I got new camera this week. It’s a Nikon Coolpix S60. My other cameras are still good, I bought them both three years ago, but it was the small size and touch screen shooting that sold me this one.

My Pentax Optio 750Z is my older (2005) pocket size camera. Even when I got it it would be considered a little big for a pocket sized camera but it has a swivel LCD screen and that is what sold it to me. I love swivel LCD screens. Plus it is really no bigger than the pocket sized film camera that I carried for years. “Pocket sized” as a concept has gotten smaller.

The new Coolpix S60 is truly a pocket sized camera. It is probably about half the size of the Optio 750Z. It’s also much more of a point and shoot as it doesn’t offer all of the controls over the camera’s shutter speed and aperture as the Optio 750Z (or my completely non-pocketable Nikon Coolpix 8800 also from 2005).

What the Coolpix S60 does offer is touch screen shooting. The whole back of the camera is a touch screen. You go through all of your settings not by turning dials or pushing buttons to scroll through menus but by pressing your finger (or stylus) to the virtual touch screen buttons.

What is really cool is that you focus and set the auto-exposure by pressing on the touch screen. If your subject is off center there is no more centering him, autofocusing, and then recomposing with him off center. Instead you compose any way you like and then press your finger where you want the camera to focus and read the light. That’s cool. Only the shutter button is mechanical.

The drawback to this kind of shooting is that the camera is small and slippery. The touch screen and polished exterior leave little for my big old hands to grip. Constantly poking around the back of a camera, that I found a bit of a struggle just to hold on to, takes a bit of care. And the lens is in the upper left hand corner (as you shoot) of the camera and my fingers very easily got in the way.

My solution to all of this was my mini tripod. I have this small metal tripod with what can only be described as “bendy” legs. I bought it last year to try out as it is quite small and pocketable but I never liked it. The “Home position” of the legs is all of them straight down under the tripod head. You have to bend the metal legs out to make it into a tripod. Getting all the legs at the same angle to level the camera isn’t easy. I quickly went back to using my much bigger “mini” tripod that is designed more like a full sized one and not in any way pocketable.

Yet is was that “Home” position on the bendy tripod that was the solution to my “small and slippery” problem. I screwed the tripod onto the bottom of the Coolpix S60 and used it like a handle. The bendy tripod is only about five inches tall when in the home position so it’s the perfect size. I won’t be carrying the little tripod with me all the time but it’s easy enough to slip into my pocket or bag when I need it.

I had to adjust to there being no swivel LCD when shooting the Coolpix S60. I’m used to “Shooting from the waist” with my cameras. That’s when you swivel the LCD so it faces up and lower the camera to waist level. I shoot looking down into the LCD. Having to hold the camera near eye level to shoot is an adjustment for me.

The biggest problem I have with the camera is that it’s no iPod Touch. I have all of my photos on my iPod touch and it’s a joy to look at photos on that machine. The software on the iPod Touch is a dream. Looking at, changing between, zooming in, and recomposing while viewing photos on the iPod Touch is smooth and easy. Not so with the Coolpix S60 software. Looking at the photos on the touch screen was a bit frustrating. The interface is slow and not precise. It’s even worse than looking at the photos on a regular digital camera with regular buttons. Nikon has to improve that part of the software.

Overall this touch screen shooting has got me excited. I’ve been bored with photography for a little while now and this something new has piqued my interest. Now I’ve got to go and actually look at how some of the pictures I took turned out.