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Nikon Coolpix S32 Waterproof Camera Review

Geoff Harris reviews the updated version of this popular waterproof camera that the whole family can enjoy.

|  Nikon Coolpix S32 in Compact Cameras
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Nikon Coolpix S32 White (2)

The Nikon Coolpix S32 is an easy to use waterproof camera, and an update of the S31. This new model now has a 13 megapixel sensor, is waterproof to 10m, and is shockproof to 1.5m, compared to 5m / 1.3m on its predecessor, the S31.

Nikon Coolpix S32 Features

Nikon Coolpix S32 White (3)

The Nikon Coolpix S32 has a 13 megapixel CMOS sensor and 3x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 30-90mm, with motion-blur reduction to help take sharp shots. It is waterproof to 10m (33 ft), shockproof to 1.5m (5 ft) and dustproof. There are also fun filters, including Mirror, Bubble Effect and Neon.

Videos can now be recorded in 1080p HD, with stereo sound.

Nikon Coolpix S32 White (4)

Key Features

  • 13 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • 3x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 30 - 90mm)
  • Motion Blur Reduction
  • 2.7 inch 230k dot LCD screen
  • Waterproof to 10m, shockproof 1.5m and dustproof
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • ISO 125 - 1600
  • 5cm minimum focusing distance
  • Fun filters
  • 4.7fps continuous shooting
  • Available in blue, pink, white and yellow

Nikon Coolpix S32 Handling

Nikon Coolpix S32 White (5)

This camera is designed for kids as well as adults to use, so buttons and dials are kept to the minimum. As with its predecessor, there are four buttons on the left of the screen, which are used to control most options. The zoom is controlled by a four-way button on the right, with an on/off button on the top and big and obvious 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.

Nikon Coolpix S32 White (6)

The battery life is rated as approx. 220 shots when using the EN-EL19 battery (according to CIPA standards). An effective power management system soon shuts the camera down when not in use. The screen is not particularly high resolution at 230k dots, but can be viewed easily in bright sunlight.

Nikon Coolpix S32 White (1)

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 <0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.4-0.8secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.8secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.5secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 1.1secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 2.5secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
5fps (12 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A

Shutter response is quick, but focus can be noticeably slow at times. Continuous shooting is quick at 5fps.

Nikon Coolpix S32 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 S32 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Underwater - As a take anywhere underwater camera the little Nikon is a very convincing performer. Details are sharp and colours are natural, so your family can have a lot of fun with this camera. Flash performance is reasonable, with the flash illuminating but not overpowering the subject, although red-eye was noticeable. Try to lock the autofocus over the eyes for the best results.

Nikon Coolpix S32 Lens test images

Lens Performance - The combination of a Nikon lens, motion blur reduction and effective optical zoom (rather than the inferior digital zoom) makes the Nikon a good choice for days out. For general close ups the lens performs very well, and the autofocus soon locks on, and the lens can focus the closest when at it's widest zoom position. You do have to watch out for underexposure indoors though, unless you use the flash.

Nikon Coolpix S32 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - 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 its ISO setting. Once you get to ISO400, noise becomes quite noticeable, but isn't too bad. 

Nikon Coolpix S32 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs fairly well under tungsten lighting with a warm result. AWB performs very well under fluorescent lights. There are no options for setting the white balance yourself, so you have to rely on the camera's auto white balance. 

Nikon Coolpix S32 Digital filters

Digital Filters - There are a number of scene modes, as well as effects available within the scene selection menu. There is no panoramic mode on the camera. Mirror filter - The mirror filter is fun to use, particularly with portraits, but the inability to adjust ISO is frustrating. Soft filter - Used carefully the soft filter can actually yield some very creative results, keeping a small central area of the shot sharp while nicely blurring the rest. Bubble filter - Your kids will love using the Bubble filter in a sweet or toy shop, as here – the focus on the sweet spot (pardon the pun) is sharp. Cartoon filter - The cartoon filter gets you nice effects on the street. There is a lag while the image is processed, but it's not too bad. There are a number of other effects, including "Neon", Soft and Miniature. There are also a number of frames available, however these are taken at a reduced resolution of 2 megapixels.

Video - Videos are recorded in full HD (1920x1080), at 30fps with stereo sound. Unfortunately optical zoom is not available while recording videos. 

Value For Money

Considering its generous 13 megapixel sensor and optical zoom, the Nikon Coolpix S32 is great value at £83.99. Other waterproof cameras with optical zoom include the Panasonic Lumix FT25 at £109.99, the Fujifilm FinePix XP70 for £139 and the Ricoh WG-20 for £139. For 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 S32 Verdict

The Nikon Coolpix S32 offers a higher resolution sensor and deeper waterproofing than the S31. It remains one of the cheapest waterproof cameras on the market with optical zoom, so it's ideal for family trips to the pool or holidays. It's easy to use and image quality is decent enough, with good colour reproduction. The expanded filters are fun to use too, so it's a good way for kids to get into photography. More ambitious photographers might find the lack of ISO and white balance control frustrating, however.

Nikon Coolpix S32 Pros

Even more waterproof
Shockproof and family friendly
Good value for money
Good macro performance
Good colour
Easy to use
Fun effects

Nikon Coolpix S32 Cons

Optical zoom could still be longer
Lacks ISO / WB Control
Lacks panoramic mode
Noisy images at ISO400
Optical zoom not available while recording videos



Nikon Coolpix S32 Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.3 - f/5.9
35mm equivalent30mm - 90mm
Optical Zoom3x
Image Sensor
Pixels13.2Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4160
Pixels (H)3120
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/3.1inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor2.7in
Screen resolution230k dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus5cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
ISO sensitivity125 - 1600
White balance
  • Auto
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting4.7fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
Video FPS30fps
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoNo
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium-Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)220shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsCamera Strap, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19, Charging AC Adapter EH-70P, USB Cable UC-E16, Brush

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