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Nikon Coolpix S33 Review

Ben Andrews reviews the Nikon Coolpix S33 - a budget waterproof camera that is easy to use.

| Nikon Coolpix S33 in Compact Cameras


Nikon Coolpix S33 Review: Nikon Coolpix S33 (9)

The Nikon Coolpix S33 replaces the S32 as Nikon’s entry-level, easy to use waterproof camera. It boasts very similar specs to its predecessor, with a 13.2MP sensor and 3x optical zoom lens. Toughness credentials also remain the same, as S33 is still waterproof to 10 metres (33ft) and shockproof to 1.5 metres (5ft).

Nikon Coolpix S33 Features

Nikon Coolpix S33 Review: Nikon Coolpix S33 (7)

The Nikon Coolpix S33 maintains the same 10-metre waterproofing and 1.5-metre shockproofing ruggedness as the Coolpix S32, as well as its 30-90mm-equivalent 3x optical zoom lens.

The camera’s 13.2-megapixel sensor only has a maximum sensitivity of ISO1600, but it will capture Full HD 1080p video and record a burst of 11 full resolution still images at 4.7fps.

The S33 also carries over the S32’s easy to use buttons and menu system, as well as its 2.7” 230k-dot LCD screen and its selection of creative filter effects.

Nikon Coolpix S33 Review: Nikon Coolpix S33 (8)

Key Features

  • 13.2-megapixel CMOS sensor
  • 3x optical zoom lens, 30-90mm-equivalent, f/3.3-5.9
  • 2.7-inch 230,000-dot LCD screen
  • Waterproof to 10m, shockproof to 1.5m, dustproof
  • Full HD 1080p video recording
  • ISO 125 to 1600
  • 5cm minimum focusing distance
  • Fun filter effects
  • 4.7fps continuous shooting
  • Available in blue, pink, white and yellow

Nikon Coolpix S33 Handling

Nikon Coolpix S33 Review: Nikon Coolpix S33 (10)

At 109.5 x 67 x 37.6mm (4.4 x 2.7 x 1.5in), the S33 is fairly bulky for a compact camera, but it’s a typical size for a toughened, waterproof model.

Well-spaced, oversized buttons are easy to use whilst underwater or when wearing gloves, with the four buttons alongside the screen directly controlling common menu options.

However, the 2.7” screen itself is less impressive. Its low 230k-dot resolution makes menus and images appear slightly pixelated, whilst limited viewing angles make it tricky to shoot high or low angle shots.

Whilst there is a grippy rear thumb rest to hang on to, the smooth, glossy front panel is very slippery. Consequently, the S33 doesn’t feel quite as secure in the hand as rivals like the Fujifilm FinePix XP70.

Nikon Coolpix S33 Review: Nikon Coolpix S33 (11)

The S33 departs from Nikon’s usual compact camera menu system and instead uses an even easier style. The four buttons to the left of the screen directly correspond to menu items alongside them, so there’s no need for a separate ‘OK’ or selection button. It can take a few moments to adapt to this simplified system, but it soon becomes second nature.

Nikon Coolpix S33 Review: Nikon Coolpix S33 (1)

Battery life - The S33 uses a rechargeable 700mAh Li-ion battery with a CIPA rating of 220 shots per charge. This is a close match for the Fujifilm FinePix XP70’s 210 shot lifespan, but Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-FT25 leads the way in this sector with its 250 shot performance.

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 0.1secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.4secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.5secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.5secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.8secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.3secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
4.9fps (11 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A

Nikon Coolpix S33 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 S33 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - The S33’s 13.2-megapixel sensor performs adequately in good light when shooting close-range subjects. Vibrant colour reproduction gives images instant appeal, but shots with distant detail such as landscapes can often look smudged and painterly when viewed more closely. Indoor or low light shots appear soft even on casual inspection due to considerable noise reduction processing and detail smoothing.

Nikon Coolpix S33 Lens test images

Lens Performance - With only a 30-90mm-equivalent 3x optical zoom range, lens distortion is minimal however, there is a noticeable reduction in sharpness towards the corners of frame. Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is visible on high-contrast boundaries, but it’s not a common or severe issue. More annoying is the relatively narrow 30mm-equivalent maximum wide angle focal length which gives a very restricted field of view.

