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Nikon Coolpix S3500 Review

Daniel Bell reviews the latest budget camera from Nikon, the Coolpix S3500.

| Nikon Coolpix S3500 in Compact Cameras
BUY NOW NIKON Coolpix S3500

Nikon Coolpix S3500 Review: Nikon Coolpix S3500 Orange (2)

The Nikon Coolpix S3500 is the update to the S3300 which has an increased resolution and more optical zoom. It is available in red, black, silver, purple, orange, pink for £88.11.

Nikon Coolpix S3500 Review: Nikon Coolpix S3500 Orange (3)

Nikon Coolpix S3500 Features

The Nikon Coolpix S3500 has a 20.1 megapixel CCD sensor and 7x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm of 26 - 182mm, with lens-shift VR (vibration reduction) to reduce the effects of camera shake.

As well as auto mode there are 18 scene modes. There is a smart portrait mode which includes smile timer, blink proof, skin softening and red-eye fix. The S3500 has subject tracking AF to keep your subject in focus even when it is moving about. When you have finished shooting you can edit your pictures in the retouch menu which has a range of filter effects, including selective colour, fisheye and miniature.

Videos can be recorded in 720p HD.

Nikon Coolpix S3500 Review: Nikon Coolpix S3500 Orange (5)

Key Features

  • 20 megapixel CCD image sensor
  • 7x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 26-182mm)
  • Lens-shift VR (vibration reduction)
  • 2.7 inch 230k LCD screen
  • Smart portrait system
  • 720p HD video recording
  • ISO 80 - 3200
  • 5cm minimum focusing distance
  • 1.1 fps continuous shooting
  • Available in red, black, silver, purple, orange, pink
Nikon Coolpix S3500 Review: Nikon Coolpix S3500 Orange (6)

Nikon Coolpix S3500 Handling

The S3500 has an extremely compact, metal body, easily small and light enough for you to carry in your pocket when out with friends. Nikon have managed to increase the optical zoom while not increasing the size and weight of the camera by much. It doesn't offer much in the way of a grip, although there is a dotted area for your right thumb on the rear.

The screen is small at 2.7 inch, with a low 230k dot resolution which was a little tricky to see in bright conditions. The buttons are typical for a compact camera, with a dedicated video record button on the rear of the camera. Other buttons include scene mode, playback, menu and delete as well as a d-pad for cycling through the menus. This also gives access to the self-timer, flash, exposure compensation and macro mode.

The menu system on the S3500 is easy to understand and navigate. The battery has a CIPA rating of 220 shots, which should be enough for a day of shooting. We tested the cameras 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.

Shutter Response   0.175 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.5 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.55 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   2.75 secs
Shot to Shot without Flash   4.6 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   6.4 secs
Continuous Shooting   0.9 fps

Continuous shooting mode records images at full 20.1 megapixel resolution. The S3500 is slow from shot-to-shot.

Nikon Coolpix S3500 Review: Nikon Coolpix S3500 Orange (1)

Nikon Coolpix S3500 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 S3500 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Images are well exposed and have good colour reproduction. Portraits are free from red-eye when using the flash and have good skin tones.

Nikon Coolpix S3500 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Images have a decent amount of detail at both ends of the lens, with a good control over purple fringing, although pincushion distortion is visible in some shots. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 5cm which allows you to get close enough for decent macro shots.

Nikon Coolpix S3500 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 80, 100 and 200, with images becoming softer at ISO 200. Noise increases slightly at ISO 400 and again so ISO 800 but image quality isn't overly affected. ISO 1600 see a loss of detail, particularly in the corners of some of the squares in our test chart. Noise increases at ISO 3200, but image size is restricted to just 4 megapixels.

Nikon Coolpix S3500 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - The Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under the incandescent lights, with the incandescent preset taking a very similar image. Under the fluorescent lights, again the AWB performs well, with the fluorescent preset taking an image with a magenta cast.

Nikon Coolpix S3500 Digital filters

Digital Filters - The S3500 has a good range of filters to use to help take more creative pictures, with a number of examples above.

Video - Below is a video recorded in 720p HD. Optical zoom is not available while recording videos, instead you can see digital zoom in the video below.

Value For Money

The Nikon Coolpix S3500 is currently available for around £88.11. There are many other budget cameras available, most of which tend to be limited to 5x optical zoom, including the Fujifilm FinePix AX650 at £49.99, Olympus VG-180 at £69.59, Canon PowerShot A1300 at £57.42, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS50 at £73.85, Samsung ST72 at £85.36 and Sony Cybershot DSC-W710 at £78.00. There are a couple of cameras with 8x zoom at a reasonable price, the Canon IXUS 132 at £95.50 and Sony Cybershot DSC-WX60 at £129.49.

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 S3500 Verdict

If you're looking for a cheap camera you can't go far wrong with the Nikon Coolpix S3500, particularly as most budget cameras have at most 5x optical zoom, here you'll find a 7x optical zoom lens for less than £90. It has a fairly limited set of features, but image quality isn't too bad, particularly for sharing on Facebook etc.


Nikon Coolpix S3500 Pros

Image quality has improved on the S3300
Compact body
7x optical zoom
Good colour reproduction
Available at a reasonable price
Good AWB performance
Camera comes in lots of different colours
Lots of digital filters and effects

Nikon Coolpix S3500 Cons

Battery life is quite short
Optical zoom not available in video
Video recording isn't full HD


Nikon Coolpix S3500 Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.4 - f/6.4
35mm equivalent26mm - 182mm
Optical Zoom7x
Image Sensor
Pixels20Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)5152
Pixels (H)3864
Sensor TypeCCD
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor2.7in
Screen resolution230k dot
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus5cm
Focusing modes
  • Manual
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Centre
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity80 - 3200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting1.1fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
Video FPS30p
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)220shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsCamera Strap, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 (with battery case), Charging AC Adapter EH-70P, USB Cable UC-E6, ViewNX 2 CD-ROM, Reference Manual (CD-ROM)

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capers626 Avatar
5 Jul 2013 9:53PM
Shot to shot times with or without flash are far too long. Sad
danar Avatar
danar 9 Indonesia
13 Jan 2014 1:15PM
nikon coolpix s 3500 not good, less good picture at night, image noise, shot to shot times are too

long. I was disappointed buy this product !!

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