Behind every Nikon COOLPIX compact digital camera is the fundamental idea that photography should bring you joy. Every shot you take is a precious moment captured. With Nikon COOLPIX cameras you can capture that moment and its joy forever. The Nikon Coolpix S640's MSRP is few rands more than its linemate, the S570. But those few rands buy you optical image stabilization, some slightly improved shooting performance, and a couple extra shooting options. Otherwise, it's the same simple and stylish camera with a wide-angle lens, 5x zoom, and consistently very good photo quality below ISO 400. The only thing keeping this very good camera from being better is the lack of an HD-quality movie mode. If you're fine with its VGA-only mode, then the S640 is a better-than-basic ultra compact camera.
Available in pink, red, white, and black versions, the S640 is a slim, lightweight camera that can be easily slipped into a pants pocket or small bag. Its metal body gives it a sturdy, high-end feel. Its lens specifications add to that feel, hitting all the things good to find on an ultracompact camera--28mm-equivalent wide-angle with a maximum aperture of f2.7 and a 5x zoom range. The only disappointment is that when zoomed out, the aperture goes down to f6.6, making low-light shots iffy when the lens is fully extended. (It was a little more acceptable on the S570 since it was cheaper.) You'll also have to be aware of your finger placement when using the flash, as the bulb is located high on the left side and easily blocked.
Its controls are fairly standard and easily learned with little effort. On its top are the power and shutter release buttons with a zoom control around the release. On its back to the right of the bright LCD and below the thumb rest are buttons for changing shooting modes; playing and editing images; accessing photo, video, and system setting menus; and deleting pictures. There's a dial for quickly moving through settings and photos and it acts as a directional pad for navigation and setting exposure, flash, timer, and macro. Again, it's all pretty straightforward. The dial moves a bit freely; however, there are stops you can feel when using it. The S640 uses a version of Nikon's four-way VR Image Stabilization that includes optical image stabilization. It will also use high ISO settings and shutter speed adjustments along with motion detection to help with handshake and motion blur. Another nicety about the S640 is that the camera can be charged via a USB cable.