A Nurse with a Gun

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Nikon Coolpix S52

Several people have asked me (as if I would know) what point & shoot digital camera they should get. Really, it's kind of like asking what gun to get. It all depends on the person and the job they want the camera to do. I just upgraded my Canon point & shoot digital camera to a Nikon. I had purchased the Canon Powershot A520 in a pawn shop for around $89, and it has been a good camera. It is, however, a 4 megapixel camera and I was wanting more performance and portability.

I wanted to be able to shoot large, sharp images that could be printed if desired, or cropped down if needed. I wanted a point & shoot camera that could take discreet candids. I did not want a telescoping lens that would give away the fact I took a photo. I wanted a camera that would allow me to turn off the beeps and clicks, and possibly the LCD screen. I wanted at least eight plus megapixels so I could crop as needed, and I wanted it all to be pocketable with no fuss.

I found all this in the Nikon Coolpix S52. It comes with Nikon's vibration reduction system, a 9.3 megapixel CCD digital sensor, and an aluminum body. The light hits the sensor through a 6.3-18.9mm f/3.3-4.2 lens, equivalent to a 35mm film format of 38-114mm. The Nikon S52 has multiple modes and programs, and can be set to run however the photographer desires. The image size selection ranges from 3456 x 2592 to 640 X 480. The ISO range is from 100 to 3200. The images are stored on a SDHC card. The Nikon S52 allows the photographer to select their own white balance. It will shoot continiously at 0.9 fps, record WAV movies, and it has a timer function. Prices for a new one seem to fall between $280 and $400 for this little powerhouse camera.

However, the best thing is Adorama.com has Nikon factory refurbished S52 cameras for a hundred bucks each. $100. One Franklin. Free shipping. Refurbished? Damned right. That just means it got past the Nikon quality inspection process twice. To make my new candid snapper even more discreet, I blacked out all the chrome with electrical tape and black paint. I put black tape over the flash just in case. I have considered a sticker, or maybe a label of some sort to disquise it even further. Perhaps a MP3 player type control on the front along with a set of headphones, or maybe a Blackberry looking cover. We shall see........



Blogger Laughingdog said...

The point and shoot that has impressed me the most is my friend's Panasonic DMC-LX2. We took a motorcycle trip to Nova Scotia last year, which gave me a good opportunity to see how his point and shoot crushed mine (an Optio W20).

All you have to do is go to this Flickr set of mine:

The ones tagged "David" are the pictures he took on the trip. The rest are mine. The are several instances of the two of us photographing the same thing, which made it easy to see just how much better the sensor on his camera was.

The other area where his camera excelled was in low light situations.

We were in a parking garage under a hotel in Halifax there. I tried taking pictures, but my camera was incapable of getting anything remotely worthwhile in there. The exposure was off, the focus didn't work well, and the picture noise was horrible. David's camera, on the other hand, would have gotten a perfect shot if we didn't cover our motorcycles with so much retro-reflective tape.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just bought one based on your recommendation, Xavier. I thought a backup for my Canon Elph would be a good idea, and you can't beatthe deal with a stick.

St Paul

3:35 PM  
Anonymous TJP said...

I'd like to throw in my two cents about Adorama. They're very honest about the condition of their equipment, which really helps when one is buying sight unseen. They also ship fast. (I also have the benefit of living not too far from the NYC area, so two days tops, no matter which carrier.)

Every once in a while, I spend time perusing the Chinese wholesaler sites, and many of these P&S cameras are produced by the same manufacturers--or perhaps I should say the components are--so it's hard to go wrong with any of them, so long as the name brand reseller stands behind their product.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Mark Horning said...

For a slightly larger point and shoot I really like the Cannon A570, which essentially replaced the A520.

It's large enough to hold easily, has image stabilization, and still has a viewfinder.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Keith said...

I've got the olympus version on my belt. I've carried it there every day for over 3 years now, it's been in the African bush, the south atlantic ocean, Irish rain, dust in quarries and around drilling rigs and construction sites and snow in the Alps, all without a problem.

The only blemishes come from that plastic thing on the strap rubbing on the body. I think it uses silica as a filler, keep it away from the lcd screen when you holster it.

The Nikon looks to have all the features that 3 years more development allows.

Great cameras

7:51 AM  
Blogger Matt G said...

Having just killed my 5 year-old Nikon Coolpix camera, I went straight there and bought this one, just now.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just got mine, and it seems a nicer, sleeker piece of kit than my Canon. Love the scene mode, depending on where you're shooting.

St paul

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for the tip. I just ordered one. However, after ordering I ran across a review that said "uses a NON-STANDARD USB CABLE." Is this a big problem, and if so how can one resolve it, or work around it?


11:45 AM  
Anonymous powellsanmiguel said...

I was a photojournalist for many years. It would be nice to find something like a Leica in the digital world. The black paint and tape is a very good idea; first thing I do is either tape over the flash or shut it down, usually both. You can't be to careful if you want to be unobtrusive. I do wish the camera had a real viewfinder, but that looks like a winner for candids. God knows the price is right.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Just use the cable that comes with the camera. That's what i do. One end is standard, the other plugs into the camera.

You can also just use a SDSC card and stick it in your computer to download pics. that's my preferred method.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Matt G said...

Ringing my new S52 out, now. Still learning what it can and can't do. For $99.95 delivered, this is already a helluva buy. I'm thinking about getting a second one.

4:19 AM  
Blogger Matt G said...

Er, that's "wringing" it out.
Thus far I'm quite impressed at the battery life of the Li ion cell-phone-type battery that came with it.

10:49 PM  

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