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Nikon 1 S2 Review

Reviewed the compact Nikon 1 S2 - A mirrorless camera that can shoot at up to 60fps at full resolution!

| Nikon 1 S2 in Mirrorless Cameras
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Nikon 1 S2 Red (2)

The Nikon 1 S2 is a stylish compact system camera from Nikon, and features a colourful plastic body, a 14.2 megapixel 1inch CX sensor, as well as high speed focusing and continuous shooting. The S2 is available in a number of colours including red, yellow, white and black.

Nikon 1 S2 Features

Nikon 1 S2 Red (8)

The Nikon 1 S2 features a 14.2 megapixel CX 1inch CMOS sensor, as well as the high speed 73 phase detection points AF system that allows 20fps continuous shooting with AF, and up to 60fps continuous shooting at full resolution with fixed AF.

The Nikon 1 S2 is part of the Nikon 1 Series, and uses the Nikon 1 lens mount, of which there are a number of Nikon 1 lenses available, from a 6.7mm (18mm equivalent) wide angle, to a 300mm (810mm equivalent) telephoto zoom lens. The S2 is available as a kit with the compact NIKKOR 11-27.5mm collapsible lens, equivalent to 30-74mm. The lens can also act as the on / off switch with the camera switching on when you extend the lens, and switching off when you collapse the lens.

The camera has a creative palette function that lets you change the filter effect. Best moment capture has been updated to include active selection where you can take up to 20 shots in one second and save as many photos as you like. There is a 3inch screen on the back, and the shooting mode is selected using the F button on the back. 

FullHD video recording allows full resolution photos to be taken while recording, and the camera has a number of high speed video modes, including 60fps at 720p, as well as 400fps and 1200fps at reduced resolutions.

Nikon 1 S2 Red (4)

Key Features

  • 14.2 megapixel CX 1inch CMOS sensor (13.2mm x 8.8mm)
  • Nikon 1 series lens mount
  • 3inch, 460k dot screen
  • Take full-resolution photos while recording video
  • 1080p, fullHD video, electronic VR, 60fps at 720p and 1080p
  • ISO200-ISO12800
  • 20fps continuous shooting with continuous AF, 60fps fixed AF
  • 73 phase detection AF points, contrast detect AF
  • RAW or JPEG shooting, manual controls
  • Built-in pop-up flash
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Plastic body available in white, black, yellow and red

Nikon 1 S2 Handling

Nikon 1 S2 Red (5)

The camera is very compact for a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, and has a solid feeling plastic body. There is very little to grip on to due to the smooth finish on the front, and there is a small rubber grip on the back for your thumb to hold on to. Therefore, we'd recommend using the provided neck strap or a wrist strap to make sure you don't drop it. 

The F button on the back lets you change modes, with the following modes available:

  • Motion snapshot - This takes a photo, and a slow motion video - (1 second long) and then when played back on the camera it plays the video then shows the photo with a choice of music.
  • Best moment capture - Takes a sequence of shots, with the option of active selection, slow view, or smart photo selector.
  • Auto Photo mode features live control that lets you alter active d-lighting, background softening, motion control, and brightness.
  • Creative shooting mode - lets you choose from P, S, A, M, Creative palette, HDR, Soft, Miniature effect, Selective colour, Cross process, and Toy camera.
  • Advanced Video mode is where you find all of the video options.

The Nikon 1 S2 features an electronic shutter, that allows it to be more compact than if it were to feature a mechanical shutter. This also means that it can shoot silently.

To focus you can choose from auto-area, single point and subject tracking focus. You can set the focus point across a wide area of the screen, and the screen quality is good with good colour production, although can be difficult to view outdoors in sunshine. You can set single-point AF from any of the 135 focus areas; the center 73 areas support phase-detection AF. 

Nikon 1 S2 Red (1)

Menus – Pressing the F (function) button will bring up an on-screen control panel making it easy to change settings using the control panel, and to access more advanced settings pressing the menu button will bring you to another set of options. The menus can be scrolled through and set using the buttons on the rear of the camera.

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 270 shots according to Nikon / CIPA test results, which is slightly below-average for a compact mirrorless class of camera, and if you plan on shooting more we would recommend a spare battery.

Nikon 1 S2 Red (6)

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.05secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.05secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.0secs*
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.2secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 0.5secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
10/20/30/60fps (10 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A
Continuous Shooting - RAW 10/20/30/60fps (10 shots)

Focus and shutter response are both extremely quick! You have the option to shoot at 10, 20, 30 or 60fps - it's also possible to shoot at 20fps with AF-tracking active. Flash is not available in any of the continuous shooting modes. *Lens already extended.

