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Nikon Coolpix S3000 Digital Camera Review

A slim, metal-bodied compact digital camera sporting a 4x wide angle lens and a 12 megapixel sensor available in a variety of colours.

|  Nikon Coolpix S3000 in Compact Cameras
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ePHOTOzine verdict and ratings

Nikon Coolpix S3000: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Nikon Coolpix S3000

Priced at under £100, Nikon's S3000 is aimed at the mass market and those on a budget, offering easy to use features such as automatic scene detection, face detection, blink detection and  a variety of anti shake features. All this plus a wide angle 4x zoom lens is housed in slim metal body that is small enough to fit in your pocket. Here Gary Wolstenhlome takes a look at how it performs.

Nikon Coolpix S3000: Features
A 4x zoom lens with a useful zoom range equivalent to 27-108mm is housed in a slim metal body that is only 17.5mm thick, which is ideal for slipping in your pocket or handbag while out and about.

Other features include four different anti-shake measures, including electronic VR, high ISO settings, motion detection and finally the old faithful Best Shot Selector function, which has featured on Nikon digital cameras ever since their first swivel designed compacts before the turn of the century. This should mean snapshooters should be able to get an image suitable for small prints and for sharing on the web.

A variety of different detection modes are also included to aid the taking of perfect portraits. Amongst these are Face detection, which will ensure faces are correctly focused and exposed, smile detection should prevent photos where people look like they are gurning and blink detection should help to prevent the obligatory photo of a relative with their eyes shut at a family wedding.

Nikon Coolpix S3000 Key features: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Nikon Coolpix S3000 Wide Angle Lens Detail
A 4x wide angle zoom lens covers a range equivalent to 27-108mm.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
The metal body is slim and compact.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Power is provided by a rechargeable Li-Ion battery.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
The camera is very compact and would easily slip into a jacket pocket.

Images are recorded by a 12Mp sensor and processed by Nikon Expeed processing engine, which promises to provide good battery life, responsiveness and low noise images. Images are displayed on the 2.7in screen which takes up much of the rear of the camera.

Nikon Coolpix S3000: Handling
For a camera as slim and light as this, weighing only 116g, the controls are particularly well-laid out and don't feel fiddly to operate at all. A small ridge is provided on the back to help get a good purchase on the camera body also. It would have been nice if there was something similar on the front of the camera's slippy metal body to gain a more secure hold, but I suppose that may spoil the sleek profile of the camera.

The zoom is operated by a rotating bezel around the shutter release, which is easy to operate and falls directly under my index finger. I found that the menu system is as simple and straightforward as it can be, with all major functions being labelled incredibly clearly. This will definitely suit those who are scared of reading manuals well.

The compact dimensions means the camera easily slips into a pocket, and the light weight allows you to forget you are even carrying a camera at all.

Nikon Coolpix S3000: Performance
The S3000 is a reasonably responsive camera which focuses quickly, especially when the face detection system is active. In low light conditions the orange AF assist light does a sterling job of helping the AF system to lock on as quickly as it can.

The exposure system seems to cope pretty well with a wide variety of scenes, including ones of high contrast, although occasionally detail will be lost quite easily in the highlights. When the face detection kicks in, portrait shots are very well exposed, even in tricky conditions.

This camera is capable of recording a fair amount of detail. Images appear sharp from edge to edge, although I did find that the landscape mode tends to oversaturate images, leading to a loss of detail in bright primary and secondary colours, especially greens and reds. In all other exposure modes images have just enough contrast to have a nice punchy look to them.

Nikon Coolpix S3000 Performance: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
The portrait mode gives good exposures and the face detection works well.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
The camera has coped quite well with this high contrast scene.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
The automatic scene selection mode correctly chose the landscape mode for this scene.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Colours are vivid without being over saturated.

ISO and noise performance

At sensitivities up to ISO200, noise doesn't really figure much in images at all, but above this it begins to become more apparent. At ISO400 noise in the shadows starts to degrade image quality a little, although images at this setting are still more than acceptable.

