After a lot of compact camera jiggery-pokery, Nikon has returned to the well-regarded swivel design for this attractive and surprisingly powerful model.
The term 'compact' requires some qualification here, because the S10 is relatively big for a modern camera thanks to that funky swivelling lens system. Unless you wear clown trousers, you'll really struggle to squeeze the S10 into your pocket, but you'll forgive the relative lardiness when you try out the camera's smooth 10x optical zoom.
The zoom mechanism could be faster, but being able to do it neatly and effortlessly is in a real boon in a camera of this price. Sports fans and nature lovers will love it. The lens design really helps here, too, enabling you to shoot from a wider range of angles than is possible with a normal compact. And the flexibility doesn't stop there.
Following in the footsteps of Fujifilm and Canon, Nikon has boosted the light sensitivity (ISO) to 800, allowing you to take shots in poorer light conditions without having to activate the flash. This is really useful if you want to take candid shots in a theatre or dark church, for instance.
You can also use faster shutter speeds at higher ISOs, useful for action photography, while the integrated Vibration Reduction technology helps beat camera shake.
The back of camera has a large LCD that you use for composing shots because there's no optical viewfinder. The screen remains legible in bright sunlight, and doesn't appear to overload the batteries. From the box, the camera takes rich, well-exposed images, with digital noise kept to a minimum, even at ISO 800.
Despite its powerful zoom and sophisticated 6-megapixel sensor, this camera is aimed at the point-and-click crowd. Manual controls have been kept to the minimum, with Nikon instead providing a good range of pre-sets, including the self explanatory Face Priority mode.
Nikon's DLighting system rescues underexposed images or shots with too much back-light, too. While these widgets are good to have, you do feel the camera takes over a bit too much sometimes, and it would be nice to have the option to tweak aperture or shutter speed manually. Otherwise, this is a well-made compact, with enough clever technology to keep the typical point-and-click shooter very happy. Geoff Harris