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Nikon Coolpix S30 Waterproof Camera Review

We review the latest waterproof from Nikon, the Coolpix S30, designed to be easy to use and available for ÔŅĹ99 Nikon say it's the ideal family camera.

| Nikon Coolpix S30 in Compact Cameras

Nikon Coolpix S30 Waterproof Camera Review: Nikon Coolpix S30 Wet
Nikon Coolpix S30 Wet

The Nikon Coolpix S30 is designed as the ideal family camera that anyone in the family can use, from kids to adults, with a large screen, large buttons and waterproof and shock proof body it should survive a little rough treatment, as well as survive trips to the beach or swimming pool.

Nikon Coolpix S30 Features

Nikon Coolpix S30 Waterproof Camera Review: S30 Front Off
S30 Front Off

Key Features

  • 10 megapixel sensor
  • 3x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 29-87mm
  • 3m Waterproof
  • Shockproof to 0.8m
  • 2.7inch screen
  • 720p video
  • ISO80 to ISO1600
  • 5cm Macro
  • Takes 2x AA batteries
  • Available in pink, black, blue and white.
Nikon Coolpix S30 Waterproof Camera Review: Nikon Coolpix S30 Top White
Nikon Coolpix S30 Top White

Nikon Coolpix S30 Handling

Nikon Coolpix S30 Waterproof Camera Review: Nikon Coolpix S30 Rear
Nikon Coolpix S30 Rear

- The Nikon Coolpix S30 differs from most other compact cameras, in that it has four buttons on the left of the screen - these are used to control most options. The zoom control is on the right, with a middle on/off button on the top and simple to use shutter release and video start buttons either side. The camera is not only shockproof and waterproof, it has some clever design touches such as tiny feet on the screen corners so that if the camera is placed on it's back, the screen should avoid scratches.

Two year old and a five year old children were given the camera and were able to take photos, with the older child being able to easily understand the three top buttons. They were able to take photos, as well as record videos using the camera.

Nikon Coolpix S30 Waterproof Camera Review: Nikon Coolpix S30 Photo Mode Nikon Coolpix S30 Waterproof Camera Review: Nikon Coolpix S30 Menu
Nikon Coolpix S30 Photo Mode Nikon Coolpix S30 Menu

Menus -  The menus are made up of large text, with options selected using the four buttons on the left hand side of the camera. Each button corresponds to a coloured option on the screen, starting with the first option: Change colours, (red), Decorate (yellow), Scene (green), Sounds (blue), scrolling down, the second screens options are: Flash mode, self-timer, image size, movie AF, then the final screen is Setup. Colours lets you change exposure compensation, saturation and hue. Decorate lets you apply 1 of 5 borders. Scene lets you choose from 1 of 10 scene modes. Flash mode (auto or off). Self-timer options are 10s, or smile timer. Size lets you choose: 10m, 4m or 2m. Movies 720p or VGA. Movie AF: Single or Full Time AF. Setup options include electronic VR, date stamp, as well as battery type.

Nikon Coolpix S30 Waterproof Camera Review: Nikon Coolpix S30 Open
Nikon Coolpix S30 Open

Battery Life - The battery life is rated as 240 shots according to CIPA standards, and using 2 alkaline AA batteries we were able to take over 225 shots before the battery went flat. This is quite good and should mean that you can go a long way without running out of power, with the potential for better battery life with Ni-Mh rechargeable batteries or lithium batteries. Another benefit of AA batteries is that they are readily available worldwide.

Nikon Coolpix S30 Waterproof Camera Review: Coolpix S30 Battery Compartment
Coolpix S30 Battery Compartment

Speed - We tested each camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.

  Nikon Coolpix S30 Canon IXUS 125 HS
Shutter Response 0.05 0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.4 0.3
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.6 - 1.2 0.35
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.7 2.0
Shot to Shot (without flash) 1.5 2.0
Shot to Shot with Flash 7.0 3.3
Continuous Shooting (JPEG) 0.6s (4 shots before slowdown) 0.6
Continuous 4 megapixels . 5fps (~ shots)
Continuous Shooting (with Flash) N/A 1.3s

Start up screen was switched off. Focus at the wide-angle end was reasonable at around 0.4 seconds amd shutter response when focused was very quick. Focus at the telephoto end was quite slow with the camera hunting for focus. Shot-to-shot time was reasonable as long as you aren't using flash.

Nikon Coolpix S30 Performance

Here are a number of sample photos taken in our studio as well as a variety of other situations. Click "Hi-Res" to view the full size original images. Additional sample photos and product shots can be found in our Equipment Database, where you can also add your own reviews and ratings.

Nikon Coolpix S30 Sample Photos

Sample photos - The is very little red-eye in the portrait flash photo, and reasonable noise performance for a compact camera, although detail could be better. The macro performance of the camera was better than expected, with the camera offering a Close-up / Macro scene mode.

Nikon Coolpix S30 Lens test images

Lens test images - The images show good colour with reasonable detail at both the wide and telephoto ends of the lens, although the wide-angle shot shows quite soft corners and purple fringing in areas of high contrast. Digital zoom is best avoided and as this camera is designed for use under water it's important to make sure the front of the lens is always clean, as there is no lens protection.

