Nikon Coolpix S2900 Review

November 5, 2015 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


Hailing from the Syle range of Nikon Coolpix digital compact cameras, the pocketable S2900 features a 20 megapixel sensor, 5x optical zoom and video image stabiliser. Available in silver, red, black, purple and purple lineart, the Nikon Coolpix S2900 costs around £80 / $130.

Ease of Use

The Nikon Coolpix S2900 is designed for the image conscious who also want a camera that will do everything for them. It's a simple point and shooter and that's apparent throughout. However, if you're torn between one of the Nikon's in the L series and the S2900, then there are a couple of features that this has that aren't available in similarly priced L cameras.

Most apparent to discerning photographers is the addition of ISO sensitivity in the Main Menu on such a simple point and shooter. There's also the addition of Wind Noise reduction when filming video. The latter point may not sound much, but it will play a major part without you ever really noticing it. Which – ironically – means it's working right. The S2900 is very similar to the larger L31 in terms of function and feature although in addition to the aforementioned features, you also get a slightly higher resolution and lithium ion battery. While the 20 megapixels means slightly less images stored on the memory card than the L31's 16 megapixels, the lithium ion battery will be able to take more of them as it will hold more power than standard batteries.

However, the age old argument of AA over rechargeable has come to an end now that battery technology has advanced enough in rechargeable AA's and lithium ion varieties. Anyone looking to take a camera on holiday will have to weigh up those pros and cons.

Nikon Coolpix S2900
Front of the Nikon Coolpix S2900

Physically, the Nikon Coolpix S2900 is a lot thinner than the L series of cameras, making it easier to slide in and out of pockets or bags on nights out or days away. The lens sits flush with the body which is thinner thanks to the use of lithium ion rechargeable batteries that lower grade models don't use. Because of this, the camera comes with the charger included in the box. There's also a Quick Start Guide, USB cable and wrist strap. Charging is done via the USB cable which connects the camera to the charging unit.

The layout of the buttons uses the typical Nikon strategy with many of the controls accessible via the right thumb as you would hold it normally. That is except the power button and zoom ring, which are located on the top plate. 

A small thumb rest area has been provided for when you're not scouring the menu systems which is situated just next to the direct video recording button.

There are two menus on the Nikon Coolpix S2900 for you to choose from. The Mode Menu is accessed via the green camera button. It brings up a small selection of simple shooting modes such as fully Auto, Smart Portrait, Auto Scene Selector, Manual Scene Menu and Digital Filter Effects. The latter provides the choice of a variety of artistic and nostalgic filter effects. If a small arrow is next to the primary option, then there is a sub-menu to take a look at.

Nikon Coolpix S2900
Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S2900

The Main Menu can be found by pressing the button marked Menu. It's been split into three sections for camera options, video and settings.  In the camera section, you can make adjustments to how the camera handles certain shooting scenarios, such as low light variable light casts and fast moving subjects. The Video Menu only has three options within it for resolution, focusing and the aforementioned Wind Noise Reduction. The Set-up Menu is designed to allow you to make in depth changes to the camera and how it operates. Changes to this area are generally more definite, such as the Language, Formatting the memory card, the Sound settings. The latter is actually one of a couple of sub-menus that can be found here. It simplifies the pages if they organise it this way, so you're not inundated with options as soon as you open the menu system.

Start up time from cold is very fast on the Nikon Coolpix S2900. We managed to get the camera switched on, focused and taking a picture in a fraction over 1.6sec. That's around the average, but very good for a camera at this price point. There's a Continuous shooting mode in the Main Menu and that can shoot seven frames in a ten second period which gives an average of around 0.7fps (frames per second). It took the camera a further 13 seconds to fully download all the pictures from the burst test.

The pictures that you take can be reviewed on the screen located on the back of the camera. This can be done regardless of whether the camera is on or off. If it is on, simply press the blue arrow on the back of the camera. The lens will retract after a while as a safety precaution that it won't get jostled or knocked while not being used. If the camera is off, you still press the blue arrow, but you have to hold it down for longer.

