Oct 302007

I’ve been shopping around for a small point and shoot digital camera since my wonderful little Casio Exilim EX-S20 camera managed to part ways with my luggage on a recent Continental flight to London. (I’ve flown more than half a million miles in recent years on a variety of airlines and never lost anything. My first flight on Continental, and my camera disappears. Hmm…)

The Nikon S51cquickly floated to the top of my wish list. It’s considerably bigger than the sweet little Casio, but they don’t make anything that small anymore. The Nikon has the new trend of right-angle optics buried inside the body which gives it focus and optical zoom capabilities without the risk of getting dirt or pocket lint jammed in the sliding sleeves of a traditional pop-out zoom lens. Lots of typical Nikon goodness in the feature set, including anti-vibration, but what grabbed me the most was the fact that the camera has built-in WiFi capability and can “upload photos to the Internet over an open WiFi network” and you can “upload to your Flickr albums”.

I actually stopped at a local megastore this weekend on the off chance that they might have an S51c in stock. Not only did they not have it in stock, they didn’t have any Nikon equipment at all. Perhaps Nikon already knows about this megastore’s difficulty with returns and customer care?

No matter. I’ll get it online. B&H Photo Video has everything photographic worth having.

Before my procrastinator got around to buying it online, though, a friend sent me this WiFiNetNews article about a WiFi SD card for cameras being developed by Eye-Fi. That’s neat, but the Nikon S51c already has WiFi support built in, right? Well, the article contains some statements that malign existing cameras with built-in WiFi, claiming that they don’t actually upload directly to Flickr, and they downsize and mangle the photo in the upload process, etc. This couldn’t be referring to the Nikon S51c, right? Perhaps they just aren’t aware of the S51c goodness.

The seed of doubt planted, I did some searching for Nikon S51c reviews. Not marketing material or press copy from the Nikon press kit, but real hands-on commentary. Thus I found this review on BenSeese.com. In a nutshell, it confirmed every ugly claim made by the WiFi SD company: The Nikon S51c cannot upload directly to Flickr, and when your photos do eventually get to your Flickr account (via the Nikon mypicturetown.com site), they have been downsized and all their wonderful EXIF data has been stripped away.

Ok, that’s a total deal breaker. The Nikon S51c’s WiFi story sucks. Full stop. I live and die by Exif metadata, particularly to sort photos by time taken. I don’t want my photos resized, and I don’t want to have to go indirect through Nikon’s consistently awful photo web sites to put my stuff in my Flickr albums!

Nikon makes fabulous cameras. Why can’t they get WiFi right? (sigh)

So, the top camera on my lust list is now the Nikon S51(non-WiFi) + the Eye-Fi WiFi SD card. Stay tuned.