When WiFi first began infiltrating consumer electronic products, it was said that the application was limitless. Today, WiFi can be found in many products not least of which are digital cameras. Much in the same way wireless notebooks have opened up a whole new way of mobile computing, wireless digital cameras will bring with it a fresh approach to how digital memories are shared and printed.
Nikon understands the importance of WiFi and with their latest creation, the ultra-compact S6, joining a small but growing list of digital compacts touting WiFi connectivity, this is all but a clear indication that wireless digital cameras are here for the long haul. First announced at PMA 2006, the new S6 represents Nikon's latest sleek and unique wave-surface design to distinguish itself from the other compacts and should attract anyone looking out for an uncomplicated yet elegantly designed camera to fit their little pockets.
Nikon has certainly invested a lot of energy into the S6's design and while almost identical to the S1 and S3, the latest S6 sports a fresh wave-surface design for better aesthetic and grip. The slight contour makes gripping the petite camera ergonomically easier. It also features a large 3.0-inch LCD monitor and a rotary multi selector that similar to an iPod for straightforward navigation – minus the touch sensitivity of course.
Using the same 6.0-megapixel CCD image sensor as the S3 and S4, the S6 is expectedly not banging on improved resolution as its key selling point over its predecessors. However, proven features such as D-lighting that improves images taken with insufficient exposure by enhancing light and detail wherever necessary and the face-priority AF function that automatically detects and focuses on faces within the frame have both been brought over to the S6.
The latter can be activated easily via a one-touch Portrait button located at the top left of the camera that also engages redeye reduction at the same time.
The S6 can be hooked up to any computer, wireless router or access point (in infrastructure mode) for file transferring and printing wirelessly. Once the 'Wireless Camera Setup' utility and 'PictureProject' software are properly configured, profiles for any WiFi device can then be created to pair WiFi devices with the S6 wirelessly. For photo printers that are PictBridge-ready but are not WiFi capable, Nikon has made available the PD-10 wireless print adapter to instantly add WiFi capability to printers for the sole purpose of printing via WiFi. The downside is that is sold as a separate item.
In all, we loved the seamless wireless capability found in the S6. It delivers convenience by freeing users from having unsightly cables while providing users with another alternative to offload and share pictures. Quality wise, the S6 was able to capture still with good reproduction and image noise were mostly minimal. Night landscape shots were brilliantly captured as well with commendable color separation and low noise even at ISO 200. Slight edge softening was noticeable though.
Our gripe with the camera was the lack of anti-handshake feature, a handy technology that is fast becoming a feature expected by consumers in ultra-compact cameras. Should blurring exist in pictures captured by the S6, the camera is intelligent enough to prompt you to either save the images regardless of blurring or retake another just so the number of blurred images can be kept down to a minimum. Another cool feature on the S6 is the 'Pictmotion' slideshow with pre-loaded music feature by muvee. With this, songs can be assigned to slideshows to create different viewing atmospheres that best convey the mood of your slideshows.
It is no small feat for a subcompact to offer WiFi connection, but even more impressive are its imaging performance and functions in relation to its size. At US$449.50 (US$349.95 for S5), Nikon has put together an irresistible subcompact that travelers surely will appreciate.