Nikon Coolpix S2900
The Nikon Coolpix S2900 In-hand

You can review your pictures faster and – arguably – more conveniently by using the zoom switch. If you “zoom out”, it turns the pictures into smaller thumbnail versions of themselves. It's easier to find a picture on a full memory card and some people only ever use this method. It doesn't help checking for focus and other areas of the shot that could have errors, though.

While looking at the pictures, you will notice a small icon of a paintbrush with OK written next to it. Pressing the corresponding button on the back of the camera takes you into a sub-menu called Quick Effects. There are various creative effects you can apply to your photographs to give them a different and unique look. Examples include Painting, Cross-screen, Fisheye and Miniature effect. The latter is great for high vantage point photography onto a town scene as it makes the town, cars and people look like toys.

Pressing the Menu button will take you into the Playback Menu. It's a similar layout to the Main Menu in shooting mode with the exception of only having a tab for Playback options and the previously seen Set-up. In the Playback Menu, you can adjust the overall picture using features such as D-Lighting and Red-eye correction (this technique is different to the pre-flash Red-eye reduction as it uses software to eliminate red-eye) as well as Glamour Retouch and Quick retouch options. On top of the editing, you can also create a Slide-show of your pictures, Protect them, Rotate them, create a smaller version and Copy them.

Image Quality

The Nikon Coolpix S2900 has two settings for the highest resolution. They're separated in the Main menu by a star on the setting with the highest compression. In this setting, you'll get pictures around 9.1Mb in size. Knocking it down to the Normal size gives images 4.6Mb in size. They're both still at 20 megapixels, just a different compression ratio allows more information to be lost.


Low ISO images on Nikon cameras are always a joy to view and the S2900 doesn't let us down. There's no noise, sharp edges and high definition in darker areas. At full magnification, we can see small, faint blue spots at ISO 100 – which is disappointing – but at normal viewing size, it's unnoticeable.

It's not until ISO 400 that you will see a big change in image quality. Coloured spots are starting to invade the image and edges are softer here. ISO 800 takes a drastic turn for the worst as colour noise gets more aggressive and steps up its attack. Detail in darker areas is almost non-existent at this point.

ISO 1600 has harsh coloured blobs of blue all over the darker areas, so in a bid to reduce the problem, the camera drops the resolution at ISO 3200 to 3.8 megapixels. It does work, but at a loss of image quality through loss of resolution.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso80.jpg iso100.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso400.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso1600.jpg

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix S2900 has a modest 5x optical zoom that will cover pretty much everything you need it for, but you're not going to get really far away subjects. In 35mm terms, you're looking at a 26-130mm zoom range. At wide-angle there's a surprising amount of sharp detail at the edges of the frame.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


The S2900 definitely benefits from a boost in an editing suite. We simply used the standard setting and it improved the sharpness of the pictures. They're by no means soft, though and you may prefer them as they are out of the camera.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberration is apparent in all pictures that have contrasting lines. Sadly, we also found it quite close to the centre of the frame. Normally it's located out at the edges of the frame where the lens is less sharp, so this is disappointing.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


Close focusing on the S2900 is 10cm, which isn't the most useful setting. It's likely that Nikon decided the typical S2900 user won't be using the camera too close to a subject, opting for more wide-angle shots and distant subjects.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


Nikon flash units are very intelligent and we never have a word bad to say about how they work in unison with the camera to support natural light. It's not invasive and gives a balanced and stable light source to the subject. There is some vignetting at wide-angle with and without flash. This is still present at full zoom, but less so.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (26mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (26mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (130mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (130mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

We managed to get red-eye in our test shots for red-eye and using the pre-flash system didn't reduce it anymore than it already was. The best option in this case was to use the post processing red-eye removal system in the Playback Menu.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


There are three ways to take pictures at night on the S2900. You can use Auto mode which will give a high ISO image that lacks any kind of detail – essentially rendering the image useless. Or you can use either of the two Night scene options. In the Scene Menu, choose the Night landscape mode and you can choose whether you want to handhold the camera or use a tripod/rest. The latter will lower the ISO to get a smoother image. It certainly helps, but our tests still struggled with available light and white-balance. Switching to hand-held gave a better exposure (really over-exposed compared to real life, but full of detail) but ramped up the ISO to do it. It still suffered with the white-balance then, as well.

Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)

night_scene_auto.jpg night_scene_auto_crop.jpg

Night Scene Tripod

Night Scene Tripod (100% Crop)

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Night Scene Handheld

Night Scene Handheld(100% Crop)

night_scene_handheld.jpg night_scene_handheld_crop.jpg

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix S2900 camera, which were all taken using the 20 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 31 second movie is 100Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix S2900

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S2900

Nikon Coolpix S2900

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S2900 / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S2900

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S2900

Nikon Coolpix S2900

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S2900

Nikon Coolpix S2900

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S2900 / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix S2900

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S2900 / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S2900

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S2900 / Main Menu

Nikon Coolpix S2900

Top of the Nikon Coolpix S2900

Nikon Coolpix S2900

Bottom of the Nikon Coolpix S2900


Nikon Coolpix S2900

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S2900

Nikon Coolpix S2900

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S2900

Nikon Coolpix S2900

Memory Card Slot

Nikon Coolpix S2900

Battery Compartment


Using the Nikon Coolpix S2900 is a pleasant experience. The camera is simple to use, has an intelligent UI and while it's not packed with the latest tech, for day to day photography, we never found ourselves wanting. Except maybe in the macro department. The 10cm close focusing is a bit poor by today's standards and we'd love to see things a bit closer.

However, the hand controls are all where they should be and while the buttons are small, they're easy to operate by all but the biggest and clumsiest of hands. Saying that, the S2900 is arguably designed with people in mind who have smaller hands. The power button on the top plate is testament to that.

As with any new release, we have our wish lists; we wish the Nikon Coolpix S2900 was faster, had a more powerful processor and a lower resolution to handle noise better. Sadly it still falls into the market of trying to lure consumers with big numbers – a problem that occurred a lot a few years ago during the pixel wars. In fairness, the camera produces pictures that can be acceptable up to around ISO 400, but ISO 800 and above, you can expect a lot of colour invasion.

The processor is a little faster than the lower spec (yet similarly priced) L31. It's generally ready to take another picture sooner, but it could really do with an improvement. While the speed may have been ramped up a little, there's been no obvious noticeable difference for a few years now. Except in the start up times. Recently, digital compacts have enjoyed a marked increase in start up times from around 2.5secs to around 1.5-1.8secs.

Still, with the Nikon Coolpix S2900 at the cost it is, we have to cut it some slack. It's not fair to pile a load of pressure on it when it's sole purpose is to record fun days out and holidays. It's been built to appeal to the happy snapper crowd and we can see why.

If you're looking for a budget camera that is easy to use, slim and looks good, then take a look at the Nikon Coolpix S2900.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Nikon Coolpix S2900.

Canon PowerShot SX170 IS

The Canon PowerShot SX170 IS is an affordable travel-zoom compact camera. For less than £150 / $200, the Canon SX170 offers a 16x optical zoom lens, 16 megapixel sensor, 3 inch LCD screen and 720p movies. Read our in-depth Canon PowerShot SX170 IS review now...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9 is a brand new travel-zoom compact camera. The stylish Panasonic SZ9 offers 16 megapixels, a 10x zoom lens (25-250mm), 3 inch LCD screen, built-in wi-fi connectivity, 10fps burst shooting and 1080p HD movies. Read our expert Panasonic DMC-SZ9 review now...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 is a new 16.1 megapixel compact camera with an ultra-wide angle 25-125mm 5x zoom lens. The W570 has a raft of auto features aimed at improving your pictures, from the Easy shooting mode for complete beginners, smile shutter for easier portraits, dynamic range optimiser for more detail, to the Sweep Panorama mode that never fails to impress. Read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 review to find out if this is the right point-and-shoot camera for you.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX200

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX200 is a slim and stylish compact camera with built-in wi-fi. The WX200 also features a 10x zoom lens, 18 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, 10fps continuous shooting and Full HD movie recording. Priced at around £199, read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX200 review to find out if it's worth checking out...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix S2900 from around the web. »

The S2900 is Nikon’s entry-level model in its Coolpix Style range of slim and stylish compact cameras and will set you back around £80. It replaces last year’s S2800, although the two cameras share identical specifications. This means you get a 20.1-megapixel CCD sensor and 5x optical zoom, wrapped up in a super-slim case that’s available in five colour options.
Read the full review »


