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Nikon Coolpix S2500 Digital Camera Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Nikon Coolpix S2500, which has a 12Mp sensor, a 4x optical zoom lens and is available for under £100.

|  Nikon Coolpix S2500 in Compact Cameras
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Nikon Coolpix S2500 front

Announced in February 2011, the Nikon Coolpix S2500 is a 12.1Mp camera with a 4x optical zoom available for less than £100. The camera has a variety of auto and scene modes available designed to make taking pictures fun and easy. The Coolpix S2500 is available in pink, red, black and silver for £89. If you have a few extra pounds to spend you may consider the Nikon Coolpix S3100 which as a 14Mp sensor, 5x optical zoom and can record HD videos, available for £111. Other cameras at the £89 mark you may be considering are the Canon PowerShot A3100 (£97.99) and the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z450 (£89) both of which also have 12.1Mp sensors and 4x optical zoom.

Nikon Coolpix S2500 front lens

Nikon Coolpix S2500: Features

  • Easy-to-use and easy-to-carry
  • 12.1Mp sensor
  • Wide-angle 4x optical zoom lens (35mm equivalent: 27-108mm)
  • Electronic VR (Vibration Reduction)
  • High ISO (up to ISO3200)
  • Motion detection
  • Best Shot Selector (BSS)
  • 2.7 in LCD monitor
  • Smart portrait system with Smile Timer, Blink Proof, Skin softening and Red-eye Fix
  • Scene Auto Selector
  • 17 scene modes
  • Subject Tracking AF
Nikon Coolpix S2500 battery compartment

Nikon Coolpix S2500: Handling
If you are looking for a compact camera to carry with you on nights out with friends then the Coolpix S2500 fits the bill. At just 20mm deep the camera will easily slip into a pocket or handbag. The camera is easy to grip and the menu system is simple to navigate. The screen is clear in all lighting conditions with the buttons responsive and easy to press. Unlike the Coolpix S3100, Nikon have printed the symbols on the buttons in a different colour, making them much easier to see in dark conditions.

Nikon Coolpix S2500 top

The Coolpix S2500 is powered by a rechargeable Li-ion battery and Nikon claim it is able to take up to 220 pictures on one charge. During testing the battery was only charged once and has yet to show any reduction in charge so there is no reason to doubt this claim.

Nikon Coolpix S2500 rear

Nikon Coolpix S2500: Performance
The Coolpix S2500 generally produces well exposed images although on occasions the camera underexposed a touch in bright conditions with colours accurately reproduced. At both ends of the lens the images retain plenty of detail throughout and are certainly going to be adequate for larger prints.

Nikon Coolpix S2500 wide-angle   Nikon Coolpix S2500 full optical zoom
Wide-angle shot, no flash, 1x optical zoom, ISO80, 1/1000, f/3.2, 5mm (35mm equivalent: 27mm)   Full optical zoom, no flash, 4x optical zoom, ISO80, 1/200, f/5.9, 20mm (35mm equivalent: 108mm)

If you like shooting portraits then the Smart Portrait mode will appeal. In the images below there is an example of a portrait shot using Auto and one using Smart Portrait mode. This has softened the subject giving a much smoother look to the skin, you don't even have to press the shutter button! As soon as the subject is in view the camera will automatically focus and take a picture.

Nikon Coolpix S2500 auto portrait   Nikon Coolpix S2500 smart portrait
Auto Portrait, no flash, 1.6x optical zoom, ISO80, 1/80, f/4.3, 8mm (35mm equivalent: 43mm)   Smart Portrait, no flash, 1.6x optical zoom, ISO80, 1/60, f/4.3, 8mm (35mm equivalent: 43mm)

To help take the best pictures possible, the Coolpix S2500 has 17 scene modes including portrait, landscape, sport, night portrait, party/indoor, beach, snow, sunset, dusk/dawn, night landscape, close-up, food, museum, fireworks show, black and white copy, backlighting and panorama. Setting the camera to macro mode didn't produce particular great images, mainly because the minimum focus distance is 8cm.

The scene modes which were used during testing didn't disappoint and there are a sample of images below. The landscape mode has given a good boost to the blues and greens in the images. The sunset mode has handled the sun in the shot excellently and there is plenty of detail retained throughout the shot. The black and white mode has done a fairly good job although the darker areas tend to lose detail. Lastly the sport mode was used to capture the drops of water coming from the fountain.

Nikon Coolpix S2500 landscape mode   Nikon Coolpix S2500 sunset mode
Landscape mode, no flash, 1x optical zoom, ISO80, 1/1000, f/3.2, 5mm (35mm equivalent: 27mm)   Sunset mode, no flash, 2.4x optical zoom, ISO80, 1/640, f/5.3, 12mm (35mm equivalent: 65mm)
Nikon Coolpix S2500 black and white   Nikon Coolpix S2500 sport mode
Black and white, no flash, 1x optical zoom, ISO80, 1/800, f/3.2, 5mm (35mm equivalent: 27mm)   Sport, no flash, 2.8x optical zoom, ISO80, 1/400, f/5.9, 14mm (35mm equivalent: 77mm)

As well as a single shot the Coolpix S2500 has continuous, best shot selector and multi-shot 16 modes. In testing the camera took a picture every 1.1 seconds in continuous mode. Best shot selector takes up to ten pictures while the shutter release button is held down. Unfortunately this never gave me any improvement in the sharpness of my images. Multi-shot 16 takes 16 photos and displays them in a 4x4 grid on one image. This is useful for taking pictures of someone or something which is moving such as a golfclub swinging.

