Nikon Coolpix S02 Review

October 30, 2013 | Matt Grayson |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 13 megapixel High JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 3Mb.


Testing the Nikon Coolpix S02 in certain areas had their own dilemmas. For the noise test, we had particular trouble because the camera doesn't have an option for adjusting the ISO in the menu. Therefore, we had to adjust the available light instead. Therefore, some of the samples are darker than others to try and force the ISO up.

We were expecting a poor performance from the S02 as it seems to be a camera that favours style over performance. However, the low ISO images are very nice. They're crisp, well exposed and noise free. Saying that, in certain areas it can be seen that noise reduction is in play, so it's not all good news. But if you're looking at this camera to use, it's likely that it won't be noticeable or you won't mind that much.

As we move through the ISO stages, we couldn't get an ISO 200 setting but at ISO 400, while the images still look good overall, there is a hint of image degradation going on. Darker areas are starting to lose detail that they had before and primary colours are starting to fade.

Ideally, you don't really want to go higher than ISO 400 because the image quality starts to decay rapidly. At ISO 800, there's little or no detail in darker parts of the picture and sharp edges are non-existant. We managed to get an ISO 1600 image by turning the lights off which will have contributed to the cast on the sample test shot. However, it is covered in a purple cast, detail is next to zero and coloured blobs of noise infect the lighter areas of the picture.



iso125.jpg iso400.jpg



iso800.jpg iso1600.jpg

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix S02 only has a 3x optical zoom – rarely heard of these days of compact zoom systems – and it starts at a mediocre 30mm, spanning to 90mm at full zoom. These measurements are in 35mm terms. On occasion at full wide-angle, we noticed some occurrences of barrel distortion.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


We didn't see a great deal of difference with adding any sharpening to the Nikon Coolpix S02's pictures. The photos straight from camera appear to be sharp enough. In fact, the lens quality seems very good. It could be to do with the lack of a wide-angle setting and narrower focal range. The camera has less of a chance to create lens distortions.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

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sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

Similarly to the quality of the lens at extreme focal lengths, chromatic aberrations are better than we expected. We had to really hunt for them which suggests a good glass on the front of the camera. We noticed it mostly in very high contrast areas.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

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Chromatic Aberrations 3 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 4 (100% Crop)

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The close focusing of the Nikon Coolpix S02 is 5cm at wide-angle. Images are very sharp in the centre and remain sharp towards the edges until you get to the very edge.


Macro (100% Crop)

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The S02 doesn't suffer from vignetting at wide-angle or full zoom. Arguably, that's down to the narrower field of view. Adding flash simply stabilises the available light and still doesn't add any vignetting.

Off - Wide Angle (29mm)

On - Wide Angle (29mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Off - Telephoto (87mm)

On - Telephoto (87mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

There's no red-eye reduction options on the S02, so we couldn't compare it. However, the camera does shoot a pre-flash as standard, despite the close proximity to the lens.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

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The Nikon Coolpix S02 has a hand-held night scene mode and will boost the ISO to compensate for the lack of a tripod. Bear in mind that there's no tripod bush on the camera, so getting steady shots is going to be tricky. Of course we managed it and the night scene mode selected a higher ISO to freeze the action.

Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)

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Night Scene

Night Scene (100% Crop)

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