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
S30 Front Off
10 megapixel sensor
3x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 29-87mm
Shockproof to 0.8m
ISO80 to ISO1600
Takes 2x AA batteries
Available in pink, black, blue and white.
Nikon Coolpix S30 Top White
Nikon Coolpix S30 Handling
Nikon Coolpix S30 Rear
Handling - 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 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 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.
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
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
0.6 - 1.2
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot (without flash)
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous Shooting (JPEG)
0.6s (4 shots before slowdown)
Continuous 4 megapixels
5fps (~ shots)
Continuous Shooting (with Flash)
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.
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
Easy to use
Nikon Coolpix S30 Cons
Lacks ISO / WB Control
Lacks panoramic mode
High noise above ISO100