000 x 3,000 pixels native.
5-25mm f/3.9-5.8, similar to what a 28-140mm lens sees on a 35mm full-frame camera.
3.89 x 2.43 x 0.83 inches (98.84 x 61.75 x 21.0mm), measured by me, W H D.
5.690 oz (161.3g), measured by me with battery and SD card.
Made in Indonesia.
Since October, 2009
$400, USA, at introduction in August, 2009.
$327, USA, November 2009.
As I covered in the Introduction, the shooting and playback performance is awful. It's balky and slow to shoot. Canon Powershots are much better, which is probably why Canon outsells Nikon about three-to-one in compact cameras.
I was hoping that once I downloaded the photos into my computer that all my whining about the crummy handling, interface and screen would be redeemed by great technical image quality.
The images from the S70 are usable, however the lens is fuzzy in the corners at most settings. Again, any decent Canon Powershot, like the SD980, is far superior for sharpness.
Autofocus often missed my subject, giving out-of-focus pictures.
The Nikon S70 is a huge disappointment.
What's good about the S70
The best thing about the S70 is how it looks when it's turned off. It's much more handsome than Canon's Powershots, which seem styled mostly to appeal to Japanese junior-high-school girls.
The S70 has a nice rubberized front for holding it, which would be great if you didn't have to control it with two hands on the slow touch-screen.
The S70 charges from the same USB cord with which you can download photos. Therefore you can leave the charger at home if you bring your computer.
The plug-in-the-wall charger is merely a USB 5V socket, meaning that you probably can use all your existing iPod chargers and not bother bringing the S70 charger, or alternately, I can charge my iPod with its USB cable plugged into the S70's plug-in-the-wall charging adaptor.
The fuzzy lens of the S70 doesn't need to extend to shoot. All you do is flip down the front door. This could make the S70 more resistant to internal dust, and more resistant to what usually kills compacts, which is erectile dysfunction for lenses that need to extend every time those cameras are turned on and off. Likewise, there is no need for an automatic lens cover, which is the next most common thing that breaks in other cameras.
Help me help you top
I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.
If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.
The biggest help is to use these links to Adorama, Amazon, Calumet, Ritz and J&R when you get your goodies. It costs you nothing and is a huge help. These places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.
Thanks for reading!