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Nikon Coolpix S2900 Review

Ben Andrews reviews the compact Nikon Coolpix S2900 - available in a number of colours and ultra compact - but how does it perform?

| Nikon Coolpix S2900 in Compact Cameras
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Nikon Coolpix S2900 Review: Nikon Coolpix S2900 Silver (4)

The S2900 is Nikon’s entry-level model in its Coolpix Style range of slim and stylish compact cameras and will set you back around £80. It replaces last year’s S2800, although the two cameras share identical specifications. This means you get a 20.1-megapixel CCD sensor and 5x optical zoom, wrapped up in a super-slim case that’s available in five colour options.

Nikon Coolpix S2900 Features

Nikon Coolpix S2900 Review: Nikon Coolpix S2900 Silver (2)

Under the S2900’s svelte skin is a 20.1MP CCD sensor capable of a maximum sensitivity of ISO3200. It’s partnered with a 5x optical zoom lens with a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 26-130mm.

The S2900 is designed to be effortlessly easy to use, with Nikon’s Scene Auto Selector mode automatically adjusting shooting settings based on your subject. Eight special effect filters are available when you want to add some creativity to your shots.

Photos of friends and family can benefit from the S2900’s Smart Portrait system, which includes features to snap a shot only when your subject smiles, as well as alerting you if someone blinks. Any imperfections can also be touched up in-camera using skin softening and digital makeup courtesy of the camera’s Glamour Retouch options.

Nikon Coolpix S2900 Review: Nikon Coolpix S2900 Silver (3)

Key Features

  • 20.1 megapixel CCD sensor
  • 5x optical zoom lens, 26-130mm equivalent, f/3.2-6.5
  • 2.7-inch touch-screen, 230k-dot
  • 720p HD video
  • ISO100 to ISO1600 (ISO3200 selectable in Auto mode)
  • Self Portrait system
  • Five body colour options

Nikon Coolpix S2900 Handling

Nikon Coolpix S2900 Review: Nikon Coolpix S2900 Silver (5)

At just shy of 20mm thick, the S2900 is a very slim camera indeed. Its 119g ready-to-shoot weight is also impressively light and the camera is therefore, able to slide into a jeans pocket alongside a slim smartphone.

The downside of such sleekness is there’s precious little to grip on to, with the silky matt paint finish being extremely slippery. You do however, get a textured rear thumb grip, which is more than the equivalent Canon IXUS 155 offers.

Buttons on the S2900 are all of a good size and can be pressed without resorting to using a thumbnail. Build quality is also a match for the competition, with no obvious flex or weaknesses in the plastic casing.

The only obvious external issue is the 2.7”, 230k-dot LCD screen. This is typical of current sub-£100 cameras and offers a slightly pixelated viewing experience due to the low screen resolution, as well as very restricted viewing angles that make it tricky to accurately assess brightness and contrast.

Nikon Coolpix S2900 Review: Nikon Coolpix S2900 Silver (6)

The S2900 uses Nikon’s tried and tested menu layout. It’s a simple system that’s easy to learn, especially as the camera’s relatively meagre spec limits the available menu options. Unfortunately, the camera’s EXPEED C2 processor can be frustratingly slow, making some controls sluggish to take effect and preventing any zoom adjustments until the previous image has been fully recorded.

Nikon Coolpix S2900 Review: Nikon Coolpix S2900 Silver (1)

Battery life - The S2900 comes with a proper rechargeable Li-ion power pack and doesn’t cut costs by resorting to AA batteries. The rated capacity is a respectable 250 shots per charge, though we actually managed to capture 266 photos during our testing thanks to minimal flash usage.

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 0.2secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 1.1secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 1.3secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.8secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 6.0secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 10.0secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
1.1fps (5 shots), 0.3fps thereafter


Nikon Coolpix S2900 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 Coolpix S2900 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - 20.1 megapixels sounds impressive, but thanks to grain noise that’s visible even at low sensor sensitivities, images aren’t quite as detailed as you might expect from such a high pixel count. Colour reproduction is reasonable though, being both accurate and vibrant. Dynamic range is also fairly good and the camera manages to produce reliably balanced exposures without much blown highlight detail.

