On paper, the Nikon Coolpix S6400 would appear to have just about everything you want from a digital compact camera of its class. With a 12x optical zoom, 3-inch 460,000-dot touchscreen, 16 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, Full HD video recording, a host of direct controls, 20 scene modes, small, lightweight body and a modest price tag, what more could you ask for from a compact camera?

Good image quality. That, of course, is what it comes down to. It's easy for manufacturers to cram cameras with scene modes and even more advanced functionality that trickles down from the DSLR ranges. But can its sensor and AF and metering systems work in harmony to produce images you'll be happy with?

Along with the features mentioned above, the Nikon Coolpix S6400 offers an Intelligent Control AF System in which the camera analyses your subject and determines the best focus method.

Nikon Coolpix S6400 review

It also has a Lens Shift vibration reduction system, 7fps continuous shooting, 10cm minimum focusing distance and an ISO range of 125 to 3200. The Nikon Coolpix S6400 spec list also includes 3D shooting, as well as 180- and 360-degree panorama modes.

All of that in a blue, purple, red, silver or black body. Overall, the Nikon Coolpix S6400's key improvements over its predecessor, the Nikon Coolpix S6300, include its 3-inch LCD display (vs 2.7-inch on the S6300), 460,000-dot resolution screen (vs 230,000 dots) and 12x zoom (vs 10x).

Nikon Coolpix S6400 review

The Nikon Coolpix S6400 also weighs slightly less than the S6300 - 150g (5.3oz) rather than 160g (5.6 oz) - and has a faster aperture of f/3.1-6.2 instead of f/3.2-6.4.

The Nikon Coolpix S6400 has a full retail price of £199.99/AU$290/US$249.95.

Build and handling

Nikon has certainly emphasised style in its current crop of Coolpix cameras, and the Nikon S6400 is no exception. Slim and sleek, its rounded magnesium alloy body suggests quality construction, and the camera feels strong and robust. It's quite simply very nice to look at.

The button layout is decidedly minimalist. On top of the camera you'll find the power and shutter buttons, with a zoom toggle surrounding the latter. Directly below the shutter button - at the top of the back of the camera - is a one-touch movie record button. In the bottom-right corner of the LCD screen are the Scene and playback buttons.

Nikon Coolpix S6400 review

The Coolpix S6400 slides comfortably into your back pocket, whether you're wearing combat trousers or skinny jeans, making it very portable and a great take-anywhere candidate.

A tripod mount on the bottom of the camera is handy for longer exposures, and it's worth noting that the doors to the memory card/battery compartment on the bottom and the HDMI/AV port on the top-right side of the camera both feel strong and secure, unlike other cameras we've seen in this class.

Nikon Coolpix S6400 review