By ISO800 luminance noise in the shadows is much more apparent and aggressive colour noise reduction can be seen to be reducing sharpness around high contrast edges. Noise levels at ISO1600 and ISO3200 are much more visible across all of the image, although levels of colour noise are kept in check by quite aggressive colour noise reduction. Overall the performance is fairly typical for this level of camera in this price range.

Nikon Coolpix S3000
Outdoor ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Nikon Coolpix S3000

Nikon Coolpix S3000
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Nikon Coolpix S3000


Nikon Coolpix S3000
Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Nikon Coolpix S3000

The Coolpix S3000's Auto White Balance does a reasonable job of correcting colour casts under incandescent and fluorescent lighting conditions, leaving a slight cast. The presets for incandescent and fluorescent lighting also leave a slight cast, erring on the cool side.

Nikon Coolpix S3000 White-balance test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Incandescent white-balance in incandecent lighting.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Auto white-balance in fluorecent lighting.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting.

Buffer read/write times
In terms of the time taken from shot to shot in single shot mode, the Coolpix S3000 does take a while to think between images. I found that it took 2.7 seconds from taking a shot until the camera would allow another to be taken. This was with using a class 6 card as well, so I'd imagine it would take even longer if using slower specified memory.

Lens performance
Apart from having a very useful zoom range, the 27-108mm equivalent 4x zoom lens is capable of producing very sharp results in good conditions. I did notice a little barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom, but not so drastic that it will be a cause of major grief.

Chromatic Aberrations seem to be well controlled also as I didn't notice their presence in any of the images I took, even in quite high contrast scenes.

A macro mode is provided for close focusing, but unlike other Nikon Coolpix cameras I have used, the macro mode is a little disappointing, only allowing you to get within 8cm of your subject. This long working distance, coupled with the 27mm equivalent wide angle means that the maximum magnification achievable is somewhat lacking.

 Lens quality: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
The 27mm equivalent wide angle allows a wide scene to be captured.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
This image shows that excellent detail can be captured in good conditions.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
The 108mm telephoto allows subjects to be isolated.
Nikon Coolpix S3000
The macro mode doesn't focus all that close.

Nikon Coolpix S3000: Verdict
For under £100 Nikon have made a slimline compact camera that is more than capable of producing great quality images. The 4x zoom and easy to use features will surely win many fans amongst those looking for a simple, easy to use compact for straightforward pointing and shooting.

Overall and for the price I feel the camera represents good value for money, producing images that will please all but the most discerning photographers.

Nikon Coolpix S3000: Pros
27mm equivalent wide angle
Slim design
Light weight
Easy to use
Detection modes


Nikon Coolpix S3000: Cons
8cm macro distance
Time taken between shots



Nikon Coolpix S3000: Specification

Price £95
What comes in the box Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL10, Charging AC Adapter EH-68P/EH-68P (AR), USB Cable UC-E6, Audio Video Cable EG-CP14, Strap AN-CP19, Software Suite CD-ROM
LENS DETAILS??? 4x zoom NIKKOR; 4.9-19.6mm (35mm [135] format picture angle: 27-108mm); f/3.2-5.9
Resolution 12Mp
Sensor size 1/2.3 type
Sensor type CCD
Max. Image size 4000x3000
Aspect ratio 4:3
LCD monitor size 2.7inch
Optical viewfinder N/A
Focusing system Contrast Detection
Focusing modes Multi-point, Face Detection
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO80-3200
Metering modes Scene Auto Selector, 16 individual scene programs
White-balance AWB, Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Flash and Manual Preset
Exposure compensation +/- 2EV
Anti-shake mode Electronic VR, High ISO, Best Shot Selector, Motion Detection
Movie mode VGA 30fps
Monitor approx. 230k-dot, TFT LCD with anti-reflection coating
Media type SD, SDHC
Interface Hi-Speed USB
Power Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL10
Size (wxdxl) 94.3 x 55.9 x 19.0 mm
Weight (with battery) 116g

The Nikon Coolpix S3000 costs £95 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Nikon Coolpix S3000 at Warehouse Express

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Photographs taken using the Nikon Nikon Coolpix S3000

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