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Nikon Coolpix S31 Waterproof Camera Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Nikon Coolpix S31, a waterproof camera designed for the whole family to use.

|  Nikon Coolpix S31 in Compact Cameras
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The Nikon Coolpix S31 is a family friendly waterproof camera, an update of the S30. This new model is even more shockproof and uses a rechargeable Li-Ion battery instead of AA batteries. The S31 is available in blue, pink, white and yellow for £84.99.

Nikon Coolpix S31 White (3)

Nikon Coolpix S31 Features

The Nikon Coolpix S31 has a 10 megapixel CCD sensor and 3x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 29-87mm, with motion blur reduction to help take sharp shots. It is waterproof to 5m, shockproof to 1.2m and dustproof. There are also fun filters, including fisheye and selective colour.

Videos are recorded in 720p HD.

Nikon Coolpix S31 White (4)

Key Features

  • 10 megapixel CCD sensor
  • 3x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 29 - 87mm)
  • Motion Blur Reduction
  • 2.7 inch 230k dot LCD screen
  • Waterproof to 5m, shockproof 1.2m and dustproof
  • 720p HD video recording
  • ISO 80 - 1600
  • 5cm minimum focusing distance
  • Fun filters
  • 1.5 fps continuous shooting
  • Available in blue, pink, white and yellow
Nikon Coolpix S31 White (1)

Nikon Coolpix S31 Handling

The Nikon Coolpix S31 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 an on/off button on the top and simple to use shutter release and video start buttons on either side. The menus are made up of large text and bold, colourful icons, with options selected using the four buttons on the left hand side of the camera.
The battery life is rated as 240 shots according to CIPA standards, this is quite good and should mean that you can go a long way without running out of power. The screen has a fairly low resolution at 230k dots, but is easy enough to view in varying lighting conditions.

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   0.1 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.8 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   1.15 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   1.9 secs
Shot to Shot without Flash   2.0 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   3.3 secs
Continuous Shooting   1.6 fps

Continuous shooting records in full 10 megapixel resolution, but slows after 6 shots.

Nikon Coolpix S31 White (5)

Nikon Coolpix S31 Performance

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 S31 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Images are generally well exposed with good colour reproduction, underwater performance is also good. Skin tones are OK when shooting portraits, but there is red-eye evident when using the flash.

Nikon Coolpix S31 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Images have a decent amount of detail at both ends of the lens for a budget camera, with a good control over purple fringing as well. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 5cm, which does allow you to get close enough for decent macro shots.

Nikon Coolpix S31 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. Noise is low at ISO 80 and 125, with images remaining fairly sharp at ISO 250. In our test shots, you can see that noise has caused the images to become soft, with some detail lost.

Nikon Coolpix S31 White-balance test images

White Balance PerformanceSimilarly 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 both the tungsten and incandescent lighting.

Nikon Coolpix S31 Digital filters

Digital Filters - There aren't a huge number of effects available when shooting, however there are a number of frames available, as well as further playback editing filters as shown above.

Video - Below is a video recorded in 720p HD. Optical zoom is not available while recording, and instead we've used digital zoom in the video below.

Value For Money

The Nikon Coolpix S31 at £84.99 is the cheapest waterproof camera available with optical zoom. The Kodak EasyShare Sport C123 has a fixed focal length and costs £68.99. Other waterproof cameras with optical zoom include the Sony Cybershot DSC-TF1 at £135.32, Olympus Tough TG-630 at £142.67, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT25 at £134.99, Pentax WG-10 at £137.00 and Fujifilm FinePix XP60 at £129.99For more waterproof cameras, have a look at the Top 10 Best Waterproof Cameras.

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 S31 Verdict

The Nikon Coolpix S31 is subtle improvement on the S30 and is one of the cheapest waterproof cameras on the market, so it's ideal for the kids. It's easy to use and image quality is fairly decent, with good colour reproduction meaning they'll look great when shared on Facebook.


Nikon Coolpix S31 Pros

Waterproof, shockproof, family friendly
Good value for money
Good macro performance
Good colour
Easy to use

Nikon Coolpix S31 Cons

Lacks ISO / WB Control
Lacks panoramic mode
Noisy images over ISO 250


Nikon Coolpix S31 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
  • 4:3
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
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity80 - 1600
White balance
  • Auto
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting1.5fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoNo
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium Ion
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

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