The lens autofocusses quickly and reliably in well-lit environments, and though dimmer conditions sometimes result in leisurely 2-second focus times, the S33 rarely resorts to focus hunting. A 5cm macro focusing ability is typical for a camera at this price point, though the S33 doesn’t reliably focus at this distance.

Nikon Coolpix S33 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance -  The S33 has no manual ISO adjustment, so we had to force the camera to use different sensor sensitivities by altering our studio lighting. The S33 manages fair image quality at ISO400, though look closely at the full resolution image and it’s clear that noise reduction processing is hard at work to minimise grain. At ISO800 grain is still fairly well controlled, but images appear over-processed with unnatural sharpening applied to colour boundaries and there’s a loss of fine detail. The camera really struggles at the highest ISO1600 sensitivity, as images are plagued by grain noise, colour speckling and detail softening.

Nikon Coolpix S33 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Once again, the S33 lacks any control over white balance, which is a pity as its auto white balance isn’t entirely accurate. Under tungsten lighting, images exhibit a slightly warm tone, though auto white balance does perform better in fluorescent conditions.

Nikon Coolpix S33 Digital filters

Digital Filters - The S33 has six filter effects which preview live and are recorded at full resolution. They are: Mirror, Bubble, Neon, Cartoon, Soft, and Diorama. You also get several frame overlays to help decorate your shots however, these are only saved at 2MP resolution.

Video - Videos are captured at Full HD 1920x1080 resolution. Optical zoom isn’t available during recording but you can use digital zoom, however this does reduce sharpness.

Value For Money

The Nikon Coolpix S33 has an RRP of £89/$150. This makes it one of the cheapest waterproof digital cameras you can buy, easily undercutting the Fujifilm XP70 (£130), Panasonic Lumix FT25 (£115) and Ricoh WG-30 (£190). That’s good value considering the S33 offers similar toughness, however its rivals all have larger, higher resolution sensors and at least 4x optical zoom.

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 S33 Verdict

If you’re after a waterproof camera that’ll withstand plenty of abuse and yet won’t break the bank, the Coolpix S33 is a solid choice. It’s one of the cheapest rugged and waterproof cameras on the market, and it’s also one of the easiest to use, with a super-simple control layout and menu system.

Unfortunately the S33’s ergonomics aren’t all this accomplished though, as its glossy plastic casing is very slippery when underwater. The low resolution screen is another disappointment, however it’s a compromise that’s to be expected at this price point.

But the S33’s biggest drawback is its image quality. Nikon’s use of a smaller than average sensor translates to mediocre detail levels and poor low light performance. Optical quality is marginally better, but you’ll have to put up with a restrictive 30mm-equivalent maximum wide angle focal length.

Ultimately, if you’re after a fun, family-friendly holiday camera and cost is of prime concern, then the S33 makes a lot of sense, providing you’re not expecting top-notch image quality and can live with its optical limitations.

Nikon Coolpix S33 Pros

Relatively cheap
Very easy to use
Fun filter effects
Full HD video capture
Respectable waterproofing and toughness
Available in several colours

Nikon Coolpix S33 Cons

Mediocre image quality
Restrictive wide-angle focal length
No image stabilisation
Low resolution screen
No manual ISO adjustment
Almost identical to the camera it replaces



Nikon Coolpix S33 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 dot
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus5cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Centre
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Centre Spot
ISO sensitivity125 - 1600
White balance
  • Auto
Exposure CompNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting4.7fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS30p
Stereo SoundNo Data
Optical Zoom with VideoNo
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19
Battery Life (CIPA rating)220shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsRechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19, Charging AC Adapter EH-71P 4, USB Cable UC-E21, Camera Strap 5, Brush 6

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ferchw Avatar
ferchw 7
6 Feb 2016 7:02PM
Terrible focusing problems. I just got it. Used it in the beach, in the sea, indoor and outdoors, any enviroment has the same problem, 1 of 5 photos is out of focus, Unacceptable.
I´m a profesional photographer, I use a FX and DX cameras and lenses and I bought this s33 for playing in the beach, sea, pool, etc. I knew perfectly that it was not going to be like a reflex camera, but focusing problems are too much. Any light situation has the same behavior.
Not happy at all.
In addition, there´s not much to do with this pocket camera configs.

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