The S3600 is Nikon's entry-level offering in its super-slim Coolpix Style range. It replaces the popular S3500, but you'll have a tough job telling the two apart.
The S3600 has the same 20.1-megapixel resolution and ISO80-3200 sensitivity range as its predecessor. It'll also shoot at the same continuous rate of 1.1 frames-per-second for a 6 shot burst, and can record 720p HD video.
The two cameras do differ optically though. The S3600 now gets an 8x zoom optic with a 35mm-equivalent focal range of 25-200mm, giving more telephoto reach and a slightly increased wide-angle ability than the S3500. Lens-shift Vibration Reduction is carried over to help tame any camera shake.
With 18 different scene mode settings on tap ranging from snow to fireworks, the S3600 should make it a breeze to capture tricky subjects.
When you want to get creative, effects like Selective Colour can record one colour in a scene and turn other hues monochrome, whilst the Toy Camera setting gives photos a retro vibe.
But the S3600's standout feature is its Smart portrait system. This manages to detect a face, shoot only when he or she smiles, alert you to any blinking and offers touch-up options for producing more flattering shots.
The S3600 is available in silver, black, blue and pink finishes, as well as pink line-art and red in some markets.
Build Quality and Handling
The S3600 may be one of Nikon's cheapest compact cameras, but it feels more cheap and cheerful than cheap and nasty. The camera's casing is solid and well put together, whilst tapered corners and compact 97.1mm x 57.9mm x 19.9mm dimensions make it easy to slip the camera into a tight pocket.
Operating the S3600 is a simple and painless process with a typical array of buttons to control essential camera functions. The buttons themselves are on the small side, but are generally easy to press, except for the small and recessed power button which requires a thumbnail prod to activate.
You also get a dedicated video record button with a raised profile that doubles as a thumb rest. This is all you can really use to grip the S3600 by though, as the rest of the silky-smooth casing can easily slip out of your hand on a cold day.
Dominating the rear panel is a 2.7", 230k-dot LCD monitor. It's not exactly the last word in outright resolution, so expect menus to look a bit pixelated. However, what really leaves a lasting impression is the atrocious viewing angles and poor contrast reproduction. Consequently you'll have no idea whether the camera's nailed the correct exposure until you get home.