Nikon 1 S2 Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Nikon 1 S2 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Images have good colour and exposure is reliable. Photos using the flash show very little red-eye, and skin tones are good. Dynamic range is good, with the camera featuring a D-Lighting option to improve dynamic range, and there is also a HDR (High Dynamic Range) shooting mode available in the creative shooting mode.

Nikon 1 S2 Lens test images

Lens Performance - The 11-27.5mm kit lens performs well with sharp detailed images whether using it at the wide or telephoto ends of the lens and purple fringing was very low. Some barrel distortion is visible in wide shots, although auto distortion correction is available in the camera menus to correct for this. Macro performance is a little disappointing, and the 10-30mm kit lens performs better for macro shots.

Nikon 1 S2 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO200 to ISO800, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO1600 to ISO3200 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced. At ISO6400 and ISO12800 noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. There are also additional noise reduction options at ISO12800 that give images with less noise, although detail is quite soft.

Nikon 1 S2 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well with a warm colour cast under tungsten lighting, with the tungsten preset giving a more accurate result. AWB performs very well under fluorescent lights, with the fluorescent preset giving a magenta colour cast.

Nikon 1 S2 Digital filters

Digital Filters - ...The camera has a number of ways to shoot with a creative effect or filter, with a new Creative Palette mode which adjusts the brightness, saturation, and white balance as you slide your finger around the ring on the touchscreen, or rotate the scroll wheel on the back. There are also a number of the more usual effects, such as miniature, selective colour, cross process, soft, and toy camera.

Video - The S2 records full HD video at 60fps with stereo sound, ultra high speed video at 400fps (at 640x240 resolution), and 1200fps (at 320x120 resolution). Full HD video quality is good with clear video, and if you select 30fps then electronic image stabilisation is available.

Value For Money

The Nikon 1 S2 is available for £339 with a kit lens which makes it good value for money, particularly considering the high speed shooting performance it offers. Some entry-level mirrorless compact system cameras to consider as alternatives can be found below, and we've included some that also offer high speed continuous shooting:

Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2, 8fps, £319 with lens
Olympus PEN E-PL7, 8fps, £399 with lens
Olympus OM-D E-M10, 8fps, £679 with lens
Panasonic Lumix GF6, 4.2fps, £299 with lens
Sony Alpha A6000, 11fps with AF, £649 with lens

Of these, the following are among the smallest available:
Panasonic Lumix GM1, 5fps, £549 with lens
Pentax Q7, 5fps, £350 with lens
Samsung NX Mini, 6fps, £379 with 9mm lens

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Nikon 1 S2 Verdict

The Nikon 1 S2 (along with the Nikon 1 V3, and J4) is one of the fastest shooting cameras available currently, if not the fastest, offering 20fps continuous shooting with auto-focus, as well as 60fps continuous shooting with fixed focus. This makes it ideal for a wide variety of shooting situations, such as sports or other action shots, but also makes it an ideal choice for anyone who simply wants to make sure they capture every moment. It is ideal for anyone with kids that move quickly as the camera can focus extremely quickly. Video quality is good, and this will be of benefit to those who want to record high quality videos, although the J4 model gives better high speed results.

The S2 comes with a compact kit lens that is good to get your started although it isn't very wide, nor does it feature image stabilisation, and to get the best image quality from the camera, a prime lens is recommended. The camera struggles outdoors with the screen difficult to view in bright sunlight, and although build quality is good, some may find that there is little to hold on to. The Nikon 1 S2 is available for £339 with 11-27.5mm zoom lens, and feels limited compared to the more expensive Nikon 1 J4 which also features Wi-Fi and a more versatile kit lens, therefore we would recommend the J4 over the S2.

Nikon 1 S2 Pros

Compact stylish body
2 year warranty
High speed continuous shooting
20fps continuous shooting with AF tracking
High speed video modes (albeit at low resolution)
Good image quality and colour
Very fast focus and shutter response
Silent shutter

Nikon 1 S2 Cons

Little grip
11-27.5mm lens doesn't feature optical image stabilisation
Prime lenses needed for best results
Doesn't let you shoot RAW+JPEG at the same time
Doesn't feature a panoramic shooting mode
Difficult to view screen outdoors in sunlight



Nikon 1 S2 Specifications

Image Sensor
Pixels14.2Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4592
Pixels (H)3072
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1 inch
Sensor Size (width)13.2mm
Sensor Size (height)8.8mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution460,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/16000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
  • TTL
ISO sensitivity200 - 12800
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
  • Underwater
Exposure Comp+/-3
Viewfinder ResolutionNo Data
MagnificationNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting60fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
Video FPS60p
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable Li-ion EN-EL22 battery
Battery Life (CIPA rating)270shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsBody Cap BF-N1000, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL22 (with terminal cover), Battery Charger MH-29 (AC wall adapter supplied in countries or regions where required; shape depends on country of sale), lens (supplied only if lens kit is purchased with came

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