Nikon Coolpix S02 Review

October 30, 2013 | Matt Grayson |


Springing out of the Style range of cameras is the slight Nikon Coolpix S02. This tiny camera features a 13 megapixel CMOS sensor, Full HD video, 2.7 inch touch-screen and digital effects. It looks sublime, but is it as good on the inside as it is on the outside? Our full review will give the answer. Priced at around £109, the Nikon Coolpix S02 is available in pink, blue, white and chrome.

Ease of Use

Leaning back slightly as it sits in front of us on the desk, the Nikon Coolpix S02 could quite easily hide behind a credit card. It's that small. It's a cute little box, our test model being the chrome version, so light glinted off every corner. The small 3x optical zoom lens (barely even heard of these days) sits slightly off-centre to the body with the slim flash hovering over it. The tiny AF emitter sits next to the flash and there are also two little holes either side of the flash for the microphone when recording video.

The top plate has the usual suspects of the power button – which is sunk into the body to avoid being pressed by mistake – sat next to the shutter release. That in turn has the zoom switch wrapped around it. Interestingly, the Playback button has been placed on the top left shoulder and this is to keep it away from the back where the camera has been kept extremely minimalistic. in fact, it resembles a smart phone with a screen and only a Home button to access the menu systems.

Carrying on the similarity between the Nikon Coolpix S02 and a smart phone, and in particular the Apple iPhone, the camera is completely sealed. That is to say that the memory and battery are all internal and can't be removed. To that end, the S02 comes with 7.4Gb internal memory. Downloading pictures is done via linking the camera up to the computer with the provided USB cable. You can also use the mains plug provided which splits into a European two pin plug or you can attach the three pin option for use in the UK. Accompanying those accessories in the box, there's a wrist strap and folded up Quick Start guides. The box is also small, just like what you'd get a smart phone in.

Nikon Coolpix S02 Nikon Coolpix S02
Front Rear

The Home button at the bottom left corner of the camera opens up a simple menu system that allows you to select what mode you'd like to start. There are four to choose from: Shooting, Playback, Movie and the Set-up menu.  You can scroll down and choose more selective options from the eight other options, such as resolution, special effects menu, self-timer or flash modes. Whichever of these you choose, with the exception of the playback and set-up options, it will then enter into that mode and a small box will appear in the bottom left corner of the screen. 

Tapping this will go back to the options within that menu and if you want to go back to the start, press the small box that says “My” on it. The good news is that you can stack effects and modes. For example, you can go into the flash options, select fill-in flash, come out of that menu, go into self-timer and select that, then come out of it and select the Monochrome option. Then if you take a picture, the camera will take a black & white with flash on the self-timer. It's a bit long winded, but a price to pay for having large, easy to understand graphics of the options available.

Nikon Coolpix S02 Nikon Coolpix S02
Front Top

The Nikon Coolpix S02's Set-up menu opens up the core area of the camera. It allows you to make changes such as changing the HOME display, altering the time & date, the video mode and whether you want to charge from a computer. You can also reset everything back to factory settings, format the memory and update the firmware. If you're unsure of the latter, there's usually something that the camera can be improved upon at a later date. It's not derogatory to the camera, even the most expensive professional cameras worth thousands will get firmware updates. It can do stuff such as improve focusing, add no features to the menu, speed up processes alter fonts or anything else that requires computer coding to operate. To do this, you will need to download the updates from the Nikon website then load them onto the camera via the USB cable.

The sensor fitted in to the Nikon Coolpix S02 is a 13 megapixel CMOS type. CMOS stands for Complimentary Metal-Oxide Semi-conductor and is generally considered the most fuel efficient between that and a CCD (Charge Coupled Device). CMOS have some downsides, such as having several transistors located next to each pixel. These block a certain amount of light and make the CMOS less susceptible to light. CMOS sensors also tend to suffer from noise at earlier stages. CCD are sharper than CMOS when recording images. As we mentioned earlier, CMOS are more fuel efficient and can use up to 100x less fuel than a similar CCD. That will make the internal battery go a long way, which is – arguably – why Nikon used that type of sensor.

Nikon Coolpix S02 Nikon Coolpix S02
Side Front

Start up time from cold is very fast. In our tests, we managed to get the camera switched on, focused and taking a picture in 1.8sec. The average is 2.5sec so there's a marked improvement. That's great for if you've got children as it means you're more likely to get a photo of them doing something comical. The bad news is that there's no burst mode. No burst mode and no continuous shooting either. So if the kids are doing anything fast, you're less likely to get that crucial moment.

Playback can be operated via the button on top of the Nikon Coolpix S02. It will switch the camera into playback mode regardless of whether the camera is powered on or not. If the camera is off, you'll have to hold the button down for a few seconds to tell the camera that it's not just been knocked. The most recent image taken will pop onto the screen first and there's two buttons to scroll left or right, but you can also swipe through like a smart phone. Below the image are three boxes. These filter the pictures out so you can find specific images you've taken. You can choose between all the pictures, favourites or by date. The date and time the picture was taken, along with the resolution, are also displayed on the screen.

Using the zoom switch will alter the way you can view images. Zooming out will display them as thumbnails with more being displayed the more you zoom out. If you zoom in, you can examine the picture to make sure it's sharp.