The tiny Nikon Coolpix S500 compact camera includes the latest face-detection and image-stabilisation features for consistently top-quality photos.

The Nikon Coolpix S500 delivers top-notch image quality. At £199, it may seem a little pricey for a compact camera with a relatively standard 7.1Mp sensor, a 3x zoom lens, and a 2.5in LCD.

Into the Nikon Coolpix S500's tiny and tough metal body, however, Nikon has also packed such features as automatic face detection and optical image stabilisation - although most compact cameras now offer those features.

We got some great shots with the Nikon Coolpix S500 during a rainy weekend trip. The face detection usually set accurate focus and exposure for our indoor portrait shots, but it sometimes failed to find people who slightly tilted their heads or wore glasses.

The Nikon Coolpix S500's optical image stabilisation helped us avoid blurry images in dull lighting conditions or at maximum zoom, by reducing the effect of any hand movement during the exposure.

We also found useful Nikon's Best Shot Selection (available on many Nikon cameras), which takes a series of shots and keeps just the one it determines is the sharpest. You can increase the Nikon Coolpix S500's sensitivity up to ISO 2000 to cope with moving targets in low light, but even daylight shots at this level contained so much noise that they were barely worth having.

We noticed little noise, however, in images shot at ISO 400, making the Nikon Coolpix S500 a big improvement over how most compact cameras performed until recently.

You operate most of the Nikon Coolpix S500's controls with your right thumb; they might be a little small for users with big fingers. A scrollwheel makes navigating menus and quickly adjusting a few settings easy.

Especially handy is the ability to click to the right and spin to alter the exposure compensation, but we were disappointed to find no histogram display to help you judge the effect. The Nikon Coolpix S500 also has no room for an optical viewfinder, so you must compose all of your shots on the LCD screen.

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