My daughter Katherine recently returned from teaching English in Spain for a few months. About two months into her trip, her digital camera was stolen. She replaced the camera, but she can never replace the couple of hundred photos she had stored on her camera’s two gigabyte memory card. Her intention was to copy them to her PC as soon as she returned home but, sadly, that never happened.
But if Katherine were carrying the new Nikon Coolpix S50c, all of her photos might have been automatically uploaded to a server in the United States, safe and sound and available to share with others.
That’s because the new Nikon is equipped with WiFi. If you have a WiFi signal, the camera allows you to send photos to friends by e-mail or upload them to a Flickr account. Also, it can automatically back up everything from the camera to a Nikon Web site whenever you plug in the AC adapter. That’s my favorite feature. When you plug the camera in to recharge the batteries overnight, it will automatically back up all the photos you took during the day. If you have a lot of photos, it can take some time to do an online backup since the camera sends the full 7.2 megapixel photo. This is why it makes sense to do it overnight.
The camera also allows you to enter in e-mail addresses for up to 30 people. Plus you can create an additional e-mail address for “Flickr” to have the photos automatically added to a public or private Flickr account. Before you can do any of this you need to set up a free account on Nikon’s Coolpix Connect 2 Web site. With that account you get two gigabytes of free storage and the ability to purchase extra storage if you need it.
As a camera, the S50c is sleek and quite nice. It has a 7.2 megapixel sensor, which is more than enough resolution even for large prints, and it has image stabilization – a great feature for those of us who drink too much coffee and tend to have less than steady hands.
Like a lot of today’s digital cameras, there is no optical viewfinder, which is a feature I miss if for no other reason than I’m still in the habit of holding a camera up to my eye.
The good news is that the bright three-inch LCD display is pretty good even in bright sunlight and it can be seen from a 170-degree angle, which makes it easy to share your pictures with friends.
A lot of cameras today have “face priority” settings designed for portraits, but sometimes you have to fiddle with menus to turn them on.
With the new Nikon, you simply press the “one-touch portrait” button to turn on red-eye, “face-priority auto focus” and other portrait settings.
Now that I’m familiar with the camera, I like it, but I do have to give Nikon low marks for user interface. The controls, while easy to use once you learn them, are far from intuitive.
I brought the camera to our Fourth of July party and no one there could figure out how to connect it to my WiFi network, even though my guest list included some of Silicon Valley’s brightest engineers, not to mention teenagers who can usually figure anything out.
Once I got on the phone with a technical support specialist, it all became clear and I’m happily snapping away, uploading photos and enjoying the instant gratification of being able to take a picture and have far away friends see it immediately.
Using the Nikon Coolpix S50c isn’t quite as much fun as the other new “camera” I’m testing – the Apple iPhone – but the pictures are a lot better. And, unlike the iPhone, the Coolpix can also record video.