Nikon Coolpix S30 ISO test images

ISO noise performance - It was more difficult than normal trying to test the camera's noise performance, as the camera does not let you select the ISO setting. This meant we had to alter the lighting in the room to force the camera to alter it's ISO setting. The results aren't especially good, with the ISO200 and ISO400 shots showing lots of noise. However, the shots taken outside in good light (at ISO80) showed fairly low levels of noise apart from in dark blues and in some areas of the sky.

Nikon Coolpix S30 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Similarly the camera lacks any white balance settings, so instead we simply changed the light source and left the camera on it's automatic settings. The camera performed quite well under tungsten lighting, and better under fluorescent lighting.

Nikon Coolpix S30 Digital filters

Digital filters - There aren't a huge number of effects available when shooting (highlight colours, soft pictures and diorama), however there are a number of frames available, as well as further playback editing options as shown above. A panoramic mode is not included.

Video - 720p, options single AF, or full time AF. Recording video appears to drain the alkaline batteries quite quickly, with the camera reporting empty batteries if video recording is attempted with low battery life. Optical zoom isn't available while recording, but can be set before recording.

Value For Money

The Nikon Coolpix S30 is the cheapest waterproof camera available with optical zoom, with the closest competitor being the Olympus Tough TG-320, available for around £20 more. 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.

Camera Waterproof Shockproof Freezeproof Price
Kodak Easyshare Sport C123 3m - - £50.00
Nikon Coolpix S30 3m 0.8m - £95.00
Olympus Tough TG-320 3m 1.5m -10°C £119.00
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT10 3m 1.5m -10°C £144.00
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT20 5m 1.5m -10°C £169.00
Fujifilm FinePix XP50 5m 1.5m -10°C £189.00
Pentax Optio WG-1 / (GPS) 10m 1.5m -10°C £204.00 / (219.00)
Olympus Tough TG-620 5m 1.5m -10°C £214.00
Canon PowerShot D10 10m 1.2m -10°C £214.99
Fujifilm FinePix XP150 GPS 10m 2m -10°C £219.00
Olympus Tough TG-820 10m 2m -10°C £252.00
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 12m 2m -10°C £259.00
Sony Cyber-shot TX10 5m 1.5m -10°C £269.00
Nikon Coolpix AW100 10m 1.5m -10°C £294.95
Pentax Optio WG-2 / (GPS) 12m 1.5m -10°C £299.00 / (£339.00)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 12m 2m -10°C £329.00
Canon PowerShot D20 10m 1.5m -10°C £349.00
Ricoh G700 5m 2m -10°C £449.00

Nikon Coolpix S30 Verdict

The Nikon Coolpix S30 is a waterproof camera that is easy to use and designed to survive being dropped and generally treated in a less than ideal way. This makes it ideal for families or those with small children, especially as it's design makes it very easy to use. The camera is good value for money and while it does not feature many controls, it should keep the point and shoot user happy with bright colourful photos that will be good for web use or prints up to A4. Flash performance is good and the camera has a very good macro mode making it worth looking at, particularly if you want to be able to lend your camera to your kids without having to worry about it.

Nikon Coolpix S30 Pros

Waterproof, Shockproof, Family Friendly
Good value for money
Good macro performance
Good colour
Easy to use

Nikon Coolpix S30 Cons

Lacks ISO / WB Control
Lacks panoramic mode
High noise above ISO100


Nikon Coolpix S30 Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.3 - f/5.9
35mm equivalent29mm - 87mm
Optical Zoom3x
Image Sensor
Pixels10.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)3648
Pixels (H)2736
Sensor TypeCCD
Sensor Size1/3
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
    LCD Monitor
    LCD Monitor2.7in
    Screen resolution230,000
    Touch ScreenNo
    Min Focus5cm
    Focusing modes
    • Autofocus
    • Face Detection
    Exposure Control
    Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
    Shutter speeds longest4sec
    Bulb modeNo
    Exp modes
    • Program
    • Centre-weighted - Average
    • Multi Pattern
    • Spot
    ISO sensitivity80 - 1600
    White balance
      Exposure Comp+/-2
      Shooting Options
      Continuous shootingNo Data
      Movie modeYes
      Video Resolution
      • 1280x720 HD 720p
      • 640x480 VGA
      Video FPS30
      Stereo SoundNo Data
      Optical Zoom with VideoNo Data
      Other Features
      Image StabilisationYes
      HDMINo Data
      USBUSB 2
      Wi-FiNo Data
      Card Type
      • SD
      • SDHC
      • SDXC
      File Type
      • JPG
      Power Source
      Battery Type2x AA
      Battery Life (CIPA rating)240shots
      Box Contents
      Box ContentsCamera Strap, LR6/L40 (AA-size) alkaline batteries (x2), USB Cable UC-E16, Brush, ViewNX 2 Installer CD, Reference Manual CD

      View Full Product Details

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      KarlC Avatar
      KarlC 17 17 United Kingdom
      26 Dec 2012 12:41PM
      Anyone found the perfect camera case for this camera yet? Daughter (6yrs) has a pink one and would like a case to carry it in together with the special dust brush. Nikon's own official case is a small back pack (Nikon CS-L06) - anyone used one?

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