Nikon Coolpix S2900 Lens test images

Lens Performance - The S2900’s 5x optical zoom lens generates no noticeable distortion at either end of the zoom range. Sharpness is consistent across the frame, with only minor softening in the corners. Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is a problem though and is clearly visible on high-contrast boundaries.

Autofocusing speed is nothing special, but it’s quick enough in good light. However, expect the camera to slow considerably in dimmer conditions, sometimes requiring more than two seconds to focus. The lens will focus down to 5cm from your subject for macro shots, but only when set to maximum wide angle.

Nikon Coolpix S2900 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - At ISO80-200 the S2900 performs fairly well. There’s some visible grain, but that’s typical for this type of camera. However, at ISO400 image quality noticeably deteriorates and colour blotches are visible in areas of neutral tones. This noise is more severe at ISO800 and the entire image takes on a slightly green hue as a result, although grain noise is quite well controlled. By ISO1600 both grain and colour blotches have increased significantly, and although the ISO3200 performance appears similar, images at this sensitivity are only recorded at 4MP.

Nikon Coolpix S2900 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto white balance performs well under both tungsten and fluorescent lighting and the camera consistently produces a neutral colour balance. The same can’t be said for the fluorescent preset which leaves an obvious colour cast, though the tungsten preset is much better.

Nikon Coolpix S2900 Digital filters

Digital Filters - The S2900 has eight filter effects which preview live and are recorded at full resolution. They are: Soft, Nostalgic sepia, High-contrast monochrome, Selective color (choose from 12 colour options), Pop, Toy camera effect 1, Toy camera effect 2 and Cross process.

Video - Videos are captured at a HD 1280x720 resolution. Optical zoom isn’t available during recording but you can use digital zoom, however this will reduce sharpness.

Value For Money

The Nikon Coolpix S2900 has a retail price of around £80. For the same sort of money you should also consider the much more generously specified Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8, and also the Canon IXUS 155 or Sony Cyber-shot W830.

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 Coolpix S2900 Verdict

The Coolpix S2900 is a slim, easy to use camera that produces vibrant, well exposed images. Battery life is also good, and you get some clever portrait-orientated features and processing tools.

However, the camera’s lack of optical image stabilisation means camera shake plagues indoor and low light shots. Other annoyances include the slippery case design, low resolution screen with its poor viewing angles, and also the frustrating sluggishness of the camera to save images and respond to your inputs.

You might think such compromises are to be expected from a sub-£100 camera, but don’t. Both the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 and Sony Cyber-shot W830 can be had for similar money, yet both offer more zoom range and optical image stabilisation in packages that are just as svelte as the S2900. Against this kind of competition, there’s little reason to recommend the Coolpix S2900.

Nikon Coolpix S2900 Pros

Slim & light
Easy to use
Smart Portrait and Glamour Retouch options
Available in a number of colours

Nikon Coolpix S2900 Cons

No image stabilisation
Very slow
Average image quality
Poor LCD screen
Slippery to hold



Nikon Coolpix S2900 Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.2 - f/6.5
35mm equivalent26mm - 130mm
Optical Zoom5x
Image Sensor
Pixels20Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4320
Pixels (H)3240
Sensor TypeCCD
Sensor Size1/2.3
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor2.7in
Screen resolution230,000
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus10cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Centre
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity80 - 3200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting0.9fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 320x240 QVGA
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoNo
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeEN-EL19
Battery Life (CIPA rating)220shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsCamera Strap, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 (with battery case), Charging AC Adapter EH-69P, USB Cable UC-E6, Audio Video Cable EG-CP14, ViewNX 2 Installer CD, Reference Manual CD

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Photographs taken using the Nikon Coolpix S2900

garden squirrelMatlock Bath Derbys Illuminated boatsIlluminated boat "Steamboat Willie" on the river tonight at Matlock Illuminations, DerbysBees at workBakewell Mallard DuckGoose in Bakewell DerbysReflectionsFor Recyclingwell known car park in Sheffield

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