If you're anything like me, your digital camera has been through it all—from the occasional mosh pit to family gatherings to a night on the town and back, your camera has been there, capturing every shot you never want to forget. I'm not the most careful with my digital cameras, and that's why a touchscreen camera like the super-chic Coolpix S70 isn't for me. But could easily be the perfect choice for someone who loves toying around with a gadget's endless settings.
Inevitably, the first thing one notices about the S70 is the gigantic 3.5-inch, vibrant OLED touchscreen, which takes up nearly the entire back of the camera. (One also notices how quickly grubby fingerprints show up, too.) The second thing might be the price tag. It generally hovers somewhere around $300, so this innovative product is definitely on the costly side. However, for some, this might be totally worth it.
The S70 is the hipper, more stylish younger brother to the S60, which also had a touchscreen, but apparently not a good one—though not having tried it, I can't personally vouch for this. [We called it one of the worst cameras of 2008 --Ed.] With the S70, Nikon have updated and upgraded the touchscreen's functionality and capabilities. Once you slide the lens cover down the screen lights up and you're ready to go. This one can be completely touch-operated. There is a shutter—the S70's lone button—but you can snap a picture just by tapping the screen.
For beginner or amateur digital photographers, the Easy Auto Mode automatically assesses which settings are best for your photo, a common feature on many digital cameras. The S70 also has more than a dozen scene settings for prime picture snapping in nearly any environment. Most of the settings are also adjustable; for example, the white balance in the portrait, night portrait, beach/snow, night landscape and backlight settings can all be adjusted by sliding up or down the scale on the bottom of the screen. I particularly enjoyed the skin-softening setting for the portrait feature.
One of the most fun (also one of the most unusual) of these modes includes the draw option, which allows you to draw a picture or write a note and save it as a photo. Feel free to let your artistic side shine like I did, or you could also write something along the lines of "PICK TIMMY UP FROM SOCCER PRACTICE" if you happen to be a forgetful mom who happens to enjoy flipping through her digital photos. (It happens.)
Multi-touch fans will most likely love the Nikon's touchscreen settings. Those familiar with the keyboard shortcuts of a Mac laptop's track pad or an iPhone will find navigating around the Nikon S70 a breeze—though that doesn't mean newbies won't. In playback mode for example, sliding a finger across the screen scrolls from one picture to the next. As a shortcut, dragging two fingers across the screen while viewing photos scrolls quickly backward or forward ten pictures. Finally, you can spread or pinch two fingers across the screen in playback to zoom in or out of a photo, respectively. (Spreading simply means sliding your fingers away from each other while touching the screen, while pinching is sliding them back together.) If any of this sounds confusing, the S70 comes with a handy booklet dedicated entirely to the touch screen, so no worries.
Despite being an entirely touch screen camera (or maybe because of it), the S70 is super-compact and thin. It fits easily into your hand or a back pocket, but doesn't feel light and flimsy. It actually has a pretty substantial (but not overwhelming) weight, leading me to think that it could survive a few bumps and scuffles, though we don't recommend testing that theory.
I have a few complaints, some of which may be a deal-breaker for many consumers. The worst part is that performance time leaves something to be desired. Of course, with a camera that can do so much (who doesn't love editing a photo on the camera itself before you even transfer it to your computer?) you've got to expect at least a little lag-time. However, if you're in the market for an ultra-quick camera that comes to life in what seems like no time at all, I'd recommend looking elsewhere. Both focusing and successive shooting on this camera are slower than I'd like, but for simple shooting it's not an overwhelming problem.
It didn't make a difference to me, but the cover on the USB jack on the camera feels like it could easily snap off, which made me pretty nervous.
In a nutshell, the Nikon S70 is an impressive little gadget. It's sleek and chic to look at, and its capability for wide shots paired with its dazzling touch screen is definitely noteworthy, although the photos themselves are no better or worse than most cameras I've tried. For a touchscreen point-and-shoot, it does just fine, but you'll be shelling out a pretty penny.