Nikon COOLPIX S3
- Sharp shots
- Buggy autofocus, equally buggy blur detection
An average camera for the average user. The S3 isn't a bad choice, it takes some fairly good snaps, has most of the basic functions...but so do most of its competitors.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
After you've seen forty or fifty digital cameras, it becomes increasingly difficult to find something new and exciting to talk about. There are plenty of models with original and interesting features, or exceptional image quality, and those are great, but for every one of those there are two or three that are decidedly ordinary, offering nothing that really differentiates them from the pack. Nikon's S3 falls firmly into the later category. It is an average quality point and shoot which will satisfy many consumers, but offers less overall than many of its competitors.
The design is typical of modern a Nikon camera; a large 2.5" screen, with the controls laid out in a simple fashion on the right; operating with a standard directional pad and menu buttons setup. They are responsive and fairly intuitive. The unit itself is cased in a pearly combination of metal and plastic (although it is also available in black), and looks original enough to get noticed, although it is not particularly appealing. It is quite a light model, sporting an average sized design that will be more than portable enough for most people.
Image quality was hit and miss, with some real strengths in certain areas, but some obvious weaknesses in others. The S3's 6.1 megapixel sensor is capable of taking some very detailed shots. In high light conditions, with the flash operating, image clarity and sharpness was impressive. Certain sections of our test shots (such as some of the ports on our motherboard) blurred a small amount, but the majority of edges were sharper than average. In lower and softer light however, image noise became a serious problem, and areas of detail all blurred into each other. Thankfully the noise was not huge, in terms of size, but it was consistent, which means the shots will probably still be suitable for 4x6 prints, but not much larger.
Colour representation was similarly inconsistent. In many situations shots were overexposed, leaving faded, washed out hues, but in the right lighting conditions they improved considerably. Blue seemed to be the colour that presented the S3 with the most trouble, looking a little pale regardless of what we did, but we were happy with our overall results. The only other thing to look out for is some very minor purple fringing in high light situations. It was noticeable close up, but will not pose a serious problem unless you are looking for it.
Shutter lag was one of the S3's strengths. In our tests, it took a mere .05 to .1 of a second to snap off a shot. Power-up is similarly speedy, at about 1 second, and it took about 1.5 seconds to write pictures to the memory. After a number of shots however, this seemed to degrade, to the point where it was 3 or more seconds before we could snap our next picture, so keep that in mind if you take lots of shots in short succession.
The slowest element of the camera, and one of our biggest complaints was the speed and quality of the autofocus. We've noticed it in a few previous Nikons, but the S3 really cemented it. When holding the camera in a normal, two handed grip, you can feel the lens focussing through the chassis, in the bottom, left corner. It causes the whole camera body to shake and makes it quite unpleasant to use over long periods of time. We found the focussing a little slow compared to similar models we've seen recently, which is probably also a result of this design flaw.
The S3 offers a standard array of Nikon features. There are white balance, focus, ISO and exposure options, as well as a lightning quick continuous shot function that fires roughly 2 shots a second for 8 shots. The 15 scene modes presented more than enough options to sate the amateur photographer, and the best shot mode rounded out the feature-set; taking ten photographs, then picking the sharpest image, which ensures the best capture of a specific subject, if you can wait for all ten shots to fire.
We've looked at a few Nikon cameras in the last little while, and all of them have had one poorly implemented feature that we prayed would be fixed on this unit. Sadly we were disappointed. Again we were plagued with Nikon's "blurry image" recognition software. Whenever you take an image the camera deems to be blurry, it warns you, and asks if it should keep the shot or simply delete it. Sounds like a great ideas right? Of course it does, except when it detects shots that were taken on a tripod, in a professional lighting situation, with no room for human error, as blurry. The function can thankfully be turned off, but it needs some serious work before it will work properly.
We managed about 250 shots from the rechargeable lithium-ion battery included with the S3, which is about average. It won't win any awards for battery life, but 250 shots is enough to satisfy most happy snappers.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Huawei Mate 9
Acer Swift 7
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Google Daydream VR headset
Lexar® Portable SSD
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Surface Pro 4
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Boom: SanDisk just dropped the world's largest SD card
- Camera app makers tap into RAW power with iOS, and look forward to dual lenses
- Google Camera 3.2 lets you snap pictures while recording video
- CES 2016: Top 10 trends
- Sony α7S II aimed film-makers and low light photographers
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCInfrastructure EngineerACT
- FTSystem AdministratorNSW
- CCData Analyst - AutoHaulWA
- FTMicrosoft Dynamics AX Technical ArchitectNSW
- TPProject Support OfficerQLD
- CCSenior Automation TesterQLD
- CCTechnical Consultant - ITSM/HP Service ManagerVIC
- TPVB6 DeveloperVIC
- TPSenior Applications Support OfficerQLD
- CCDemand/ Resource AnalystVIC
- FTSenior Database AdministratorVIC
- CCSenior Life 400 DeveloperNSW
- FTInfrastructure Security Compliance OfficerNSW
- CCSenior Solution ArchitectQLD
- CCIT Solutions ArchitectQLD
- TPAnalyst Programmer (Adabas)SA
- FTAnalyst Programmer (Natural/Adabas)SA
- FTSenior Project Manager - PERMANENTACT
- FTSenior .Net Developer with Silverlight proficiencyVIC
- TPBI Commercial AnalystVIC
- FTSAP BW ConsultantACT
- CCSenior consultant/ Solution ArchitectNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystQLD
- FTMicrosoft Dynamics AX Technical ArchitectWA
- TPBusiness AnalystVIC