ISO and noise performance
Noise is handled well by the Coolpix S2500 at ISO80 and ISO100 and doesn't worsen much by ISO200. Detail is still good at ISO400 but at ISO800 there is a large increase in the amount of noise and this continues to be more noticeable at ISO1600 and then ISO3200. Images taken using ISO1600 and ISO3200 are best suited to use on the web rather than large prints.

Nikon Coolpix S2500 Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Nikon Coolpix S2500 Test chart ISO80
Nikon Coolpix S2500 Test chart ISO80 Nikon Coolpix S2500 Test chart ISO100 Nikon Coolpix S2500 Test chart ISO200 Nikon Coolpix S2500 Test chart ISO400
ISO80, no flash, 3.2x optical zoom, 1/2, f/5.4, 16mm (35mm equivalent: 86mm) ISO100, no flash, 3.2x optical zoom, 1/3, f/5.4, 16mm (35mm equivalent: 86mm) ISO200, no flash, 3.2x optical zoom, 1/6, f/5.4, 16mm (35mm equivalent: 86mm) ISO400, no flash, 3.2x optical zoom, 1/13, f/5.4, 16mm (35mm equivalent: 86mm)
Nikon Coolpix S2500 Test chart ISO800 Nikon Coolpix S2500 Test chart ISO1600 Nikon Coolpix S2500 Test chart ISO3200  
ISO800, no flash, 3.2x optical zoom, 1/25, f/5.4, 16mm (35mm equivalent: 86mm) ISO1600, no flash, 3.2x optical zoom, 1/50, f/5.4, 16mm (35mm equivalent: 86mm) ISO3200, no flash, 3.2x optical zoom, 1/100, f/5.4, 16mm (35mm equivalent: 86mm)  

Auto white-balance works well in all light conditions, excelling under the fluorescent lights in our studio where the fluorescent preset gives a slight magenta cast. Under the incandescent lighting, the incandescent preset gave the better results but auto white-balance is still acceptable.

Nikon Coolpix S2500 White-balance test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Nikon Coolpix S2500 Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting   Nikon Coolpix S2500 Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting, no flash, 1.6x optical zoom, ISO100, 1/8, f/4.3, 8mm (35mm equivalent: 43mm)   Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting, no flash, 1.6x optical zoom, ISO100, 1/8, f/4.3, 8mm (35mm equivalent: 43mm)
Nikon Coolpix S2500 Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting   Nikon Coolpix S2500 Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting
Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting, no flash, 1.6x optical zoom, ISO100, 1/2, f/4.3, 8mm (35mm equivalent: 43mm)   Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting, no flash, 1.6x optical zoom, ISO100, 1/2, f/4.3, 8mm (35mm equivalent: 43mm)

Video mode
The video mode shoots  VGA (640 x 480) and QVGA (320 x 240) videos, at 30fps, but doesn't allow the use of the optical zoom during recording. The maximum length of a video is 29 minutes.

Nikon Coolpix S2500: Verdict
At just £89.99, the Coolpix S2500 represents good value for money although for just £111 you can get the Coolpix S3100 which has more megapixels, longer optical zoom and HD movies. The Coolpix S2500 is very similar in design and performance to the Coolpix S3100 so it is really a matter of how much you are willing to spend.

Nikon Coolpix S2500: Pros
Nikon Coolpix S2500 Smart portrait
Nikon Coolpix S2500 Small and stylish
Nikon Coolpix S2500 Scene modes

Nikon Coolpix S2500: Cons
Nikon Coolpix S2500 Macro mode
Nikon Coolpix S2500 No HD video

FEATURES Nikon Coolpix S2500
HANDLING Nikon Coolpix S2500
PERFORMANCE Nikon Coolpix S2500
VALUE FOR MONEY Nikon Coolpix S2500
OVERALL Nikon Coolpix S2500

Nikon Coolpix S2500: Specification

Price £89
Box contents Camera Strap AN-CP19 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 Charging AC Adapter EH-69P USB Cable UC-E6 Audio Video Cable EG-CP14 ViewNX 2 CD-ROM
Lens 4x optical zoom, 4.9-19.6mm (35mm equivalent: 27-108mm), f/3.2-5.9
Resolution 12Mp
Sensor size 1/2.3in
Sensor type CCD
Max. Image size 4000 x 3000
Monitor 2.7in TFT LCD monitor, 230000 pixels
Shutter speed 1/2000 - 1sec (4sec in fireworks show scene mode)
Focusing system Contrast-detect AF
Focusing modes Face priority, auto, manual, centre and subject tracking
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO80 - 3200
Metering system Programmed auto exposure
Metering modes Centre weighted, spot
Exposure compensation -2.0 to +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV
Continuous shooting 0.9 frames per second
Image stabilisation Electronic vibration reduction
Movie mode VGA: 640 x 480
Media type SD/SDHC/SDXC
Interface USB/PictBridge
Power Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19
Size 93.1 x 57.1 x 20.0mm
Weight 117g (including battery and memory card)

The Nikon Coolpix S2500 costs £89 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Nikon Coolpix S2500

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Photographs taken using the Nikon Nikon Coolpix S2500

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