    • Type

    • Compact digital camera

    • Effective pixels

    • 20.1 million (Image processing may reduce the number of effective pixels)

    • Image sensor

    • 1/2.3-in.type CCD, total pixels: approx. 20.48 million

    • Lens

    • NIKKOR lens with 5x optical zoom

    • Focal length

    • 4.6 – 23.0 mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 26–130 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)

    • F-number

    • f/3.2 – 6.5

    • Lens construction

    • 6 elements in 5 groups

    • Magnification

    • Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 520 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)

    • Vibration reduction

    • Electronic VR (movies)

    • Motion blur reduction

    • Electronic VR (still images)

    • Autofocus

    • Contrast-detect AF

    • Focus range

    • [W]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity. [T]: Approx. 80 cm (2 ft 8 in.) to infinity. Macro mode: Approx. 10 cm (4 in.) to infinity (wide-angle position), (all distances measured from center of front surface of lens)

    • AF-area mode

    • Face priority, center, manual with 99 focus areas, subject tracking, target finding AF

    • Monitor

    • 6.7 cm (2.7 in.) diagonal. Approx. 230k-dot, TFT LCD, and 5-level brightness adjustment

    • Frame coverage

    • Approx. 98% horizontal and vertical (compared to actual picture)

    • Frame coverage (playback mode)

    • Approx. 98% horizontal and vertical (compared to actual picture)

    • Storage media

    • SD, SDHC, SDXC, Internal memory (approx. 25 MB)

    • File system

    • DCF and Exif 2.3 compliant

    • Storage file formats

    • Still images: JPEG. Movies: AVI (Motion-JPEG compliant)

    • Image size (pixels)

    • 20M (High) [5152 x 3864 (Fine)]. 20M [5152 x 3864]. 10M [3648 x 2736]. 4M [2272 x 1704]. 2M [1600 x 1200]. VGA [640 x 480]. 16:9 (14M) [5120 x 2880]. 1:1 [3864 x 3864]

    • ISO sensitivity

    • ISO 80 – 1600. ISO 3200 (available when using Auto mode)

    • Exposure metering

    • Matrix, center-weighted (digital zoom less than 2x), spot (digital zoom 2x or more)

    • Exposure control

    • Programmed auto exposure and exposure compensation (–2.0 – +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)

    • Shutter type

    • Mechanical and CCD electronic shutter

    • Shutter speed

    • 1/2000 – 1 s, 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode)

    • Self-timer

    • Can be selected from 10 s and 2 s

    • Aperture

    • Electronically-controlled ND filter (-2.6 AV) selection

    • Aperture range

    • 2 steps (f/3.2 and f/8 [W])

    • Built-in flash

    • Yes

    • Flash range (approx.)

    • [W]: 0.5 – 4.0 m (1 ft 8 in. – 13 ft). [T]: 0.8 – 2.0 m (2 ft 8 in. – 6 ft 6 in.)

    • Flash control

    • TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes

    • USB

    • Hi-Speed USB, Supports Direct Print (PictBridge). Also used as audio/video output connector (NTSC or PAL can be selected for video output.)

    • Supported languages

    • Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese (European and Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

    • Power source

    • One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 (included). AC Adapter EH-62G (available separately)

    • Charging time

    • Approx. 3 h (when using Charging AC Adapter EH-70P and when no charge remains)

    • Battery life 1

    • Approx. 250 shots when using EN-EL19

    • Actual battery life for movie recording 2

    • Approx. 1 h 5 min when using EN-EL19

    • Tripod socket

    • 1/4 in. (ISO 1222)

    • Dimensions (W x H x D)

    • 94.5 x 58.6 x 19.8 mm (3.8 x 2.4 x 0.8 in.), excluding projections

    • Weight

    • Approx. 119 g (4.2 oz), including battery and memory card

    • Operating environment - temperature

    • 0°C – 40°C (32°F – 104°F)

    • Operating environment - humidity

    • 85% or less (no condensation)

    • Supplied accessories

    • Camera Strap, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19, Charging AC Adapter EH-70P (A plug adapter is included if the camera was purchased in a country or region that requires a plug adapter. The shape of the plug adapter varies with the country or region of purchase.), USB Cable UC-E16

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